Do you have an MEC Uplink in your closet? Plenty of members do. Since its launch almost 8 years ago, the Uplink’s quickly become one of MEC’s iconic products. Originally designed to be a layer for climbing, it’s now a wardrobe staple. You’ll see it on members climbing in Squamish, paddling on Georgian Bay or commuting along Lake Shore Boulevard.
So what makes the Uplink so successful? Turns out, a lot.
The Uplink trekking at about 12,000ft. in the Zanskar Range of northern India…
… snowshoeing on Mount Seymour, BC…
… and in our photo studio.
The “unicorn” of jackets
“The success of the Uplink has become a bit of a study for us,” says MEC backcountry designer Spring Harrison. “It hits so many sweet spots, from performance and warmth to weight, versatility and price. Lots of research has gone into figuring out how to replicate this for our other pieces we design.”
Members rave about being able to wear it through three seasons. Others love that you can layer it under a more city-style jacket to keep you warm when you’re out meeting friends after work.
Test, then test some more
Product testing played a huge role in creating the Uplink (as well as other MEC gear). Not many people know that MEC has our own in-house lab for product testing, run by a roster of engineers who poke, prod, stretch, drench and scorch every material long before it hits the shelves.
Once something’s been made into an actual item someone can wear or use, it then goes through a robust field-testing program. MEC Ambassadors, power users and core athletes can test the gear more authentically than any machine – think skiing 100 days or more per year – so we send pieces with them into the wild. For example, the Uplink was tested all over the backcountry in British Columbia, and MEC Ambassador and pro climber Sarah Hart tested multiple versions of the jacket when she was climbing in Patagonia.
And once a product is on the shelves? There’s the continual member feedback via reviews, ask and answer conversation loops on mec.ca, and recommendations from members.
Cold, hard data
To get even more insights, MEC also conducts pilot projects that may influence the next evolution of a product – or even change the way we test products. We took the Uplink to a special cold chamber to see what we could learn about this type of testing. “The test in the video below gave us a chance to better understand human physiological conditions and gain some increased sense of what does (or doesn’t) influence someone’s comfort,” says Joel Mertens, MEC Material Technologies Integrity Engineer.
The future of the Uplink
“Although it would be silly to the pull the Uplink now – and we definitely wouldn’t – you always need to have a succession plan,” says Spring. When it comes to designing the next round of products, Spring and the other designers are always paying attention to what members have to say.
So with that in mind, we’d love to hear from you. What your favourite MEC products, what pieces are missing in your wardrobe, and what’s your go-to gear? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Over the next little while, we’ll be profiling some of the most iconic pieces from the MEC label, and will let you in on some of the research and testing they’ve gone through before they hit the shelves.
Expect the Uplink to stick around as one of MEC’s alpine pieces for years to come.