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How do you find cottage gear?
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Alpo Kuusisto
(akuusist) - F
How do you find cottage gear? on 01/21/2014 14:16:41 MST Print View

Yeah, how?
There are link lists like this
and this
and probably even better ones, and then you can always ask BPL forums.
But it takes some commitment to browse through all those sites and link lists are tough job to keep up to date.

Say you are a newbie and want a sleeping bag or quilt. You surf to and browse the right category. Easy. But is there some category in Amazon or Ebay or a place like that to find also all the fabulous gear made by the cottage industry?

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: How do you find cottage gear? on 01/21/2014 14:30:59 MST Print View

"Say you are a newbie and want a sleeping bag or quilt. You surf to and browse the right category. Easy."

I will suggest that this is the _worst_ way to find ultralightweight gear. REI has very little. Try doing a Google search, and just vary your search terms until you start to get closer. If you want to browse those other web sites, you can see which terminology they use, and if everybody uses the exact same terminology, then that is the best to search with. Once you've done that a few dozen times, it will start to sink into your head which cottage companies are the best in which categories of gear. You will make a couple of bad purchases, and you will learn lessons from those. Then you will make good purchases. You may also learn to make your own gear, based on what you learned from the cottage companies. It is not an overnight process.

Some of us have been backpacking ultralightweight for over thirty years now, but we still keep learning.


Jeremy Rardin
(JearBear) - F

Locale: Cumberland Trail
Re: How do you find cottage gear? on 01/21/2014 14:53:08 MST Print View

You really get exposed to more as you go; most people know of the biggies like Gossamer Gear, Mountain Laurel Designs, Zpacks, Six Moon Designs, TarpTent, etc. There are a lot of companies that sell very particular and specialized items like Suluk46, Borah Gear, and so on that are innovative or unique. I encourage you to check out the SUL/XUL backpacking gear lists from people like John Abela.

If you are looking at cottage industry companies, the best way to find stuff used is the Gear Swap here on BPL.

Also, the sort of commitment it takes to look through all those companies comes through interest. People who have compiled those lists and know all the companies know them becasue they spend their free time researching those companies...not because someone said they should but because they were interested. Don't worry about not knowing every company and every product, it comes in time :)

Ben H.
(bzhayes) - F

Locale: So. California
Re: How do you find cottage gear? on 01/21/2014 17:08:00 MST Print View

I don't randomly find cottage industry guys and buy from them... and I wouldn't want to. These are small shops. The chances of getting a great deal go up considerably.. but the chance of getting a bad deal increases a bit too. By being a part of this community you hear about what these cottage guys are doing and get real world feedback on how well they are doing it. The personal testimonial is very important to me. Without it, I am not sure I would want to randomly send these guys money.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: How do you find cottage gear? on 01/21/2014 17:24:51 MST Print View

> You surf to and browse the right category. Easy.
Yeah, easy, but not real helpful. Why?
Because high-quality UL gear does cost more than REI etc are willing to pay. If you buy it from a distributor remember that they are (roughly) doubling the 'wholesale' price. If you buy direct from a cottage company you will be buying much closer to 'wholesale', or what the cottage company is willing to sell for.

How do you find a good cottage company for light-weight gear? Via BPL. Mainstream channels are all about mass-market and cheap (and advertorial income).


Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Cottage Gear on 01/21/2014 22:41:06 MST Print View


Dan Yeruski
(zelph) - MLife

Re: Re: Cottage Gear on 01/22/2014 06:43:37 MST Print View

This list is updated often. It's a "sticky" located at in the Ultra-Light Hikers Forum:

list of cottage industry manufacturers by "Lazarus of"


Edited by zelph on 01/22/2014 06:45:23 MST.

Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Re: Cottage Gear on 01/22/2014 07:13:24 MST Print View

@Scott, that's a good list, thanks!

Alpo Kuusisto
(akuusist) - F
Re: Cottage Gear on 01/22/2014 14:08:18 MST Print View

If you have a general Cottage gear company list and start to look for tents you'll forget half of them before surfing through all the companies.
Scott's link, especially the Gear Database, is something I was after. If you look for tent click tents and you have a nice overview of what's available. Would it be possible to still get a manufacturer link of each item jump straight to the corresponding item page? Then it would be almost like surfing You just need to buy each item separately instead of filling one shopping cart.

I'm not after new gear myself. I'm aware of most of these small companies and usually want try some DIY solution anyway. But think about hiking newcomers and how they often pick heavier than necessary gear cause all this excellent locally made stuff is so hard to find. Then folks think lightening the pack is expensive since you need to replace your existing items with lighter ones. It doesn't need to be so.

