It is frustrating that gear manufacturers often introduce new models of gear rather than refine and develop existing gear. Just as bad is continuing with products with design flaws and not addressing them.

The reason for thinking about this is the pending launch of the eagerly awaited Tarptent Scarp 1 mk2. Here is a relatively isolated example of a manufacturer listening to criticism and responding positively. I shall be placing my order soon.

Contrast that with the lack of change with the TN Laser Competition. Why wasn’t the pole hood addressed in the mk2? I find it odd that none of the mods that I and others have made seem to have made it into the latest version. This is disappointing as the Comp could be a much better tent.

Indeed, I’ve got some ideas for a Comp Ultra version such as A frames at the ends instead of single poles. I probably ought to approach them, but I think whatever they do the Scarp is likely to be a better tent.

Another reason for thinking about this is a small modification my mother has made to a Macpac Matrix jacket that I’ve owned for about five years. The Matrix is a really good jacket marred by one design flaw. It is like a lightweight Paramo in that it has a water resistant shell of Epic (a nylon material coated in silicone, making it highly water resistant), a thin fleece lining, an unlined fold away hood and weighs about 380g.

This should be an ideal soft shell jacket, but it has underarm mesh vents, making it cold in windy conditions. It would have been better to have pit zips. I had the idea the other day to cover the mesh on the inside with some pertex type material, making the jacket more wind resistant but maintaining ventilation. My mother has duly delivered the modified jacket and I’ll report on it at a later date.

Macpac stopped producing the Matrix about four years ago without developing it. If they had put in pit zips and two large chest pockets, they would have had a real winner, in my view. It will be interesting to see whether my mod works. If it does the Matrix may replace Paramo in certain conditions.

That’s just one example but there are many other occasions where a good product has not been developed into an outstanding product. Clothing and boot manufacturers are particularly guilty of this. Why did Aku drop the Icaros and NS 564s. With a bit of tweaking, both could have been outstanding.

That’s enough ranting. If any manufacturers are out there reading this, please try to develop products to make them better rather than feel that products need to be completely new.


10 thoughts on “Underdeveloped”

    1. I really admire these cottage manufacturers. It’s a lot of hard work for not much reward. At least in the US, the market is large enough. I don’t think it is here, unfortunately. If anyone wants me as a design consultant, I’d do it for free.

  1. I’ve been thinking along the same lines this week, I’m pretty sure I could improve almost every piece of kit I have. However, this may make the products less functional for other people so I guess companies are stuck with trying to please most of the people some of the time. Some people like their Laser Comps just as they are.

  2. That’s a problem for manufacturers – people have differing views on kit features.
    Terra Nova do listen sometimes, and I have one example where I wish they hadn’t. People suggested that a side-hung door would be a big improvement on the original Voyager and they duly implemented it in future models – I hate it, the original bottom mounted door was far better for us.

  3. listening to the customer is very important. After all they buy the gear. Sometimes companies can get “lost” in their own creativity and forget the link to the customer.
    Well done Henry Shires……

  4. I wonder if the lack of development is due to the fact that so many companies outsource all of their manufacturing to China. It striking how similar the gear can be from different manufacturers. You wonder if they design anything or they’ve outsourced the whole lot.

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