Our Research

Our qualitative research is at the heart of our mission to uncover and share behavior insights with the community. Read our past report and lend your voice to the next one.

Participate in our 2022/23 Research

Your stories, habits, and opinions can benefit our whole community. Contribute to our collective understanding of how teams operate in the backcountry and receive compensation for interviewing with us or submitting data about your tours.
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About Our Research

Our Approach

Our approach is called Human-Centered Design, a close friend of Design Thinking. It is a form of creative problem solving that begins with empathy. We do our best to put ourselves in our participants' shoes. The desired outcome is not to definitively prove or disprove a hypothesis but simply provide inspiration. We seek to offer fertile ground for new solutions. Research is typically followed by idea generation and tangible learning via rapid prototyping.

This is statistically insignificant!

At 30 participants we’d never say our findings are conclusive. We’ve been part of large surveys that leave us wondering why people answered as they did. HCD is great for the “why” and moving fast. Our findings are hypothesis to be validated or invalidated with prototypes or the very welcome complements of quantitative methods and scientific inquiry.


At the heart of our work are long form, semi-structured qualitative interviews where we seek to understand the 'why' and context behind participants' behaviors. We mix in observation, data collection and surveys. We also employ prototypes, basic working versions of concepts. Research is "coded", meaning tagged with topics like "motivation", "pits", and "trip planning". In synthesis we identify themes and patterns across participants to make sense of what we heard. We create journey maps, behavioral archetypes, and use other frameworks to crystalize actionable insights for our reports.