1) Cottage gear can be easier to find, with good shop-like web service
2) small companies will be better business if more people find them
3) this will encourage innovators who are not sure if they are ready to start business or not
4) we all get better gear

This sounds like it must have been done already or there must be a catch, so please shoot me down.
(I'll return fire)

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
manufacturers on 01/22/2014 14:45:14 MST Print View

many "mainstream" manufacturers make UL gear .... plenty of people use em ...

BPL has even given quite a few positive reviews ... UL down jackets, down sleeping bags, some mainstream packs brands, canister stoves, etc ...

one can go UL if you want by buying stuff solely at a retailer like MEC ...

many people buy "mainstream" because they can actually try stuff one, they can return it fairly easily, and the warranty from some of those retailers/manufactureres is no questions asked

you also have to ask yourself what is "cottage" ... theres been at least one "cottage" manufacturer that manufactures in china ... when a "mainstream" brand like westcome that is sold in REI makes everything in vancouver, canada

a while back Mr Jordan wrote ...

Oh sure, there will always be a small influx of brand new customers into this little ultralight niche that will keep the cottage industry in business just enough so they can write off their backpacking trips and make payments on their logo-emblazoned trade show campers, but their quest for pursuing innovation doesn't seem to reflect the availability and cheap costs of new manufacturing technologies, state of the art fabrics, and real design. Instead, the cottage industry reinforces that paradigm of gear that is "made in my garage with substandard equipment from sketches on paper scraps using an uncalibrated ruler and dull scissors."

There remains no question at all that the cottage industry is able to give us the lightest possible equipment so that we can make the most of our wilderness travels in the style that reflects our commitment to carrying the least amount of weight.

However, the gap in weight (and specifically, in the performance:weight ratio) between what cottage manufacturers offer and what larger manufacturers offer is narrowing. So, given the option between an "ultralight" piece of gear made by a cottage manufacturer and an "ultralight plus a few ounces" piece of gear made at a higher quality, performance, durability, and aesthetic standard by a manufacturer with a more recognizable brand name and wider (read: more accessible and convenient) distribution network, then the battle lines become quite a bit less defined.

IMO this paradigm has come true ... its was never that manufacturers could NOT make light gear ... but they didnt perceive a market demand for it

this is changing ... witness the popular TNF verto series, or the slew of UL rain jackets, etc ...

its simply a matter of consumer demand


Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: How do you find cottage gear? on 01/22/2014 15:52:14 MST Print View

There is probably not a better resource than the BPL Forums and the articles (need a membership to read most of them).

Alpo Kuusisto
(akuusist) - F
Re: manufacturers on 01/23/2014 17:45:51 MST Print View

Yep, Ultralight and quality doesn't always equal to small business. But major part of the really innovative gear still comes from companies that sell mostly direct to customer and are not able to offer large enough profit margins for big reteilers.
Jacks 'R' Better
Trail Designs
Luxury Lite
to name a few. And this stuff could be easier to find.

In web store you can't touch and examine the product well. True, I like to touch the stuff too. Can't solve this problem but finding a good selection of this stuff at one site would be a step forward. Sure a good user forum is essential. And BPL is probably the best. Maybe ideal would be an online marketplace or a showroom integrated to BPL ???
I know BPL had it's shop and it obviously wasn't doing well but then they were buying and storing the physical stuff -> unsold items, returns, damaged gear etc.

How about a showroom that looked like this:
A typical web store. But each item link from this level:
would lead to the corresponding item on manufacturer's page.

Find stuff easily, then check what users have to say about it, then purchase direct from the manufacturer. Any cottage companies reading this? Comments?

Robert Kelly
(QiWiz) - MLife

Locale: UL gear @
Cottage gear marketplace on 01/24/2014 14:31:17 MST Print View

I like this idea, but do not have the time or resources to put it together. I'd be happy to support it in some reasonable way though if someone else does.

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: Cottage Gear on 01/28/2014 12:51:58 MST Print View

"Thankfully I will post this magic link that will take you to many of the cottage dealers people rave about on this website or argue about depending on their preference. Scroll down and you see the company names with glowing blue links on the left. You have to scroll several pages down.

Cottage Gear"

Hey Scott. Thanks for the support, I hope some of you guys and gals find that link useful. One of these days I'll add something similar for the mainstream. My thought was, the mainstream has enough marketing and visibility otherwise that it's not too difficult to search out pieces of gear, but the cottage industry, "who makes what" isn't quite as obvious until you delve into the subculture, even then it takes a lot of reading and a little luck to learn about some of these smaller companies.

In case anyone didn't notice, the Hike It. Like It. manufacturer directory is not just a list of manufacturers, it will allow you to narrow the list by the type of gear you're looking for.

A little later this year (by Spring I hope) it will be revamped a bit with a friendlier screen format and of course any updates to the database I make between now and then. I always get excited when I'm contacted by someone who can help me fill in a blank or two, so don't be shy :)