F(n). Maybe you remember it from calculus. It’s a math symbol that represents "function." It indicates a change in an equation. In math, you modify the frontside of an equation, and it dramatically affects the backside. That’s how f(n) founders Glenn Schmierer and Jamie Marchbank think about product design. "Our goal is to have just the right ingredients on the front end to change existing options," they said, "and deliver something new and targeted to the consumer on the back end."
Schmierer and Marchbank believe that there are many connections between art and science, design and math. They’re snowboarders and designers who met in college at RISD, then went separate ways. Glenn moved to Colorado for the backcountry snowboarding and got into industrial design. Jamie stayed east, and stuck to resort riding and bag design. He was formerly head of product design for Thule as well as for Samsonite, and finally moved to Colorado six years ago for work, where he too got into backcountry snowboarding.
The pair of snowboarders, design mavens, and obsessive compulsive cut-and-sew gurus founded f(n) in Colorado in 2011. Their goal was to make better backpacks for backcountry snowboarders. “We want to turn the superfluous, fashion-focused snowsports bag industry on its head with spare, highly evolved, beautifully designed and crafted product,” Marchbank told us. “We’re not science people but we are scientists about the discipline of product design.”
Function’s first two products were fist-sized sidecountry ski and snowboard carriers, strappy contraptions that let you comfortably boot pack your board(s) to freshies. The integrated storage pouch provides a place to pack the straps—and get them out of the way—before you shred downhill. For next season, the duo is stepping it up a notch, making ski and snowboard packs that are feather-light, ultra-durable, and fully featured.
F(n)’s Ultralight Backcountry Snowboard Backpack and Ultralight Ski Backpack use an aircraft cable-carry system that can handle any width skis or snowboard. It has a dedicated probe pocket, it’s hydration compatible, and it has padded goggle and incidentals pockets.
Sounds like a standard snowboard pack, right? Wrong. It’s made from a non-woven/woven Dyneema hybrid that has 10-15 times the strength of steel and weighs about as much as paper. The abrasion resistance is phenomenal and the hybrid top surface is impenetrable to moisture.
“There is beauty in math equations,” Marchbank said. “A math equation is the distilled essence of what you hope to deliver on the manufacturing side—just what the consumer needs.”
Not worried so much about getting to the summit as you are about getting through the airport? Function’s 70 Liter Kit Bag, also made of non-woven Dyneema, weighs less than 12 ounces. (For comparison, a Basecamp Duffel of the same size from The North Face weighs five times more.) F(n)’s duffels, both the 70 liter and the 130 liter, have a wide-mouth single-zipper opening for easy access, and YKK water-resistant zippers. Available September 2013, $240, $290; function-snow.com.