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Mtnclimber

Gear question.

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I am developing a line of gear starting with a backpack. I am also prototyping other types of gear as well. The goal is to produce a high quality gear at a low cost option for climbers. It will be sold by word of mouth and online to start to keep the cost lower. Much of the cost of the gear is mark up. First run will be available in about 2-3 months.

 

What are climbers looking for in a backpack? Durability, lite weight, options. Will you buy from a grass roots local company?

 

 

 

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I am developing a line of gear starting with a backpack. I am also prototyping other types of gear as well. The goal is to produce a high quality gear at a low cost option for climbers. It will be sold by word of mouth and online to start to keep the cost lower. Much of the cost of the gear is mark up. First run will be available in about 2-3 months.

 

What are climbers looking for in a backpack? Durability, lite weight, options. Will you buy from a grass roots local company?

 

 

Are you sure that's what you meant to say? I would hope that most of the cost will be for materials and labour.

 

Isn't this the business model of Cilogear? There seem to be a lot of supporters for them here. There's always a market for affordable quality gear.

 

Everyone would love a pack that was lighter than air, would last a lifetime, could be adjusted to work in all situations and came for free. What compromises do you have in mind? It's easier to answer more directed questions.

 

Sorry for being difficult but I TA first year physics and am easily frustrated with open questions.

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waterproof

supports weight well

Good crampon and ice tool holders

durability

 

thats just stuff off the top of my head.

 

And yeah, I would buy from local companies if their gear is as solid as any other competitors.

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I took some friends up Rainier a few years ago. They were avid sailors and had stuff sacks made from sail cloth and they gave me one. I use it to carry pitons and ice screws. Even though some of my screws are missing caps, the teeth have never cut the stuff sack. That material is super tough and light. I would buy a pack made out of it.

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What is your background in design? Show us something you've already made. If you are using this project to teach yourself to sew vs. if you are experienced in making packs makes a big difference.

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keep it simple!

 

too many of the big brands (gregory, TNF, deadbird, osprey) are making complex+bulky+heavy packs

 

seems like the little guys are the ones making the good simple utilitarian climbing packs.

 

what is it: perfection in design isn't when there is nothing left to add...it is when there is nothing left to take away.

 

or something like that.

 

good luck.

 

 

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I am designing the gear which is being professionally made---one of the packs is being outsourced overseas and the other will be made domestically. I am trying to do as much as I can locally. One pack will be designed very tough though a little heavier and the other will be lite weight. Are you willing to pay extra for a domestically made product? I am also looking into making custom gear. Its a tough marketplace but I feel that there is room for a local product that is made to high standards.

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I am developing a line of gear starting with a backpack. I am also prototyping other types of gear as well. The goal is to produce a high quality gear at a low cost option for climbers. It will be sold by word of mouth and online to start to keep the cost lower. Much of the cost of the gear is mark up. First run will be available in about 2-3 months.

 

What are climbers looking for in a backpack? Durability, lite weight, options. Will you buy from a grass roots local company?

 

 

Are you sure that's what you meant to say? I would hope that most of the cost will be for materials and labour.

 

Isn't this the business model of Cilogear? There seem to be a lot of supporters for them here. There's always a market for affordable quality gear.

 

Everyone would love a pack that was lighter than air, would last a lifetime, could be adjusted to work in all situations and came for free. What compromises do you have in mind? It's easier to answer more directed questions.

 

Sorry for being difficult but I TA first year physics and am easily frustrated with open questions.

 

Some advice as it relates to Cilogear...one of the reasons he's been relatively successful with the word of mouth model is he stands by his gear. Not every pack comes out perfect, no matter who the manufacturer is, but Graham has a work-order agreement with a Seattle repair shop and will fix things free of charge or replace gear that doesn't perform as expected.

 

I think if you look at the progression of his packs, one thing to take note of is he has replaced ultra light fabrics with more durable fabrics based on field feedback - light is right, but sometimes shaving a couple extra ounces at the expense of durability is not worth it.

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It's hard to get anywhere in the market by touting yourself as the cheapest. Wal-Mart makes it work with volume, an option that won't be open to you. The mark up you're talking about comes with the retailers, which covers both overhead and profit. I'd guess that their markup is not unjustified, in that it's both a risky business, and it doesn't seem that lucrative, otherwise Murray would have a Lear jet.

 

You'd do well to thoroughly develop a plan, and interview folks who've been in that game. Try Mike Graham or Ray Olson over on Supertaco, see if you can track down the guy who ran Schonhofen Packs in Seattle or Dan McHale who also did that sort of thing.

