The underground industry?

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The underground industry?

Postby hank moon » Aug 6, 2007 8:58 am

Inspired by

http://forums.caves.org/viewtopic.php?t=5020

---

From a mass-market manufacturer's perspective:

- Mass-market headlamps are not generally cave-worthy, nor are they designed to be. They cannot be and leave REI's shelves at a mass-market price.

- The development of products for the mass market is driven mainly by investment strategies and by the desires of "big box" stores such as REI, EMS, Dicks, Sports Authority, Bass Pro Shop, Sportsman's Warehouse, Cabelas, etc...

- What chance stands the lowly caver in having the ear of a mass-market headlamp manufacturer? Well...not much.

Time to help develop the "underground" industry and market. Don't buy mass-market headlamps for caving. Don't buy your specialized caving products from X-Mart. Buy one of the many caver-developed lights. Support the "underground" industry instead of the mass-market "outdoor" industry. No-one knows better what cavers need than other cavers. I have a Stenlight. Everybody should have a Stenlight. The larger the market grows for such custom offerings, the lower the prices will become. They will *never* be as low or nearly as low as mass-market prices. But, you will be making an investment for future cavers.

It (almost) goes without saying that crappy products and services should never be supported. And if you can't find the product you need, make and sell it yourself like Scott McCrea did. Making stuff is fun.

Check out the following:

http://www.stenlight.com/
http://www.pmirope.com/
http://www.onrope1.com/
http://www.gonzoguanogear.com/
http://www.hdssystems.com/Obsolete/XAct ... AIOCC.html
http://www.bcwunderwearinc.com/
http://www.swaygogear.com/
http://howiesharnesses.com/catalog/
http://www.resurgentsoftware.com/perfect_led_light.html
http://www.speleobooks.com/
http://www.innermountainoutfitters.net/
http://www.karstsports.com/
http://www.4bobandbob.com/
http://nssbookstore.org/
http://www.caversconnection.com/
http://www.caves.org/cavestarart/
http://www.digital-topo-maps.com/
http://www.geology.com/
http://www.hodagvideo.com/'
http://www.lostcreekpacks.com/
http://www.scurion.ch/ms/index.php?lamp
http://www.bmsrescue.com/
http://www.proliteii.com/


Please add others - i know this list can't be complete!
Last edited by hank moon on Aug 6, 2007 2:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby JoeyS » Aug 6, 2007 9:14 am

Great idea. I'll add a couple:

The site for information on all things related to flashlights and LED technology. Lots of dealers here as well:
http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/

These guys have an interesting caving light for sale:
http://www.scurion.ch/ms/index.php?lamp
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Postby Scott McCrea » Aug 6, 2007 1:53 pm

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Postby hank moon » Aug 6, 2007 2:25 pm

Thanks for the links, guys.

Scott, do you think CMI is caver-focused? If so, would you mind 'splain a bit?

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Re: The underground industry?

Postby NZcaver » Aug 6, 2007 2:33 pm

hank moon wrote:Mass-market headlamps are not generally cave-worthy, nor are they designed to be.

Generally true, but this does depend on the headlamp and on the cave (ie wet vs. dry). Plus many cavers have done successful DIY modifications... although I suppose that means the headlamp is technically no longer a mass-market model.

Time to help develop the "underground" industry and market. Don't buy mass-market headlamps for caving. Don't buy your specialized caving products from X-Mart. Buy one of the many caver-developed lights. Support the "underground" industry instead of the mass-market "outdoor" industry. No-one knows better what cavers need than other cavers.

I continue to happily purchase various items from caving vendors (most recently 2 weeks ago at convention). However, I ALSO buy from X-Mart and plenty of other common retailers. Best you not be preaching that both concepts are, or should be, mutually exclusive. :wink: Remember, most cavers are somewhat frugal and opportunistic at heart. And don't underestimate the ingenuity of the common caver, taking off-the-shelf products and modifying them quite successfully for in-cave use.

