How to design plastic products for sports and adventure

February 5, 2020


Excelsior is now over 100 years old, which means we’ve got a long history behind us of designing and supplying rotomoulded plastic products across a huge range of industries. This includes products for clients in the sporting and adventure sectors, so we know a thing or two about making them! So, if you’ve got your own idea for a plastic product for the sporting, adventure or outdoors world, how can you start making it reality? Well, while the specifics will obviously vary from product to product, there are certain attributes that most – if not all – outdoors plastic products have in common. Here, we’ve listed a few ideal qualities that it’s useful for outdoors plastic products to have – so it may be worth thinking about how you can incorporate them into yours!


This is probably one of the most obvious qualities (but most important) that most sporting and adventure products need to have, so it makes sense for us to start here. Generally, most sporting and adventure activities involve travelling far, or travelling fast – often both! That means people hiking up mountains or embarking on cross-country cycles won’t have much room (or much patience) for any items that weigh anything more than they absolutely need to, so right off the bat you’ll probably need to start thinking about how you can keep your plastic product’s weight down.


Whether you intend your product to be used by hikers, campers, or sportspeople, if you’re designing a product for outdoors you’ve got to take water into account. We’re not necessarily talking about weather – due to the waterproof nature of plastic, most plastic products have no trouble resisting even the heaviest of showers unless they’re cracked or otherwise damaged. However, if you’re designing a plastic container to be used in or around water – such as in canoes and other light watercraft – you’ll need to think about seals, such as how it can be opened and closed (if applicable) without water ingress damaging whatever’s inside.


Let’s be honest – when you’re taking something with you to the great outdoors, there’s a fairly decent chance of it getting knocked about a bit. That means as well as being resistant to water and the elements, it’s a good idea to ensure that your plastic product is physically durable too. Now, plastic is already pretty durable to start with, but it’s worth bearing in mind that using our rotomoulding process, we can manufacture your product with features like stiffening ribs to further increase its durability and strength under stress.

Roto Moulding

Brightly coloured

Unless it’s for specialist or military use, it’s common for sporting and adventuring products to have bright, eye-catching colour schemes. This can be for any number of reasons – in practical terms, it can help the item to stand out against its natural surroundings, making it easier to see (and therefore find) amongst rocks or forests. Plus, bright and vibrant colours like red, yellow and orange tend to feature a lot in sporting applications, as humans find them exciting and energising.


This is another aspect that’s particularly important to consider if you’re planning your plastic product for sports usage. If it’s being attached to a car, bike or similar sort of vehicle, it helps for the product to be smooth and streamlined, with no extraneous parts poking out that could get damaged or snapped off (or worse, cause damage to something or someone else). In fact, it’s worth thinking in general about how your product will be transported. Will it be designed with handles so it can be carried freehand, or is it worth using roto moulding to design hooks for buckles and straps, so that it can be securely attached to something else?

Those are just the functional considerations though – when we’re talking about ergonomics, it’s also a good idea to think over the product’s aesthetics in general. Sometimes you might not consider this necessary, especially if its use is highly specialised, or purely safety. However, if it’s intended for sale to the wider public, an attractive design can be vital in helping it to sell, so it’s important not to underestimate this aspect. After all, even the most useful product in the world is redundant if no one buys it!

And speaking of design…

Stamping and stencilling

Now, this one obviously isn’t quite as functionally important as some of the other aspects we’ve covered above, but let’s be honest – if you’ve designed and commissioned a quality plastic product, you’ll want other people to know who’s responsible for it! Bespoke stencilling is yet another service we can provide here at Excelsior, and have done for a huge number of happy clients throughout our long history.

You can read more about some of of these happy clients in our case studies section, where you can also find out more about previous sporting and outdoors products we’ve created for clients such as BikeBox and Adventure Orb. And of course if you’ve got any questions, or you’re ready to discuss your own idea for a plastic product, feel free to give us a call on 0161 765 2010!