 

It's not to say that you can't make a living with excellent designs at reasonable prices and grass roots marketing, but it can be a tough row to hoe. I started a business designing & sewing pile and fleece clothing back in 1979, and hung it up for good in 1985. While I enjoyed road trips to the Valley with enormous duffel bags of product strapped to the roof and selling in the parking lot, production sewing was drudgery personified that could only be partially offset by blasting music and herbal medication. If you're interested in using my old business name, I'm sure my attorney could draft up a franchising agreement:

 

scumbagaddresssmall.jpg

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I could use a climbing day pack, something geared toward cragging up 5-20 pitch climbs. It would need to hold a 3L camelback bladder and a small amount of extra clothing like rain coat, gloves, hat and shoes for the descent. It should be big enough to pack a small rope in the bottom and it would be nice if it had things integrated into it like a good anchor point for clipping it to an anchor or hauling it up a chimney. Right now I use the Camelback "MULE" and it's met my needs for the last few years but could be so much better optimized for harder free climbing and stowing just what you need on long climbs.

 

Needless to say it would be something that allowed you to climb as if you weren't wearing anything at all. It would also be nice if it compressed down pretty flat so you could reduce the size when it wasn't full. It would also be nice if it were fairly smooth with very few items hanging off it. My camelback holds my water nicely but fitting my shoes to the pack is a pain.

 

It would also need some small easy access pockets and compartments for head lamp, first aid stuff, power bars and gu's.

 

Now if it were top notch it would also integrate into your big pack but that's secondary in my mind to everything else. I always seem to travel with two packs and always have trouble finding a spot to stick the camelback. If it had multiple clip points to connect to my main pack that would be super.

 

Basically I need something lighter, tougher and better geared toward long days out on the crags.

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I really like my Serratus Genie but would love it if it were made of more durable fabric (sail cloth!) and had two compression straps on the sides to hold pickets, skis, etc. I also added bungee cord to hold my crampons.

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Here's a thought.....Regionally based Pub-club focus groups in Seattle, PDX, Bend, etc. Post the event, you buy beer and food and invite a bunch of us dirt-bags to bring some of our packs and discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly. We could show you what held up and what didn't, the features we like and the ones that were unnecessary. If you've been on this site long, you will realize that a consensus is unlikely, but you'd leave with some good ideas.

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I am designing the gear which is being professionally made---one of the packs is being outsourced overseas and the other will be made domestically. I am trying to do as much as I can locally. One pack will be designed very tough though a little heavier and the other will be lite weight. Are you willing to pay extra for a domestically made product? I am also looking into making custom gear. Its a tough marketplace but I feel that there is room for a local product that is made to high standards.

 

I'm not willing to pay a red cent until I see some examples.

What have you designed before? What's your track record?

 

Domestically made gear from techy fabrics wth useful features sounds appealing but design is where products succeed or fail. If your design skills aren't up to snuff and you make a pack that doesn't fit, rides like a wooden box, or gets in the way of my harness, I'm not buying it.

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Domestically made gear from techy fabrics wth useful features sounds appealing but design is where products succeed or fail. If your design skills aren't up to snuff and you make a pack that doesn't fit, rides like a wooden box, or gets in the way of my harness, I'm not buying it.

 

Or at least you're not buying it twice:-0

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My personal pack whining:

 

I hate it when the the top pouch is oriented in such a way that when you unzip it, everything falls out of it.

 

Pack cloth shouldn't be as heavy as a circus tent. BZ on the sailcloth idea!

 

I like side pouches, so you don't have to dig to the bottom of your pack to get a Cliff bar.

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To answer your second question first: yes, I'd support a local grass roots company if the product quality/design & customer service are all good. Someone else mentioned cilogear as an example of this, and I have to agree that his reputation for customer service is a big part of his success.

 

As for the question on preferences - it all depends. people will have widely different tastes based on the type of climbing that they do. It sounds like you have 2 different pack designs in mind, but even with 2 designs, each will probably be "pretty good" for many situations, but not specialized enough to be "excellent" at any one application. What people want in an ideal pack will change a lot with what it's going to be used for: rock-cragging, ice, ski-mountaineering, overnight trips, etc.

 

So, a lot of it will certainly come down to your design - and as someone mentioned above, until we see the design & craftsmanship, we're not going to be able to say much of anything.

