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18 Responses to What would you ask Sierra Designs Sr. Director, Stephen Barnes?

  1. Paul January 19, 2017 at 1:21 pm #

    What happened to your experiments in cuben fiber tents? Anything more coming on the horizon?

    • Stephen B March 4, 2017 at 8:56 pm #

      Hi Paul,
      The fabric itself is ridiculously expensive and therefore very difficult to commercialize on any scale. For companies like ourselves, where we sit somewhere between the cottage guys and the mega companies, materials like cuben are out of reach. Super stoked though to see some of the cool cottage guys go after that product segment!

  2. Dave January 19, 2017 at 1:59 pm #

    Any news on whether the Flex Capacitor pack will be sold through REI?

  3. Harrison January 19, 2017 at 1:59 pm #

    When will Sierra Designs’ apparel and gear be stocked in brick and mortar stores nationwide – such as in outdoor retailers like REI and EMS?

    • Stephen B March 4, 2017 at 8:59 pm #

      Hi all,
      Couple of questions here about our retailer base. While we would love to be back in REI, it is not our choice. The folks up in Seattle make those choices. We are however available through a wide array of ‘other’ brick and mortar stores, as well as select specialty focused internet retailers. If you really want to see us in REI, write/ask/beg and plead with them directly – the more requests they get at store level the more likely they are to consider other products.
      Keep smiling,
      Chief Bottle Washer @ SD

  4. HikingNerd January 19, 2017 at 3:37 pm #

    Will there be a smaller version of the Flex Capacitor? If so, what will the volume look like?

    • Stephen B March 4, 2017 at 9:03 pm #

      Hey there Hiking Nerd,
      Thanks for asking and YES!
      We currently obviously offer the 40-60 liter backpacking version, and last fall introduced a much smaller (18-23 liter) Flex Summit. We are currently working on a middle size – 25-40 liters, which at this point is targeted for a Spring 2019 retail launch.

      All ears for any cool ideas folks might have for further expansion {not just the gusset, but additional sizes! ;)}.
      Keep smiling,
      Chief Bottle Washer

  5. Alex Wallace January 19, 2017 at 5:20 pm #

    It’s great to see SD bring back some of their classic tents (e.g. Clip Flashlight); are there any other oldies but goodies scheduled for a comeback?

  6. James January 19, 2017 at 5:38 pm #

    Any chance of a High Route 2?

  7. Billy January 20, 2017 at 4:39 am #

    What “niche” is your company hoping to stake out in the marketplace? High end, medium, etc. I am talking long term, as I know where you are today. If you stay in the middle how will you survive with all the competition there already? Is your goal to do high end equipment at an affordable price? And is the marketplace big enough to sustain all the players?

  8. Rene January 20, 2017 at 11:38 am #

    When will you start shipping to Canada via your online store?

  9. Byron January 20, 2017 at 3:08 pm #

    Are you going to continue the men’s Dricanvas line of shorts and pants? Any chance of a women’s Dricanvas short and/or pant to go along with the skirt? (my wife would love this).

  10. john the xcar smith January 21, 2017 at 10:58 pm #

    2 basic questions:

    1) As Sierra Designs tents have evolved over the years from typical pole structures into more innovative use of hiking poles, ultra light fabrics and continued to dial in on reducing weight, increasing quality and keeping prices reasonable what is the next step for tent designs? increased simplicity (i.e zipperless entrances) – reductions in seams to increase durability – tarp systems or other ideas?

    2) Wearable accessories – Is SD working towards clothing accessories such as: breathable over mitts? simple dust/debris gaiters? skirts/kilts? umbrella? Wide brimmed hats? Other ideas?

