I’m confident in saying that we kicked off this series in an excellent fashion and I knew the 2nd entry would again need to feature a high quality individual from an objectively top tier company with a true global reputation in order to meet the position of the bar that had already been set.
I am again confident that I’ve met my own requirements here and it is a pleasure to welcome my friend Kory of Eagle Industries and Bergspitze Custom to the site to share with us some extremely interesting thoughts and insights in to the world of tactical gear that you won’t often find shared elsewhere.
Kory’s 3 To Open
Favourite firearm – HK MP5SD
First Firearm – Norinco .22lr bolt action when I was 3
Favourite camo pattern – Type 03 Plateau “Tibetantarn” but a close 3-way tie for 2nd place: 6 color ChocoChip, Flecktarn, Relv Copperhead.
Q1. I believe you studied for a degree in a very different field to the one in which you are now employed? Can you briefly talk us through the path that lead you to your design job at Eagle?
A. My degree is in biochemistry. While I was in college I bought an industrial sewing machine, a Consew 206RB-1, from a local classified ad, in order to repair and modify things for my many outdoor hobbies. That led to others asking me to sew stuff and later forming my own brand, Bergspitze Customs, due to the high volume of custom gear requests. After graduating in 2015 and working in the scientific field for a little while, in January 2018 I was referred to Eagle Industries when they were looking to fill a void in their design team. I was offered a position, and the last two years have proven that although I love biochemistry and I’m still a scientist at heart, gearmaking is my true passion.
Q2. What are your primary responsibilities at Eagle? What does the day to day work of a designer for a company primarily making Cordura gear actually entail?
A. One of the reasons I love my job is the wide variety of things that I get to do. Some days I’m at the computer drafting patterns, some days I’m in meetings with the end users discussing their needs, some days I’m in the field with them testing products, and some days I’m at the sewing machine, taking the ideas and input and making it all come together into a product. Some days I’m doing all of the above in a single day, other times I’ll be doing nothing but sewing for days straight as I try and figure out the best way to do something.
Q3. Most of the folks who read this site are camo enthusiasts, I am and I know you are too, what got you in to that and which aspects of collecting fabrics/kit do you really enjoy today?
A. Although I’m very much a camo enthusiast, I’m not really a “collector”. That is to say, I seek out rare/unique camo fabrics not for the sake of keeping them, but for the purpose of turning them into usable products. That was the niche that my personal brand found success in back in 2014/2015. I was offering patterns that nobody else did. Now there is a huge resurgence of the ‘old school’ patterns and that niche has become a little more crowded, but I’m still known for the huge variety of patterns that I have to offer. I try to avoid collecting kit, but that’s unavoidable when you’re making it every day. I have a small reference library of items that I have learned from over the years.
Q4. A few people out there might know of AXL but very few will be aware of your connection and collaboration, can you talk a little bit about that venture and the work you’ve been doing on that side of the house?
A. Long before I ever started working for Eagle Industries, in addition to the custom/one-off requests, I had a few core products that I did small batches of. One was a zipper insert for the Spiritus Micro Fight Chest Rig. It was just another component in the modular MFCR toolbox, and I never seemed to be able to make enough to keep up with demand. Fast forward a few years, and someone approached me with an idea. A brand centered around upgrades and add-ons, and they wanted my “zip inserts” as a part of it. So I licensed my MFCR upgrades to AXL and help with the promotion of that product line. There are some great people behind the brand, with amazing ideas, and I consider myself incredibly lucky that I get to come along for the ride.
Q5. Of the design projects you’ve undertaken at Eagle (that you’re able to discuss) which have been your all-around favourites and why?
A. It’s impossible to narrow down the list, because there are so many “favorites” for different reasons. There are a few moments in the process that definitely were highlights. The first time I saw something I designed rolling off the production line by the hundreds, for example. That was a little surreal. I also love the projects that start with the customer having a problem they don’t know how to fix, and the result is the customer testing it, saying “You nailed it, this is exactly what we needed” and ordering a bunch of them. Perhaps the most rewarding are the projects that come in my “Why am I awake at 2 am?” moments, where I try and scribble down the idea in my bedside notebook in the dark, then figure out a way to make it into reality, and having people say “This is an amazing idea.” and wanting to buy them. I think my all time favorite projects are the ones that don’t come easy. I love the struggle of figuring out a solution to a problem.
Q6. A large part of designing truly good kit revolves around a need to understand the actual materials the end product will be comprised of and the manufacturing processes involved. Which fabrics and methods do you really like right now and where do you personally believe the future lies?
A. My two favorite things to work with right now are laser cut laminates and stretch woven fabrics. I don’t think that laser cut laminates will ever fully replace traditional sewn fabric/webbing but it has huge benefits in other applications. There are some great “origami” type methods of designing with laminates that really reduce the hands-on production time. On the hardware side, the magnetic closure products from Fidlock are really amazing in both function and appearance. As for the future, I think we’ll continue to see new laminates that push the boundary on strength/weight/durability, but eventually we’ll see someone who does something radically new that resets the clock and leaves everyone else scrambling to catch up.
Q7. Lastly, what would be your top tip for anyone aspiring to work within any part of the ‘tactical’ industry in the US?
A. SEEK INNOVATION. Don’t be one of the people that just copies ideas because it is the hot thing at the moment. Blaze your own trail. Learn to solve problems in a new way, and to look for the problems that haven’t been solved yet, because that’s where you get ahead of the game. It doesn’t matter if you want to get into design, sales, manufacturing, R&D, marketing, or any of the other facets of the industry. If you’re seeking innovation and working hard, success will come.
Once more, a big thank you to Kory for taking time out of his ever busy schedule to write this stuff up in order to be featured here. I know I personally feel strongly that there is a huge amount of value in bringing these insights to a wide audience as I just don’t see enough in the way of interviews with people who work in prestigious positions at top drawer companies within the tactical equipment space.
You can follow Kory’s personal business for more interesting insights in to the life of a designer of gear on Facebook and Instagram. Alternatively check out the AXL zips through the AXL or Spiritus websites.
If you have requests for folks that you’d like to see interviewed here on the blog and questions to submit to those people for future entries in this series please leave those in the comments here or DM me on any social media platform.