We’ve just arrived at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market trade show, where over the next few days, we’ll be seeing every new product under the sun that will be hitting the market next spring.
But with all those new products also come a bunch of really good, very bad, and highly debatable names. So
we polled some of our reviewers to see what made their lists, and we are very interested to hear which product names you all love, hate, or love-and-hate. So take a look at what we’ve come up with, and then add in the comments section below what you think we missed.
Related Bonus Questions:
Q #1: Are outdoors-recreation products the worst offender when it comes to product names? Or is it something like consumer electronics — maybe televisions or laptops?
Q #2: In terms of outdoor sports equipment, what category – overall – has the best names? Which category has the worst?
The North Face Flight Better Than Naked Long Haul Shorts
This is, I think, the worst product name I’ve ever seen, and it is definitely one of the most incomprehensible product name we’ve ever seen. In fact, this literally was the inspiration for this entire post.
Seriously, it reads like someone put a random Yiddish proverb into Google Translate, and “Flight Better Than Naked Long Haul Shorts” got spit out.
This name is so nonsensical, we would consider naming this entire series after this product, but even the acronym looks like you let a cute puppy romp across your laptop keyboard. So anyway, enjoy these, “TNFFBTNLHS” Awards.
Has there ever been a name that an entire community adopts for a product, and that made-up name is so perfect that it 100% replaces the name of the actual product? I guarantee that more skiers know the name Day Wrecker than Alpine Trekker.
• The Kingswood Skis “SMB” – if you want to ask what it stands for, please email Kingswood Skis founder, Alex Herbert, and we’ll see if he’s in the mood to answer.
• Volkl Katana – cool points galore.
• I’m currently very fond of the name, The Hammer, for the ski we put together with Folsom. It seems appropriately descriptive.
• But it’s always important to pay homage in conversations like these, and before there was The Hammer, there was the Monster series from HEAD. And that name really hit the nail on the head (plus it’s a bad pun and keeps the hammer metaphor going.)
• LINE Opus / Magnum Opus – Perfect names from Mr. Pollard.
ON3P Cease & Desist
The Cease & Desist probably has my favorite backstory of any product. It all started when ON3P released the “Great Scott,” a ski named after ON3P founder, Scott Andrus. Then fellow-ski brand, Scott, sent ON3P — you guessed it — a cease and desist letter, and told ON3P to change the title. Sometimes, tough circumstances lead you to come up with something way better than the original.
This is one that could arguably go in both the “best” and “worst” name categories. Naming a ski “Deathwish” is pretty bold, especially when it uses a totally new and, at the point of its release, unproven technology like Moment’s “Triple Camber” profile. Luckily the actual ski turned out to be far from deadly.
K2 Seth Pistol
All I can picture when I see the name of Seth Morrison’s old pro-model ski is Mike Tyson is trying to pronounce the name of a certain British punk band.
Kinda like the Deathwish, this one could probably go in both categories. But depending on how easily offended you are, calling your line of packs “Douchebags” is either hilarious or obtuse. Your call.
K2’s women’s skis
Tough Luv. Luv Boat 105. OoolaLuv 85 Ti. Fulluvit 95Ti. Do you really need to add “luv” to nearly every women’s ski you make? And … spell check?
Cf what I wrote about Douchebags.
Salomon’s “MTN Lab” naming scheme
So this is less of an issue now, but a few years ago Salomon had at least three products that were all called the “MTN Lab” — a ski, a boot, and a helmet. That’s like calling all of your kids Donnie. Just … why?
There are a lot of pretty bad whitewater kayak names out there, but the just-released Prijon Cocaine tops the list.
Very informative name. A dictator is someone who is super powerful but who also sucks.
Best and Worst:
Mammut Ultralight Removable AIrbag 3.0
On one hand, this name is exactly what you get. On the other hand, it’s a mouthful and holds zero skin-track-talk sticking power.
