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Cottage Stagnation and Recent Gems
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Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Cottage Stagnation and Recent Gems" on 12/31/2011 14:25:33 MST Print View

Let's go back 7 years and revisit Ryan's reflections on gear design:

Kanso: A Blueprint for Better Gear Design

Lyan Jordan
(redmonk)

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
BPL is cottage too on 12/31/2011 14:34:53 MST Print View

BPL, pioneered the magazine without a magazine, a gear shop without gear, and outrageous shipping costs for stupid light packages.

As far as I can tell they specialized in making items once, out of season, in odd sizes, and almost never doing a second run.

I'm not convinced Ryan knows enough about business to slam those who serve up the goods year, after year, after year.

Stock less, charge more was a failure.
The articles in the last three years are largely *yawn*

BPL itself has no idea what it is, what it wants to be, or how to get there.

Edited by redmonk on 12/31/2011 14:45:24 MST.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Cottage Stagnation and Recent Gems on 12/31/2011 15:02:34 MST Print View

Mike, I know, John Muir went out with just a few things in his pockets. Etc. Frankly, I've never wanted to be quite that spartan. Ray Jardine's first book was published in 1996, many years after I bought my backpacking gear. I didn't even hear about him until 8 years later. In the circles I backpacked with, 40-50 lb. packs were normal and we were warned about the dangers of taking less. (I still hear that a lot!)

Some of us (especially those of us with "old bones," or more specifically old joints) need a lot more than what Muir had to be comfortable. For example, I'm now to where I need at least a 3" thick sleeping pad to be able to sleep. I defy you to find one outside of KookaBay (Bender is one of those "non-innovative" cottage folks, who got his start here on the BPL forum) that is 3.5" thick, really warm, and weighs just under 13 oz.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Cottage Stagnation and Recent Gems on 12/31/2011 15:12:21 MST Print View

Tom (and Mary)-

No disrepect intended and I'm very aware of Mary's (and your) age. I'll soon be 60 and you two are an inspiration to those of us that are getting on in years. I can only hope that my legs still have another 10-15 years left in them and I already understand the need for light weight gear as we age.

I will however point out that Montbell, Cascade Designs, Granite Gear are not cottage industries. You'd still have your NeoAir if you didn't shop the cottage industries.

I think what Ryan is saying (and I agree) is that the gap between these mainstream companies and the cottage industry manufacturers is closing. Don't get me wrong, I support the cottage industries and like the personalized service they offer but until one of them invents a new "feather" it's really hard to get excited with what they are doing. I want them to get me excited about something really innovative as I'm at a stage of my life where I can aford to buy the latest and greatest but I just can't get excited about most of what I see.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
geer on 12/31/2011 15:31:54 MST Print View

It wasn't my intention to post the link to take swings at the hive or make personal assumptions, rather get some insight into his standards of gear design. Much of what he said in this recent article reflects similar ideas expressed by Jordan going back several years. There is a consistency here of thought on his part that I felt worth noting. I agree that some of what has surfaced this year hasn't been "mindblowing" or "revolutionary", but I don't have to be blown away nor do I possess a paining desire or thirst for amazing gear year after year, especially considering there is an excess of decent and brilliant gear alike currently available to us to get out with.

Backpacking is so sickeningly simple and beautiful at its core, it is a bit of a wonder why more gear doesn't mirror its purpose. I'm blown away by simple design, the Trailstar is one of those pieces that I find amazing not for all its bells and whistles, which are none in this case, rather for what it lacks. The old BPL trappers mug is another piece of pure and simple design that I enjoy, both aesthetically and functionally.

Brian UL
(MAYNARD76)

Locale: New England
Re: geer on 12/31/2011 16:32:55 MST Print View

I think Ryan's yawn is probably towards gear in general and not so much any lack of "innovation".
Inovation is sumwhat subjective but nothing ground breaking has come along- but I think a lot great new designs have come in the area of double wall shelters and ground pads. The saying goes the simple life aint so simple.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: BPL is cottage too on 12/31/2011 16:39:11 MST Print View

"I'm not convinced Ryan knows enough about business to slam those who serve up the goods year, after year, after year."

