Mar 18, 2017 at 11:00 pm #3457807
First off let me say that I hate to be that guy…the guy that bitches he didn’t get his way and that life is unfair. Instead I will simply tell you my story, and allow you to make your own decisions about doing business with Bearpaw Wilderness Designs. Let me say that throughout the years I have bought gear from just about every manufacturer around, cottage or otherwise, and I have never had an experience turn out this way…ever. So here goes…I inquired about ordering a net tent from John Stultz at Bearpaw Wilderness Designs on March 9, after some email correspondance I made my purchase of a net tent 2 in .74 cuben on March 10. I have copies of all of the emails showing I wanted a standard length/width/height tent with the only change being the wall would be an “a” frame rather than having an extended lower wall. I also have email correspondance from John stating the product will weigh 13 oz. I was crystal clear in what I was asking for. There are also several pictures on the Bearpaw Wilderness website that show the weights and dimensions of their products, as well as quality finished work. Well…I received the tent today, March 18, and right off the bat noticed that the edges of the bottom were not sewn or properly sealed, but instead were simply folded over and taped. They were taped completely crooked and twisted and the added tieouts were also placed in a position that would make pulling the edges out in a bathtub impossible. The tape literally looks like duct tape, not the normal cuben tape you see, and it was also coming off and not sticking at all in several spots. This was not how anything was finished in pictures on their website. I was shocked, this literally looks like a failed myog project, it is beyond half assed! So…I then put it on my scale and it weighed 15oz, not the 13oz I was quoted per the email correspondance. This may not seem like a big deal, but I paid an extra $110 to have this product made with the lighter material as I had back surgery and every oz counts to me. I then measured the length at 84″ rather than the standard 86″ per the website…not a big deal as I am not 7′ tall. I then measured the height at 37″ rather than the standard 40″ per the website…this is a big deal as it will not allow me to situp in it and this is something I specifically mentioned in our email correspondance. Then lastly the width was measured at 48″ rather than the 52″ per the website…this again makes it unusable to me due to the fact that 2 pads at 25″ per pad is 50″…so 2 people’s pads will not fit in their 2 person shelter! I have saved all email correspondance showing exactly what I ordered. I do have the product here and will show pictures of the incorrect specs and horrendous quality. What makes me so irate is the fact that I sent an email to John specifically telling him what I wanted and when I told him after I received it the specs were not correct he told me it was custom….sorry…when my email specifically instructed him to build it standard length/width/height. I also informed him that the quality was so bad that it is not usable, that it was simply folded over and taped with what looks like duct tape. I then sent him pictures showing how crooked and twisted the tape job was and that it is completely unacceptable. In the end he told me that it was a quality built product and that he will not refund my money. I will get my money refunded through my credit card company, but that is not the point. The point is that the specs were so off it makes it unusable for me…the quality I cannot even begin to tell you how bad this is, it looks like a 5 year old did it…and paying an extra $110 for .74 cuben netted me less than 1oz savings over their listed 16oz for 30d silnylon…I am not a math guru but something is not adding up. I have given John every opportunity to make this right, and he has refused to stand by his product specs and more importantly the quality of his product that has his name on it…which incidentally is also sewed on crooked. Standby for pictures…you will not believe that this was sent to me in this condition and John at Bearpaw Wilderness calls it not only acceptable, but quality work! This was my first and last time doing business with Bearpaw Wilderness Designs…I will stick with Mountain Laurel Designs, Six Moon Designs, Zpacks, Hyperlite Mountain Gear, and other reputable companies that have provided me with a quality product that they stood by!Mar 18, 2017 at 11:38 pm #3457809Robert MeurantBPL Member
You would not be the only one with such an experience with the gentleman in question.Mar 19, 2017 at 12:25 am #3457811Mar 19, 2017 at 12:28 am #3457812Mar 19, 2017 at 1:17 am #3457816
