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Ferrino 150 years anniversary

Text Gian Luca Gasca

It all started thanks to an invention, as in the most classic of Italian stories. One hundred and fifty years ago Cesare Ferrino, in his paint shop at the 107 in via Nizza in Turin, developed a formula able to waterproof canvases and fabrics.

An idea that would revolutionize the outdoor world, but let’s start from the beginning. In the Italy of the late nineteenth century, the mountain was not a hobby for normal people, it was just a playground for few. For nobles and adventurers with the opportunity to spend a long time away from the chores of everyday life, a decidedly small market and, in the immediate term, not very interested in changing their habits in terms of products. Ferrino’s first customers were other companies such as Fiat or the Italian Army. The former used waterproof canvases to realize hoods of cars while the latter used them to cover and repair military vehicles. The explorers arrived a few years later, towards the end of the century. Famous names such as the one of the famous Duke of Abruzzi, or the biellese photographer Vittorio Sella and still the himalaysta Mario Piacenza.

Their explorations in remote places of the planet today belong to history, they tell about a romantic era of discovering the vast white areas of the Earth. About an unknown adventure that no longer exists today. For these experiences, they needed a new type of tent, a shelter that needed to be waterproof, resistant and easily transportable and who, if not Cesare Ferrino, would have been able to satisfy them?

They were the first to take Ferrino tents to the extreme, to test them in prohibitive conditions, indelibly marking what was the entrepreneurial direction of the company. In a short time Cesare Ferrino transformed his company by expanding the sector of competence to the manufacture of waterproof tents for the outdoors. The goal was to make them resistant, lightweight and easily transportable, therefore suitable for adventures in self-sufficiency, in places where it would have been necessary to move frequently carrying all the gears on your shoulders. Various models were born such as the Alpina tent, resistant to strong winds; or the Sangone, small and cheap.

The true revolution

In the summers of the 1960s, caravans of cars left the large cities of the north in search of fresh air and pristine environments, it was the period of summer closures that emptied urban centers to fill mountains and coastal areas. Those who left easily had a Ferrino branded tent or some camping accessory from the Turin company in their luggage. This was one of the first true brand revolutions, together with the great Himalayan companies of the seventies and eighties.

Ferrino has then became a well known leading company in the outdoor sector, and many people  started to use its products, even among Himalayan climbers. For this reason, at the end of the seventies a young Reinhold Messner decided to contact the brand asking for a made-to-measure tent. He was chasing the dream of being the first man to climb all the 14 eight thousanders and to accomplish that he needed some products designed specifically for his needs, including strong, light and resistant tents to the extreme weather conditions encountered where the air becomes rarefied. When he turned to Ferrino he did it with clear ideas: he needed a dome-shaped geodesic tent to withstand the strong winds of the Himalayas. The company satisfied him and in the meantime understood the potential of this sector and how much interfacing with figures like Messner can benefit in the study of new solutions. After that began a fruitful dialogue with climbers and explorers that still goes on today. The mountaineers were happy to be able to work with the company and to put their hands on what would be the products with which they will face their challenges; and the same thing applied to Ferrino who could draw inspiration for new projects.

When in October 1986 Reinhold Messner accomplished his challenge on the 14 8000m peaks Ferrino was with him exactly as it was with Silvio Mondinelli in 2004, when the mountaineer from Brescia became the second Italian to climb all 8000m peaks without additional oxygen. Ferrino has always been a proud protagonist of these goals and continues to be today by offering its experience and expertise to the Poles engaged in the difficult expedition at K2 during winter time, the last great challenge of the classic Himalayas, as well as to the Basque climber Alex Txikon that after being the first to reach (together with Simone Moro and Ali Sadpara) the summit of the Nanga Parbat during winter continues to seek records in the coldest and most difficult season. Ferrino is a family for all these guys (and older guys) who challenge themselves every day chasing a dream for glory, personal success or simply to say that the impossible does not exist. Ferrino offers them safe shelters, warm cradles of life in the raging storm. Perhaps this is the true distinctive character of Ferrino, the one that for 150 years has uniquely identified the company. Ferrino is a family. It can be seen by observing the production chain, the commitment made in the process of developing new products: from the idea to the field tests to the marketing, each phase is carefully followed. The same care that is the company has for repairing its products every day for customers loyal to the backpacks, tents, sleeping bags with which they carry out their small personal adventures. Milestones in which Ferrino is proud to be present, just as it is proud to be alongside men and women who spend their days helping others. For fifty years, in fact, it has been offering support to humanitarian missions and helping people affected by wars or natural disasters through a line of products designed for first aid.

Flexibility, innovation and continuous research are the three characteristics of the Turin-based company which this year celebrates its 150 anniversary. A century and a half of experience that is put on the table every day in the design of the product of the future, without ever forgetting the link with the consumer. For this reason, Ferrino has been organizing high-altitude tented camps for 26 years where it is possible to test high-end products, those of the Highlab line, which includes equipment designed to withstand extreme conditions. The opinion of climbers, hikers, but also of simple walkers, counts. It matters because it is thanks to them that the small shop of Cesare Ferrino has transformed, becoming over time a guarantee for the outdoors, in terms of quality and reliability.

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