France-based Lafuma turns stateside for sleeping bag design

Lafuma, a French manufacturer of outdoor gear and clothing, has brought the job of its global sleeping bag design to the United States. SNEWS has the exclusive details, plus a peek at the brand's new 2013 sleeping bags.
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Lafuma, a French manufacturer of outdoor gear and clothing, has brought the job of its global sleeping bag design to the United States.

In an exclusive preview of its spring/summer 2013 line at it U.S. headquarters in Lafayette, Colo., Lafuma officials told SNEWS that goal of the switch was to create a consistent design language that would be understandable on both sides of the pond.

Lafuma introduced its sleeping bags to U.S. market 10 years ago, and saw significant sales gains, said Lafuma Group USA General Manager Guillaume Linossier. At that time, there were specific designs for each the U.S. and Europe. But within five years, those design differences became muddled, leading officials to go with more of an international design. The move hurt U.S. sales, Linossier said.

Wanting to evolve toward a more consistent design strategy, but recover its sales stateside, Lafuma officials came up with the idea to give its global sleeping bag design reins to a U.S. team. For 2012, it turned to Jason Belaire, previously with Sierra Designs, to design a couple of bags for Lafuma’s global line as a test run. The new bags were a success, both in the U.S. and abroad, Linossier said, and the decision was made to bring all sleeping bag design for 2013 and beyond to Colorado, led by Belaire.

“The line is much more coherent, consistent and focused,” Belaire said, “while keeping its history of being lightweight, compressible and affordable.” The 2013 bags that SNEWS previewed indeed have a consistent design and color palette, along with coherent and large logos and temperature ratings down the side, for easy readability and comparison when hanging on a rack in the retail store.

With the redesign, Lafuma also saw an opportunity to extend its reach to a third category of camper — those who car camp, but still want an affordable technical bag for the occasional backpacking trip.

For example, to compliment its new 2-pound, 7-ounce, TMB 30-degree, 600-down-fill sleeping bag for trekking, Lafuma will also debut its new Ecrins 30-degree, synthetic-fill bag for hiking and car camping. The latter is a bit heavier at 3 pounds, but less expensive and a bit roomier. It’s also less compressive than the former, but still doable for an overnight trip or two, sizing down to stuff sack 16 inches long and 8 inches wide.

To keep things affordable in the face of rising goose down prices, Lafuma is taking an approach of many and using duck down instead. With fill powers of 650 or less, manufacturers say there is little difference between the two.

Part of the new sleeping bag design also includes two children's models — the Ecrins Jr. 30 and 40 — fitting children up to 5 feet, 3 inches. They have kid-friendly features such as a stuff sack attached to the bag (hey, we adults could use that too!) and a checkerboard imprinted on the inside for games on rainy days.

Another bit of news from Lafuma: Starting in 2013, the brand only will sell sleeping bags and furniture in the United States, pulling its packs, footwear and apparel from this market.

“We wanted to focus on where our strength is in the U.S.,” Linossier said. Lafuma, which is part of a bigger group that includes Millet and Eider, will leave those departed U.S. categories to its sister brands.

--David Clucas

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