Rating: 2 / 5
I appreciate SMD’s offering me a discount in the spirit of my benefit for the PCT. I am happy that after much cajoling, SMD did repair all of the gear I purchased. I believe all of the designs are revolutionary. My problems are with the way the products are manufactured. They are made using substandard hardware. The stitching is substandard, and that is across the board even with products I didn’t purchase but saw other hikers using. SMD burned me by saying that they would perform a repair, then not following through. SMD can tell you all about why your product is failing, but has no solutions for the thru hiker on trail. I currently work at what I consider to be a manufacturer of the finest alpine climbing equipment on the market. Over my years working in this industry and inspecting thousands of products I have become aware of how a product should be properly executed. I am also aware of what a customer’s needs are. I offer solutions to their problems. That is what I would want, and that is what I have come to expect. Another issue for SMD to consider is that every happy customer will tell maybe 10 new customers about a product they may not have known about. Once my relationship with SMD started to go south I was very quick to remove all links from my website, trail journal, and to tape over the logo on my pack. I must have told 75 people about my unsatisfactory experience with SMD. I can remember vividly talking with a manager of REI in Portland who was interested in SMD equipment. After chatting with me, though, they had much different opinions on the products. Also if a manufacturer attends long distance hiking gatherings, I cannot understand why they would assert that the product wouldn’t be up to the rigors of the long distance hiker. My standards are even higher now as I believe the long distance thru hiker’s needs are different than those of weekend hikers. This is not to insinuate that long distance hikers are better, just that their needs are different. As a long distance hiker I have come to expect a product to perform day in day out for 4 months, in all conditions, and all types of terrain. I have also learned to trust my own judgment. If a product looks hokey or poorly executed it won’t last. I disagree with the theory that if something is lightweight it cannot be durable. That couldn’t be further from the truth. My experiences with SMD aren’t happening in a vacuum, these were the experiences of many others on trail as well. In a nutshell, SMD designs are revolutionary, just poorly executed.