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THE RESULTS: 2022 Product Survey

By Katherine Donnelly on

Back in February of 2021, I sent out my first product survey to our email subscribers. While I talk with folks about our gear on a daily basis and live for the one-on-one conversations I get to have with customers, I wanted to get more consensus on some key items and topics and felt that an overarching product survey could be beneficial to honing in on what people wanted to see (or not see) from us going forward.

Now in 2022, I've taken what became a wildly popular survey in 2021 and beefed it up with more insightful questions and have opened it up to the general public as I continually hunt for that amazingly valuable thing called community feedback.

Before I get any further, I want to say THANK YOU to everyone who helped us out and completed our product survey this year. Your time and thoughts mean more to us than you will ever know!

Strap in, because the results are here....

We closed the survey responses at midnight on March 31, and since then I have been spending a massive amount of time going through all of the thoughtful replies.

Please note that, while Chris and I have read through + discussed (and will continue to discuss and utilize) every individual thought and input to the survey on our own, I will be trying to keep this overview just that - an overview. And even then, this will still be one of the longer posts I ever write. 

If you realllllyyy want to get deep and see all of the responses, get in touch and I can send you the spreadsheet.

First, who took the survey?

Here's a quick glance at who participated: 

  • 820 individuals completed the survey.
  • 72.4% currently own TREW Gear.
  • How do you enjoy sliding on snow?
    • 71.1% ski
    • 38.4% snowboard/splitboard
    • 6.5% telemark ski
  • How would your ski/ride ability?
    • 2% are just learning/beginner
    • 3.4% are novice
    • 16.7% are intermediate
    • 43.4% are advanced
    • 34.5% are expert
  • How long have you been skiing/snowboarding?
    • 2.4% less than a year
    • 5.7% 1-3 years
    • 7.1% 3-5 years
    • 12.9% 5-10 years
    • 19.4% 10-20 years
    • 51% 20+ years
  • Where do you like to ski/ride?
    • 2% in the backcountry only
    • 5.9% in the backcountry primarily, with some time at the resort
    • 16.5% split about 50/50 between backcountry and resort
    • 25.5% at the resort only
    • 47.8% at the resort primarily, with some time in the backcountry

Now, what did they say?

Now that we have an idea of who replied to the survey, let's dig in to some of the more product-related results. The survey asked a multitude of questions, both pertaining to our current gear as well as outerwear preferences in general, and here are some of the key findings in both realms:

Let's start with outerwear preferences. Everything from fit, style, features, and specs were on the table here, and there are definitely some strong trends that emerged within this group of respondents. Since many folks are visual, I've pulled the data into some pretty graphs to make this easier (and to break up this very text-heavy post).

^ The overwhelming majority falls into the Relaxed/Loose bucket, with 88% of respondents selecting these two options. This isn't a huge surprise here, since this sample group is predominately made up of current TREW Gear customers + owners and our outerwear is intended to offer a loose fit for layering and ease of movement. You can see more down in the Notes on Findings section about our intended fits/styles.

 

^ While many people own 1 jacket that they rely on for everything, the majority of folks have multiple jackets that they use - and when + how they use their jackets depends largely on weather, conditions, and the activity they are embarking on. Many people mentioned that if they pursue both backcountry and resort riding, they will have one jacket that is more resort-oriented and one jacket that is more backcountry focused.

Similar to the findings on overall outerwear style, the majority of respondents enjoy a longer jacket fit - just shy of 60% of people like their jacket to hit midway down the seat if not cover most/all of the seat. This may be skewed since our jackets do run on the longer side, and this survey was completed by a large amount of TREW customers. * There is also a certain amount of variability here, as we saw a good portion of people point out that they like a longer resort jacket but a shorter touring jacket, which makes sense given the demands and considerations for both applications.

 

^ Surprise, surprise ;) - most people surveyed wear bibs. But in all seriousness, I expected to see the majority of people wearing bibs then pants these days so these findings check out. The amount of bib-wearers is even larger when you add to the initial 62% the folks in the 'depends' category, since these are people who own both pants and bibs and what they where on any given day depends on additional factors. Given the rise in popularity of bibs over the past decade and the fact that we make and sell predominantly bibs here at TREW, these numbers don't surprise me.