Maybe not the gear business, but check out his rates for guiding. He's apparently been doing it since at least 2005 and is still in business, since he's fully booked for 2011. I'd say he's found his niche, one far more lucrative than designing/manufacturing gear. More power to him, since the clientele is obviously predominantly made up of 1 per centers. A textbook example of trickle down economics at its finest. Voluntary redistribution of wealth always works best. I'd say RJ is a very astute businessman indeed.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Cottage Stagnation and Recent Gems on 12/31/2011 17:17:19 MST Print View

"I think what Ryan is saying (and I agree) is that the gap between these mainstream companies and the cottage industry manufacturers is closing."

Most definitely, Mike, but the innovations came from primarily from the cottage gear makers, guys who spent a lot of time "boots on the ground", figured out the innovations to take lite-itude to the next level, had the skills to execute their concepts, and were willing to take the financial risks involved. As I see it, those who have stayed in business are perhaps a bit more risk averse now and prefer to incrementally improve proven products rather than take big risks, be they financial or reputational. Good examples are the ULA Circuit, or lighter shelters and packs made from a proven design but with lighter fabrics. And there are still innovators, like Henry out there as well.

"Don't get me wrong, I support the cottage industries and like the personalized service they offer but until one of them invents a new "feather" it's really hard to get excited with what they are doing. I want them to get me excited about something really innovative as I'm at a stage of my life where I can aford to buy the latest and greatest but I just can't get excited about most of what I see."

In general, I'd agree. However, I just took a look at Six Moon Design's Skyscape X and, while its design is not an innovation, the Cuben fabric that reduces the Sil nylon version by a whopping 8 ounces is. If you can afford to buy the latest and greatest, it might be worth a look. The increasing reliability of Cuben has led me to revisit a number of old designs in my ongoing effort to stay in the game.



"I will however point out that Montbell, Cascade Designs, Granite Gear are not cottage industries. You'd still have your NeoAir if you didn't shop the cottage industries.

Not any more, but all three started out that way. Ditto Outdoor Research, which has since been acquired by.....Cascade designs. That said, I own gear from Montbell, Outdoor Research, and Cascade Designs. As long as they make quality gear and are not egregiously exploitative of workers, I am an equal opportunity buyer. A majority of my gear does come from cottage gear makers, however, simply because they have come closest to meeting my requirements.

" I can only hope that my legs still have another 10-15 years left in them and I already understand the need for light weight gear as we age."

Somehow, I have a feeling you going to be out there for a good many years to come. Take it a year at a time and, first thing you know, you'll be on the far side of 70 with a lifetime of wonderful memories, wondering where in he!! all the years went and looking forward to the next adventure. It's gonna cost ya though, in gear as well as blood, sweat, and tears. ;-)

Edited for clarity.

Edited by ouzel on 12/31/2011 17:24:20 MST.

C Nugget
(nuggetwn)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Reflections on innovation and future on 12/31/2011 18:27:01 MST Print View

Perhaps instead of demanding more from the cottage companies in innovation we should be asking ourselves how we can help them to continue with innovation.. the larger companies are playing catch up in getting things lighter... but perhaps they realized the need for it after the smaller companies filled that void first. We need to find a way to help the smaller companies compete with bigger pocket powers.

How do we do this? Not just by buying gear I hope. To be an efficient company you need to have exposure.. great websites to create accessibility.. in depth and up to date critical reviews.. feedback.. support from the community.. access to advanced information and technologies.. money, time and resources to do all of this.. I'm sure there are a load of other things that go along with this as well. We expect all of this and more from a small cottage campany without help??

