Proletariis update - 9/16/2016
My old mentor Martin Zemitis would always ask; “What problem are you solving for”
The outdoor industry – born by enthusiasts, fanatics and rebels who were sewing and making gear in their garages – became an industry. When the original founders began retiring, corporations came in and they naturally wanted to grow their investments. R & D teams and individual designers were replaced with development and marketing teams. Things were to be working as a well-oiled global machine. Outdoor gear, equipment (including tents, sleeping bags and packs) are relatively low margin categories – a thorn in the side of shareholder value. Big business wanted gear to offer the same corporate return as the more profitable apparel. They were to chase trends, especially the light weight market.
The problems with the tent industry are:
- No real innovation, all the designs look the same because big business took over small companies and focused too much on profits. R & D teams and designers were eliminated across the board.
- Tents got lighter and more expensive because they made existing design with lighter weight and less durable fabrics and coating.
- FR used in tents are known to cause birth defect and cancer and have been documented to be transferred to user via tent use.
- CPIA84 is FR standard for backpacking tents. The problem is the FR added to the PU coating causes the PU coating to hydrolyze way earlier then normal. Smaller denier fabrics require silicone or other DWR to increase tear strength. Smaller denier fabrics also turns more easily and quickly. The smaller you go, the more FR you need. The more you are exposed….
My plan was to go back to designing and developing product the way the founders of Mountain Hardwear taught me to design. You sew it up; perfect the sample doing real innovation; not just price point built, margin focused crap in a pretty color. I was going to rethink tents completely completely.
So about a year ago I bought a Sailrite Ultra Feed commercial sewing machine; designed for sail cloth manufacturing. I built a pattern table. Now I would just need to learn to sew.
So in between freelance work designing tents and sleeping bags for various clients; I have been designing, patterning and sewing myself proto-types of my Trekking pole shelter.
It has been a process of design, draw, pattern, cut and sew. I would try it out. Repeat until perfect.
I want/plan to launch with 3 products that would need to be perfect and bring real innovation.
- Lightweight shelter-that sets up with trekkingpoles anywhere.
- Summit tent
- Tarp to pair with the previous 2.
I wanted to tackle the hardest one first: Project Grasshopper: Trekking pole shelter. I cant reveal the design yet because I need to file patents. But I can say it is my Everest and I am at Camp 3. It weighs 2.5 pounds and is tapeless construction but still a “waterproof” shelter. I am still working on it. I have started the paperwork for filing 3 provisional patents related.
So that I where I am at with everything. Also, my sewing is getting there; many broken needles; even learned to realign the rotational timing on a commercial sewing machine. I can’t wait to show everyone what I have been up to. Thanks for reading.
There's a full photo set of Sean's prototypes and set up here.
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