Rather than just asking a large user base what they like, you'd be better off showing your design ideas (or, better yet, finished products) to people, and let them say which features/qualities they like & dislike, and for what reasons.

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Thank you all for your advise. I was surprised to get so many posts. I will have a website up soon with exact specifications which I will link. This has been a very fun process. Good and responsive custmer service is the goal. Good customer support is the advantage of buying from a small company rather than a large company..

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There is no one best design for packs. A good alpine pack will work pretty well for most purposes, but I end up liking various specific packs best for specific purposes. For instance I like a close-fitting pear-shaped bag best for alpine rock climbing, while a firmer, more straight-sided form is better if you have to climb with skis strapped to the pack.

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I am developing a line of gear starting with a backpack. I am also prototyping other types of gear as well. The goal is to produce a high quality gear at a low cost option for climbers. It will be sold by word of mouth and online to start to keep the cost lower. Much of the cost of the gear is mark up. First run will be available in about 2-3 months.

 

What are climbers looking for in a backpack? Durability, lite weight, options. Will you buy from a grass roots local company?

Are you sure that's what you meant to say? I would hope that most of the cost will be for materials and labour.

 

Isn't this the business model of Cilogear? There seem to be a lot of supporters for them here. There's always a market for affordable quality gear.

 

Everyone would love a pack that was lighter than air, would last a lifetime, could be adjusted to work in all situations and came for free. What compromises do you have in mind? It's easier to answer more directed questions.

 

Sorry for being difficult but I TA first year physics and am easily frustrated with open questions.

 

Howdy, I'm Graham and I own and operate CiloGear.

 

We started out with more or less the above described model, and we have been relatively successful at it. Randy Rackliff does something similar with Cold Cold World, another well respected pack maker for climbers. There's also a whole bunch of folks making packs for hikers with a similar business model.

 

Honestly, I would recommend rethinking your plans though carefully and honestly. AFAIK, there are less than 20,000 members of the American Alpine Club. Even the largest subscriber base for a climbing magazine in the USA is only 70,000. On the other hand, the Outdoor Industry Association does claim that something like 9.2 million folks used climbing walls, but that doesn't make them potential customers...

 

Excluding the operations of really large companies, most of the cost of backpacks made or sold to climbers is overhead, whether it goes to the store, to the company or directly to folks like Randy and I to continue our operations. It turns out that even if there were 70,000 people who were hard core climbers and they wanted a pack, most of them want it for free or as cheap as possible. Climbers are not exactly folks who want to spend lots of money...

 

I wish you the best. I hope you've got the money to support your business for the three to five years that it's going to take to turn a profit. But I really have to strongly caution you to consider the costs and benefits of focusing on the climbing market.

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I am developing a line of gear starting with a backpack. I am also prototyping other types of gear as well. The goal is to produce a high quality gear at a low cost option for climbers. It will be sold by word of mouth and online to start to keep the cost lower. Much of the cost of the gear is mark up. First run will be available in about 2-3 months.

 

What are climbers looking for in a backpack? Durability, lite weight, options. Will you buy from a grass roots local company?

Are you sure that's what you meant to say? I would hope that most of the cost will be for materials and labour.

 

Isn't this the business model of Cilogear? There seem to be a lot of supporters for them here. There's always a market for affordable quality gear.

 

Everyone would love a pack that was lighter than air, would last a lifetime, could be adjusted to work in all situations and came for free. What compromises do you have in mind? It's easier to answer more directed questions.

 

Sorry for being difficult but I TA first year physics and am easily frustrated with open questions.

 

Howdy, I'm Graham and I own and operate CiloGear.

 

We started out with more or less the above described model, and we have been relatively successful at it. Randy Rackliff does something similar with Cold Cold World, another well respected pack maker for climbers. There's also a whole bunch of folks making packs for hikers with a similar business model.

 

Honestly, I would recommend rethinking your plans though carefully and honestly. AFAIK, there are less than 20,000 members of the American Alpine Club. Even the largest subscriber base for a climbing magazine in the USA is only 70,000. On the other hand, the Outdoor Industry Association does claim that something like 9.2 million folks used climbing walls, but that doesn't make them potential customers...

 

Excluding the operations of really large companies, most of the cost of backpacks made or sold to climbers is overhead, whether it goes to the store, to the company or directly to folks like Randy and I to continue our operations. It turns out that even if there were 70,000 people who were hard core climbers and they wanted a pack, most of them want it for free or as cheap as possible. Climbers are not exactly folks who want to spend lots of money...