How about starting some kind of program to help enhance the cottage industries by a multi user grant backing entity like kickstarter? If you innovate, shouldn't it be re-warded by those who benefit? I would pay a buck or more to help fund a plan of an established cottage company or even someone with a decent idea for the sake of innovation. I would also promote a company trying to buy better(you define this - be it local, sustainable, quality) materials but can't always make that transition due to price point. Could the innovation not sprout from there? Perhaps it could be linked into helping people in real need. Part contributions could go towards getting basic essentials to areas of the world who need it.

What is BPL? Is it an on-line magazine or it is a community of somewhat like minded people who want to get outside and hike with lighter packs?? A typical person who wants to go outside needs gear to hike.


I think we need to look towards the future. What is sustainable? How can we re-purpose our "used gear" and over full gear lockers and houses? How can I contribute? Maybe it is not just Ryan who needs to look inward and lead by example but all of us. Perhaps focus needs to be on conscientious buying... make that first purchase be the right one and helping "noobs" like myself to do the same using the experienced expertise available. I believe it is very important for gears reviews to be extensive but also centralized. If I know of one place to find multiple user reviews, expert reviews, exact specs, advice yadda yadda.. I'm going to go there and it's not going to take me a bazillion years to read through each forum to get this info.

Is just going lighter in our pack weight enough?? Maybe lighter means leaving less of an environmental impact. What about fabrics and practices that go back to nature when they have played out their intended usefulness. How much waste do you create when going L, UL, or SUL backpacking. Are you a part owner in Ziploc and run to the nearest trash bin on exiting the trail?
What are we doing as a community to help clean up and maintain the environment we play in? Trash is much more glaring on the trail than in the city and makes me question(and I hope others) the impact of our living practices. Nature is inspiring and maybe the more people who see it the better chance people will want to protect it, preserve it.

Walking is for everyone who can.. In my mind so should backpacking. It's a great way to combat obesity, reduce stress and experience outside past the car. Why not make it lightweight and available to anyone who desire's to participate. Articles on groups who do this, on-line user pay video conferencing, seminars, on-line mentoring via chats & Skype as well as a ride share version for backpackers going on trips could all be looked at. Subscribers and experts could all participate. I think the scientists and the people who like to work with their hands need to get together.. Why not here?? There seems to be a plethora of both.

I love the idea of loaning gear, promoting re-use of items and re-purposing material. I think techniques that reflect how to re-use current resources points the way to new innovation. I would like to see the smaller companies challenge the larger ones by taking responsibility for the goods they produce.. The only way they could do that would be by getting help from the community they provide for. Can you imagine if major backpacking food companies would take back all of their used meal packages and have a way to functionally re-purpose them?? Or, if a product could be decomposted instead of just trashed? How about a gear library where one could test new & used equipment and then return it for others to test?

I think there is a huge hole this community and BPL could fill. BPL is just a mirror of what we put into it. How about we put our heads together? HAPPY 2012!!

Richard Scruggs
(JRScruggs) - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: BPL is cottage too on 12/31/2011 19:24:00 MST Print View

Re Cameron's comment that, "BPL, pioneered the magazine without a magazine, a gear shop without gear, and outrageous shipping costs for stupid light packages."

Actually, BPL pioneered it's website without a gear shop.

And without any forums, too. Just articles.

As for shipping charges once BPL started selling gear, I just checked my BPL order history to confirm my recollection that BPL's "pioneer" gear shop did provide "free" shipping -- for quite a while.

My first order from BPL ($3.98 in July 2003 for micro-dropper bottles) was sent out with no shipping charge, as were more than two dozen of my subsequent orders over a period of several years -- including orders that were larger, and more expensive, than that first order.

Shipping charges surfaced over time, intermittantly at first, then regularly. I wondered why the "free lunch" lasted so long -- but it was nice.

Re: "As far as I can tell they specialized in making items once, out of season, in odd sizes, and almost never doing a second run."

A bit of overstatement there, but enough grains of truth as disgruntled folks found inventory selling out for popular items available only at BPL.


