Ramblings: January 20, 2016

Outbound Clicks from HikeLighter.Com
Outbound Clicks from HikeLighter.Com

Another week, another Ramblings post.

Thought the image I have attached is rather interesting. It shows how many people have gone from HikeLighter.Com to different websites. The first one (wordpress media) is folks clicking on photos, so ignore that. And clearly I have linked to a lot of products at amazon. And the docs.google is to my gearlist. But putting aside those three things from the list, it looks like zpacks is by far in the lead of what people seem to be interested in. Granted I have published more about their products than anybody else in the list, but still, almost 2x as many clicks. wow. SMD use to be in second place, mostly due to my Skyscape X article, but that seems to be a shelter most folks have lost interest in. Use to be a time when it would sell out in 24-48 hours, but not anymore. Unlike other companies, SMD has always priced their CF products at a point where they should have been priced at and not marked low just to help sell them. Could be the price tag on the SMDSX has hit a price point that shies folks away. Or, maybe it was the change in pole configuration due to that patent by LHG. No idea, just continue to be surprised that it is not selling like it use to. I think if SMD could get some real bathtub walls on the shelter, it could be the only shelter on the market to give the ZPacks SolPlex a real run for its money. Once I get some miles on the SMD Flight 30 and Fusion 65, and publish some thoughts on them, I suspect SMD will move back up the list. My recent review of the MLD Spirit Quilt accounts for it taking over second place. Montbell is of course on the list due to the Dynamo Wind Pants.

Alright, moving along… some cottage updates:

Mountain Laurel Designs:

You can now buy a MLD Simple UL Wallet — just don’t let pmags know.

For 2016 MLD has announced a ‘50% larger half moon’ option for their Superlite Bivy.

We are still waiting for the MLD 2016 FKT products to be released.


Wow, here is a company I almost never mention (shame on me).

Not only has Henry introduced an entire new Tarptent website (check it out) he has been busy at updating the Scarp 1. Updates include 31% more floor space, a couple of pockets, and that adjustable floor feature that the Moment DW has.

They have stated other updates will be announced soon, I will try to get them listed as I hear about them.


I keep getting asked if I know when/if ZPacks is going to update such-and-such product, or release such-and-such product.

The only response I can give is that  ZPacks has told me that there is very little chance of any updates or new products “being released until fall of 2016“.

That is what I have been told, so that is what I am passing along.

Six Moon Designs:

Nothing new to report from our good friends at SMD. I am still saving up funds for a Haven CF Tarp, to go along with my Haven NetTent (photos I posted at facebook.) I accept donations lol if you wanna help me buy it.


Matt Kirk built himself a sweet looking shelter for him, his wife, and their four legged friend.

I have never bought anything from Luke’s Ultralite, but check out this pretty refined looking rain jacket! (posted over on their facebook page) I think if they could make a couple of more changes, they could have a truly super clean looking and top notch rain garment. Oh, and yes, those are heat-seamed zippers!! Notice the lack of sewing threads along the primary zipper.

Elemental Horizons also posted photos over on this post (facebook) of a backpack made from, what I think is the latest generation of X-Pac VX21. You fabric geeks out there should get a joy out of checking it out. For those unaware, EH is owned by Matthew Lagas-Rivera, and is one of the few people in the very small world of pack designers, that has continually been highly spoken of throughout the years. If you have owned a number of packs over the years by different companies, there is a small chance you have owned a pack designed by him, even if it was not something you bought directly from EH. One such example of this is the Klymit Motion 35 backpack, which I reviewed. Matthew designed it for Klymit. But, then again, if you have been around the cottage backpack world for any length of time, you probably already knew this about Matt.



Here are a couple of videos I have watched this week.

This first one, I must have watched at least two dozen times. LOL. Starting at the 6:40 mark. I have been using the ZPacks Duplex as my primary shelter for over a year, two of them actually (one camo, one aluminized) (my review) and I still fight with the blasted things every morning, trying to get them into a stuff sack. Heck, I even ordered a triplex stuff sack and still fight with them…. arrrgggghhh!!!! The aluminized one is even harder to get stuffed. I watch Joe just roll that tent up and it slides right into the stuff sack… omg… why do I fight with mine every morning!!! It is not the depth of the stuff sacks but the diameter. I think I need to have ZPacks make me two stuff sacks that are larger in diameter /shrugs/


I love this next youtube channel. All about Vietnamese food. These look soooo good. I love bananas and rice. I would so take these on the trail.

2 thoughts on “Ramblings: January 20, 2016

  1. The diversity of the cottage industry is interesting. The reality is that you can hide in a niche for only so long. Joe is doing a superb job with the team at Zpacks but will come up against the need to strategically run a bigger business. This will combine not just a focus on great functionality but also on the expected esthetics of the products from more main stream users. Colours, packaging, market positioning, website design and much more will be challenges for the best companies. I am fine with some of the websites but my son commented .. “They all could use some good Web design help”. Some lead with great product design and service (Zpacks) and others through word of mouth and good reviews. I anticipate a shake out of those who can run a real quality business from those who dabble. My predictions – ZPacks will make the transition. MLD and Blackrock gear will be fine. Montbell and other big boys will leave smaller players to run lifestyle businesses. Too many down jackets, too many packs, too many raincoats and shoes so some will drop off. My hope – Dirty Girl gaiters will be around for a long time as will be Trail Designs as a good unique niche offering. Altras, Saucony, are great so will be good. UL/SUL means taking just what you need and leaving the rest out. May we all be safe on the trails this year.

  2. Ok John I really expected just gear but I am glad I read your rambling if only to see the video of the banana wrapped in sticky rice video, I know I will most likely never taste a dish like that but I can dream. Thanks for tormenting me.

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