My choices here were definitely not met with widespread agreement among my fellow Blister editors, but screw those guys, right? These are my opinions:
Even when this ski came out (2002?) it was a confusing name. While it’s named after 4FRNT founder, Matt Sterbenz, it also happens to share the same exact initials of a very popular film production company. It would like naming a ski “Level 1” today — you just shouldn’t do it.
Sometimes I hear this name and think it’s OK, then I snap back to reality and understand that it sucks. Just like Lady Gaga’s disco stick, this name is best left alone.
Black Crows’ Ski Line
This whole thing is super confusing. Without any width indication across the line, you’re just forced to remember the vaguely abstract names. I still only know 2 of them.
Flylow Smythe Bib
New for next year, the Smythe is a great new air-permeable ski jacket. But even after several discussions about this name with Flylow co-founder, Dan Abrams, none of us at Blister can remember how to pronounce it.
*** Important Note from Jonathan Ellsworth: It could be argued that Sam Shaheen should forever be prohibited from criticizing the names of anything, given that he once started a company and named it, Lethal Descent. Turns out, that’s a really bad name for an outerwear / apparel company. But in fairness, it would be a phenomenal name for a Tenacious D album…
Guerilla Gravity (bike manufacturer)
This name is memorable, cool, and gives off the “small brand doing things different” vibe that a small, boutique US-made brand should embody. It’s great on every level.
Best and Worst:
Everything from Cove Bikes
Most notably, the Shocker, Hummer, and G-Spot.
Okay, the internet has already torn this one apart plenty, but it was pretty much made for a list like this. And it’s cool that you can now get several other new, super-aggressive gravity tires from Maxxis — no matter what kind of “gai” you are.
Tantrum designs some pretty cool suspension platforms. But when I hear this name, I picture a three-year-old in tears after a gnarly tricycle crash.
Okay, Now it’s Your Turn…
You’ve now heard some of ours, but what say you? Let us know in the comments section below.
12 comments on “Best and Worst Product Names”
Can I put in a plug for every Arcteryx jacket that takes the form [Greek letter] [Roman letter][Roman letter]? It’s extremely confusing, mixes alphabets, and I can’t keep them straight.
Yes, yes you may. (Most of the time, we can’t keep it straight either.)
Actually, is extremely clear:
The greek letters indicate the “segment” (alphas are for alpinists, betas for allrounders, zetas for hikers and so on) while the two letters latin combination are:
SL – Superlight
FL – Fast and Light
AR – Allround
SV – Severe Weather
So a Alpha SV jacket is a jacket dedicated to alpinism, and for severe weather.
Simple as this
Hey Matyt. I hear you. I do understand the system, and the various designations, symbols, and so forth. In my view, one problem is that the Greek symbols bear no intuitive relationship to their corresponding categories (alpine, all around, and so on). That makes them hard to remember. Why not say, “Alpine Jacket SV, or hiking Jacket AR, and so on, or choose some more sexy/appealing names that nonetheless suggest what activity said product should be sued for. That would certainly make it easier. Isn’t this theoretically the basis of product naming and marketing?
Also, as I asked below, why have both SL and FL? That definitely does nothing to keep different products/categories separate and clear. And let’s not forget about IS! Why not just say…insulated?
There are also problems with the website and digital interface that contribute to confusion. For example, when I search for “Shell jackets” on the Arcteryx website, the products do not come up in any logical order, for example, Alpha SV to Alpha F, then Beta SV to Beta FL, and so on. Instead, they are all jumbled together. And if I refine the search, for example, by choosing “Hiking and trekking” there are Betas and Zetas together, along with other products with different names….it’s a mess.
The products are great, I own lots of Arcteryx stuff, but in my opinion the names are needlessly complex.