Re: "I'm not convinced Ryan knows enough about business to slam those who serve up the goods year, after year, after year."

Having good business sense is a prerequisite for recognizing, appreciating, designing, and creating innovative gear for lightweight backpacking?

Re: "Stock less, charge more was a failure."

BPL's gear shop was evidently a financial loser, not a priority, not worth the hassle, and/or becoming more and more redundant as cottage outfits sprouted and grew in expertise. So it seems all well and good that BPL closed its own shop down to focus on other goals.

I miss BPL's gear shop, especially items that were innovative and often unavailable at the time anywhere else. It is great that folks out there took the initiative to set up cottage operations making specialized gear, too.

It seems a natural evolution occured with the closure of BPL's gear shop, providing cottage outfits more opportunity to grow their customer base as they made themselves more successful in meeting gear needs that had made BPL's gear shop a unique and valuable resource for several years since its earliest appearance.

Just as BPL closing its gear shop was a good move for BPL and also for cottage outfits dedicated to selling specialty lightweight gear (and for folks looking for that gear), Ryan's essay (and this thread of reaction he sparked) on the state of lightweight gear innovation are a welcome process for learning/identifying what's important and worth the effort in the future.

Ryan's perspective and most of the exchanges are educational and appreciated.

The bashings, however, not so much.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Cottage Stagnation and Recent Gems on 12/31/2011 21:21:57 MST Print View

Ha!

Here's innovation... I have been operating out of my tent trailer for the past couple weeks at Lake Mead. Just got back from a week of hiking and am sending this from a laptop, connected to a personal hotspot on my iPhone, and both are powered by the solar system on the trailer. That is innovation.

The timeliness of the article is uncanny. 2012 will be my 47th consecutive year of backpacking, and I have been contemplating writing a personal backpacking history for my kids, so they will have something to remember me by. So I have been somewhat contemplating some of what has transpired in this thread. Backpacking is backpacking. No big deal. Just go out and do it, and have fun. Quit over-thinking it.

My personal backpacking history started in 1965, when I went on my first backpack at the tender age of 15. The 1960's (my teens) I consider baby steps, as I began to learn of wild places.

The 1970's (my 20's) were epic hikes and skill building, which was supplemented by the best survival training in the world, courtesy of the US Government and included trips to many exotic places that most people would never want to visit. I did two 6 month backpacking trips when I was in my early 20’s.

The 1980’s (my 30’s) was the technology decade. A lot of products brought to market using new materials adapted to outdoor activities.

The 1990’s (my 40’s) were ho hum. I just hiked and enjoyed it.

The 2000’s (my 50’s) were a paradigm shift, as I experimented with so-called UL equipment to maintain my current level of travel and fun, trying to overcome (mostly successful) the aging process. I have bought much of the top rated cottage industry gear and used all of it extensively.

The 2010 (my 60’s) is a circling back of sorts. Dispensing of fragile SUL equipment and dialing in on what works best and lasts. It is still a work in progress. Much comes from the cottage industry, other from the big guys. But on most trips I am moving back towards the 10 lb base weight. Hey, I miss my drinking cup and my binoculars!! Not necessary items, but the make each trip a little more enjoyable.

So you think this generation of backpackers/gear builders is leading edge? Oh my! Cutting map margins, sawing off tooth brush handles, and removing labels! My, my. Well Colin Fletcher beat you to it in 1958, and documented it in his book, The Thousand Mile Summer. He also popularized tarps instead of tents and invented "Colin's" kilt.

Poncho Tarps? Standard deal for ground troops in Vietnam.

Alcohol, wood, esbit stoves? Developed in WWII. 1 qt Canteen fits into a 12 oz canteen cup which fits into a canteen cup stove. The original "cone." Standard fuel was Trioxane, which burns hotter than hexamine (Esbit), can use military issued sterno or even wood. Hexamine has been in use since the 30's, although I never tried it until a couple years ago. The military preferred Triozane because its blue flame was more difficult to see than the yellow hexamine, however it is toxic when used in enclosed areas. In Nam the sterno cans were difficult to come by because soldiers tried to drink it, as with alcohol fuel too. But denatured alcohol could be found. Favorite alcohol container for burning was a Succrets box. I will try and dig up my old set-up when I get home. Seems the Military was a few decades ahead of today's innovators.