What is interesting, although in line with what I surmised before this survey went out, is that less folks have multiple pairs of pants/bibs than they do jackets. While the majority of people have multiple pairs (around 57% have 2+ pairs) this is much less than what we found with jackets - and leads me to believe that jackets may come and go depending on the day, but a person will be more likely to stick with their bottom layer on a more regular basis.

 

In all, it's not very surprising to see that many people who took this survey have an inseam length in the 30-33" range. Also, after extensive conversations over the years with customers about pant leg lengths, I expected that many would set their preference right around the ankle joint. But there are some interesting tidbits here that are worth looking more closely at...

First, there is a huge amount of variation in natural inseams among different bodies. Second, many people have absolutely no idea what their inseam length is. And third, a large portion of survey respondents have shorter than average inseams - the national average is approx. 30" - and while we offer a short (30") inseam option in most of our bibs, it may be worth looking into creating an even shorter option. We'll definitely be looking into this as we continue to build out our product sizes and offerings....

 

Ohhh belt loops. Love them or hate them, they serve their purpose(s). This question was added to the survey directly due to an ongoing 'battle' between myself and Chris over whether they should be included on bibs: Chris thinks that even if someone doesn't use them, bibs look weird without them - and I think that, while he has some valid points, belt loops take up some crucial real estate that could be used for other features (ahem, deeper/more pockets). So while seeing that the vast majority of people do not wear belts, it is interesting to see that even 6% of people do wear belts at all times --- and that another 10% will wear belts with their bibs sometimes.

Now onto transceivers, and where people prefer to carry them. Chest pockets + transceiver harnesses are nearly equal at around 42-43% each, which is consistent with two facts: 1) that all transceiver manufacturers recommend using the provided harness to carry (and it never hurts to follow safety directions) and 2) we sell a lot of bibs here, and all of them have designated chest beacon pockets. We will be looking into offering different options in the future for those who enjoy carrying their transceiver on their thigh, but for the most part we are believers that carrying your transceiver on/around your core is the best way to travel into the backcountry. 

 

 

What are we seeing here? Pit zips are a popular feature and see a lot of use. Half of people prefer both inner and outer leg vents on their pants/bibs, with a heavy lean overall to inner leg vents being the most essential to dropping heat. 

But in comes the question around vent mesh: yay or ney? As expected, this is a hot topic and by far one of the most contentious questions on the survey (right up there with wrist gaiters). Despite 26% of respondents not really having a preference, those who did were quite passionate about their positions.

"Is there really a difference?" For many people, no - as long as you have some sort of venting, you'll be happy either way. But when gear is a passion, like for myself and many of you, then these sorts of small, nit-picky details begin to matter. A lot

We do not currently put mesh in our vents. Before you start to get heated about this, please know that we understand why 37% of people prefer mesh lining - but we forego it intentionally. As a company, a few of our top priorities are functionality, durability and longevity of gear; we don't include mesh lining mainly because 1) it impedes the ventilation when you want to dump heat fast and 2) it is notorious for getting caught in vent zippers, causing both annoyance and durability issues on both the mesh and the zippers. I can go on and on about this (and tbh, we will likely be creating a video all about this soon since it such a rousing topic), but we will not be putting mesh in our vents anytime soon - and if we do, it won't be until a better solution comes to light to ensure that the mesh does not compromise on any of our product values. 

 

And finally, let's look at what people think about and how they use jacket cuffs, pass pockets, and wrist gaiters. Most people like to pull and cinch down their cuffs over their gloves/mittens. Okay, fair enough. Pass pockets are clutch for many, with only 18% of people not using theirs (and 6% not having one on their jacket) and are good for both passes and other small items - chapstick, cash, snacks, and more....

And then we come to the wrist gaiters, or lack there of. A pie chart just doesn't do this one justice, because this question had a LOT of fiery responses - which is very interesting, considering that it's just a small piece of fabric that lays on each wrist. Sure, 44% of people had no opinion and really didn't care, and another 8% could take 'em or leave 'em; where the strong opinions came out to shine was in that remaining 48% of people who either answered 'can't live without 'em' or 'hate 'em'. As someone who doesn't like wrist gaiters on my own jackets, cuts them off if a jacket shows up with them, and has never had an issue with cold wrists without them, I would probably be in the 'hate 'em' camp -- but seeing responses of "words cannot express how much I loath wrist gaiters" to "LOVE THEM and you can't change my mind. Make jackets with them NOW!" was unexpected, and more than a little entertaining.

