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SUL and UL: Seeking Converts
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Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Miguel, where can I find that magazine? on 07/03/2007 02:37:19 MDT Print View

Brett, you know, I live out in the middle of nowhere in Chiba and there is no book store where I am. I just happened to stop by a bookstore in Hatchobori station on the Ginza line and saw it there. But I think most bookstores should have it in the magazine racks next to the Yama-to-keikoku and Gakujin magazines. Then there is always the fourth floor of Kinokuniya in Shinjuku. They have lots of outdoor magazines. And since the magazine is sponsored by ICI Sports perhaps they have them at the cashier counter.

Ben, yeah, it's a lot of American stuff. But that's to be expected, since the Americans started the UL movement long before everyone else and have had time to develop a lot of products along that line. Other people are just catching up. Still, the Japanese tend to prefer European designs and the extra attention to manufacturing quality there. Montane, Hilleberg, Millet, Aigle, Haglofs, Scarpa, Camp, Exped, Mammut, Fjallraven, Artiach, Deuters, Eider, Yeti are just a few of the companies that sell unusually well here. Eider is one company that I find strange more people in America don't talk more about.

Edited by butuki on 07/03/2007 02:52:36 MDT.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
Thanks Miguel on 07/03/2007 03:27:27 MDT Print View

Ill try ICI and Kinokunia. Gakujin is one of my favorites to look through.
I checked out Eider for the first time; I don't think they advertise much on US websites because I had never heard of them. The Ladakhi shirt seems like a nice alternative to capilene, and the Speedtrailer really has an interesting lacing system to say the least; but I think all those external laces would get caught on passing twigs, roots, etc.. with disasterous consequences, especially when running. The tread "knobs and crampons" are a little like the Golite shoe concept I think; not to say one copied the other; it's sort of an obvious idea.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Thanks Miguel on 07/03/2007 03:50:25 MDT Print View

I too just checked out the Eider website.

I agree with the general observation that European and Japanese consumers care more -- and are willing to spend more -- for high quality design, materials, and workmanship.

American consumers are happier with "OK to pretty good" products -- at mass-market prices. Most European prices scare us.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Outdoor industry research link on 07/03/2007 07:15:29 MDT Print View

Some of the research is free

Interesting to see their side

Recommend you look at: State of the Industry 2006
Search the PDF for the term 'light'

Edited by gmatthews on 07/03/2007 07:33:25 MDT.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
nature deficit disorder on 07/03/2007 07:30:49 MDT Print View

this is a good read and possible future trends...

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

by Richard Louv

here's a review...

Ron Bell
(mountainlaureldesigns) - F - M

Locale: USA
SUL/UL Converts Wanted on 07/06/2007 13:37:50 MDT Print View

This was a very well responded to thread. Thanks for all the ideas. I think I can take a few of the most popular ideas and take a shot at moving them forward.

Jon Rhoderick
(hotrhoddudeguy) - F - M

Locale: New England
Hope theres a little life left in this thread on 07/13/2007 16:32:31 MDT Print View

I've been a little late to this forum but I have a few ideas I haven't seen so far if I'm not mistaken.

One of the first benefits and problems to running a company like MLD, is the incredibly narrow range of consumers. It obviously works for Leica, the camera company that somehow can price its manual heavy telephoto lenses much higher than any of the more "advanced" image stabilized and so on lenses. There are only a select number of people who will by a cuben fiber poncho tarp, but then again the big companies haven't even heard of the poncho tarp or cuben fiber, so you have a very low competition market, where very few products are similar to other companies, and so people buy things on merit rather than spiffy brand names and names for stylized feature sets. MLD offers great affordable ideas, but it obviously needs to be recognized, I myseld never heard of it until I found Backpacking Light.

Try and get your company on the gear searcher. It will blow people's minds when they find out how light it is, and if you combine products, like a tarp + bug bivy option for cheap, you can say that you have a better solution to the double wall tent, by making the useful vestibules of regular tents the main part of the system but still have bug and rain protection at a price competitive to the MSR microzoid and the atrocious Mountain Hardwear Waypoint. If you could get an article with a magazine like Outside or Backpacker, where you "convert" a writer to the light side, and have a trip from the 5 - 8 lb base weight and go down to the 30*s, people will take notice.