For the most part, innovation has been adaptation of new fabrics and metals by gear makers. Ever notice how all the UL tents and packs look similar?

So the past few years, I have purchased and used a LOT of this "new" gear. Why? Reading a gear review after an initial test and actually getting it to work and last is the big challenge. And now at 61 I can still do the same hikes I did as a youngster and enjoy it.

So what have been the truly innovative trends? I think the biggest has been "boutique backpacking." I indulge in it, and try to avoid it. What is "boutique backpacking?" It is hiking with 3 day re-supplies, walking well marked trails, reliance on electronics and not skill to make it back alive. Heck, you don’t need much in the way of gear when you are boutique backpacking. But in 3 seasons I can and have done many XUL’s for up to a week, but only as a method to test out stuff for when I go on my non-boutique hikes. The stuff is not all that comfortable if you carry 7 days of food plus some water. When I started backpacking, we often hiked for up to 14 days between supplies. We could not afford USGS Topo maps, and the only electronic thing we might carry was a flashlight. You cannot do this with any kind of comfort, using all SUL gear. But we traveled in areas with few or no people and were completely self-reliant. That has changed for the most part.

So what works? Some sort of tarp to keep you dry. Bugs? I have been in the worst places on earth and the best insect protection provided by Uncle Sam was a headnet. You don't need a tent, unless you are doing serious snow travel. On my list of truly innovative is a zPacks Hexamid with poncho/groundsheet. No net. 8 ounces for shelter and rain gear. I have used mine a lot over the past few months, with stellar results. Neither is new per se, but Joe has integrated them well.

Stove? Bend the dove-tail of your Caldera Cone and it can become useless in the back country, as will a crushed beer can or alky stove. Just for the record, I usually use a CC with Esbit. Canisters can leak and the stove pintel can break off. Both have happened to me. Pressurized WG stoves/pumps can and do malfunction. The most reliable stove I have used (and I have have used about everything except the Borde Bomb), is a Svea 123. But a stove isn't necessary for survival in most instances, winter snow conditions excepted. Take your pick and if it fails, know how to adapt. Stoves don’t excite me.

Sleeping System? Down bags have been around for a long time. They have gotten lighter. Quilts save weight. However you cannot lighten down other than getting a higher quality. My Tim Marshall Epiphany cuben down quilt is my go-to quilt. I also use a Nunatak quilt and a WM Ultralight bag. All great gear, no great or earth shattering innovations... But quality products. Innovation in this area will need to come from a chemist, not a gear maker. NeoAir – in my older age is a winner. Just starting using one part of the time since last year. But air mattresses have been around for decades. Slow evolution over the years. Nothing of excitement here either. Take your pick, lots of good quality companies out there.

Pack? This is the Holy Grail. A pack that can carry everything you need, keep you centered and balanced, and never, ever cause the slightest discomfort in your shoulders or hips. We spend most of our backpacking time with a pack on our back. IMO, this is the most important piece of gear, and should be picked carefully. Form should follow function, NOT weight. I was somewhat chastised last year for getting a “heavy” back to replace my SUL packs. I have lots of experienced with packs. Several Kelty’s which are still in the garage (D4, B4, and a couple Seracs), Mountain Smith, Gregory, etc. The D4 was used almost exclusively for 20 years and still is used occasionally today. The quality external frame packs last forever. As do some of the expedition internal frames. I have owned several UL packs. They rip at the seams in short time, they are subject to tears from rocks and branches. They don’t carry loads well. I did find the Holy Grail however. A Dyneema or Spectra McHale pack is on my innovation list, it does everything well… and Dan has been making them for a long time. The innovation includes custom fitting and education.

