Here in Japan there has been a small but growing number of writers, retailers, bloggers, and outdoor enthusiasts who have been actively promoting UL and SUL ideas. Japanese are always cautious and slow to change, but once they take a look at something things change like wildfire. Just last week this magazine/ catalogue was published, as a way to get people to try UL:
It is very effective. Basically it is a 260-page commercial catalogue with pages and pages of hundreds of products sold by a number of companies, including some stores, who teamed up with "Yama-to-Keikoku", the largest hiking magazine in the country (which has an average of 300 pages and far less advertising than American magazines) to produce the catalogue. Interspersed are all sorts of articles, from trip reports to how-to essays to historical information (BPL gets mentioned, as is Ray Jardine) to interviews. Unfortunately not one of the cottage industry items is shown, which just shows you how difficult it is to get away from the better known companies and conventional ideas. Still, it's a start. With the avid readership of the Japanese public this catalogue is sure to get noticed. The articles and abundant display of colorful products will be sure to attract the outdoor crowd looking for new fashions!
I wonder if it would be possible for the cottage industry people in the States (and anyone and anywhere else for that matter) to get together to produce such a catalogue and, as earlier mentioned, video. I think there has to be more visual examples of how things are done, with actual views of people out in the wilderness using the stuff so that people can see that it is possible. BPL UK broadcasts podcasts (Ryan Jordan is one of the interviewees) and just started offering this tarp video on how to erect tarps. And of course there is Gossamer Gear's wonderful Ultralight Makeover DVD.There is also Lynne Wheldon's series of ultralight backpacking videos (a name I haven't seen in a long time). When I first bought the BPL "Lightweight Backpacking and Camping" book one of the things that had me very excited was the series of photos on the cover that showed various tarping techniques that Ryan uses...inside there are a good number of pages visually shoing alternative methods for tarping that I thought were very handy, especially since I was still very doubtful about my ability to use tarps. Just like Will Rietveld's great use of photos to show how items are used and made. At times "a pciture is worth a thousand words" is very true. The gallery page on Henry Shire's website was invaluable for instilling confidence in using the products; actually seeing other people use them in real places made a big difference for me. One of the frustating things about looking at the Mountain Laurel Designs page is not being able to see more things in use. Those glorious mountains in the back are not just pretty pictures... people yearn to see those places and showing your products in use in them does a lot to make the attractiveness and reliability of the products real.
And of course there are all the websites and blogs that have influenced me over the years, some of which, like Michael Connick's ultralight backpacking page, which was one of the pages to pioneer UL information on the internet, are no longer available. The problem with this information is that it is scattered all over the place and, unless you know what you are looking for, hard to find. Here's a list of some (some are just links down memory lane, and are no longer operating, like Ryan's old Yellowstone webpage):