When Helinox launched its first lightweight, sturdy chair in 2012 it helped to define a new category of outdoor furniture that has extended from seating for backpackers to mainstream outdoor life. It is now a world leader in the design and production of cutting-edge lightweight outdoor equipment and furniture, including chairs, cots and tables, shade, trekking poles and umbrellas.
Its parent company, the Dongah Aluminium Co., better known as DAC, pioneered the development of ‘green anodising’ and was the first aluminium producer to sign up to the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Index. The Korean-based company is the leading global supplier of high performance tent poles and accessories. Unsurprisingly, its founder Jake Lah was invited to share the company’s journey at a meeting of the EOG’s working group on hardgoods sustainability during OutDoor by ISPO.
For over 30 years, DAC has been manufacturing the lightest, strongest and highest quality aluminium products in the industry, driven to excel in three areas: innovation, sustainability and performance. As a development partner, DAC works closely with best shelter manufacturers around the world to help design and build the finest tents.
The list of brands includes Bergans, Big Agnes, Eno, Exped, Fjällräven, Helsport, Hilleberg, Jack Wolfskin, Kelty, Macpac, Marmot, Montbell, Mountain Hardwear, MSR, Nemo, Sierra Designs, Terra Nova, The North Face and Vaude.
As a family-owned business, sustainability is a key component in everything they do from employees to workplace to production. Green Anodization is a testament to that ethos.
Jake Lah explained, “Anodizing aluminium has traditionally not been a clean operation. It took eight years to develop our Green Anodization process, which significantly reduces the use of harsh chemicals, including nitric and phosphoric acids from the process. It is critical for reducing our environmental impact, safeguarding the health of our people and maintaining the quality and tolerances of our products.”
The R&D team is continually searching for new and better materials and manufacturing techniques to reach that goal. Testing in the lab and in the field is a critical element in searching for new and better materials and manufacturing techniques.
The ‘pursuit of the best’ led to the construction of the most unique tent wind testing facility in the world. Located on the top floor of the factory, the DAC Wind Lab is powered by a 500 horsepower electric fan that can generate wind speeds up to 160 km/h (100 mph). More than 30 major tent brands along with the UNHCR and many military organisations have utilised the Wind Lab.