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header_outdoor_special_photo_by_Frank_Zierenberg

iF Design Special on Outdoor and Sports Trends

Grab your hiking boots, pack a bottle of water and do not forget a good knife! Outdoor season is on and all the heavy and occasional adventurers are talking about the perfect shoes, the best paths and the highest mountains. Long ago are the days when parents desperately tried to motivate their kids for activities such as hiking or camping, being the less fancy family alternative to an expensive hotel trip. Today, outdoor even got a hipster thing! There are numerous outdoor blogs, Instagram and Pinterest outdoor accounts, celebrating this freedom-seeking culture as a wild card for the modern urban people. What are the most picturesque spots for a selfie on the top of a mountain? What backpack is the best for a rainy hiking day and how to climb with style? Outdoor is no longer a trend - it's a lifestyle. And this lifestyle has to be well-equipped.

But what do mountaineers, hikers, campers or boulders really need for their trips in the wild? The world's biggest fair Outdoor by ISPO in Munich delves deep into the innovations of the industry. In view of the fair, which ends on 3 July, we take a look into the industry with our iF Design Special: Outdoor and Sports.

See what good outdoor and sports design looks like by scrolling through the products, honored with an iF DESIGN AWARD. Read our very personal iF hiking equipment tips and listen to what real pros of the industry have to say about design challenges and sustainability.

iF Awarded Designs 2017-2019: From Hiking Boots to Trackers

10 Ultralight Equipment Tips for the Professional Hiker

When Dieter Rams defined the principle “less but better” as one of the ten principles of good design, he probably did not think about its application in hiking. Instead, the principle was meant as a solution to challenges such as overproduction, material waste and production quality – asking us to focus more in an era of “too much of everything”. But of course the principle can also be applied to hiking. First of all the challenges named above are of deep concern for many hikers. Hikers cherish the outdoors and there is an increasing discussion within the community on what has to be done so that future generation can enjoy nature as much as we can.

Frank's Hiking Tips

But there is also a more practical implication: the less you carry when hiking, the less fatigue and the longer you can hike. Going light and even ultralight has been one of the ongoing trends in the industry.

This is why we have taken a closer look at the winners of recent years and have chosen ten products awarded with the iF DESIGN AWARD which reflect the principle “less but better”. Check out the 10 hiking gear and equipment tips by iF's project coordinator and passionate hiker Frank Zierenberg in his personal selection below.

Wearables with more Functionality and more Shape

Wearables, which is anything from smartwatches to gadgets and fitness trackers, are small innovative tech-allrounders that are still much talked-about - especially at the the OutDoor by ISPO fair this Sunday in Munich. Many new small helpers to track and maximize your sports and outdoor performance. While the first trackers were quite simple and had less functions, the recent models combine functionality and shape elegantly. Most manfucturers, like Fitbit, have already launched their third or fourth edition with even more technical functions, such as GPS, especially important on long hiking trips. See below the most recently awarded trackers from the iF DESIGN AWARD.

The Suunto Spartan Ultra is an advanced multisport GPS watch. The design is classic but sporty: it combines elements from lifestyle and sport watches to be your everyday watch. With different color options, activity tracking and 80 pre-set sport modes, the Spartan Ultra is your ultimate training partner.
Suunto Spartan Ultra

The Suunto Spartan Ultra is an advanced multisport GPS watch. The design is classic but sporty: it combines elements from lifestyle and sport watches to be your everyday watch. With different color options, activity tracking and 80 pre-set sport modes, the Spartan Ultra is your ultimate training partner.

Fitbit Charge 3, Fitbit's most advanced tracker, gives users a deeper understanding of their body, health and progress so they can reach their goals. The case, with its durable water-resistant construction and premium lightweight materials, is complemented by a rich selection of comfortable, effortlessly interchangeable bands.
Fitbit Charge 3

Fitbit Charge 3, Fitbit's most advanced tracker, gives users a deeper understanding of their body, health and progress so they can reach their goals. The case, with its durable water-resistant construction and premium lightweight materials, is complemented by a rich selection of comfortable, effortlessly interchangeable bands.

