Henry Shires is the President and Founder of Tarptent, a direct-to-consumer, cottage-industry tent manufacturer known for its light, stable, and roomy shelters. In this episode of the Backpacking Light Podcast, Andrew chats with Henry about his design philosophy and process, fabrics, Tarptent’s business journey, the importance of taking time away from your company to recharge, and much more.
- Guest introduction – Henry Shires, Founder and President of TarpTent
- Henry’s design aesthetic
- Story of the first Tarptent
- Henry’s design process and signatures
- PitchLoc corners
- Probing the polyhedra
- Catenary curves
- Why Henry started designing for DCF
- The BPL DCF Podast
- Working with DCF
- The way the fabric is produced (size of the sheets)
- Other design challenges
- Stretch factor of fabrics
- Failed designs
- Combining successful design elements
- Using CAD vs seeing how things work in the real world
- Testing designs
- Usability vs real-world stresses
- How a passion for design leads to unique features
- The business journey – from first design to present
- Making the choice to go full-time
- Early-days struggles
- Sewing in Seattle – pros and cons
- Things coming up in 2020 for TarpTent
- Direct-to-consumer and why it is important for Henry
- Balancing running a business vs actually doing the business
- Staffing a cottage business
- An experiment with Tyvek fabric!
- The future of shelters
- Henry is concerned about decreasing weight at the cost of performance
- New fabrics?
- Always room for new designs (but there’s only so many ways to hold up a tent).
- Why it is important for Henry to produce affordable gear (Like the ProTrail)
- What Henry views as the future of the cottage industry
- Henry’s final thoughts – keep doing it until it isn’t fun anymore
- Carving out time for hiking
- Carving out time for family
- Ryan Jordan used a Tarptent Notch on a wet, cold, snowy trip in Wyoming – read his field notes and watch the movie.
- We recently reviewed the Tarptent Aeon Li, Tarptent Notch Li, and Tarptent Stratospire Li
- Learn more about Dyneema Composite Fabrics and their use in tents and other gear in the DCF Webinar and DCF Podcast.
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- Backpacking Light – Executive Producer
- Ryan Jordan – Director and Host
- Andrew Marshall – Producer, Host, and Editor
- Henry Shires – Guest
- Look for Me in the Mountains – Music
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Updated November 7, 2019
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