Mar 12, 2010 at 1:32 pm #1256405
Of recent times it has fascinated me to know that there are some people who take pride in their work, and are stubborn and unwilling to move to bigger/cheaper manufacturing offshore. Brands like FF, One Planet (Australia), Nunatak and Courteney Boot Co (South Africa).
I was wondering if anyone could chip in their experiences or knowledge of the smaller "real deal" cottage industry outdoor equipment manufacturers.
IMHO, yeh its not quite as economical, but I prefer to go with these smaller brands, supporting them and their fantastic craftsmanship and service even if it means i gotta cut back to a cut lunch for an extra few weeks, and less pints of draught at the pub a week.
Quite possibly cos my dad runs a small cottage industry in the arts, hence my softspot for such businesses.
Whats your experiences and thoughts?
SiggyMar 12, 2010 at 1:45 pm #1585759
Tarptent- Henry Shires
Six Moon Designs- Ron Moak
Mountain Laurel Designs- Ron Bell
Anti Gravity Gear
Kooka Bay- Bender Newbie
End2End Trail Supply- George Carr
And many more. I have experience with all of these brands except Gossamer Gear and Mountain Laurel Designs, and all of them are outstanding. I enjoy giving my money to these companies much more than to big corporations. And, I've dealt with the owner of each personally. They all answer your questions and often go above and beyond the call of duty to make sure you're a satisfied customer. I can't really single one out because they're ALL outstanding.
The beauty of it all is that you really don't even have to spend more money! (unless long distance shipping fall in the mix). Usually these companies offer products at or below major corporations' price points.Mar 12, 2010 at 1:54 pm #1585768
@familyguyMar 12, 2010 at 2:01 pm #1585770
Tim at enLIGHTened equipment
Joe at Zpacks
Cant say enough good things about them
EvanMar 12, 2010 at 2:45 pm #1585791
I agree with Travis as well regarding money saved, despite the perception that cottage = expensive.Mar 12, 2010 at 3:05 pm #1585793
@dsmontgomeryLocale: one snowball away from big trouble
Forum member Matt Lutz keeps a pretty inclusive list of cottage mfgs.Mar 12, 2010 at 3:37 pm #1585801
drowning in spamMember
Cottage industry manufacturers are an incredible resource. They create equipment that fills a very small very useful niche.
Based on equipment I have, or will have very soon…
He's making my cuben fiber quilt. It allows me to drop a lot of pounds from my pack without giving up cold weather comfort.
Incredible down balaclava. Most head warmth for very little weight.
Anti Gravity Gear
He's making me a ~6 oz vapor barrier suit. Custom sized. This will allow me to wear extra clothing under my vapor barrier quilt, or even hike in that clothing, without sweating into it and making it cold and heavy. Oh yeah, he's making me a freezer bag cozy too…not custom, but close…he introduced it at an even almost right after I emailed him about one.
End2End Trail Supply
Extremely light and compact hand made stoves. Exceptional service.
A very light inflatable pillow that somehow has survived the abuse I've thrown at it.
A very unique design for a tarp tent with full bug protection (Hexamid) that makes other lightweight tarp tents look fat and bloated. I mean it fits in a gallon size freezer bag!
An incredibly light and well priced bivy with custom options…one of the only lightweight side zip bivies I could find.
Who thought a fire starter could be cool?
Light and tough backpack accessory packs that look like they could come from a major manufacturer, except for its weight.
They create a bear resistant food canister that looks like it'd come out of a shop that builds satellites, and I'd know. It's the biggest bear canister, yet weighs less than some of its smaller competitors. I believe it's the most bear resistant canister as well.
While not approved in all areas, they produce a bear resistant fabric bag that's lighter and easier to carry than any canister.
They produce some of the best priced core supplements that I've found anywhere. They beat the poor quality supplements in price while beating most of the top quality stuff in quality as well. Yet instead of putting bold faced lies and graphics in my face, they let the product do the talking. I've expanded the scope of my supplements from them from protein to sources of fat and carbohydrates too. Literally half of my dietary intake will come from this place during my thru hike. All their stuff is grown and processed locally.