I have a Stenlight. Everybody should have a Stenlight.

I hear a few people don't like them (the LEDs are too bright or something???). But I'll happily take one if you want to pay for it.

The larger the market grows for such custom offerings, the lower the prices will become. They will *never* be as low or nearly as low as mass-market prices. But, you will be making an investment for future cavers.

True - but like a wide range of products, the initial versions of these "custom offerings" are usually not perfect. In my experience most cavers often wait (im)patiently for items to be "cave-proven" by others. Once the initial results are in, there may be modifications to the design. And seldom is one design perfect for every caver anyway. Plus there's the inevitable high cost factor when items are first released...

It (almost) goes without saying that crappy products and services should never be supported.

True, but often this is in the eye of the beholder. Take the Petzl Duo for example. Some cavers love them, and have used them for years. Others loathe and detest them, firmly believing they are total crap. Some even pull the guts out and replace them with their own innards. I was happy using a Duo as my primary for several years, and still have a few of them kicking around. The LED mods were certainly a bonus. The point being, I wouldn't say the Duo was perfect, nor would I say it's crappy. I don't have a Stenlight (yet), but if/when I do I will probably say the same about that too...
Last edited by NZcaver on Aug 6, 2007 2:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Scott McCrea » Aug 6, 2007 2:37 pm

Well, no, not focused. But some of them are cavers.
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Re: The underground industry?

Postby hank moon » Aug 6, 2007 2:50 pm

NZcaver wrote:However, I ALSO buy from X-Mart and plenty of other common retailers. Best you not be preaching that both concepts are, or should be, mutually exclusive.


That's exactly what I am preaching. Remember the good ol' southern US circa 1834? Slave labor to prop up an economy?

That's more or less what X-mart and many other industries are about: using foreign, slave-like labor (they work in "camps" - the modern equivalent of the plantation) to fuel a temporary economic model that is bound to collapse. This type of abuse will fall as other forms of slavery have.

But...<bonus quote section>

So long as there shall exist, by virtue of law and custom, decrees of damnation pronounced by society, artificially creating hells amid the civilization of earth, and adding the element of human fate to divine destiny; so long as the three great problems of the century - the degradation of man through pauperism, the corruption of woman through hunger, the crippling of children through lack of light - are unsolved; so long as social asphyxia is possible in any part of the world; - in other words, and with a still wider significance, so long as ignorance and poverty exist on earth, books of the nature of Les Miserables cannot fail to be of use.

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Postby FoxFury » Aug 10, 2007 1:10 am

Personally, I feel caving headlamps have very specific requirements. Caving lights NEED to be lightweight, durable, reliable, waterproof, bright, impact resistant, and offer decent run time. I think the X-mart retailers carry lights more suited for camping and less rugged outdoor activities that do not necessarily hold up well for caving use.

I feel that as caving increases in popularity, more manufacturers and retailers will carry caving-appropriate lights and the sport will also draw more media attention. At this time, caving is widely viewed as more of a specialty sport, not a mainstream sport like golf or baseball that many manufacturers, retailers and media cater to.

For example, the History Channel is re-broadcasting the film Journey to the Center of the World August 10 at 11 pm EDT. If the show draws significant rating, they may make a series out of it and/or feature more caving related programming in the future. From what I gather, the film drew solid enough ratings the day it premiered to warrant a re-broadcast—initially, they were not going to even show a re-broadcast. They were surprised at the initial ratings and likely want to make sure that the re-broadcast also draws high ratings to prove that the initial ratings were not a fluke and that people do care deeply about caving.

More attention will be given to caving as it increases in popularity. Supporting caving specialty vendors is a fine idea, as is asking larger retailers to carry more caving gear or specific products.

This forum does a great job promoting caving and I've seen significant caving discussions on CPF and other forums. I truly appreciate everyone's technical expertise, along with your respect and passion for the sport.

