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support the cottage industry clothing/gear...the real deal!
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Fred eric
(Fre49) - MLife

Locale: France, vallée de la Loire
cottage gear on 03/13/2010 14:41:16 MST Print View

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.
Buhsbuddy ultra.
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.

Edited by Fre49 on 03/13/2010 14:53:20 MST.

Lawson Kline
(Mountainfitter) - M

Cottage Industry on 03/13/2010 23:54:35 MST Print View

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.

/A .
(biointegra) - MLife

Locale: Puget Sound
Re: Cottage Industry on 03/25/2010 22:37:14 MDT Print View

@Lawson, when are you going to make the list: ;)

Don't forget: Ben Smith's Goose Feet (btw, great name, Ben!)

Matthew Swierkowski
(Berserker) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: are there many cottage industry custom clothing/gear makers...the real deal? on 03/26/2010 10:26:43 MDT Print View

I have the following items:

McHale Packs
-Popcan pack

Gossamer Gear
-ThinLight pad
-Light Trek 4 poles

-Squall (original version I bought from Henry back in 2004)
-Double Rainbow

-Circuit (bought when Brian still owned ULA)

-Bushbuddy Ultra (purchased through BPL)

-Cocoon pants

Hilleberg (not sure if this is considered cottage)

Service and gear quality with all these manufacturers has been top notch.

Edited by Berserker on 03/26/2010 10:29:04 MDT.

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: Re: wow!!!! @ cottage manufacturers.... on 10/10/2011 00:55:20 MDT Print View

"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.

Cameron Semple
(camS) - F

Locale: Brisbane, Australia
Gear on 10/10/2011 06:41:05 MDT Print View

Speaking of australian options, Terra Rosa Gear make tarps and sleeping bag covers. He also does custom work with a variety of lightweight materials.

Rusty Beaver
(rustyb) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Unsung heroes on 10/10/2011 09:13:27 MDT Print View

IMHO, the cottage gear makers listed are the unsung heroes of the outdoor industry. I feel little need to purchase much of anything from a faceless corp owned by people who quite possibly have never been camping outside a USFS fee and paved campground, if at all. These cottage makers sell innovation not seen otherwise, offer personalized service and custom options not available from the advertisers in the glossy mags, all at a competitive price. These people appreciate all of this because they are out there doing the same thing we enjoy.

And whilst on the subject of competitively priced gear, I probably won't win any popularity contests for saying this but I don't buy "we need to move production to China to stay competitive" least all the time. I personally know a company who did just that and it had nothing to do with keeping their business "alive" or feeding their families. They were all ready doing great Stateside. It was simply all about the extra money they were going to make. Bottom line. I'm willing to bet this happens more often than not. The consumer is hoodwinked while business men fatten their pocketbooks and we displace our neighbor's jobs. And this isn't even to mention China's poor, or outright lack of, regulatory practices that are greatly contributing to atmospheric and planet pollution...pollution so bad at times that it displaces their own people from the land they depend on to feed their families. And for what an American can "better" his family with bigger cars, bigger TV's and other needless gadgetry... made in China, no less.

Lastly, though not exactly "cottage", I feel Feathered Friends and Western Mountaineering deserve mention in the "small and made in the USA" context as well.

Excuse me now, please, while I step down from my soapbox......

Edited by rustyb on 10/10/2011 09:15:17 MDT.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Unsung heroes on 10/10/2011 10:04:08 MDT Print View

"The consumer is hoodwinked while business men fatten their pocketbooks and we displace our neighbor's jobs."

This is the line that so often makes it into these soapbox speeches that I simply can't agree with. Hoodwinked how? Consumers buy stuff made in China because it's cheap. They can, in many cases, spend more and buy something made in America, but they choose not to. Greed is not the sole realm of the businessman and the rich. The middle class and poor can be quite greedy as well.

If the consumer stopped buying goods made in China (not advocating they do, simply making a point), and let businesses know that they would no longer do so, then businesses would stop moving production offshore.