So here is my innovation list of gear that will not fail and keep you alive in any kind of conditions:

1. Dyneema or Spectra McHale Pack
2. Military issue lensatic compass

Everything else is nice to have, because you can find something comparable. Let’s face it; we talk gear because it is integral to what we do. But it is not the end goal. Great hikes are the end. Whatever gets you there safely and comfortably is what matters.
Past innovations include Kelty packs from the 50’s & 60’s and Svea stoves. Other than that, you select your gear carefully, par down what you do not need and get out and hike. BTW, most people have two days off per week, 2 weeks of vacation, and 6 holidays. That means most people potentially have 124 hiking days per year. Use them wisely. They are your inventory. Unlike a store, if you do not use any inventory, it is gone forever.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Cottage Stagnation and Recent Gems on 12/31/2011 21:46:31 MST Print View

Nick wrote, "The military preferred Triozane because its blue flame was more difficult to see than the yellow hexamine, however it is toxic when used in enclosed areas."

In a different combat area, we went a slightly different route. Troops needed to be able to stay in their foxholes for wind protection, and they wanted to be able to boil up something hot to drink. Trioxane was around, but not plentiful. So, somebody would crawl out to the wire and grab a Claymore antipersonnel mine, remove the blasting cap detonators, crack the back off with a bayonet, and carve a walnut-size piece of C4 explosive out. Then the back was hammered back on, the detonators were replaced, and the mine was stuck back into position. Then back in the foxhole, you could light a match to the C4, and it would burn with a nice blue flame, just right for that midnight cup of coffee. Toxic is not the first word that comes to mind.

--B.G.--

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: C4 on 12/31/2011 22:55:17 MST Print View

Innovative and multi-use too!

Matt F
(matt_f) - MLife
Great post, Nick. on 01/01/2012 10:12:27 MST Print View

Nick - Great Post. I appreciate your ability to look back over the decades and provide a bit of perspective here. Also, I'm 27, and if at 61 I'm able to reflect on 40+ years of regular backcountry trips and still be going strong I'll feel pretty fortunate. I couldn't agree more about staying cognizant regarding our "inventory" of days off.

It seems to me that Ryan is starting to mourn the same sorts of innovations/gear that just a few years ago would have been celebrated big-time here on BPL. His perspective is changing, but I don't think it's fair to blanket the cottage industries as stagnating just because his gear preferences have evolved. Frankly though, I'd argue that companies like TT, MLD, ULA, GG etc have done a decent job of putting out new products, refining old ones, and trending toward more durable design and materials.

Also, I like what i've seen regarding pack innovation in the past couple of years. I like the idea of lightly framed packs that are a bit more comfortable than frameless, and are capable of a wider range of loads/trip lengths(Ohm, GG gorilla, MLD Exodus FS, z-packs exo), and light double wall tents (TT notch, SS), that should perform much better in humid environments than similarly priced and weighted single wall shelters. I too, miss the days of having one set of gear that I used for just about everything, but I think these packs and shelters could fit that mold.

The bottom line though, is I'm not too worried about it. There has never been an occassion where i've thought "man, that would be a great trip, if only someone made the right piece of gear so I could pull it off". We've got plenty of gear choices, probably now more than ever, and I doubt that recent innovation or lack-thereof has changed whether we're getting out any more or less.

Matt

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Cottage Stagnation and Recent Gems on 01/01/2012 10:20:10 MST Print View

I like you post, Nick. I am not sure about your choices for innovation, however. At a time in the past they were likely innovative, but there has been little change if any to the items you mention. True innovation requires a paradigm shift.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Cottage Stagnation and Recent Gems on 01/01/2012 10:58:07 MST Print View

@Nick Great Post!

Yeah, gear has always been secondary to comfort. You QUICKLY learn what you need, what works and what is fluff.