Vapor barrier socks. I haven't used them yet, but they should be more durable than bread bags, yet just as effective.
They've come up with a very slick bottle cap that allows me to reuse a soda bottle for carrying fuel, but that's not it, it also has a straw built into it to suck up unburned alcohol.
A carbon fiber & titanium ice axe that only weighs about 5 ounces. As if that's not enough, he's the guy responsible for my cuben fiber quilt.
I probably missed a few. I'll throw in notable mentions for BPL, Ray Jardine, and Thru-hiker.Mar 12, 2010 at 4:07 pm #1585820
wow, what a response….
Im utterly taken back to find out there are that many in the US….
Here in Australia, ive been searching around for bushwalking specific gear (Roger Caffin…help me out!) cos the Aussie bush, despite not having quite the temperature extremes of other places…is notorious for being very tough on gear, especially in terms of abrasion and tear (gaiters especially!!).
and there really is only One Planet, who are still based in Melbourne, doing sleeping bags, packs and tents….and Summit Gear up in Katoomba who make their own packs, and for the emergency services (i have one on order)
Im glad to hear that the cottage industry is really really alive and well in the States, and who cares bout postage, USPS, FEDEX and UPS dont really charge THAT much (especially when u compare it to the $500+ or so that u pay for the item/items…its only a fraction for postage)
Im going to check out that list of Matt Lutz, save up…and put a few orders down!
If only the Aussies and Kiwis stopped falling for the temptation of cheap offshore manufacturing!
(It must be in the Vegimite we eat!)Mar 12, 2010 at 4:10 pm #1585822
My friend calls Vegemite "Beer Poop," being leftover brewer's yeast extract and all…Mar 12, 2010 at 4:24 pm #1585831
hahaha, Trav, its awesome stuff.
if u can get it, put it on toast, with a nice bit of grated cheddar, and then grill it….awesome!
dont take any of that Marmite stuff…yech, Vegimite is the best!
HAHAHA….its not a cottage industry company unfortunately LOL!Mar 12, 2010 at 4:28 pm #1585832
Deleted. Someone already linked to my spreadsheet.Mar 12, 2010 at 4:29 pm #1585833
@markmclauchlinLocale: Western Australia
Siggy, thing you need to understand is that hiking gear is a totally different market here in Aus. UL or even light are not concepts that a great number of people here subscribe to. The huge majority of the market is for conventional retail hiker who is either happy in bliss to carry a 20 kg pack or unaware there are alternatives.
In this months edition of Wild mag, OnePlanet have an ad in there for their UltraLight range of gear, a pack that weighs 1340g, tent thats 1100g and a bag thats 640g, we all know thats not even close to UL, but they are trying I guess, and they do make quality gear.
CheersMar 12, 2010 at 4:46 pm #1585839
@foundLocale: Sacramento, CA
Melanzana is a real deal cottage manufacturer around since 1994. Doesn't get much play here on the forums, but makes excellent gear that's popular amongst climbers and ski bums in the mountain west. Their Micro Grid Hoodie is sweet, and cheap.Mar 12, 2010 at 4:54 pm #1585843
@dsmontgomeryLocale: one snowball away from big trouble
Yep, that was me. A really good list, Matt!Mar 12, 2010 at 5:15 pm #1585859
"Melanzana … Micro Grid Hoodie is sweet, and cheap."
+1. I love my Melanzana hoodie! I know some folks don't like it because it's not an athletic fit, but that's exactly why I do like it. It's comfy and warm, and much lighter than an R1 (I'm saying that by memory, I could be wrong, seems like it though). Prompt customer service, friendly folks, well made stuff. I'll be ordering from them again.Mar 12, 2010 at 5:35 pm #1585870
@bleanLocale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Literally half of my dietary intake will come from this place during my thru hike.
I'd be interested to hear more about this if you re so inclined (separate thread, I presume, so as not to hijack this one.)
