D4 Portaledge Update #11
D4 Portaledge Update--August 8, 2017
In July, John Middendorf, Barry Ward, and Jason Brooks met in Durango for two weeks where we finalised the D4 Portaledge design as well as crafting the first batch and building all 40 ledge frames for the Kickstarter production. We have shipped out the first batch and are working hard toward fulfilling all our current orders in the coming months (30 more Kickstarter orders to go!). For people who have not yet received their ledge, please contact Barry directly for any shipping address changes: email@example.com
We expect to be able to take new orders for the D4 Portaledge soon. Please let your friends know they can sign up for a D4 portaledge by going to the Big Wall Gear webpage and signing up for the next (post-Kickstarter) batch. The D4 is truly proving to be the best hanging tent system ever designed, and we look forward to be able to fulfil all demand in 2018.
DESIGN CHANGE--new six-point suspension
After considerable yet mixed feedback from our eight D4 prototypes which were tested all over the world in some of the world's most extreme conditions, we have decided to switch from the four-point suspension design to a traditional six-point suspension design. In doing this, we have innovated a new webbing self-clamping suspension corner connection which allows for some adjustability (useful for flagging the ledge--see PTPP's Facebook sketches), but also well protected from abrasion with a 3" web sheath.
The four-point system relied on a pure fabric suspension with fins that not only supported the ledge in a load-distributing manner, but also saved about a pound of weight. The disadvantage of the four-point is that the ledge can appear to be less stable when initially loading the ledge despite the fact that when fully loaded, the four-point can be actually more stable as there is less micro-shifting when two people move about normally in the ledge (and the center of gravity shifts).
The six-point system, by contrast, is a frame supported system, with six points of attachment directly to the frame. By all accounts, the six-point is more foolproof, especially when initially loading the ledge, as the four point could sometimes twist ("taco") if initially loaded off-center; thus, the "taco" issue is minimised with six-points of attachment. We have decided that a six-point is more appropriate for the D4, as we know this design will become the new standard for all portaledges in the world, and we wanted to make it as foolproof as possible and knowing that Yosemite is the where most of the world's big wall climbing takes place, where weight is not as big an issue.
In the future, we will reserve the four-point design for our dream to design the ultimate high altitude super lightweight carbon fibre D4 portaledge. With proper frame engineering, the new curved corners, as well as the slew of other new portaledge innovations we have originated in the past six months, such as the single seam zippered fly, I believe a fully stormproof, sub-10 pound ledge system that enables climbers to bivy safely on the world's most remote big walls is now possible, and hope to one day procure the time, funding, and resources to further develop this ultimate ledge concept.
As such, our current production model D4 portaledge weighs exactly 18 pounds with fly, flypole, and haulsack. Since our initial prototype, which weighed 15.5 pounds complete, we have added additional reinforcements, the zipper for the fly, and two additional suspension points, adding a total of 2.5 pounds of weight. Note that this is still lighter than the competitor's (Black Diamond and Metolius) single-person ledges, and is far lighter per square foot of usable space than the other smaller (Fish and Runout Customs) ledges on the market, as the D4 portaledge is by far the lightest full-size (82" x 47") ledge, thanks to the re-engineered and innovative curved-corner frame design.
HowTo Manual: We have updated out "How-To" manual, and is recommended reading to learn how to use the D4 portaledge. The link is here: D4 HowTo Manual. Please note that we are using the webbing clip-in technology that was standard on all A5 portaledges and has stood the test of time, but the D4 Kickstarter portaledge does require manual seam sealing, and it is essential to be done correctly as explained in the manual. We do have plans to have fully factory taped seams in the future for the D4 Portaledge, but it was just not possible to do for our Kickstarter--thank you everyone again for making this new design and its evolution possible though your Kickstarter support!
Also, here is the recommended way to fold up the D4 ledge--we found that many methods work, but this seems to be one of the easier ways:
SWAG: We have shipped out all out "Swag" orders: the Buddy Bags, D4 Stickers and Patches. Thank you again to everyone who has supported us, especially those who were not able to buy a ledge! I have designed a new quick-deploy hanging chair/lounge system that will be offered at reasonable price-point and which I am currently testing and further prototyping, so hope in the future I can tempt you all to support the Tasmanian shed innovation once again!
SLC TRADE SHOW: We had a good visit in SLC at the Trade Show. Gary at Liberty provided us with some floor space (and a beam) to show our D4 Portaledge to the many top climbers who were attending the show. Even though portaledges are so often depicted in the mainstream media, we had the only portaledge at the show! (as there has been so little innovation from the mainstream manufacturers in the past 20 years). Thanks and kudos to Andy Green who helped to make it all possible.
SHED CULTURE: We also had Bill Hatcher, one of the world's foremost adventure photographers, visit our "shed" in Durango. In Australia, innovation begins in sheds rather than garages, as garages are uncommon but sheds are plentiful, so we are happy that our production takes place in an American shed. Below are some of Bill's images.
Onward and Upward! Cheers, John Middendorf