We're not helpless, as much as we love to paint ourselves as such so we can blame our decisions on others. They made me do it. Right.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re : "support the cottage industry clothing/gear...the real deal!" on 10/10/2011 10:08:02 MDT Print View

Katabatic too. Excellent products, and a pleasure to deal with.
I think i've made quite a nice contribution to the US economy over the last few years. :)

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Cottage vs. Corp on 10/10/2011 10:13:51 MDT Print View

From above: "I feel little need to purchase much of anything from a faceless corp owned by people who quite possibly have never been camping outside a USFS fee and paved campground, if at all."

But if that faceless corp continues making stuff that has the best design, quality, fit, delivery, distribution, and price...then the cottage guys are going to have a hard time competing on the basis that they're cottage guys.

Some cottage manufacturers have all of these things dialed. But the number of them that do, we can probably count on one hand, and have fingers left over.

Buying cottage is probably less about buying innovation, quality, and experience, and more about buying into and supporting the ideas and dreams of some of our pals. At least, that's always been good enough for me to buy cottage. And for most cottage gear, it has to be - because most of them just can't compete on price, design aesthetic, and manufacturing quality of companies producing in overseas factories that have 30 years of experience and the finest manufacturing equipment and expertise in the world.

Today's "Made in China" looks a lot different than yesterday's. Likewise, today's "Made in the U.S." doesn't always look the same either.

I support cottage because I believe in the power of small business to anchor our domestic communities, not because they are always making the best stuff.

Rusty Beaver
(rustyb) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Re: Unsung heroes on 10/10/2011 10:16:50 MDT Print View

I don't disagree with what you say, Douglas. In fact, I think we're in agreement. By "hoodwinked", I mean that the consumer is often times lead to believe, by "x" company, that "x" company's production had to be moved to China to be able to survive in the market place (I hear it all the time from businesses to consumers alike). I believe in many cases, this is simply a made up story so the owners/shareholders of "x" company can increase their profit.

Let me add to my personal experience of a successful Stateside business moving production to "China" to stay "alive". I saw the numbers. The company was getting stuff made in China at crazy low prices compared to Stateside manufacturing. Did that mean the consumer paid any less? No! The prices stayed the same. The only difference was that the owners were making a lot more money to spend on their own toys, vacations, etc.

Edited by rustyb on 10/10/2011 10:27:30 MDT.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
made in never never land on 10/10/2011 11:36:37 MDT Print View

the differences between products made in china and the western world isnt so much about quality anymore ... remember that iPhones and most smartphones are now produced there

its mainly one of costs and price ... sure you have very cheap stuff at the walmart, which doesnt mean bad, as evidenced by the cheap underwear thread ... you also have "top notch" companies like dead bird and patagucci in those developing countries

what gets me are these yuppie companies charging yuppie prices for gear which is made over there ... i have no problem buying made in somewhere else as long as the price reflects the lower cost ... but try to sell me a $$$$ piece of clothing or other such when i can buy locally made gear with the same or better design and quality like westcomb at the same or lower price ... screew u dead bird

i do buy the made wherever on sale ... my best purchase have been gear made over there at 50%+ off . in that case i will gladly support my extended family of 1.3 billion out over there ...

note that some "cottage manufacturers" now produce overseas ... so its a bit hypocritical to rail against the big brands and not those smaller manufacturers that do so

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Cottage on 10/10/2011 17:41:42 MDT Print View

My favorite thing about cottage companies are:

1 - Ability to customize gear
2 - Use exactly the fabrics/materials I want

Zpacks has been awesome to work with on a custom Zero pack. There was a few different things I wanted and it was no trouble for Joe to do that. The result has blown me away. Joe is continually stepping up his game. The Zero I got from Joe last month is a big step up in terms of design/quality over the one I bought a year ago, and that first one impressed me at the time.

