Meet the Crew
SlingFin is a lifestyle business. Some people look down on that term, but we wear it with pride. We don’t want to be the biggest outdoor gear company out there; we just want to be the best. None of us followed traditional career paths, but we all ended up at SlingFin for two reasons:
- We want to make the best gear in the world.
- We want to actually have the time to play outside using the gear we make, with no bosses and no deadlines.
Martin, SlingFin’s founder, is a four decade outdoor industry veteran. His career began in high school when he taught himself to sew gaiters, technical fanny packs, and other ski touring accessories. In 1982, he showed up unannounced at the North Face (which at the time was based in Berkeley) with samples of some of the ski accessories he had made, and asked for a job. They hired him as a sample sewer and pattern maker, and three months later he was moved to the design department where he worked on packs and sleeping bags until 1985. In 1987 he started working at Sierra Designs, designing tents, and sleeping bags. After Sierra Designs, some of his colleagues founded Mountain Hardwear, where he worked until 2009. He designed the tent Babu Chiri Sherpa used to camp at the summit of Mt. Everest in 1997, a feat that has still not been repeated. In 2009 Martin struck out on his own. He sequestered himself in a loft for a year with a sewing machine, design table, and fabric library and emerged in 2010 with the first prototype of our now-patented WebTruss. He founded SlingFin with the goal of making top-tier outdoor gear unconstrained by outside investors, price targets, or marketers. He approaches design from a user-first perspective: “Solving design problems for serious users has always interested me more than creating products to fill price buckets for retailers”. Since then, his tents have been to 8000m peaks, both the Arctic and Antarctic, and trails the world over. When he’s not at the studio, Martin can usually be found atop a raft or drift boat on a Wild and Scenic river somewhere in the West. Martin never takes vacations but he is often out “testing gear”.
When asked about his outdoor interests, Rich says “I like doing stuff. Lots of stuff.” From backpacking to snowboarding to whitewater SUP-ing, Rich’s outdoor interests are as varied as his role at SlingFin. He’s a mechanical engineer by training, and worked for 12 years as Forensic Scientist doing expert witness work in accident reconstruction, premises liability and product liability cases. As his career progressed, he found that it became less and less about applying his technical skills in interesting, creative ways and more about having them used to win someone else’s argument or further their agenda (it’s not a coincidence that SlingFin doesn’t have a marketing department). He decided to move to the Bay Area and started looking for jobs in the outdoor industry. He sent Martin his résumé but little did he know, Martin doesn’t read résumés. So Rich showed up at the SlingFin studio, made his case, and convinced Martin to fish his résumé out of the recycling. Flash forward a few years, and Rich is SlingFin’s COO. In addition to operations and design, he makes sure that all aspects of the business are humming along as smoothly as can be reasonably expected, and helps keep the other (slightly less organized) 2/3 of the company on task.
Tim was dangerously close to applying to med school when he had an epiphany on a rainy afternoon in a shelter on the Appalachian Trail. Halfway into his second thru hike (after the Pacific Crest Trail the year before), he realized that extended outdoor adventures would be few and far between in his future if he didn’t make a change soon. Since he would have spent his doctor’s salary on outdoor gear anyway, he decided to cut out the middleman and go straight to the source. Like a stray dog, he showed up one day at the SlingFin studio and never left. Tim’s title is “A Good Guy to Know” and he does his best to live up to it as he works on design, product management, and customer service, among other things. He’s always looking for an excuse to get out on “product testing” trips of various genres, and is mediocre to decent at pretty much every human-powered outdoor activity besides a select few.
Come say hi! You can drop us a line here.