Buffalo was formed in Sheffield over 30 years ago by a mountaineer and product designer who conceived what is now known as the Buffalo Systems clothing and sleeping bag concept. A small, tight-knit team of outdoor enthusiasts were then gathered together from many different outdoor backgrounds. Some were cyclists, some were climbers, others explored caves in their spare time. There were walkers, skiers and the odd paragliding enthusiast.
What bound them together was a shared love of natural space, be it rolling hills, rocky crags or echoey underground caverns.
The team first started making sleeping bags and took inspiration from a community thousands of miles from South Yorkshire. To keep warm, the Inuit use animal hide with the fur on the inside. This increases warmth and allows moisture laden air to circulate and escape through the porous hide. Even in heavy rain, and after vigorous exercise, the Inuit's skin remains dry and safe from freezing. Taking this concept on board, Buffalo was born and became concerned with comfort from the inside rather than waterproofness from the outside.
The company now sells across the UK, Europe and beyond. Its clothes are sold to hill walkers, climbers and fishermen, but the brand is also held in high regard by those in the military, fire service and mountain rescue teams.
Since the company started, Sheffield has provided more than just a home for Buffalo.
“Along with the Scottish Highlands, the Peaks has been the testing ground for every one of our products,” says Adam Thomas, Buffalo’s sales and marketing manager.
“From our workshop, we are only 10 minutes to the Burbage Valley and Stanage on the eastern edge of the Peak District. Our workshop is also located 10 minutes from the city centre, so we get the best of both worlds: a bustling city centre and the peace and tranquillity of the Peaks.”
Adam says the area has also influenced the design of Buffalo products, from the colours of the clothes themselves to their build.
“Kinder and Bleaklow can feel very different to the Chee Dale or Manifold Valleys, so we needed to design clothing that can cope with these different environments,” he says.
But there’s another key component which the company should thank the area for.
“Sheffield has provided us with an amazing workforce. All our clothing and sleeping bags are made here in our workshop, and without a bustling city, obtaining the skilled workforce we require would have been very hard. Sheffield people care, and this care in what they do has helped build the reputation of quality and workmanship which Buffalo has.”