Robin Gomme believes that everyone should be able to enjoy the beauty of nature, but he knows that for many, comfort is a big hurdle. That’s why Kuma Outdoor Gear offers something different to outdoor enthusiasts of all experience levels and ages. Their collection of luxury outdoor furniture, tents, sleeping bags, pet products, drinkware, and accessories are durable, dependable, and comfortable. Rob started Kuma, which means “bear” in Japanese, in 2014 in Jasper, Alberta. One of the most unique aspects about this outdoor gear disruptor is that they operate their own marketing, product development, and distribution. This allows them to have full control over their brand story and creative process. Rob’s experience in global marketing over the past 25 years allows him to showcase the products through their stories to grab attention and build connections.
Kuma partners with companies whose values align with their own. These “kollaborators” are like minded brands working with Kuma to create complementary products and events which makes for unique outdoor experiences. Prioritizing values of integrity, trust, innovation, quality, and passion permeate everything Kuma does.
We sat down with Rob to learn more about what Kuma has to offer and where its inspiration comes from.
What inspired you to start Kuma?
I grew up around Jasper, Alberta, in the snow-capped Canadian Rockies, and have always been passionate about the outdoors. Jasper is one of the most beautiful places in the world. It’s full of wildlife, forests, glacier-fed lakes, and rivers, and the town has a rich history. We started Kuma to inspire people to comfortably experience the kind of tranquility and beauty you’ll find while in Jasper. I put a lot of what I believe in into the company and its story. Personally, I believe people want to connect with a story and through that story feel associated with a brand. Kuma is a brand people love to feel a part of. That’s a huge differentiator.
Who are Kuma’s products for?
We have three categories of products tailored to different outdoor experiences. Trail Boss is rugged and durable luxury outdoor furniture that adjusts to any terrain. Happy Camper is designed for the general outdoor enthusiast looking for comfort and ease of use. This category provides convenience features like cup holders and comes in classic colors like plaid and heather gray. Finally, Festival Junkie is inspired by retro designs featuring bright, on-trend colors, perfect for festivals, beaches, and picnics.
Tell us about some of Kuma’s notable products.
We build one of the market's industry leading heated camping chairs. I used to work in the ski industry and took the technology from the heated ski boot and integrated it into our chair. We have just launched the world's first heated chair with Bluetooth technology. Now controlled with a free app from Kuma, people can preheat and micro-adjust the temperature on their chair to their preference. Embracing the way people will be using technology outdoors will inspire the next generation of camping.
Chairs are our specialty, but our process starts at the campfire and works outward. Our goal is to ensure people are just as comfortable outdoors as they are indoors. Our products are designed with top quality materials and the features and benefits our customers expect. We pay close attention to what other companies are doing, or rather, what they’re not doing, like integrating technology into camping gear. People desire innovation intersecting with ease and comfort. A lot of camping companies use traditional product colors, but we believe in breaking the mold. For example, I saw a Corvette in sage green and grey on the road, and that inspired this year’s color for our newest product collection.
How has your background informed what you do at Kuma?
For 25 years, I worked with sports companies like Ripcurl and Elan Skiis. Through them, I gained a lot of knowledge on branding awareness and product design. I own two businesses that work within the action sports community on the promotional side, doing their point of purchase materials, branding, and more. I’ve also done sales and product design for Woods Canada, which was bought by Canadian Tire.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
The freedom to create. I don’t have a desk; I’m always on the road in a van visiting distributors and retailers. In the current business landscape, an owner can be more accessible than ever before both virtually and in person, which is inspiring. In my role, I have the opportunity to create disruption in the industry and alter the idea of what people think camping should be.
Owner — Kuma Outdoor Gear