What makes me so angry is I have a completely unusable, jokingly bad, not close to specs, half-assed built product that I paid $255 for and an owner of a company that quite frankly couldn’t care less. Hopefully this will let others know to make other decisions and not roll the dice with this guy John and his company Bearpaw Wilderness Designs. I don’t get mad often at all, but this whole situation is so ridiculous I feel compelled to let others know what occured. The pictures and video (link below) can’t describe how awful the quality and utter lack of care that was put into this product is…extra material just folded over and taped to the top and attached crooked rather than properly finishing it..I’m still honestly blown away it was such absolute garbage!Mar 19, 2017 at 1:49 am #3457818
Here is a Video of the tent… I just took…hopefully it shows up better than the pictures and shows how God awful it really is. I just realized I’m doing this crap on a Saturday night rather than hanging out with my family…I’m done messing with this. Time to chill…Mar 19, 2017 at 7:38 am #3457830Robert MeurantBPL Member
As I have detailed in a previous thread, some years ago I ordered a Cuben Pyratent, a pole and a Cuben mesh inner from BPWD for an extended camping trip to Japan. All 3 items proved substandard. First, on arrival I discovered a sizable hole in the apex of the mesh inner that I had to patch, to make the inner mozzie-proof, and to ensure the apex was strong enough not to tear. Second, the pole was in three sections – but they had been assembled wrongly, so when folded, were too long (by quite a few inches). I could fix that by rethreading the shockcord, when I discovered the sawn end of one pole was roughly cut and at an angle, but that was protected by the rubber end cap, so no big deal. There was an extended period of monsoon rain before my trip, and I was busy with work, so I only had time for a cursory pitch of the Pyratent, but it appeared o.k.
On I think the second day of my trip, the apex of the Cuben Pyratent started disintegrating in blustery winds and hot sunny conditions. There appeared to be tape wound around the apex on the exterior that was peeling off. Running alongside the zipper there was a line of perforations, maybe a stitch line that was later removed, or the Cuben there was rotten and separating. Some of the internal seams were roughly sewn, as if the seamstress/seamster had been drunk at the time.
I too had little luck in seeking redress, I wanted full restitution – this was a new tent, and it had failed critically on first serious use – and John was advising me that his tents needed to be treated gently. God forbid. To be fair, John suggest I send the tarp back for repair, which was duly done, then returned it to me in Korea sometime later, without charge. But this whole fiasco had resulted in my being stuck in a foreign country, without phone or serviceable shelter, and in poor weather conditions – very stressful for a time, and in the meantime I was forced to purchase another tent in Japan to use for my trip.
I later used the Pyratent for some time, but recumbent in the tent looking at the wavering sewing line used to almost make me physically sick. The general lack of care in the workmanship was upsetting.
I’ve followed discussions on this site for some years. I think some people have been satisfied with the work they have received from BPWD, and would recommend them. But it has also been apparent to me that there are others who have not been at all happy with the products they have received from BPWD, and I certainly count myself among them. Reading John Brewer’s account and viewing his photos and video felt like deja vu all over again.
Cottage industries surely have their challenges to succeed as businesses, but that is no excuse for shoddy workmanship, and not taking responsibility for their products.
I’ve very recently had a completely different experience with a different cottage industry and its owner, who had better remain anonymous for the time being. This has been a totally positive experience, and the complete antithesis of the above experiences.
I think it is important that purchasers check their purchases very carefully on first receipt. I also believe that BPWD should radically review their quality control, and their policy on dealing with legitimate customer complaints, and make it clear to the workers responsible for the fiascos above that their work is simply not acceptable.Mar 19, 2017 at 8:08 am #3457835Ken ThompsonBPL Member
@hereLocale: Right there
Having seen quite a number of his finished product. Sad to say you are not alone. The things I have seen all look like they were made in complete darkness. Actually asked one guy if his mid was pitched inside out. Specs incorrect are probably the second largest complaint next to build quality.
Always surprised when someone suggests doing business with them.Mar 19, 2017 at 8:13 am #3457838Bob MoulderBPL Member
@bobmny10562Locale: Westchester County, NY
I will get my money refunded through my credit card company, but that is not the point.
Unfortunately it is the only thing you have left…. that and a loud warning to others! Glad you’re at least getting your money back.
