Every fall, the product team wraps up current development and prepares to start designing for the new season. As a product designer, it’s important to be intimately familiar with the current products so I can improve them and create even better ones, but after nearly 2 years at NEMO, I still hadn’t tried out every piece of gear in our lineup. For my second GO FAR trip, I decided to make the experience a crash course in as many products as possible so I could dive into the 2026 season with plenty of ideas and inspiration.
I also decided to make this trip an introduction to camping for my family and friends back in Korea who had yet to experience this outdoor activity. (Camping is popular there, but “not for them.”) So, I headed to Korea once more in order to make their very first camping experience as quick and easy as possible — to Seoul, specifically.
Camping in the city might sound strange to folks here in the U.S., but it’s possible in Seoul! There are over 30 mountains in the area and 9 campsites in Seoul. Camping in Seoul is very popular and it's actually very difficult to reserve a campsite — they typically sell out immediately on the first booking day. Fortunately, I was able to book campsites for all 5 nights of my excursion, splitting it up into three mini trips.
TRIP #1: CAMPING WITH FAMILY
None of my family members had ever camped before. The closest they’d done was some glamping, where there was no need to carry all the camping equipment or set up a campsite. My goal was to give them a real camping experience, but as fun and enjoyable as possible.
I chose the newly opened Aeng-bong Mountain campsite because it is very close to where my sisters and their families live. (It’s located on the northwest side of Seoul and Seoul trail runs next to the campsite.) My two sisters, along with their husbands, and my two nieces and one nephew, were nervous but excited.
We set up the Aurora Highrise™ tent for my sister’s family. The blue color is really outstanding and looks great at the campsite.
My niece Jieun helped me fill the Tensor™ sleeping pad with air — proving that the Vortex pump is so easy, even an 8-year-old can do it!
After dinner, it was time for the event my nieces and nephews were really looking forward to: making s’mores! We made plenty, and even whipped up some chocolate fondue and Jiffy pop.
I was a bit worried about camping with my nieces and nephews because it was their first time sleeping in a tent — It might be cold at night! There might be a lot of bugs and mosquitoes! But my concerns were unnecessary because they really enjoyed it and even wanted to stay a few more days.
Warm fall weather helped make their first camping a success, but I think the s’mores and Jiffy pop were the true heroes of the trip. They’re already asking to camp again in the warm spring months of this year.
TRIP #2: CAMPING WITH FRIENDS
The warm fall weather continued for my second trip, which was with my college friends Chulyoung, Sojung, and Qlee. It was their very first camping experience and, more importantly, our first reunion since the COVID pandemic put a stop to visits.
I brought NEMO’s newest gear with me to test out: a backpack and duffel bag! (Coming soon.) The Resolve™ 35L backpack and Double Haul™ 55L convertible duffel and tote were perfect for carrying the camping gear.
We set up our Dragonfly OSMO™ 2P tents and it was a great experience to get feedback from people who had never pitched a tent before. (Spoiler: They got it assembled without issue and didn’t even refer to the instructions!)
Since food is important when camping, we had Korean barbecue and cooked some delicious dishes every night.
Rain was pouring on the second night, but we stayed cozy and dry inside the Dragonfly tents. Even I, a NEMO employee, was impressed by how well the OSMO™ fabric performed in the rain. It dried quickly and kept us comfortable.
In the morning, we went hiking on the Seoul trail, which is right behind the campsite. It was perfect hiking with fall foliage and fresh air after the rain.
TRIP #3: BACKPACKING IN SEOUL
I wrapped up the first portion of my GO FAR — the camping portion — and was ready for the next chapter: backpacking. As I mentioned, there are 9 campsites in Seoul, and all of them are accessible by subway or bus.
I switched up my gear, refilled my transportation card, and took the subway to my backpacking trip destination. My first stop was back at the Aeng-bong campsite, and then it was just a short walk to meet my friend at the Gupabal Station on the Seoul Metro line 3.
We picked up some food at the shopping mall and headed back toward the campsite, and the Seoul Trail. Light rain started to fall, but we hiked on the trail to Bukhansan and had a quick coffee break there.
It continued to rain overnight, and the weather suddenly changed to winter, but I didn’t let that stop my journey. The next day, I took the subway again to another destination in eastern Seoul. On the way there, I stopped by several stores to do some market and trend research. What a perfect work-cation trip!
I met Byun and Joon at the subway station and we made the 15-minute walk to the Jungnang campsite. Since it’s so accessible, this site is great for enjoying an “escape” from the city in nature without having to travel far.
I took a lot of new 2024 products on the trip, and it was a great opportunity to do some field testing. The Resolve™ 35L pack was perfect for carrying NEMO's lightweight backpacking gear, including the Moonlite™ Elite reclining backpacking chair, Coda™ 25/35 down mummy sleeping bag (designed by me!), Tensor™ Trail ultralight insulated sleeping pad, and more. I’m very excited to see them on the market in 2024.
After a short hike in Jungnang Forest, it was almost dinner time. We brought some food but ordered the main dish. It was delivered in just 30 minutes. That's the advantage of camping in Seoul.
Strong winds and guerrilla rain came and went throughout the day, but this did not hinder our camping experience. We moved into the tent and even hung out in vestibule area. Even with the rain, it was a great camping day.
Coming back to work after my GO FAR, I felt ready to kick off new designs for the 2026 season (yes, we work that far in advance). I can apply a lot of the feedback from my friends and family to create better new products, and the biggest achievement is that my family and friends really enjoyed their first camping trip! We’re already talking about our next camping trip in 2024.
Tensor™ Trail Ultralight Sleeping Pad (coming soon!)
Resolve™ 35L pack (coming soon!)
Double Haul™ 55L Convertible Duffel and Tote bag (coming soon!)
Coda™ 25/35 Down Mummy sleeping bag (coming soon!)
Moonlite™ Elite reclining backpacking chair (coming soon!)
The NEMO GO FAR (Get Outside For Adventure & Research) Program gears employees up and sends them out to spend time in interesting places in NEMO gear. We believe great design starts with real adventures and are committed to making sure all NEMO employees get to experience it.
Jungki Kim is a Design Manager at NEMO. When he isn’t designing products that provide better sleep experiences for campers and backpackers, he loves traveling the world — exploring nature, wandering the cities, and experiencing new food and culture along the way.