Attention to Details and Process Creates Leading Designs.

By Thomas J. Ryan

Cassie Tweed has two big advantages over the competition when it comes to designing gear at Osprey Packs. First, she has access to an industry legend, Osprey Owner Mike Pfotenhauer, who has been designing and making packs for the brand for more than 40 years. And second, she lives and works in Vietnam, a stone’s throw away from where the company manufactures its product. Those advantages shine as Osprey continues to be a leader in the category, most recently winning awards for its Atmos AG (anti-gravity) line.

Tweed joined the company in 2010 and as she puts it, it has helped keep Pfotenhauer’s designs and ideas on a calendar. From her officies in Ho Chi Minh City, Tweed leads the product design, development and samplemaking process — essentially responsible for bringing Osprey’s seasonal product line from concept to production. We caught up with Tweed to see how she started her career, where she sees pack design moving, and how designers are bringing more thoughtful women’s-specific products to market.

What Interested You In Technical Pack Design? I was drawn to packs because of the interaction of hard and soft materials and how they must work together to transfer load onto the moving body. It’s also one of those products that is successful when it’s unnoticeable. The experience of the activity is the goal.

Osprey Has Made A Big Commitment To Women’s Fit And Function. Are There Challenges? Women’s bodies have more complex curves than men. We are also typically shorter but we are not necessarily carrying less gear. The pack needs to be smaller, be able to carry the same amount and hug more complex forms.

How Do You See Overall Trends Evolving In Technical Backpacks Over The Next Year? You will see less techy-looking and less techy-loaded packs that are more simplified and more refined in their designs. Fashion will influence colors and fabrics. The cultural trend of throwback, durable and only what’s needed will also continue to influence pack design.

How Does A Pack Designer Strike The Balance Between Sport-Specific And Versatility? Simplicity is best. There always needs to be some refining and simplifying to bring it back to versatile if that’s what’s called for.

What Advice Would You Have For Retail Staff Selling Packs? Know the packs you’re selling by taking them out and testing them yourself.

Photo courtesy Osprey and Becca Skinner