Gear archaeology #2

The other day I mentioned how we launched ourselves into gear development with two ambitious projects, the Hitch Climber and the treeMOTION.

We first showed the treeMOTION at ITCC in 2006 in Minneapolis, at that point a prototype we had pre-certified with a notified body, prior to definitive certification and manufacturing. We were fairly sure that key features of the harness would be copied and ripped off by other manufacturers fairly soon. Yet ten years later, the treeMOTION remains a very popular harness which still sells well. Yes, elements have been copied by competitors, along with big claims, but people still seem to be happy with the package which the treeMOTION offers and continue to buy it.

Beddes climbing one of the pre-certified treeMOTIONs in Minneapolis in 2006

The truth, of course, is that in this matter the same as anywhere else, diversity is good. There is a high degree of variability when it comes to body shapes and distribution of mass, so it is good that there is a range of harnesses to cater for these different requirements. The base line is that if we were able make a contribution towards making climbing more comfortable and/ or ergonomic for some people, then I believe that we achieved what we set out to do.

But of course, the launch of treeMOTION in 2006 was merely the tip of an iceberg of development and prototyping. Ahead of this went a period of many years working through prototypes, trying and discarding concepts and countless hours of discussion. This was brought home to me the other day by a bag full of back pad prototypes which Beddes brought along with him to the Müllheim meeting the other week.

I have always said that doing this kind of thing is not rocket science, yet it requires a lot of time, effort and diligence. The truth of the matter is that many people out there have good ideas, but not many of them are seen through – because it is a long, hard slog.