It has been 12 months now since the original “Cottage Stagnation and Recent Gems” article was published by Ryan Jordan and now that the waters have calmed as we head into 2013, I wanted to explore with some of the key players in the lightweight cottage industry, their thoughts on the recent past, present and future of this niche areana and what the future holds, for them and ultimately for us.

The first interview in the series is with Ron Moak from Six Moon Design and we discuss his lengthy reply to the original post and discuss his more in depth views on the current state of play of ‘lightweight’ and what the future holds for Six Moon Designs.

Henry Shires chatting with Ron about gear no doubt!

Ron Moak of Six Moon Designs

Ron reviewing his TGO Challenge gear (Courtesy of Andy Howell)

Others mentioned on the podcast who have discussed and debated the future of Ultralight Gear following the original “Cottage Stagnation & Recent Gems” post on by Ryan Jordan;

Pages generated on forum

The 7 page reply from Ron Moak – Six Moon Designs

Bedrock and Paradox Blog

Korpijaakko Blog

Hiking In Finland Blog – Ultralight is not dead

Summit and Valley – Martin Rye Blog

Christ Townsend Blog

Infinite Outdoors Blog

Blogger Zed

Andrew Skurka Blog

13 thoughts on “No 354 – The future of Ultralight Gear – Pt 1”

  1. UL backpacking won’t die, but the pace of innovation has slowed. That is fine: it is no longer revolutionary, but evolutionary. This makes magazines like Backpacking Light less relevant, however, as this year’s stuff is not much different than last year’s stuff. There is a lot of refinement to do. We are still not much evolved from Ray Jardine’s original vision. Packs, tarps and so forth all look about the same. I think there is a lot of room for minor advancements. For example, the GoLite Ion pack was very different than Jardine’s. Only 9oz in high-wear Dyneema fabric, zip top (not a flap or drawstring), full length from hips to shoulders but narrow, no outer pockets, and a hip belt. These sell used today for more than their new price, but nobody seems to want to imitate that example, even GoLite. Stoves have become rather silly. Very light, yes, but not much good for anything but boiling 8oz of water.

    Another thing to offer: a really great pair of trail pants, at around 5oz. Not windpants, but something durable that can be worn every day. Right now, the alternatives are around 10oz.

    I was intrigued to find that I saw no AT hikers using UL gear when I was on the AT last autumn.

    1. Thanks so much for the shout-out on the GoLite Ion pack. I’ve been trying to track down one of these for years. So I was excited to hear the GoLite founder Demetri Coupounos say in an interview that — given GoLite’s new busines model — they might be able to bring back some one-off designs and do smaller runs for specialty items, and still make a profit. He specifically mentioned the Ion as an example of this.

      Alas, when I contacted GoLite recently they said they had no knowledge of a new Ion release this spring. So … still looking.

      1. I think you might be a few years out with the interview date David. I don’t think I’ve interviewed Coup since 2006/7?

        There is a Ion ‘copy’ coming out this year in the UK but I can’t remember which brand it is going under. I’m sure it’ll rear its head in Springtime somewhere on-line.

  2. 1) In Hendricks censored article on ‘UL is not dead’ he gets people to write as if supporting it – yet they write on their own websites how UL is not helpful in many ways and the unhelpful identity issues that is has caused. You already have those links listed. Hendricks claim that using a map and compass is UL is nonsense that beggars belief as a defence of UL.

    2) Great stuff from Ron. Enjoyed that.

    3) I never wrote my post in response to Ryan. I cant stand his ethos, values and You’re too kind Bob to him based on how disgustingly he treated you in the past. Credit to you for that dignified summary of him.

    I liked the very good description left on the debate list on BPL of him:

    “Narcissistic, Elitist, Spoiled Brat With Delusions Of Grandeur Trying To Remain Relevant and Edgy So People Renew Their Subscriptions And I Don’t Have To Get A Real Job.” – agree with that person 100%

  3. I just learned about your site from a recent Gossamer Gear e-bulletin, and listened to your interview with Ron Moak. Looking forward to part 2. I’m an experienced backpacker who is in the midst of updating my gear to lightweight for a planned walk of the Pennine Way this coming May 2013.

    Happy New Year,

  4. Could we not have a discussion about the pointlessness of labels in the outdoor world? “Ultralight”. “Lightweight”, “Heavyweight” – Who cares?

    Take the kit you feel happy with and enjoy the outdoors. I’m all for lightweight kit, and I thank Uncle Bob for his contribution as he has saved my knees from overload, but for folk like Ryan & Hendrik to bang on and on about it becomes incredibly tedious and only “turns off” sensible people.

    Of course they love banging on about it and giving it labels because they believe it increases their marketability in the outdoor world. That means that they make more money from the punters and advertisers.

    It’s never about the outdoors. It’s about money for Ryan & Hendrik. Sad, really.

  5. Nice interview. I’d not linked Ryan’s article to what I formulated (in an intentionally bombastic way) as the death of ultralight, but it makes sense.

    I don’t think 6MD has qualified as a cottage company for a number of years since they started outsourcing. They’re just another niche company.

  6. I enjoyed the read and yes with all the stuff available, it’s not that hard to get a lightweight setup for the backcountry. As to where the industry is going…It’s called bikepacking. The challenge of keeping it light is still there but now you get even less space to work with, especially, if you’re trying to keep the weight off your back. There are only a handful of people making framebags for this industry. Tarps or survival bivies seem to be the norm. I still hike, but just for the ease of not having to pay or arrange for a shuttle, I prefer to lug/ride/hike my mountain bike with me…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.