VICKI McKenzie lives, works and travels with Kathmandu.
The manager of the new Coffs Harbour branch of the outdoor and adventure retail chain leads an adventurous life and is the embodiment of the Kathmandu philosophy.
She has just moved from managing Kathmandu's Wagga store to head staff of nine at the new outlet in Coffs Central (formerly Palms Shopping) and she has recently returned from a month in America.
That month saw her criss-cross the USA by car, canoe, kayak and hiking boot, carrying a neat backpack full of Kathmandu essentials, including her beloved goosedown jacket.
"I took it all over America with me," Vicki said
The daughter of an outback drover, Vicki travelled all over inland NSW as a child and later spent nine years in the Australian Army, where she travelled widely as part of her work and Army deployments .
A keen canoeist and kayaker, she also skis and snowboards and loves adventure travel.
In 1992 the purchasing officer left the Army and moved south from Darwin to Falls Creek in Victoria.
Always a lover of adventure sports, kayaking took her to the Snowy Mountains where she became retail manager and buyer for the Selwyn snowfields in winter and for a kayaking business in summer.
She learned to ski and snowboard in her spare time while working in marketing, buying and retail management in the snowfields and then moved to Wagga to work in adventure sport.
In recent months, Vicki has crossed quite a few USA destinations off her bucket list, having enjoyed kayaking and rafting in the Westwater Canyon, visited Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon, driven through Utah and the Rockies; toured Virginia and Kentucky, driven through Utah and the Rockies; explored the Mississippi and enjoyed the jazz, food and nightlife of New Orleans among many other adventures.
Vicki said long before she began work with the company, she had been very familiar with Kathmandu products, both as a customer and a buyer and had always appreciated both their fabrics and quality of manufacturing.
Among her favourites is Kathmandu's lightweight merino clothing range, made from fine Australian and New Zealand merino wool, which she said was comfortable in all seasons.
"People think wool is just for winter but I have several merino t-shirts I wear all year round and it is so nice on your skin," Vicki said.
"Merino wool also has antibacterial properties so it does not get to smell like other thermal wear."
She said Kathmandu's insecticide-impregnated shirts and pants, which repel midges and mosquitos were another boon for paddlers, climber and hikers.
"The Kathmandu travel wear is light and quick drying so you don't have to carry much," Vicki said.
"They have lightweight, breathable wind and waterproof jackets that pack into a tiny space and their luggage is amazing." After her years of staggering under the weight of Army backpacks, which she says today she would be lucky to pick up, she is doubly appreciative of the lightweight, hi-tech backpacks available from Kathmandu.
There is even a hybrid suitcase/backpack which functions as wheeled luggage but can be strapped on for serious urban climbs, like those in old US hotels with no lifts, where guests have to haul their luggage up many flights of steep stairs.
As well as her trusty lightweight backpack. Vicki has brought heavier 'luggage' with her to Coffs Harbour - her harlequin great dane dog, Skye.
Vicki says the 65kg Skye is her fifth great dane companion - and her fifth rescue dog - but not the heaviest she has rescued, which was Skye's predecessor, a 98kg great dane.
Coffs Harbour customers should be sure to take advantage of Kathmandu's Summit Club, Vicki said,
"It is one of the best loyalty programs available in Australia, offering both instant discounts and accumulated spending points - and it includes buying at sales and clearances," she said.
Kathmandu also does a lot of work with schools, helping with programs like the Duke of Edinburgh Award and Outward Bound and Vicki is personally very passionate about this part of the company's work.
"It's such a good experience. I didn't have the opportunity until well into my twenties and almost out of the army," she said.
Kathmandu offers a special range for school with a full kit list and gear for different activities.
The new Kathmandu store is located in the new eastern ground floor section of Coffs Central.