Articles by Patrick Healy

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Have you ever walked into an REI (or visited their website) in search of a new bag and found yourself immediately overwhelmed?

I know I have and I design bags for a living. Everything on the wall looks both incredibly similar and vastly different. I mean, on the surface the backpacks all do the same job. They all allow you to carry a bunch of shit, hands free, with the weight distributed across both of your shoulders. But, I know these are all different; figuring out how they’re different is the hard part.

Which Bag is Right for You?

Things don’t get much easier when you isolate a single brand. Earlier today I was looking at a bag company’s website, a bag company I really like, and they listed 12 backpacks that look virtually the same in size, shape and function. These aren’t just different colors or different materials, but completely different bags. They are sized and shaped slightly differently. They have slightly different features.

They are all presented, however, as equally sized tiny thumbnails in 4 neatly organized rows. Sure, it looks pretty, but it makes the differences in the products nearly imperceptible.

I don’t want to blame the designers here. I know many of them. They’re really smart and talented. I know they have a specific person and experience in mind when they design each and every bag. As a consumer, though, I can’t figure it out.

Extensively researching the the things I buy is something I enjoy; it’s fun. But figuring out which bag I like shouldn’t require an advanced degree. Bags just aren’t that complicated.

Solving this problem… in addition to, you know, designing awesome products… is one of my main jobs at Tortuga. Our solution? To design collections of products around specific travel experiences. Each individual product must be awesome on its own, but also function seamlessly with the other products in the collection. The Outbreaker Collection is the first incarnation of this idea. Click to continue…

The scene is frantic. The Tortuganauts have assembled in a spacious, modern flat in a hip neighborhood in Montreal. The weather outside is dreary. A few pedestrians pass below our window, having left the comfort of their homes only because they have to.

On a Sunday in early April, the snow, still lingering on the sides of the cobblestone streets, is being washed away by the worst form of precipitation, the wintery mix. Usually, this would be one of those days where I would normally struggle to get out of bed. But today is different.

Inside the flat, the scene is a stark contrast to the bleak world outside of our window. It feels like the birth of a spring, sunny with a high of 75. Standing in front of a massive frame that holds original painting by our Airbnb host featuring a slightly overweight man, nude with the head of a bear, I observe.

Shifting into the desk chair sitting next to me, I’m playing DJ, spinning the RX Bandits hoping to set the mood for creative thought. As afternoon finds us we are recovering from our gluttonous hangover suffered at the hands Joe Beef. The rest of the team is gathered around the massive round table at the center of the room.

The feeling is a mix between musical chairs and Christmas morning. Tortuganaunts are examining their “presents” with the intensity of a scientist behind a microscope on the verge of discovering a new life form. Yesterday, we talked at length about what we’re building at Tortuga and I coached the team on how to contribute to the design process in a healthy, helpful, and effective manner. Now, our team explores a batch of freshly baked prototypes, samples from our prospective factories in China. They peel back the layers of each sample, revealing the good and bad in each design.

My hand moves furiously, writing as I observe the team. I note smiles and frowns. Signs of displeasure or joy. Some are obvious, others barely noticeable visceral reactions. This is where we learn. This is where the Tortuga V3 really starts to take shape. Click to continue…