With regards to fabrics/materials, mainstream companies seem to shy away from really light materials so they get less returns etc. I'm getting a custom quilt made by BillyGoat/Virga Outdoors with exactly the fabrics I want (all M55 with cuben baffles) and the specs (ie. girth) that I prefer. For super geeks like me who obsess over every detail, it's great not to be confined to a fixed number of mainstream choices.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Cottage on 10/10/2011 21:05:58 MDT Print View

I think this is a very interesting industry, because I think the cottage gear makers are often the best value. It is pretty common to have a cottage gear maker make the best stuff. Want to buy the best loudspeakers in the world? No problem. Plunk down tens of thousands of dollars and you can get some great speakers. Audiophiles will certainly validate your purchase (using blind testing, of course). But don't expect it to be a great value. You could probably spend thousands of dollars less and get speakers that sound about the same (and may be difficult for the average ear to distinguish).

The first part of this is true for tents, but not the second. I don't think I can buy a Cuben tent at REI. It just won't happen. I can buy a perfectly good tent at REI for a few hundred. The thing is, I can probably find a better value by shopping online. Its not REI's fault. They are a co-op, after all, with humongous purchasing power. The prices are competitive -- its the big manufacturers that aren't. OK, I know, its apples and oranges. There are always trade-offs with every purchase (especially with a tent). But with tents in general, you could easily make the case that the best value is by buying a tent from Six Moons or Tarptent, rather than the dozen or so tents from REI.

Like everyone else, I like to support the little guy. I would rather shop (and eat and drink) at a small place than a big one. But ultimately, I won't hesitate to buy something that is made in large quantities, if I think it is a really good value. Often, that means I buy from a cottage maker. Once in a while (as is the case with NeoAir) that means I buy from a bigger guy. The nice thing about Thermarest is that while the company is relatively big, they still make all their stuff at home (in Seattle). This makes me feel almost as good about the purchase as when I buy from a cottage company.

K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Re: Cottage on 10/10/2011 21:25:26 MDT Print View

I like cottage for several reasons,one of the biggest being " custom size". I had a quilt made that just isn't made in my size by the bigger companies. It did not come cheap and took quite some time to receive, but it's a little jewel with extra down exactly where I want it, not at the end of my feet. Since we are counting ounces if not grams, I have no reason to carry around an extra 4" of quilt with me.

Rusty Beaver
(rustyb) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Re: Cottage on 10/11/2011 09:09:36 MDT Print View

"The nice thing about Thermarest is that while the company is relatively big, they still make all their stuff at home (in Seattle). This makes me feel almost as good about the purchase as when I buy from a cottage company".

Ditto. Actually, though I'd rather buy USA made all the time, it's damned difficult. Not without emotions, I occasionally purchase Chinese made, etc stuff off the clearance rack...and I have actually purchased a lot of foreign made items 2nd hand, primarily from thrift stores. The sad part for those wanting to buy USA made items is the fact that many of the materials are made in China....but that's another topic...

Also, while I'm at it, I don't remember seeing Equinox mentioned. They're another smallish out-of-sight company with USA made things that I have had good interactions with.

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: Support on 10/11/2011 09:16:36 MDT Print View

"I support cottage because I believe in the power of small business to anchor our domestic communities, not because they are always making the best stuff.

That's it right there. My thoughts on the topic probably belong in chaff, which I try to avoid visiting so I'll just say my motivation is based in supporting people worth supporting. There's added value beyond the material.

By the same token, I wouldn't necessarily fault any of the cottage shops for taking some/all of their production to China. I'm not thrilled at the idea, but if it makes them more viable and they continue to produce quality products that are designed on performance, not retail appeal, then I see it as an overall positive. "Made in China" isn't what it used to be. The Chinese can turn out quality workmanship, but that's probably the least of the reasons why I personally prefer US (or Japanese, European, ...) made.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
WM on 10/11/2011 12:00:07 MDT Print View

>Western Mountaineering
>Feathered Friends

- both relatively small, both Made in USA products.

Also Westcomb in Canada - 'Spensive but good.

John McAlpine
(HairlessApe) - M

Locale: PNW
LightHeart Gear on 10/11/2011 12:35:00 MDT Print View

Lets not forget Judy at LightHeart Gear. She's making some amazing great quality cuben tents from her home.

I'd never heard of Melanzana before this thread. I just ordered one of their hoody's.