Those photos are cringe-inducing—nightmare indeed. Hard to believe anyone would be so callous and unconscionable as to box up such a POS and mail it.Mar 19, 2017 at 2:27 pm #3457923Cameron MBPL Member
@cameronm-aka-backstrokeLocale: Los Angeles
Thanks, this is a service to post a BEARPAW WILDERNESS DESIGNS REVIEW to our community.
Keep using searchable keywords so others outside BPL might read this.
Linking to this post from outside websites/blogs also helps.Mar 19, 2017 at 2:50 pm #3457933[ Drew ]BPL Member
@43tenLocale: Central Valley CA
What is your fitness level height/weight?Mar 19, 2017 at 7:48 pm #3458012
Here is an up close shot of the horrendous quality product I received from Bearpaw Wilderness Designs…Mar 20, 2017 at 10:30 am #3458099Thomas ConlyBPL Member
@conlyLocale: Lots of canoeing and snow
I’m going to play a little devil’s advocate only because I’ve been making my own gear for years and can see why some of the things were done the way they were. That being said, there’s no excuse for the incorrect dimensions and the incorrect weight estimate.
The corners are folded over rather than sewn which doesn’t look neat, but I would do the same thing if I were using Cuben. Sewing, trimming and taping the four corners would add weight, make it (potentially) less waterproof, and weaken the corners which experience a lot of strain. The bottom of Zpacks’ stuff sacks do the same thing.
The seam being folded into the corner looks odd, but I think it may be done correctly. (It’s hard to tell in the video) A big commercial product would use a flat lock seam, which can’t be done without a very expensive sewing machine. Cottage manufacturers will often use a French seam which leaves a seam allowance. That seam allowance should be folded over so that the line of stitching furthest from the edge is square with the corner. Again, it doesn’t look very neat, but it’s not wrong.
The seam on the bottom of the floor is unavoidable. Cuben is only 54″ wide so you wouldn’t be able to make a 52″ wide bathtub floor out of one piece. (I realize that it only ended up being 48″, but I’m guessing they messed up somewhere in the construction)
The corner pull outs for the bathtub floor make sense if the plan is to connect them to the corners of a pyramid shelter instead of staking them out, although it isn’t what’s pictured on the website. If it were me, that’s where I would put the tie out if I were using .74oz Cuben because, at such a light weight, I wouldn’t want to attach a peg out point to the Cuben itself. It would be much stronger attached to the seam allowance. This is how Zpacks suspends their bathtub floors, although they’re not double wall.
The taping is very unfortunate. It’s stuck to the netting and there’s no hope that anything would stick to netting. I suspect that it’s only there as reinforcement, but it should have been taped to the Cuben while it was flat and then sewn in place.
John’s reaction is disappointing. I’m sure he could have explained some of the decisions he made in construction and he could have offered to redo the tape on the corners. I suspect that they accidentally deducted the seam allowances twice when they were planning the net tent, and it sounds like they didn’t take into account the weight of the tape when they estimated a 13 oz finished weight. Mistakes happen, but some sort of reparations should be made when they do.Mar 20, 2017 at 11:33 am #3458120Nick DBPL Member
@stumpjumperLocale: Santa Barbara, CA
I can’t speak to the business end of Bearpaw Wilderness, but I was unlucky enough to acquire one of his net tents off gear swap. I was regretting it the very second I pulled it from the stuff sack. Just about every corner and seem was mangled and stitched with zero care. Loose threads hanging everywhere. I was just thinking “wow, this guy doesn’t give a *%&$ about his customers”.
It’s really sad…. It just goes to show doing some extensive research into a product/company can save one some cash and heartbreak.Mar 20, 2017 at 11:58 am #3458125KatttBPL Member
Yikes. Sounds like nothing went right with this purchase. It always surprises me how a gear manufacturer would rather get their name soiled like this than make things right even if it costs them some money and time.