I believe that we at FoxFury (http://www.FoxFury.com) offer high quality headlamps that work very well in caving. We have received a great deal of feedback and suggestions from cavers (many of whom frequent this forum) that we have implemented to make our lights more functional and better suited for caving. Thank you to everyone who has given us feedback (good or bad) as it's helped us to build better products.
FoxFury Personal Lighting Solutions: Hands-Free Application-Specific LED Lights
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Postby potholer » Aug 10, 2007 7:40 am

On the 'waterproof' issue, I'd reckon that maybe 'water-durable' would be a better way of looking at it.
Old-fashioned two-bulb mining caplamps could certainly get wet inside, but all that really did was promote corrosion, and they could be opened up to dry out, and have contacts cleaned (or replaced). Even things like Petzl Zooms/Lasers were durable in that respect.
A modern electronic light might be more consistently waterproof, but some lights might rapidly fail if they got more than a drop or two of water inside from a hairline-cracked case or a leaking seal, etc

To me, the next-best-thing to a light that never has any water-based problems isn't the light that has the fewest problems overall, it's the light that has the fewest sudden serious problems.
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Re: The underground industry?

Postby NZcaver » Aug 10, 2007 11:18 am

hank moon wrote:
NZcaver wrote:However, I ALSO buy from X-Mart and plenty of other common retailers. Best you not be preaching that both concepts are, or should be, mutually exclusive.


That's exactly what I am preaching. Remember the good ol' southern US circa 1834? Slave labor to prop up an economy?

Actually I don't. That's a little before my time, and some of us learned other world history in school - and maybe just a little of that American stuff. That said, I know enough to realize the parallel you (and many others) draw here is apparently considered apples-and-oranges to millions of modern consumers.

I can't see the product quality or ethical production methods of Maglites, Underwater Kinetics flashlights, and Pelican cases would be any different whether you choose to purchase them from Wal Mart or from your caving vendor/camping store. (Yes, some big box stores do actually carry a few quality items.) But I'm sure you were meaning all the other stuff, right?

See you at Wal Mart, then? :tonguecheek:
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Re: The underground industry?

Postby driggs » Aug 10, 2007 1:25 pm

NZcaver wrote:I can't see the product quality or ethical production methods of Maglites, Underwater Kinetics flashlights, and Pelican cases would be any different whether you choose to purchase them from Wal Mart or from your caving vendor/camping store. (Yes, some big box stores do actually carry a few quality items.) But I'm sure you were meaning all the other stuff, right?

See you at Wal Mart, then? :tonguecheek:


No, no, no!

If X-Mart sells SuperSpeleoLamps and Mom's Speleo Shop also sells SuperSpeleoLamps, you purchase from Mom's even if it costs slightly more. That's to keep Mom's in business, because Mom also sells caving-specific gear that you CANNOT buy at X-Mart, and X-Mart doesn't set up a booth at NSS Convention. If Mom's Speleo Shop goes out of business because X-Mart beats them on prices when their stock overlaps, cavers lose because X-Mart can't supply all their caving needs.

(Hint: replace "caving" with any other specialty activity, product, or business also)
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Re: The underground industry?

Postby Teresa » Aug 10, 2007 1:46 pm

driggs wrote:
NZcaver wrote:I can't see the product quality or ethical production methods of Maglites, Underwater Kinetics flashlights, and Pelican cases would be any different whether you choose to purchase them from Wal Mart or from your caving vendor/camping store. (Yes, some big box stores do actually carry a few quality items.) But I'm sure you were meaning all the other stuff, right?

See you at Wal Mart, then? :tonguecheek:


No, no, no!

If X-Mart sells SuperSpeleoLamps and Mom's Speleo Shop also sells SuperSpeleoLamps, you purchase from Mom's even if it costs slightly more. That's to keep Mom's in business, because Mom also sells caving-specific gear that you CANNOT buy at X-Mart, and X-Mart doesn't set up a booth at NSS Convention. If Mom's Speleo Shop goes out of business because X-Mart beats them on prices when their stock overlaps, cavers lose because X-Mart can't supply all their caving needs.