    • Stephen B March 4, 2017 at 9:18 pm #

      Great questions!
      One of the biggest topics of conversation in our offices is around building the lightest weight with most livable space tents, that are still affordable. Quite frankly, it is pretty simple to build a lightweight tent – just use 10d or 15d fabrics, and build a simple fin style single pole arch over a minimalist footprint. Quite a few folks are already doing that. To us, the key is to build a tent that you will willingly spend a day in when the conditions do not warrant leaving camp due to rain, wind, snow whatever. To us, that means creating interior space that does not cramp your style, so we focusing on very lightweight tents that use lighter weight materials but the architectures enable a significant increase in interior/livable space! The High Route is a great example, as it is actually quite a roomy 1 person tent without any big weight penalty. This is the target we are chasing going forward.
      Great question about seams. Actually, we are looking at adding more seams, in strategic places that will help with geometric strengths that will enable us to actually use less poles, and therefore maintain great strength while reducing poles, and therefore weight. As tent architectures evolve well beyond the simple two poles across dome structures, there are a lot of opportunities to look beyond normal construction techniques and seek new ways. Super stoked to see where we can go in the future!! For instance, using trekking poles as part of the structure and looking at ways to create some hybrid trekking pole / regular tent pole architectures that enhance interior space and still maintain a super lightweight tent. Can’t reveal too many secrets!!
      Keep smiling,
      Chief Bottle Washer @ SD

  11. Frances January 22, 2017 at 10:26 pm #

    I’ve noticed that the selection of women’s gear is much narrower than that available for men, and generally not as well-designed as mens’ gear. I don’t fault you for this, as it’s true for pretty much all outdoor retailers in general.

    What I would like to know is if you will be increasing the quality and selection of women’s gear in the future.

    I would love to see a women’s version of the pack polo. As it stands you’ve got a long sleeve cowl neck for cooler weather, a short and long sleeve wind shirt, and a tank top which is not good for backpacking (due to shoulder chafe). I would think a short and long-sleeve shirt for 3-season conditions would be pretty essential, no?

  12. dgray January 24, 2017 at 6:30 pm #

    It seems that most traditional outdoor equipment manufacturers are hesitant to jump into the newer “ultralight” market. Sierra Designs appears to be one of the few exceptions as shown by your partnership with Andrew Skurka on the recent shelter and pack (as well as some of your other outstanding lightweight products like quilts, innovative tents, puffy jackets, and others). Why are traditional companies slow to join this market and compete with the many cottage industries out there? I think that there is a place for careful handmade craftsmanship in some gear, and I do not want to see these smaller companies put out of business, but it also seems to me that the economies of scale and simple manufacturing processes could produce some of that gear at drastically lower prices with very little sacrifice in quality. Andrew’s recent blog post about the BD trekking poles that don’t collapse got me thinking that it can’t be all that hard to glue a handle and tip onto a single carbon shaft and charge much less for it. The same appears to hold true for other things that are fairly straightforward to manufacture like flat tarps, stuff sacks, gaiters, bivies, et al. Is there a reason why the “big companies” aren’t trying to undercut the cottage industries? Does Sierra Designs have any plans to continue to expand into these kinds of products?

    • Stephen B March 4, 2017 at 9:29 pm #

      Great questions. Lots of different inputs go into how companies bring products to market and the choices they make in exactly which ones. Understanding our core customers and the products they seek and the expected pricepoints of those products are obviously key drivers. But we also consider the cost of materials, final margins/profitability and our retailer base. Great question about why the ‘big companies’ don’t try to undercut the cottage guys. Quite frankly, the profit margins are rarely there and in this day and age, almost all the larger companies are publicly held or by private equity investment groups where those profit margins are king, so the really cool innovations that would lead to small sales do not make it through the corporate and finance filters. One small advantage we have at Sierra Designs is we are privately owned, and we still have to produce profits for our owners, we are given a bit more latitude on the innovation to pursue products that we believe in and that may not return the greatest of sales but really speak to us and to our brand. We will continue to pursue those cool opportunities.
      Keep smiling,
      Chief Bottle Washer @ SD

  13. Ryan H January 25, 2017 at 10:25 am #

    I love the idea of the Flex. Has there been any thought to making other sizes, particularly smaller? I’d love a hydration pack sized pack with the Flex feature.

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