I think the alcohol burners were in use in the Civil War, though, not WWII. I am betting they go back even more, around about the time distilling was first invented. Rand (Trail Designs) sent me a picture of one on eBay from 1860's or so.

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
@ Nick on 01/01/2012 11:19:05 MST Print View

You are just going to have to try the Borde Bomb....

Hobbes W
(Hobbesatronic) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Cottage Stagnation and Recent Gems on 01/01/2012 11:25:18 MST Print View

"I think the alcohol burners were in use in the Civil War"

In the 1850s, Francis Fox Tuckett had developed an alcohol stove for campers and mountaineers known as the "Russian furnace".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portable_stove

Parachute canopies were first made of canvas. Silk proved to be more practical because it was thin, lightweight, strong, easy to pack, fire resistant, and springy. During World War II, the United States was unable to import silk from Japan, and parachute manufacturers began using nylon fabric. More specifically, parachutes are made of "ripstop" nylon that is woven with a double or extra-thick thread at regular intervals, creating a pattern of small squares. This structure keeps small tears from spreading.

http://www.madehow.com/Volume-5/Parachute.html

Materials and tools have been around for awhile. The real revolution was mental - (re)discovering that you don't need to carry a 40-50lb pack, and developing the knowledge & confidence to get out there and "just do it".

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Cottage Stagnation and Recent Gems on 01/01/2012 11:31:10 MST Print View

"At a time in the past they were likely innovative, but there been little change if any to the items you mention. True innovation requires a paradigm shift."

Perhaps we all have too much time sitting around at home dreaming about gear? Seems that most of us are gear geeks anyway. Sometimes the old things work best. The fastest airplane in the world was built in the 1960's. My Dad's stove and refrigerator were purchased in 1950 and still work.

I often hike alone in remote areas and a pack or compass failure could be catastrophic. My pack will not rip a seam or shred if I slip on a slope made from volcanic rock. No matter how much weight I put in it (think lots of food and water) it carries well and never leaves my shoulders or hips sore. My compass is designed to work from -50F to 150F. It is nearly impossible to break. There is no fluid inside it to leak and it cannot develop a bubble under the face plate. There are no batteries to go dead. It is extremely accurate and you can measure down to the mil. Probably the best tool to shoot an azmith other than surveyor tools. Really easy to use, as millions of GIs have been trained to use one. Oh, and if those guys on the next ridge cooking dinner with C4 are bad guys, you can use it to accurately direct artillery fire. Multi-use :)

When I die both will be in perfect operating condition and I can bequeath them to my heirs. They are not throw-away items that end up in land fills. They are enviromentally friendly unlike most UL gear. They are socially responsible items if one is concerned with such things. Gear that lasts forever -- now that is not consumerism.

So while others are fretting and searching for the Lost Ark and Atlantis, I shall be out on adventures with my "old" innovations :)

BTW, most people could afford a McHale if they had not purchased all those packs in the past (myself included). And a $60 non-tritium Cammenga compass is readily available.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Cottage Stagnation and Recent Gems on 01/01/2012 11:50:31 MST Print View

The real revolution was mental - (re)discovering that you don't need to carry a 40-50lb pack, and developing the knowledge & confidence to get out there and "just do it".
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Yeah, some of us carried 40-50 lb packs and still do. But that is not base weight. It includes a couple of weeks of food. My old set-up in 1970 would be considered Light by today's standards - under 20 lbs base weight - the rest was consumables for extended unsupported trips. No boutique backpacking. Heck until I joined BPL I did not know what a mail drop or bounce box was

For example in the 60's when Dan McHale was a teenager he soloed the JMT unsupported in 11 days with an external frame pack. Starting FSO weight was 40 lbs. This what we did. I bring this up because Dan and I have chatted a lot, as we have a lot in common being close in age and spending a lot of our youth in the Southern Sierras. Think about that JMT trip. I did many similar hikes in the 70's, as did many others. Not much has changed... Other than fabrics and metals. Heck, it is just walking not rocket science.