(Hint: replace "caving" with any other specialty activity, product, or business also)


Not to mention when X-Mart puts everyone else out of business, and then leaves town.

I used to be a fairly regular (once a week) shopper at some discount department store (X-Mart, Targe, etc. etc.) When this happened we began to save a LOT of money, because many things we thought were 'necessities' turned out to be optional. We still grocery-shop at least once a week. But once a month is more like it for the big boxers now. And it's not 4X what we used to. Actually, we don't 'shop' at all anymore. We go to the store when we've got a list, and that's it.
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Postby NZcaver » Aug 10, 2007 11:59 pm

OK, but all this is a different matter. It's not the slave labor issue that Hank was referring to.

I do, of course, purchase items from caving/specialized vendors - I made that point clear earlier. I also enthusiastically recommend certain vendors to other cavers etc. But what happens when I need an item now and none of these vendors are anywhere nearby? Or when the price disparity is just too big to ignore? Sorry, but I'm just a consumer and only human. Also some items, caving or not, I only choose to purchase if I know I can return it for a no-hassle refund for any reason if I need to. Not every retailer chooses to offer that.

I know what driggs and Teresa are saying is a serious concern, shared by many. I guess moving to different towns/states 2-3 times a year might desensitize me a little to the local Mom and Pop factor. In my defense, I happily shop around a bunch of the little places too. I find it better to try to be inclusive rather than exclusive.
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Postby Teresa » Aug 11, 2007 9:06 pm

NZcaver wrote:I know what driggs and Teresa are saying is a serious concern, shared by many. I guess moving to different towns/states 2-3 times a year might desensitize me a little to the local Mom and Pop factor.


It's not the Mom and Pop factor so much as the big elephant factor. After the big elephant steps on all the mice, it doesn't stay around to bury them.
If the elephant moved in and became head vendor, and stayed, not so many people would be squawking.

Heck-- they've even moved out of the first Supercenter in one of the next towns over. They now have a roof over more acreage than most farms in third world countries (and even some, like my grandparents' here.)

It's been something like 12 YEARS since X-Mart left. There were no other discounters in town then, and there still aren't. (Where they were became a Farm and Home, and that's great if you need chicks or horse feed or chainsaw parts, but other non-necessities like clothes and dry goods, furniture, light bulbs, hardware (we've got a lumber co, but not something like a Lowes) or consumer electronics (or computer supplies, like reams of paper or ink cartridges) are now a 15 to 20 mile round trip. It's been this way, it seems like forever.

Before they arrived in my town, there were small businesses with those goods. Now, there is neither the big discounter nor the small guy. That's what the beef is about.

Gas is going down ($2.50/gal, down from $3) but we don't make single store shopping trips anymore, either, except perhaps for health remedies. (when you need cough syrup, you need cough syrup.)

I try to shop the vendors at Convention and MVOR and online folk (if they have what I need). My only consolation is this-- the big boxers too shall pass, just as Montgomery Ward and Woolworth's and the heyday of Sears did. Just gotta outlive them.

It's sort of interesting. Driving to convention a few weeks ago we discovered I had left my pillow at home. Ok, it's weird that a 50 year old woman cannot sleep without a pillow, (on the ground, of course) but a week of wadded up stinky dirty clothes in a T-shirt was not appealing. Discovered this beyond Evansville on I-64. Stopped a couple of places and asked where there might be a department, bedding or furniture store. Nada. People just told us we had to go to Corydon, and look for Wally World. You mean, there is nowhere in Southern Indiana to shop for a pillow but there? That's scary.
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Postby Teresa » Aug 11, 2007 9:11 pm

Hank's list of big box outdoor stores is interesting.

Anyone else remember when REI was *really* a mail order only co-op run by hippies?

I recall when Bass Pro was just this little scrawny fishing place.

Please, someone shoot me. I'm on the verge of becoming an old f*rt.
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