question about workmanship of UL products
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Heesoo Chung
(impulse04) - MLife
question about workmanship of UL products on 03/25/2008 08:48:50 MDT Print View

What level of quality have you come to expect from the UL cottage industry?

I recently purchased an UL shelter that has loose stitching, inconsistent thread tension, non-straight seems, etc. Do these flaws have an affect on product durability and performance?
stitching starting to unravelrearcornerseam


Are these flaws an accepted limitation of products made by the UL cottage industry?

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
UL Workmanship/Quality on 03/25/2008 10:23:40 MDT Print View

I am relatively new at the lightweight backpacking.

The two companies that I have bought UL equipment from is from Henry Shire- Contrail and Mountain Laurel Designs- Soul Side Zip Bivy & Rain Mitts by Ron Bell.

I have not noticed any sewing problems with my Contrail...I have a trip this weekend and will take a closer look at the stitching on it. But I can tell you have I have used it extensively over the past year without any problems with the tent.

I can defintely say that Ron's work is just top notch.

This weekend I spent 3 hours carefully seam sealing my Soul Side Zip Bivy with eVent top and I have looked over every inch of the sewing that was done.

This work is amazing...clean, straight and tight.

By it's nature, I think that UL equipment needs to be handled with a little care so that it will last. It is light weight, not bullet proof.

One thing that I might suggest for you is to contact the person/company that you bought your shelter from.

One thing that I really have enjoyed when doing business with Henry Shire and Ron Bell is that they are extremely responsive to their clients...they know that the UL community is relatively small vs. the big box retailers and they take a personal interest in what they do.

If you check the forums, it is not uncommon to see the owners of UL gear makers posting responses to questions or to even personally respond to emails that you send directly to them.

Hope that this helps you....highly suggest that you give the company that you bought your gear from a chance to make things right with you.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Looks like a bad apple on 03/25/2008 10:55:47 MDT Print View

My experience with the following companies has resulted in the delivery of excellent quality and service...

Henry Shires (Contrail)
Mountain Laurel Designs (poncho tarp)
Titanium Goat (adjustable poles)
Jacks R Better (quilt)
Zpacks (pack)
Gossamer Gear (pads)
Boseman Mountain Works (layers and bivy)
PossumDown (beanie and gloves)
F.H. Enterprises (Bushbuddy via BPL)
Firelite (cooking related)

You need to complain about your situation to the owner/maker of the product. Maybe there was alcohol involved during the sewing of your product.

John Haley
(Quoddy) - F

Locale: New York/Vermont Border
Re: question about workmanship of UL products on 03/25/2008 11:13:05 MDT Print View

I've never had any problem with gear from UL cottage industry folks. I don't recognize either the material, product, or sewing in your example and I wonder just who/where you got it from.

My experience with McHale (pack), MLD (2 packs, 1 bivy, 1 tarp), TarpTent (Contrail and Rainbow), ULA (Conduit), TiGoat (AGPoles), and a few even smaller makers has been of the very highest quality... both product and customer service wise.

Joshua Mitchell
(jdmitch) - F

Locale: Kansas
Re: Re: question about workmanship of UL products on 03/25/2008 12:06:39 MDT Print View

Ditto John's comments... what you've posted makes me wonder who, precisely, you bought it from. That doesn't seem normal of any of the 'titans of UL industry' that have been listed (MLD, Tarptent, TiGoat, GG, etc)

Edited by jdmitch on 03/25/2008 12:07:42 MDT.

Jason Brinkman
(jbrinkmanboi) - MLife

Locale: Idaho
Re: question about workmanship of UL products on 03/25/2008 13:49:27 MDT Print View

It's a little difficult to extrapolate the pictures to a sense of the item quality overall, but I believe they are outside of the acceptable range - at least for the loose stitching and seams.

I have never had a bad experience with UL cottage goods. I have personally experienced, and seen/heard of only good to great quality from the aforementioned manufacturers. Often products are of better and more suitable materials and construction than are available from the big names, and there is a preponderance of very accommodating folks making goods in this niche market.

I definitely encourage you to contact the person/company that you bought your shelter from to pursue a solution. In many cases, you will be talking to the propriater themself. Everyone has an excusable blunder once in a while, but how they handle it will determine how long they will be a viable business.

By the way, the usual criticism of a 'bad egg' or two is on delivery times, but even the stuff you might wait a year or more on seems to be of great quality when folks finally get it. Not everybody is producing cottages goods with their own hands - even some of the "cottages" have been outsourced these days, so they may not even realize that they have a problem.

Andrew Richardson
(arichardson6) - F

Locale: North East
Re: question about workmanship of UL products on 03/25/2008 14:10:11 MDT Print View

Who was the supplier of the product? People may be able to speak directly about the supplier of the product rather than assuming that one bad product from a supplier, who possibly has a bad reputation, can be compared to the UL cottage industry in general.

So who made it?

Laurence Daniels
(GNR) - F

Locale: Boston
Joshua on 03/25/2008 15:12:12 MDT Print View

I get it...it doesn't seam normal. That's funny.

I agree...cottage-industry quality is not a phrase usually used to describe lower quality products. Given the chance, the maker will repair and/or replace.

Heesoo Chung
(impulse04) - MLife
Re: question about workmanship of UL products on 03/25/2008 19:31:57 MDT Print View

Thanks for the responses. My ULA P2 and GossamerGear SpinnTwin have excellent workmanship and I wasn't sure if these products were the exception to the rule.

This evening, I got a polite email from the manufacturer saying that the stitching is ugly, but functional. However, they will be sending me a replacement.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: Melbourne
question about workmanship of UL products on 03/25/2008 20:25:55 MDT Print View

"ugly, but functional"
What came to mind when I saw the pics was "a bit sloppy but nothing that a coating of seam sealer won't fix"
( I use seam sealer on the stitching of my boots and to strengthen the stitching on areas of the tent fly that does not normally need to be sealed)
BTW, I noticed that you did not state the maker,(nice) but I think that I know the one.
Franco