From a product point of view, the only real thing people are worried about is safety and warmth. One of the few people I know who know about UL backpacking referred to it as "the coldest night of my life". By offering quality light quilts, COMFY pads, and maybe even ultralight survival or first aid kits and repair kits, either by links to other companies or as products, people would feel a lot better about buying more affordable less durable equipment.

Joseph Williams
(deadogdancing) - F

Locale: SW England
the AT: How I Should Have Walked It, by Bill Bryson... on 07/14/2007 06:00:51 MDT Print View

Recruit Bill Bryson as an ambassador...the man is made of publicity! If he can sell a million copies of a miserable book about not walking the AT, he can sell anything. And he most of the book moaning about how heavy his pack was!
Get him out there again with a bunch of sensible gear, having given him a breif crash course in how to use it, and see if he writes something more cheerful this time...

He'd never do it...but I do find the thought amusing.

Edited by deadogdancing on 07/14/2007 06:02:36 MDT.

Shawn Basil
(Bearpaw) - F

Locale: Southeast
How to convert others..... on 07/31/2007 16:45:12 MDT Print View

I wrote an article a few months ago when I pitched an idea for a column in which I wrote about a typical day as a camping specialist in REI. I'm not including the full article (I'm still hoping the more fully fleshed out article will appear in a future print magazine), but I pointed out the need to "match the mood" of many customers.

Many look at me as a nut case who wants to get them killed if I offer up very light or ultralight products. You can very quickly tell that customers want no part of the UL community and regard your offer of knowledge the same way many would regard missionaries from some little known religion knocking on their door.

Some want to lighten up a bit after carrying too much and are happy to see lighter options available in a brick and mortar store, but aren't willing to make the leap of faith to online/cottage gear purchases or MYOG.

A few are more than willing to walk the path of the unknown to the cottage industry and UL backpacking. But they are the dramatic minority.

Could I offer a clinic on UL hiking at REI. Only a watered down version will gear available through REI. On my TRT and JMT hikes this past Summer, none of my big four came from REI. A ULA pack, SMD tarptent, homemade down quilt and GG Nitelite pad. This would not go over so well in a clinic at my store. I COULD work it in with a clinic on hiking the TRT or JMT, so this approach would work. I could also offer up many lightweight REI-available products and quitely add in a "cottage gear" counterpart (which I am trying to accomplish BTW). But pitching cottage gear items at a box store is a touchy at best, and could strain relationships with my managers.

Instead, I often bring in my new gear to show colleagues in the store break room and educate them this way. This has inspired a few to buy UL items, so they and I can offer real world experience to the small number of folks who truly want to go a light as possible.

To reach a broader audience locally, I'm contacting the Middle Tennessee Council of the BSA to offer counselling and clinics to local troops on lighterweight backpacking. Start them young is a proven policy for successs.

But as to converting others, remember that those who will be converted are those who WANT to be converted. Just as I must "match the mood" with my customers to know whether they are ready to try UL techniques, we have to remember that not everybody wants or even NEEDS to be converted. A hard sale is as likely to provoke backlash as to create a new UL hiker.

SIDE NOTE: Sorry for joining this discussion so late. I was on the TRT and JMT when it was going on.

Edited by Bearpaw on 07/31/2007 16:46:24 MDT.

Jeremy Rardin
(JearBear) - F

Locale: Cumberland Trail
Bearpaw, you may be onto something... on 11/03/2013 01:29:54 MDT Print View

I have found similar experiences. Traditional backpackers give the UL backpacker a bewildered look when discussing the contents of their packs, but I think it is the latter who should be confused by the former. Why would you choose to pay MORE for a heavier shelter?

In a local outfitter, I am wary of talking to customers about packing techniques because I want them to support the local company, but I would not myself buy an over priced north face pack over a GG, Zpacks, ULA, Borah Gear...

I have been trying to get a local outfitters to host a 'special sale' on Borah Gear to bring in customers and help out the independent company.

I spend so much time researching gear, reading reviews, reviewing UL "Big Three" combinations, that I have considered working for an outfitters...but then I realized I have very limited knowledge of the traditional backpacking companies in terms of shelters and backpacks. Why buy a Big Agnes "UL Tent" that weighs 5 pounds, when you can buy from Tarp Tent, GG, Borah Gear, Zpacks, etc and stay under two pounds.

Interested Packers have been relegated to internet communities where we geek out over reading how a man drilled holes in his tooth brush and managed to save and ounce AND brush his teeth.