|Ron … sporting number 3.|
Cuben is both simple and complicated. MLD is the oldest company to offer cuben products that were built, designed and sold by any one company. We have more experience crafting cuben backpacking products than any other three companies combined. Most all the techniques and construction process you see in any other backpacking companies we pioneered. In the early days cuben products were only sewn and then user seam sealed. This was not optimum and if not done perfectly it could tear and weaken. We spent a lot of time and money in those early years educating backpackers about the strengths of well built cuben gear. Quickly we moved to sewing and bonding and then only bonding – We were the first to do that. Designing with it is not hard after you learn a few secrets about it’s stretch, stretch recovery, lack of stretch recovery and variable stretch on the bias, etc. Bonding technique seems easy after you have developed those techniques over many years.
How to bond, how wide to bond, what adhesive to use, what to burnish with, how hard to burnish, how long to burnish, how much heat to generate while burnishing, how much of a curve can you bond, etc, etc, etc. Construction at a super high level of craftsmanship takes a lot of trial and error plus a Lot of Practice. It’s a very expensive material. Mistakes, waste, practice and training are part of the process. I like to think that if someone is going to pay $300-$800 for a cuben shelter they might want to get one from a company that has built thousands of them in-house, by hand and by very well trained craftsmen who have all the details and processes nailed down real hard. Our latest improvement is in using s special weight cuben bonded reinforcement material to lower weight, increase strength and it look super cool and stealthy. Our color matched cuben reinforcements and cuben over-taping along all bias seams prevent deformation stretching and greatly
extends service life.
7/ Tents … is there ever a time for them?
8/ Do you get to spent as much time in the mountains and on the trails as you’d like?
9/ What’s the most influential ‘ultralight product’ of the last 5 years?
Hummm- I will go ahead and say that it is the TrailStar or the smaller LittleStar. pair it with a SuperLight or Bug Bivy and it has opened up the idea of tarp camping for a much larger range of areas and seasons. Before the TS, few in the UK or areas around the world with similar harsh weather used tarps. There is a freedom to lightweight TrailStar camping that lets you connect to nature and great views while remaining totally protected- It does not isolate you like a traditional tent. As a second I would note the rise of the LightWeight Backpacking Personal Mini Websites, Blogs and Youtube channels and all manor of those variations that help spread the backcountry LW idea of Less is More.
10/ What’s your personal shelter / tarp of choice?
Depends on the trip. Here in my area where it is in the heavily forested Souther Appalachian Mountains I favor the Cricket Tarp and a SuperLight bivy when solo for much of the year. When it will not rain overnight, I often do not set up the tarp. When we get snow then I switch to a Solo or DuoMid. If I have others sleeping with me then the TrailStar or SuperMid.
11/ Do you like the term ‘cottage manufacturer’ or do you think it detracts from the skill and craftsmanship that goes into the majority of products?
Cottage Craft is a very romantic idea – so I am OK with that idea! But I would really limit that description to a one person or family working from home and we are a bit more developed as a company. On the other hand it is also about each expertly trained and accomplished craftsperson building one product at a time in close group shop and that is how we still do it. Even though many of the other “cottage” companies that started when we did have moved to assembly lines, outsourcing and overseas production and using cheaper materials we remain proud to do it all ourselves. That will always be the best way to innovate quickly, insure highest quality and provide the best customer service. We have no desire to send work overseas or to use less than the absolute best materials.
|The Trailstar in it’s natural enviroment.|