Moon Gear’s Down-to-Earth Approach to Outdoor Product Design
Jenna Battaglia is a river rafter, backpacker, slackliner, climber, skier and snowboarder. After studying outdoor recreation in Colorado, river guiding for Girl Scouts in Alaska and hiking Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, she decided to embark on a new adventure: product design. Battaglia always loved the outdoors but doing seasonal work wasn’t always practical, and she wanted to find a job that was sustainable—in more ways than one.
Moon Gear, Battaglia’s one-woman operation she launched in April of this year, is a small, eco-friendly business that makes colorful, durable outdoor gear for nature enthusiasts. Battaglia uses upcycled materials to create duffels and drag bags for rafting, as well as accessories such as tote bags, hats and hands-free koozies. Heavy duty vinyl mesh, quick-drying webbing and ripstop polyester fiber made from recycled water bottles are staples of her designs.
“I’ve always had mixed feelings about being in an industry that is producing goods that sometimes we don’t need,” Battaglia says. “We don’t need 500 different ski coats that do the same thing, and everybody doesn’t need to get a new one every year.” Moon Gear aims to bridge the disparity between gendered designs by creating bags and gear for anyone to use.
“People who truly appreciate the outdoors want to be sustainable most of the time. They actually care.”
Battaglia graduated from USU’s Outdoor Product Design and Development program where she learned “everything from pattern-making and sewing to textile science,” she says, as well as “waterproofing, flame resistance [and] strength testing.” One of her favorite classes focused on color theory: “We discussed our feelings about different colors,” she says, “like how a yellow jacket might make you feel versus a red jacket.” One of Moon Gear’s most popular color combinations is pink and leopard print, which Battaglia says arose from a happy accident while making a custom design.
Before founding Moon Gear, Battaglia worked at Black Diamond Equipment for a year, helping the company create a repairs division. “I heard that they had some dusty sewing machine somewhere in the warranty department,” she says, so she immediately got to work fixing damaged gear. “I’m a pretty determined individual,” she says. “If there’s a sewing machine, I’ll weasel my way on it.”
Battaglia offers free lifetime repairs on all Moon Gear products—fortunately, she hasn’t needed to make good on that offer yet. She even sells a Field Repair Kit for on-the-go mending emergencies. There used to be a huge stigma around wearing visibly fixed-up apparel, but “people wear their patches proudly now,” she says. “People who truly appreciate the outdoors want to be sustainable most of the time. They actually care.”
“We don’t need 500 different ski coats that do the same thing, and everybody doesn’t need to get a new one every year.”
Her design process starts with finding the right fabric. That may seem backwards, she admits, but when designing for outdoor wear and tear, durability is of utmost importance. “You have to make sure that seams are reinforced, or fabric is doubled up in places,” she says. Battaglia had access to a laser cutter when she was in school; now she cuts everything by hand. She then creates a digital pattern on Adobe Illustrator and goes through multiple rounds of prototyping.
The whole process can take weeks or even months from start to finish. She says, “A good product should be tested for the full season before you put it into the world … That’s where other companies may rush the process because they’re like, ‘Let’s get it out,’ and then the [products] are all falling apart.” The outdoor industry can be toxic and intimidating, Battaglia says, but she is working to change that.
Now that river season is coming to an end, Battaglia has her sights set on designing more winter-friendly apparel, such as cozy crewnecks that combine her signature recycled polyester with hemp and spandex. She’s excited about a new idea for overalls that provide easier access for bathroom breaks, giving a whole new meaning to the name “Moon Gear.” Shop Battaglia’s creations at tothemoongear.com.
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