According to Merriam-Webster, 'Fray' is defined as 'a usually disorderly or protracted fight, struggle, or dispute'. I've found that to be pretty solid insight into the new product development process! However, as with many things in life, challenges result in learning and only through battles come victories, so we're thankful to be this far into such an adventure.
I once heard, taking a great idea to reality is 10% idea and 90% execution (or something along those lines) and I believe that more than ever to be true. It's not that it's insurmountable, it's just that it takes the vision but requires much more hard work to make it happen.
As Jerrod and I set out to create an innovative upland vest that addressed the needs and growing expectations of today's upland hunters, our first obstacle was simply our own learning curves in the manufacturing of garment/apparel/gear manufacturing industry. Our lack of experience with cut-n-sew manufacturing felt insurmountable early on in the process and it became apparent, identifying the right partner(s) was an absolute critical path.
After a lengthy search and many virtual doors knocked on, we began working with FirstSpear to begin the prototyping process. We invested significant time in the design and field test phase. Looking back, our lack of experience has turned out to be a blessing as it allowed us to focus on key design elements and innovative solutions we needed as passionate uplanders vs the details of the manufacturing process. That's not to say we didn't have serious ramp up and continue to learn, it's just that successful partnerships leverage each others strengths for the greater good and I believe firmly that's what we've gained in our partnership with FirstSpear.
The picture was taken a few years ago and shows a second or third iteration prototype being field tested during a late season pheasant hunt in SD. You may notice the lack of any Hunt Redi branding and that all the pouches / pockets being used were sourced from the tactical gear space. The reason for this strategy was simple, we believed priority number one was to get a solid foundation in place that would resonate with today's upland inspired hunters. As a result, early design targets were focused solely on building a solid foundation - comfort, proper weight distribution, extreme durability, ultralight footprint, ease of use (can you do it with one hand?) and to push the configuration envelope.
Numerous things were ultimately adjusted since the picture was taken, many of which you can't see but were simply required for us to achieve the fit and finish we would be proud to offer to the upland market. Once we narrowed in on key functional objectives, we began to focus on shell pouches, miscellaneous pockets, hydration, etc. The end result is an upland platform that provides market leading configurability, military spec durability, and typical vest configurations weighing in between 3-4 pounds.
So if you're looking for innovative solutions for your upland journey, jump into the fray and consider Reliable Equipment Driving Inspiration in the Uplands for next season!