MLD and thur-hiker.com work together to source, test, and develop various fabrics.
Paul at thru-hiker has a lot expertise in various areas of fabrics and I have a lot of experience in others. We combine our knowledge to source the best of the best.
We are the only companies that offer Momentum. Momentum is a trademark name we use for a special certain weave that only thru-hiker and MLD use. No one can really claim they use Momentum unless they first buy it from thru-hiker simply because it is not us using a collective two + decades of experience specing and continuously testing the product.
We are also the only companies that have the Dyneema X (tm) . Others may have similar looking weaves, but I can not vouch for their exact weave specs or coatings. So, if it does not say Dyneema X - it's not Dyneema X.
Thru-Hiker and MLD are also the only small UL companies I know that have a Suter Tester (very expensive machine) to scientifically test the water resistance of the fabrics. We constantly check all the new shipments and supplies we receive from manufacturers.
With silnylon for example, we've seen the tests all over the place. From full-on junk to the best of the Silnylon- " Shield". Shield (tm) Silnylon is the Silnylon brand we now use and it is exclusive for us.
Lots of the silnylon is really made only for parachutes and is only tested for air permability - not water resistance - and over time that type Sil become less water resistant fairly quickly due to repeated stretching. That's why there is a jump number set for chutes and then they are retired. It might be OK for a tarp for while...
Our Shield Silnylon has a different coating and is more water resistant from the start and holds that for far longer than cheaper Sil's. Lots of the parachute mfgrs or second resellers will sell you seconds for cheap- then some start a tarp company and offer great prices! You get what you pay for...
History: Over about a decade- Paul and I saw a lot of different Sil and Spinnaker and the water resistance went up and down for a lot of reasons- different coating types, base fabrics, mfg processes, etc.
MLD builds all our gear in our own shop- we see the fabrics before it gets built into the gear and we handle it every day. (Before we had the Suter Tester- we used a homemade device that was OK. After you touch thousands of yds of the same material everyday- you can usually tell very small differences in the touch alone.) Many other UL gear makers outsource the construction and don’t even see the material until the final gear product is delivered to them.
Just walking down the TrailDays vendor area this year I could reach out, touch and note the source of various silnylons. I counted four different type of Silnylon in use by about a dozen vendors in 2009. Two types good, One OK , One bad. (Most of the vendors were good or OK - but a couple had the bad and did not even know it.)
In the last two years we spotted a big shipment of bad Spinnaker rolls and bad Sil rolls that were about to be built into gear in our shop and noticed the mfgr changed the coatings and did not tell us. Well, it was junk , we did not build any product from it. Sometimes even a good roll has and funky coating spot, edge or end of roll and since we see it right then, we can discard it.
You may remember the "Spinnkaer Shortage" of 2007/08. At the time; we knew some of our other UL gear maker friends also used the same fabric we used at that time. Since they get the fabric shipped from the fabric mfgr directly to their outsource sewing production shop- there was the possibility they would have built a large qty of gear from the junk fabric. Since they were our cottage friends, We notified them and saved them ten's of thousands of dollars. ( We don't think they made any products from the bad material and know that they use good material in current products.)
So, if it says Momentum, Dyneema X or Shield Silnylon you can be assured you are getting the best. If some other company says they are using these and did not buy them from thru-hiker.com (MLD does not sell fabric) - then they are NOT these brands.