During his training as a textile engineer, Frenchman Benoit Laval fulfilled a childhood dream of crossing the Pyrenees solo. On this approximately 900 km hike, Benoit had enough time to get annoyed with his equipment. It was too impractical and above all too heavy for the young hiker. This experience later drove Benoit to say after only three years of professional experience: "I can do it better". So he became self-employed and started – in the classic way in a garage – to develop his own running backpacks and jackets. In 1999 the time had come: RaidLight was founded as a brand and company.
What followed was rapid growth. The products were received very positively and the product portfolio grew steadily. The focus was clear: light and functional running equipment and clothing that works even under the most adverse conditions. Benoit had plenty of opportunities to test the products. As a marathon and ultra runner, he took part in races such as the stage ultramarathon Marathon du Sables (9th place) and the Grand Raid de la Réunion (2nd place). Later he even managed two laps at the notorious Barkley Marathons.
Maximum rain protection and breathability with MP+ membrane
In 2010, Vertical, a traditional French manufacturer of technical mountain equipment, was integrated into the company. Not only did Vertical bring special technical expertise to RaidLight, it also brought its MP+ membrane with it. This membrane is the cornerstone for the many RaidLight products that have so impressed us at Sporthunger, above all the Ultralight 2.0 MP+ jacket. Waterproof up to a water column of 25,000, the jacket protects even in very heavy rain. What is special, however, is the breathability of the membrane. According to the manufacturer, it reaches a value of 60,000, which means that 60,000 grams of liquid per square meter can evaporate through the membrane in 24 hours. That is almost three times as much as with comparable products. A value of 15,000 is considered extremely breathable. With a weight of 100 grams, the jacket is of course also particularly light.
The MP+ membrane is also the basis for other rain and weather protection clothing from RaidLight. With such technical values, many of the products are of course predestined to meet the requirements for mandatory equipment on trails and ultramarathons. We have included the Ultralight MP+ rain pants and overgloves in our range.
In 2016, RaidLight was acquired by the Rossignol Group. What followed was a strong expansion of the brand into different countries. Somehow the whole thing didn't fit together and this community didn't last long. In 2020, Benoit separated the RaidLight and Vertical brands from the group and led them to independence. Since then, the focus has been on the essentials again, i.e. technical development rather than market shares, even if a consolidation process first had to be carried out.
The company currently has 38 employees and a beautiful headquarters in Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse, a French commune in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. Approximately 60% of the products are currently made from recycled materials and 10% are made in France. Benoit has stated as a clear goal that in the future 90% of the products should consist of recycled materials and that local production should be further strengthened. We're certainly excited to see what's next and continue to test RaidLight's innovations. In this sense: stay hungry. Your Jonas & Florian
Here you will find our RaidLight range
This text was first published in RUNTIME 4/22.