- Buyer's Guide
A Decade of Heimplanet: Interview
It all started with an idea, a tent of the future. The idea was born from the frustration of pitching a tent in the dark, under the rain. The result? The Cave, an inflatable geodesic dome with no poles, pitched in less than a minute and made to withstand the elements. A home, or heim, in the wild.
This is how Hamburg-based Heimplanet began in 2010. For the last ten years, they’ve developed a brand that has seen their gear used in the most rugged and exotic places on the planet. Heimplanet’s aim has been to create pieces that spark joy, make travel easier, and facilitate connections to the places around us. From their first product, The Cave, to their Motion Series of active wilderness-ready bags, and Transit Line of travel gear. There’s a desire to “erase the room for improvement” and work until nothing can be improved upon. A lofty goal.
The folks at Heimplanet have recently revamped both their iconic Motion Series and Transit Line while adding a slew of well-thought-out Carry Essentials (Packing Cubes, Dopp Kits, Simple Pouch). There’s also an EDC-friendly Commuter Pack as well!
Given the excitement of their tenth anniversary and their new releases, I had a virtual sit-down with Heimplanet co-founder, Stefan Clauss.
Grab your favorite stein of beer and let’s make a connection with Heimplanet.
Being in Germany, what is your favorite beer?
Okay, I admit, I do like beer a lot. I do not really have a favorite one, but if I had to choose one, I would pick Tegernseer Hell.
How long has Heimplanet as a company been in existence?
The idea for our first product was born in 2003 while traveling along the Portuguese coastline. Then to transform the idea into a real product and brand was in 2008. The company was finally founded in 2010, and our first product, an inflatable tent – The Cave – was presented in 2011.
What was the catalyst in creating the company?
The initial idea was born out of our first-hand experience and some frustration. We wanted to build the tent of the future. In 2008, my founding partner and I decided that it was the right time to give it a try. We always wanted to create something on our own and do something that meant more than just a job.
You started out with a tent, what made you branch out into other gear?
Right from the beginning, it was clear that we wanted to be a modern outdoor brand and represent the excitement that is connected with it. I remember watching the surf movie Castles in the Sky by Taylor Steele and thinking, “That’s it, that’s the Heimplanet feeling.” Scenes that really express how I connect with the beauty of traveling. While traveling, products should make things easier and, ideally, help along the way, although they are not the reason why you leave the house.
Over the years you’ve seen some great success, what has been your proudest moment?
There have been many great moments like receiving awards or being featured in a magazine or by a person I really respect. Personally, I am proudest when I spot a random person on the street wearing one of our products. Or I read a customer comment that points out a feature that we discussed for endless hours in development.
What do you attribute your success to?
I believe our customers appreciate our attention to detail and the clarity of our product design. It’s easy to overload a product with features and complexity. The difficult part is choosing the right functions and integrating them in a way where they almost disappear so that the final product becomes simple, clean and nothing is redundant. We are trying to create products that create joy while in use because they make sense and surprise you. It’s like finishing someone’s sentences. If we create that kind of experience, we have succeeded.
What’s the most unique place you’ve seen your gear go?
Our tents have been to some of the most amazing and remote places around the planet. It would be tough to pick only one. Still, there’s one story that’s extraordinary. We received a phone call one day from a huge production company that was working on one of the biggest movies of 2019. They told us how the production team fell in love with one of our backpacks. At first, I thought it was some kind of scam, but the person explained that they decided to make our bag a present for everyone on set and that they would like to place an order. I would have loved to be there for the moment when they received it!
What are some influences behind your designs?
Function is always our first concern. The Cave was born from a technical solution, the structure of a geodesic dome or buckyball perfectly represents the principles that we were searching for in a tent. It’s the most stable and economical way to construct a room.
Afterward, we realized that with this construction, it is impossible to separate function from design; they are one. This defined our product design principles. It was a long and challenging process to find our voice. Still, with the Motion Line, we were able to translate this concept into our backpacks, and it defined our direction from then on.
We are also inspired by patterns and forms that you find in nature. Nothing in nature is random, everything follows a principle and makes sense; we are trying to infuse some of that into our products.
To quote Buckminster Fuller:
“When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty, but when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.”
Can you talk a little bit about the geometric design that is featured on a lot of your gear?
A couple of years ago, we were contacted by multiple customers, they wanted one of our tents, but in a colorway that would disappear in nature. We looked at the different possible solutions and were not happy with the options. A green tent would be a bit boring, and a classical camouflage was not really what we wanted either. Out of the thought process, we decided to develop our very own pattern with camouflage functionality.
Once finished, we started realizing how much this pattern actually represents our design approach and aesthetics. From then on, this pattern appeared more often in our products, like on the three-dimensional back panel of our Motion Series. We then decided to make it part of our design DNA and our signature pattern. Nowadays, you can find it in most of our products in one form or another.
How much does customer feedback affect future designs?
A lot. The development of our signature pattern was inspired by customer feedback. The new Dopp Kit Better Half was inspired by customers, as were a lot of modifications to existing products. We really appreciate customer feedback. None of our products are untouchable. We continuously work on improving them.
You have a few new pieces being released, that’s exciting; can you tell us about them?
We invested a lot of time and resources over the last two years developing our own, more durable and eco-friendly materials and hardware. Last year was hectic for us, we were really focused on bags. We started by launching our Neck Pouches a couple of weeks ago, followed by the launch of our redesigned Motion Series. Both the Carry Essentials and Motion Series are made from the same mix of materials and feature our new DYECOSHELL II fabric. This is now an essential part of the redesign, especially in the Motion Series since it focuses on the outdoor context and is designed with active usage in mind.
After that, we launched our redesigned Transit Line, including an all-new Travel Pack with 28L next to the 34L version. This line also features new materials and custom hardware that you’ll find across our products from now on.
At the same time, we introduced a collection we call Carry Essentials. This collection features packing cubes, a new version of our Dopp Kit, plus a smaller version of the Dopp Kit Better Half and a new Simple Pouch.
In September, we are going to launch a brand-new pack that we are very excited about. We call this the Commuter Pack. We shared some details about the development during the Carryology Meetup in Hamburg at the beginning of this year. The pack is made from our new DYECOSHELL II fabric, and it’s an excellent pack for everyone who is looking for a compact everyday solution.
What would you like to see your customers do with Heimplanet gear?
When we started with the development of our first bags, I shared my experience with the team about a bag I owned for 10 years. It was my go-to pack for every trip and every day. In the end, this bag had a wealth of memories and experiences. That’s what I want for our products. I want them to be catalysts for the experiences and memories you make while traveling.
What’s next for you and Heimplanet?
We are already working on products for next year, but for now, we believe we have an exciting line-up. We want to put these products into more hands and in front of more eyes. We are working on expanding our distribution so that more people can touch, try, and experience Heimplanet.
A special thank-you to Stefan Clauss and Moritz Grebe for spending some time with me and discussing Heimplanet.
This article was written by Jovanni Bello. Renaissance man, adventurer and cell phone photographer.