The Polar M600 is a waterproof sports watch powered by Android Wear and is designed for active training as well as a stylish accessory for a connected lifestyle. The M600 has a clean and sleek design with a 1.3" color touch display, wrist-based heart rate measurement, a dedicated front button for quick and easy training control and a battery life of more than 48 hours when connected to Android devices.
Polar M600

The Polar M600 is a waterproof sports watch powered by Android Wear and is designed for active training as well as a stylish accessory for a connected lifestyle. The M600 has a clean and sleek design with a 1.3" color touch display, wrist-based heart rate measurement, a dedicated front button for quick and easy training control and a battery life of more than 48 hours when connected to Android devices.

The Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro delivers a best-in-class fitness band for athletes and those who aspire to reach their fitness goals. Seamless, fluid and water resistant (5ATM). Key features include water-resistance to 5ATM, secure, robust band and clasp, sporty and dynamic design with a delightful pop of color, and Spotify offline music support.
Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro

The Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro delivers a best-in-class fitness band for athletes and those who aspire to reach their fitness goals. Seamless, fluid and water resistant (5ATM). Key features include water-resistance to 5ATM, secure, robust band and clasp, sporty and dynamic design with a delightful pop of color, and Spotify offline music support.

Polar Vantage M is an all-in-one multi-sport watch that offers serious athletes advanced performance metrics and new Smart Coaching features at an affordable price. The slim and lightweight, waterproof design ensures optimal comfort in any sport as well as a clear, always-on color display.
Polar Vintage M

Polar Vantage M is an all-in-one multi-sport watch that offers serious athletes advanced performance metrics and new Smart Coaching features at an affordable price. The slim and lightweight, waterproof design ensures optimal comfort in any sport as well as a clear, always-on color display.

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Sustainable Outdoor Equipment with High Performance

Sustainable outdoor equipment by Vaude outdoor trekking clothing

Outdoor enthusiasts love nature. But what does it really mean, when their backpack is made of material that needs hundreds of years to be composed? What about tents that are made out of unrecycable plastics? And how can the end consumer, who has to keep so many important factors in mind, find the time to check on their equipment's sustainability?

Designing outdoor equipment, mainly clothing and backpacks, out of sustainable materials is a matter of heart for many modern outdoor brands worldwide, like Jack Wolfskin or Deuter. Vaude is also an example - the company has launched some innovative green collections with recycable fabrics without compromising on performance. In 2018, their Green Shape Core Collection (picture above) was even honored with an iF gold award. The materials used are bio-based, recycled or purely natural. The collection offers a completely sustainable alternative to the many conventional products available on the market.

Go Green: Sustainability via Quality Seal with Globetrotter


Globetrotter corporal responsibility head Fabian Nendza of Globetrotter about sustainable outdoor equipment trends. Die grünere Wahl Outdoor Mode Globetrotter.

Other outdoor companies hop on the sustainability trend train as well - a great example is outdoor outfitter specialist Globetrotter. They want to give orientation and launched a system "the greener choice", which ranks outdoor equipment based on their sustainability. "We want to inspire our customers to be out in the nature and we want to encourage them in a healthy lifestyle - but also to protect nature. The mark "the greener choice" helps customers pick the better materials", says Fabian Nendza, head of sustainability and corporal responsibility at Globetrotter.

The ranking is divided into categories like social responsibility, made in Europe, sustainable chemicals management, natural material or transparency of production. If a product reached a certain level based on the points for these criteria, it gets the label "the greener choice". "This does not mean, it is 100 percent sustainable - however, in comparison to other outdoor manufacturers without the label, it certainly is the greener choice!"

As mentioned, Vaude is an outdoor specialist, that incorporated sustainability into their design language - and corporate identity. But what else drives the designers at Vaude? And in general: What are the upcoming outdoor trends when it comes to style? What are the biggest challenges for outdoor clothing designers? We talked to iF juror Mario Schlegel, head of design at the outdoor outfitter Vaude in Tettnang, Germany.