 

I wish you the best. I hope you've got the money to support your business for the three to five years that it's going to take to turn a profit. But I really have to strongly caution you to consider the costs and benefits of focusing on the climbing market.

 

_______________________________________________

 

 

Summations: you need another competitor like you need hemorrhoids.

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mtclimber: I've noticed that my Karrimor pack I bought 20 years ago is still in fair condition.

 

However, shirts and pants are a commodity which I tend to burn through.

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Summations: you need another competitor like you need hemorrhoids.

 

Not what I meant at all. Your second post, about the durability of your 20 year old pack, is more on target...

 

I'm confident in the strength of our product, our customer service and our ability to compete. While we do have patent protected intellectual property, I think it's the fact we've focused on a very small niche that allows the company to survive and even grow. From August to January, something like 35% of all the alpine climbs written up on the Alpinist blog were done with our packs, and almost all of the packs were purchased by the user who did the climb.

 

What I mean is that starting a gear company is an idea that sounds good, but you'd make more money more easily delivering pizzas for Domino's or working for BD or Petzl. You'll have better hours, you'll go on more trips and you'll have an easier life at home with your significant other. If you don't believe me, call Mal Daly at Trango...

 

If somebody thinks of getting into a manufacturing business because of the "lifestyle" of the sector, I think that person is insane. If somebody is going into a manufacturing business without a couple hundred thousand bucks or more than 10 years of experience in the particular industry or both, I think that's great, but from my personal experience, it's really really hard or insane or dumb or all three rolled into one. If I was doing this again though, I'd really give a strong look at other outdoor activities where there is strong growth and there isn't the strong tradition of getting stuff for free (aka dirtbagging...). There's nothing wrong with being a dirtbag, but if you want to stay in business you need to sell stuff.

 

Finally, I think it's really good for the market to continue seeing small businesses come up and develop. Maybe one day CiloGear or Mtnclimber's business will be as famous as Patagonia, as profitable as Patagonia, and with the impact that Patagonia really has had over the business of selling stuff to climbers. But there's a LONG way between where we are now and that point, isn't there?

 

As I wrote above: Good Luck!

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I am designing the gear which is being professionally made---one of the packs is being outsourced overseas and the other will be made domestically. I am trying to do as much as I can locally. One pack will be designed very tough though a little heavier and the other will be lite weight. Are you willing to pay extra for a domestically made product? I am also looking into making custom gear. Its a tough marketplace but I feel that there is room for a local product that is made to high standards.

 

it is hard to ask a large group of people what they want becuase oppinions are like ass holes.... however since you asked...

 

I would say think about versatility. I want a pack that i can use to go climb for a day and is still an option for a 2 day backpacking trip. Simplicity of design is of utmost importnace. I do NOT need my pack to get up and dance and sing, i just need it to even out the load across my back and hips with out me having to repack it 12000000000 times to get it just right. and yes i realy do suck that bad at packing my pack... especialy when i have to carry the rope!

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I really like my Serratus Genie but would love it if it were made of more durable fabric (sail cloth!) and had two compression straps on the sides to hold pickets, skis, etc. I also added bungee cord to hold my crampons.

 

I have one and think those are plenty durable. Though compression straps would be useful. I would make it lighter weight material and put in compression straps. That kind of pack in my opinion should be and can be made lighter at the expense of durability. Sail cloth would be more durable, but also more expensive and maybe the same weight or heavier.

 

One of the things I like about Genie is it is simple. I think too many mainstream pack manufacturer have way too many bells and whistles. Which is nice if you only want one pack. I think packs can be and have been with some manufacturers simplified to have specific uses in mind.

 

I don't personally care if an item is manufactured abroad or in the states, what I do care is if the quality is good.

 

Another thing that would be nice that not always on packs that ability to replace fastex buckles without having to undo some stitching.

 

One of my favorite packs was from Cold World (sp?). It was simple well thought out light weight pack. The features that is had that made it great were:

 

* yellow interior, which brighten things up so made the item inside stand out

* wide top loading opening so there were no zippers to blow out and easy to climb in for a bivy even with platic boots on

* removeable pad

* long snow skirt, went up to my armpits

 

 

One pack idea that I have had and never seen is simple little piggy back for my harness. I don't particularly like climbing with a pack or a camel back, but would like a little mini pack that could be fixed to the back of my harness so I could carry stuff like bars, small bottle of water, first aid stuff, tape, you the ten essentials (ha). This way I wouldn't have to have crap dangling off my harness, stuffed in my pockets or carry a pack on multipitch climbs.

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