WHO’S HAD A HAND IN YOUR GEAR? MEET TIMOTHY WENTZELL
Name: Timothy Wentzell @tjwentzell
Position at HMG: Ideation Designer
Years with HMG: Going on my third trip around the sun with HMG
Products you’ve worked on: I've had my hands, or at least a couple fingers, in just about every product development since joining the team.
What’s your background prior to working here?
I grew up spending the majority of my childhood outside. Not in the mountains but average sun up to sun down games of basketball, baseball, fishing, and meandering in the woods with friends. I started hiking the tallest mountains in the Northeast as soon as I discovered them. Since then, I've acquired a lifelong, student approach to recreating in the backcountry. Experimenting with techniques, equipment, and learning from individuals who share the same idea of "success.” My main interest has always been all-season peak bagging and simply exploring as much as my backyard as possible. As of late, my outdoors objectives focus on alpine mountaineering, wilderness medicine, and building leadership in the backcountry, all in a pursuit to help build the best backcountry equipment available.
What’s your primary role in R&D?
Ideation and design. We are a jack of all trades sort of group. There's a lot of diverse, appropriate ways to operate in the backcountry. I spend a significant amount of time observing and researching what works for others, give it a shot myself, and then get to work finding a balance that can be applied to the design objective on hand.
What do you enjoy most about being in R&D?
Field testing, which I can never get enough of. On a more day to day agenda, participating in meaningful conversations with those pushing the limits and finding ways to address their equipment needs in the backcountry. Furthermore, working at HMG has connected me with individuals that share similar interests, so I've been fortunate to find some sound outdoor partners in my time here.
What design / design solution are you most proud of thus far?
Some of the special projects that live in the gear closet. Not all projects go to market, but we've made some kit that end users have requested to accomplish lofty goals. I field tested prototype number two of the Mid 1 Tarp on a Colorado Trail thru hike, where it performed admirably. Being heavily involved in the design of that product produced something that I've wanted myself for many years on my long distance backpacking trips.
Do you have a dream design, design challenge, or product that keeps you up at night?
Mountaineering shelters. Historically, they are heavy, bulky, and the lightest versions sacrifice lots of functionality. There are designs coming out that show improvement, but there is still a lot of opportunity for innovation.
Where do you see ultralight backpacking and multisport heading in terms of gear?
While carrying less weight and bulk plays a significant factor in backcountry comfort, having ideal equipment suited for the trip makes the entire experience much more enjoyable. People want storm worthy shelters, comfortable sleep systems, and versatile packs as they expand their objectives. Anything we can do to improve any of these metrics has a positive effect on someone's experience.
What’s your number one tip for getting the most out of a piece of gear?
Be a lifelong student and don't hastily move on from a piece of kit if it doesn't seemingly feel perfect. The best way to learn about equipment that best suits you, is to use something until you understand how it truly works and interacts with the backcountry. After that, the research and gear paralysis syndrome is much more streamlined. Do your due diligence in researching gear, buy a reputable kit, and wear it out. All equipment has pros and cons. Also, take care of your gear and simply be mindful of how it's treated. Modern, ultralight gear is super dependable when treated mindfully.
Favorite outdoors related quote?
“Good judgement comes from experience. However, experience tends to come from bad judgement."