— MVMar 12, 2010 at 5:39 pm #1585872
@row435Locale: Mid Atlantic
Not necessarily UL but custom and made in the US:
http://beyondclothing.com/Mar 12, 2010 at 7:22 pm #1585902
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> OnePlanet have an ad in there for their UltraLight range of gear, a pack that
> weighs 1340g, tent thats 1100g and a bag thats 640g, we all know thats not
> even close to UL, but they are trying I guess, and they do make quality gear.
Required disclosure: I know the owner of One Planet.
OP are trying, but the shops don't want to know because they are dead scared of returns. And returns they get when novices take light gear into our scrub and don't look after it. Yes, I have been pushing OP for some time, but they have to make a profit.
Of course, OP's position is not helped when the retailers at least double the wholesale ex-factory price and carry little stock. And the retailers react very badly if OP makes any direct sales. We have a problem …
However, OP are willing to do semi-custom mods to gear, especially sleeping bags, and these can be had direct. You just need to ring them. Bit harder with tents and packs, but where there's a will, …
CheersMar 12, 2010 at 7:30 pm #1585906
@stainlesssteelMar 12, 2010 at 7:42 pm #1585911
Humans and our gear.
Convention versus innovation.
It's a human thing. The world learns a way to solve a problem and then sticks with that answer way past its natural life cycle. It takes up to three generations to change convention. Look at pictures of backpackers in the 1970s and now. How much innovation for most of the masses?
However, there are a few of us who wander to the edge. Who enter the fringe. Who dance madly in the moonlight. We rule the world if only in our own minds. But somebody's got to get the party started.Mar 13, 2010 at 1:41 pm #1586074
@fre49Locale: France, vallée de la Loire
Triple zero :
Cottage gear i have :
Tarptent double rainbow
Nunatak Skaha +
ULA catalyst ( my wife pack )
Ti Goat cylinder stove.
Kifaru para tipi.
Zpacks : some cuben stuff sacks, and a cuben backpack cover.
MLD cuben fiber poncho tarp.
Triple zero Astazou 800.
Suluk46 snow stakes.
For a few of them, ( Zpacks and Suluk come to mind first ), the postage to Europe is a bargain, i have companies asking me for more for shipping inside France.Mar 13, 2010 at 10:54 pm #1586210
I am glad these "fringe" companies exist and go against the grain. They make an awesome product while supporting a whole movement of backpackers that want to go light all the while helping our economy. I wish more companies would follow suit and bring manufacturing back to the USA.Mar 25, 2010 at 9:37 pm #1590966
@biointegraLocale: Puget SoundMar 26, 2010 at 9:26 am #1591074
I have the following items:
-Light Trek 4 poles
-Squall (original version I bought from Henry back in 2004)
-Circuit (bought when Brian still owned ULA)
-Bushbuddy Ultra (purchased through BPL)
Hilleberg (not sure if this is considered cottage)
Service and gear quality with all these manufacturers has been top notch.Oct 9, 2011 at 11:55 pm #1788673
@oystersLocale: South Australia
"However, OP are willing to do semi-custom mods to gear, especially sleeping bags, and these can be had direct. You just need to ring them. Bit harder with tents and packs, but where there's a will, …"
That's sounding better than before. Back in 2007 I asked them about modifying shadow packs, which were pretty new at the time. I still bought one but the fabric was a bit overkill at the time (and maybe that still is in some areas and if you aren't going off-track/trail…I think with the new light canvas-God its nice, but the pack weight has gone UP!). I asked them about it, I wanted three done, but they weren't keen.
I was going to start cutting mine up and modifying it myself (as of like before christmas), maybe I should talk to them again and get them to try it.
I do understand the returns thing, but if a store trains their staff properly in the gear, and the staff then talk to every customer making a purchase so that they understand that its not for dragging and bashing without thought to Vanishing Falls via each of Bobs Knobs then onto a West Coast trip for 30 days, they'll eliminate their returns issues. They just have to stress that wear and tear to fabric aren't covered, though if a seam falls apart randomly then, sure, bring it back and One Planet will cover it.
Big Kudos to One Planet for making such great gear though (it really is well made) and for making the majority of it in Melbourne.
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