Seeing the wide range of opinions has us considering options for (well-executed) gaiters in the future, but really only on our more resort focused jackets. Just don't hold your breath for our Capow Jacket to start showing up with wrist gaiters....

Key Notes on Findings

Here's where I want to chat just a bit more about some over the overarching topics and trends that come through as I went through this survey. 

*There are infinite preferences out there.

If there is one thing that this survey makes crystal clear, it's that there are so many opinions out there when it comes to gear. Being someone who spends the majority of my time working and talking with customers, this isn't anything new to me - but for most people, who can easily find themselves a bit 'sheltered' in how they think or approach gear based on how they recreate and who/where/what they gravitate to outside, these results are proof that every single person has their own idea of what a perfect piece of gear 'should' look like. 

**On this note, I want to make a small suggestion, something to keep in the back of your mind (both in gear talk but also throughout life) - and this comes from years of customer service, as well as a week straight of reading through survey responses: rather than saying an item should have this feature, should fit like that, should be longer or shorter....remember that every single person has their own personal preferences and they - yep, you guessed it - personal. Think about the other side of the coin, the other folks out there who may absolutely love the item that just isn't working for you or even the folks who may find an item too long when you find it too short, too baggy when you find it too tight, and approach conversations about your gear desires and needs as "I would like...", "I need...", "it would be cool if..." rather than "this item should...". There's absolutely nothing wrong with having opinions and perspectives, but sometimes the way that folks talk about these sorts of things can be very aggressive, and overall, hurtful and counterproductive.

*We have a specific style/fit that we cater to. 

If you are looking for a form-fitting fashion outfit, or a super techy, skin-tight touring setup, we may not be right for you. It's nothing personal, it's just that our products are specifically designed and built with a specific fit - and functionality - in mind, and this overall style is in our DNA. We make the gear that we want to wear. If we made gear that we didn't want to wear, then I feel like we'd be doing something very wrong....

This doesn't mean that your own style is wrong in any way, that our style won't change or evolve over time, or that we won't build out new products to cater to more and more ways of recreating in the mountains heading into the future....it just means that maybe we're not the right fit for you right now. And that's okay.

*Color is subjective.

Oh, the never ending battle on color. Color will always be a hot topic, and it's always important to remember that color is subjective. What you like, others may not; and in turn, you may hate a new color drop when that very same color becomes our bestselling colorway. 

There is nothing wrong with your color preferences, just as there is nothing wrong with the colors that we push out. Because color is deeply personal...and the good news is that, while a winter season can feel like a helluva long time, the reality is that every Fall we push out brand spankin' new colors and there's a good chance that one of those new colors will speak to you. If not, there's always other brands out there with their own color stories, brand vibes, etc. for you to choose from....and we won't be mad if you stray from the Thumb's Up and give another business some support. 

*Technical outerwear is not cheap.

And I don't just mean to purchase. Our gear is not easy or cheap to make, and our prices reflect that. 

Many people, when asked how we could make our gear better, answered with 'lower price'. This answer came up so often that I felt it necessary to address here. I would never claim that our gear is cheap, or even really affordable, but it is a good blend of value - especially when going head-to-head with similar products in this market. 

If and when we are able to lower prices, we will. Cost, both to us and to our consumers, is always at the front of our minds when we create our products and we will continue to look for ways to make gear accessible while maintaining our dedication to burly construction, quality, and functionality.

*Our gear works for many, but not for all.

We want so badly to have every single customer jumping for joy out of sheer bliss when they try on their new jacket or bibs. But that's not the reality, nor will it ever be - and we accept this. Don't worry though, we'll keep pushing on building out more expansive options, fits, and sizing options to cater to the many different body shapes + styles out there!

You can read more on my thoughts on this below...

*We can never be everything for everyone.

