Outdoor Retailer 2003: The Gear Guy's Roundup

Stars in their ideas

Aug 21, 2003
Outside Magazine

Shocking filler?: Valandré's Shocking Blue

So whose new little booth at this year's show will be bigger and better stocked in two or three years? Well, if I could predict the future I would have dumped that Quokka.com stock (anybody remember that turkey?), but I'll take the plunge and put my money on a little French company called Valandré. Run by a charming fellow named Niels-Henrik Friisbøl, Valandré makes down sleeping bags and clothing. "So what?" you say. So, these are really, really, really GOOD products. As in, the nicest I've ever seen, and with Marmot, Western Mountaineering, and Feathered Friends in the same race, that's a pretty high bar.

A case in point is their Shocking Blue, a minus-13-rated bag that comes in—yup, you guessed it—blue. Stuffed with 850-plus-fill down that Niels-Henrik buys personally from goose farmers in the Pyrenean foothills, the bag consists of some 105 individually cut and sewn Pertex nylon panels. The hood, for instance, doesn't end with a taper caused by the stitching. It ends with a full nylon baffle, so that even when it's drawn tight, you still have two inches of lofted insulation over your forehead. And the interior panels are cut in such a way that when you lie inside, the entire bag very gently curves upward so that its top just skims your body. It feels weightless.

Alaskan guides have tested this bag and love it. But will the U.S. market buy into it? At $600 a pop, it'll be a hard sell. But my bet is that Valandré will find a place here.

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