D4 Portaledge Kickstarter Update October
Posted by John Deucey Middendorf (Creator)
Good news! Last month, we completed all the "September Ledges" (the ones ordered at a significant early bird discount), as well as made headway into the Kickstarter ledges originally promised for 2018. In fact, we only have eight more to build to fully complete the Kickstarter, then we will begin building ledges for the 56 people currently on the 2018 D4 Portaledge waitlist (sign up at http://bigwallgear.com).
It has been a great year for D4 portaledge development and innovations, there are now over 40 D4 portaledges currently in use, and solid evidence coming in almost daily that the D4 is changing the game of big wall adventuring. No longer is a portaledge considered a huge heavy encumbrance, following the philosophy "Good design is obvious ... great design is transparent". Here are some highlights:
"The ledge is so comfy and light that we brought it on the one-day ascent of Wet Denim on Leaning Tower. This is a new style I've been thinking about for years, to enable the max comfort for walls in a push. I've never felt so good after completing an all-day push with hanging belays! I really like the cornerless design, and the strength of the ledge is unquestionably better than the old design when it comes to hourglassing and pole flex--super stable and confidence inspiring with three monkeys in the ledge."
Using two D4 two-person portaledges--each had their own--Rob Miller and Roby Rudolph recently completed an all-free new route on El Cap which is unique as it climbs over 70% completely new ground. A few years ago no one could have dreamed that all-free routes would be going up via mostly new terrain (i.e previously unaided) on El Captain. Perhaps this is why the Direct Line is so spectacular, as it really consolidates the new genre. Rob writes:
"I was extremely pleased with the ledge and fly during the storm. It wasn't an epic amount of rain that fell but I was beside a 400' black streak that pummeled me pretty good throughout the windy night. I expected that I'd take on a fair bit of water but not so. Totally dry. Whatever the rainfly material is... it's friggin' awesome!"
Pete continues to be our most prolific product tester, with another three walls this fall season with the D4 portaledge, to which he credits with saving his life in a storm on the Waterfall route. Pete recently modified an earlier prototype to his preferred 6-point suspension configuration. Many thanks to John Verbeck who made this modification possible, who writes:
"Testing the stability of the D4's new 6 point suspension system in the most asymmetric way, and its solid! Innovation occurs when many people come together to improve some aspect of the world around us... and the D4 is truly an innovative piece of climbing technology! Hats off to John Deucey Middendorf for designing this ground breaking ledge!"
The D4 is designed with lightweight expeditions in mind, to enable climbers to push their dreams on remote walls where every ounce counts. Marek is one of the world's leading remote big wall alpinists, and we continue to outfit Marek with D4 portaledges, here he is on a recent training route in Yosemite:
SETTING UP THE D4 PORTALEDGE
The D4 is definitely the easiest portaledge on the market to setup, but it still takes a bit of practice. We have a new video starring Malcolm Matheson (HB) on how to set up the D4 Portaledge here. Even though he had never set one up the D4 before, he did it quickly and efficiently, proving the quick deploy aspect of the new D4 innovations.
If you have a D4, please take the time to watch the current setup videos:
HB Hanging Setup (4 minutes)
HB Fly Deploy and Take Down (3 minutes)
Steve Quinlan Setup (more tips explained in this video)
Setup Manual (PDF)
Here is a report from a first time portaledge user, Kevin Kent:
"The ledge was great! Set up really easily and was super comfy! I love it! I've never owned or used a ledge before so I can't compare it to anything but I'm definitely a happy customer. Initially I had a little difficulty getting the frame setting into place, but after a few times it seemed to break in and is really easy to set up now. I love how light it is and that it fits in the haulbag for the way down! I did watch the setup video which was helpful!"
Love the D4 ledge! The D4 is the better portaledge by far! --Matt Lambert
Just got back from Yosemite. I picked my ledge up from the post office in yosemite on Monday and immediately ran over to Washington column for some solo "cragging". I spent Monday night to Thursday night on the D4 and loved it. I really didn't find anything that wasn't outstanding on it. I love the 4-point suspension and was surprised how stable it was. Even when I hung it in a poor position to test it, it was rock solid. Set up was a piece of cake. The integrated fly and compact haul sack save a ton of space and I really appreciate the build/material quality. Looking forward to spending many more nights in the D4. Truly bomber ledge. A+ Thanks! -Chris Lorimer
Hey John, Just got off El Cap a few days ago, did Native Son for 5 days with the D4. I didn’t take the fly, the ledge weight with no fly is pretty impressive! --Tito Krull
I just wanted to drop the two of you a note about my new portaledge. It's obvious that the level of work both in design and construction is first class. I'm happy to have been part of your initial Kickstarter launch. You guys shaved ten pounds off of you ledge in comparison to the next best product. Innovation in industrial design should always be signified. I was once an inmate at an arts and design college so I get it about how hard the work really is. Thanks ! --Jim Brennan
Notes on the Dyneema Bed Fabric:
Several users have expressed concern for the lightweight bed fabric we are using. Initially we chose the Dyneema despite it high cost because we felt we wanted to supply the lightest and highest quality materials, but we will likely revert to a heavier and more traditional portaledge bed fabric. Here is a note I recently sent to Tito about his concerns and is worth a read for our Kickstarter supporters:
The Kickstarter was really a way to help develop the lightest ledge possible, and the Dyneema fabric saves almost two pounds over traditional portaledge pack cloth. One of the first D4 ledges, used in some Tasmania Tree camps, then by Marek, then passed onto another tree climber in the UK, has been used for about 50 nights and is still going strong. For your ledge, if you keep taking care of it, it will last for many walls. Dab any wear spots with ShoeGoo after each wall, and maybe bring some nylon sticky patches too. The Dyneema is tougher than it looks, tears don’t propagate as easily as in other fabrics like pack cloth. We know it seems light and probably too stretchy (regarding stretchy though, I found it actually more comfortable in a way over a stiffer fabric), so we do plan to beef up the bed fabric (and the weight) for future production as most people are using the ledge for routes where the extra pounds are not a major issue. Again, the Kickstarter was touted as a way for supporters to help develop the ultimate lightweight ledge and I think what it proves is that if I ever can fully fund my dream of creating the ultimate, sub-10 pound remote alpine expedition double ledge, the four-point suspension and the dyneema will be the way to go to save weight. Your support has made this dream more possible!
The new D4 MiniMe and Other News
We continue our shack culture of innovation and have been developing a new instant setup belay seat (the patent pending MiniMe Insta-Ledge™), and a super cool innovative single ledge. As always, for more of the latest news on these and other developments, visit our Facebook page at: http://facebook.com/bigwallgear
All Kickstarter Updates (documents the innovation process)