I agree with Bruno on this one — the words “extremely clear” and “simple” are not the words that spring to mind when thinking of Arc’s naming scheme. I also have to wonder why they make so many subtly-different pieces. I assume they have good reasons, but cutting pieces and simplifying / streamlining their offerings would, it seems to me, also make things clearer and simpler. Do they make a lot of very good products? Yes. Could they be more clearly and simply differentiated? I think so.
Perhaps not a product name, but I’ve always had fun making fun of proprietary waterproof-breathable fabrics that never seem to work quite as well as advertised. Patagonia doesn’t make H2No, it’s actually H2Flow. Or Marmot’s “Precip” that perfectly describes what happens on the inside of the jacket.
Intense Sniper Trail is the current worst. Not a fun trail.
Totally disagree about Guerrilla Gravity. Their bikes are cool, but the name just screams “Look how edgy and hardcore we are!” and sounds so cringey out loud.
Some years ago Honda introduced the ‘Fitta’, which in Norwegian means c***. It was renamed in Europe.
In general the tendency to call jackets etc with more than one pocket ‘technical’ annoys me.
In the 80’s the bike company Motiv had a mountain bike called the “Ground Pounder.” Mountain Bike Action (MBA) magazine, which at that time set the tone and trends for the whole industry, lampooned that name. They asked, “What will come next: Earth rapist? Two wheeled back-hoe?” This was a surprisingly prescient observation about the direction that the outdoor industry needed to (and needs to) take, toward greater environmental responsibility.
I love the name of the Mammut packs. Simple and declarative. So refreshing.
I also find the names of the Arcteryx products incomprehensible. There’s the Greek part, but then there are the abbreviations. SV = severe weather, AR = all around…but then we have FL = fast and light and SL = super light?
Which is lighter? Why both? This kind of confusion is why I like the Mammut names.
Regarding waterproof-breathable membranes (which, in all fairness, do finally seem to be improving somewhat), in the past I hated Gore-Tex’s behavior, the way they place demands on manufacturers, set design parameters, elevate prices, and so on. Then my infant daughter was diagnosed with a medical condition that potentially required a surgery and the use of a Gore Tex product (a small patch of material not unlike the membrane in a jacket). In an instant, my whole feeling for Gore Tex changed. My daughter did fine on her own with no intervention, but it’s funny how perspective can change. Now I own lots of products with Gore Tex….
Brian Berthold the founder of Tantrumcycles have yet not shared how he came up with the name. I guess it might be connected to how hard it can be to make today’s some how mainstreamed market to understand how the missing link suspension works. Anyone remotely more interested in suspension efficiency then cool names should have a closer look. I’m an happy owner of one, and the bike really does what its auto adjusting geometry is supposed to make possible.
In general it climbs better then an hardtail, but still descends like an gravity oriented bike. All this with no propedal remote lockout levers or electronics..
I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before, but one of the most awesomely absurd names in the bike world is the Naild R3ACT 2PLAY suspension system found on some Polygon and Marin bikes. I mean, really.
As to what industry has the worst names…I think the outdoor industry is pretty bad, but, for example, the color names that permeate so many industries (heath, periwinkle, and so on) are both entertaining and infuriating, and I think the car industry is consistently guilty of coming up with mystifying names for models and features.
For example (just because it’s the first thing that popped into my mind) how did Nissan come up with the name Quashqai? Is it some kind of play on the world “Cash?” From Wikipedia: Definition of Qashqai. plural Qashqai or Qashqais. 1 : a migratory Turkic-speaking people of the Zagros mountains situated east of the Bakhtiari. 2 : a member of the Qashqai people.
These words often have origins in common words, meant to portray subtle shaded or blended meanings. I remember a low-end mountain bike parts group from Shimano called “Exage.” This was supposed to combine the words “excellence” and “new age” but the parts were neither excellent nor visionary…flexible stamped steel coated with hard gray plastic. Terrible.
Anyway, I still think this is a good topic. Bring on more contenders!
Or, perhaps worse, VW’s bluetec dieself,