As a small brand, we can only do + make so much. We aim to grow, and as we do so we will continue to check in with our community to gauge what people want to see added to our product line. But there will never be a time, no matter how big we get, where we will be able to make everything that people want to see from us; every fit, every fabric option, every feature set, every length, and never will we be able to make everything in every color. As much as I wish that we could make every person stoked out of their minds on TREW (and believe me, I spend a lot of time wishing away on this), it just isn't possible to be everything for every single person.

Now I know that this can sound pretty negative, but I mean it in the best way possible: if our gear doesn't work for you or fit your fancy, the amazing news is that there are countless other brands out there making great gear. 

I know that many folks see us as competing with these other outerwear brands, but we don't see it that way; all of us - Flylow, Stio, TNF, Arc'teryx, Norrona, too many to list - are working hard on innovating the way that people wear, use, and think about their gear. We all have our own ways of doing it, our own strategies and focuses, our own target markets and price-points. This is a big industry, and there is more than enough room for all of us to have our lanes and prosper while satisfying buyers all across the globe.

Just keep checking back in from time to time as we expand our product offerings, because in a year or two or five, maybe we'll be making just what you've been dreaming of...

For a moment, consider those massive companies like The North Face or Patagonia. Take a look at their online reviews, ask around your friend groups....you'll find plenty of people who just aren't happy with the gear that they bought from the largest brands in the biz. This in itself shows that, regardless of how big you get and how many different product variations, sizes, fits, colors, etc. that you offer, you can never please every person out there. And that's alright. Because this isn't just something that TREW has to think about. No brand, no matter how large, can be everything to everyone.

*We love being a small company, and so do you!

One of the things that we all love about TREW (as proven both from employee opinions and from the community survey results) is that we are a small, transparent company with strong values and a personality that resonates, and we have no plans to become a behemoth of a business to the point where we lose that small-company feel. It's who we are, it's what we love, and it's how we want to stay.

Sure, we'll probably get bigger than our current 5-person team....but not by much. But our love for personal interactions and growing a TREW family rather than focusing on the bottom line is inherent to our DNA, and we'd rather go broke than lose sight of this. 

The end...for now.

On that note, I'm wrapping this up. I didn't even begin to address findings from the 'new product' questions that I posed in the survey....but just be sure to be signed up for our newsletter and keep an eye out for my monthly TREW Ops emails, because you can be sure that I'll be jumping into that soon. 

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6 comments

  • Randy on

    Love the TREW Gear! My first piece was the Eagle pant, if that says anything about how long I have been a TREW fan. I have bibs, pants, and jackets that have been in use for years without any issues. I appreciate the bomber construction of these products and am amazed at how they have held up to skiing around 100 days per year over the last 10 years. I will be looking at purchasing some of the other options in the product line in the future. Mid-layers, etc.
    Thank you so much for your dedication to producing bomber snow sports gear!
    Randy

  • Joey on

    I’m so, so impressed with the transparency and thought that goes into your communication with customers Katherine. I get such a kick out of these breakdowns, and it makes me feel like you have a real interest in building community.

  • Katherine at TREW on

    Jordan, have you been washing (and tumble drying) your gear? If you’re rocking it daily, you will want to make sure to keep it clean with regular washing to make sure that the waterproofing stays up to snuff — you should def. not be having any issues on your waterproofing, even at Baker :)

  • Jordan Sell on

    Love love love my setup! That being said I wish it were more waterproof. I am up at Baker nearly on the daily and phew does it get PNW up there. I’ve found my flylows, while having the same rating, were way more waterproof overall. The pockets are the big culprit in soaking through. I know nothing but Grudens is going to be full waterproof, but it is a bummer when storm days become overly wet bibs days. Especially when it’s not actual rain but just Wet Ass Pow (WAP). I didn’t get an opportunity to respond to the survey, but DEF want that out there. I wear the Stella in a small, Chariot in a medium short (thick thighs and so much room up top – straps also loosen a lot). I recommend your gear constantly and am a fan overall. A clip in the thigh pocket for beacon would also be ideal.

  • Heather Fischer on

    PLEEAASSEEE do NOT replace your drop seat pants with a side zip. I do mountain rescue and need to keep my harness and pack on while I pee, drop seat is the best for that. Promise you will keep making drop seat pants. :)

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