I have made a few mistakes, the post office has been making more and more, customers can make mistakes too, but my policy is that I will replace or reinburse anything I make if a customer is not happy, period. I don’t argue but rather offer to make it right no matter where the fault may lay. I think it pays off in the long run.Mar 20, 2017 at 12:19 pm #3458132
Integrity is what it boils down to. When John at Bearpaw decided to take a dump in a box, ship it to me, and call it good…then not make it right after the fact let’s me know he has none. I fully expected the quality of Bearpaw to not be world class. What I didn’t expect was it would be so bad that it is clear he cares nothing for the customer…it was like being spit in the face. His response proved to me he couldn’t care less. I truly hated to call him and his company out like this, but I simply had to. Hopefully it will help others not roll the dice like I did. I didn’t want to deal with crap like this, I just wanted a tent built to specs and a product that wasn’t built so poorly it was shocking. I should have known what I was dealing with when my first email to him quoted me a price $100 higher than what his website had it listed for, when I brought that to his attention he told me he made a typo…shady.Mar 20, 2017 at 12:55 pm #3458138Ethan A.BPL Member
@mountainwalkerLocale: SF Bay Area & New England
John I think your complaints are totally valid. Sorry you had to go through that and hope you can do something about it. I’ve had very good experience with cottage makers and one bad experience where I didn’t get refunded until I informed the owner I’m contacting the state Attorney General (it was a certain tent maker that had a talent for never delivering and I’m glad it appears they finally shaped up more recently). I’ll add that I was considering ordering a custom inner from BWD a few years ago and had the following experience: 1) When I emailed BWD with a brief note asking a few questions and prices, I got a rude response, wanting to do the work, just with bad attitude. 2) Several members I PMed who purchased from them said that even if the product they received was functional, the stitching looked like it was done by a drunkard in the dark.
Kat, kudos to you for your customer service which I’m sure is highly appreciated.Mar 20, 2017 at 5:36 pm #3458200Dena KelleyBPL Member
@eagleriverdeeLocale: Eagle River, Alaska
In addition to the chargeback with your credit card company (which it sounds like you’ve already initiated) you might consider filing a complaint with the BBB. Those are searchable, so it may save other people a similar headache. And it’s a black eye for the company that may cause them to make some much needed changes in policy and quality control procedures.Mar 20, 2017 at 5:52 pm #3458204IanBPL Member
Interesting to me that when searching “Bearpaw Wilderness Designs,” this same thread that the OP posted on Whiteblaze shows up on the first page but the BPL version is completely absent in the first five pages, which is as far as I cared to click. Off topic but it used to be that BPL was at the top of the heap when searching for anything backpacking related, which leaves me wondering if they’ve done something to hurt their search optimization. I’m just glad I can turn the computer on without breaking it so all this is pretty far outside my area of expertise.
Good luck to the OP as that tarp looks like a complete train wreck and not something I’d ever trust in the field.Mar 20, 2017 at 6:21 pm #3458212Bob KBPL Member
it used to be that BPL was at the top of the heap
It’s still at the top of my heap. I suspect Goggles takes individual browsing history into account and I rarely read Whiteblaze.Mar 20, 2017 at 6:52 pm #3458221IanBPL Member
I’ve been on Whiteblaze, maybe three times, never posted, and that was more than a few years ago. There was a Bearpaw Wilderness Designs BPL hit today from Jay’s post a few years ago, but not this thread.
Beats me.Mar 21, 2017 at 10:18 am #3458345Todd StoughBPL Member
His site says it has a year warranty. Can you set it up outside and see if something fails then return under warranty. Or is the warranty void on custom orders too.Mar 21, 2017 at 10:50 am #3458358Ben H.BPL Member
@bzhayesLocale: No. Alabama
It is shocking that BWD wouldn’t come on here and even try to defend his product/customer service. He hasn’t been active on BPL for a number of years, but is/was a member on here. He has got to be aware of this thread.
I’ve seen this kind of behavior a number of times from cottage manufacturers and it always seems to predate the company going out of business. It sounds like BWD is over there heads. I’m just glad the OP got his product in time to do a charge-back.Mar 21, 2017 at 8:18 pm #3458506wiiawiwbBPL Member
No one can defend shoddy work. Having said that I ordered a cuben-Fiber tent from John four years ago and it was fine. No problems at all with the seams, stitching, or craftsmanship. He was fine to work with, even considering I was a tad indecisive, and delivered the tent on time.Mar 22, 2017 at 11:27 am #3458647
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