/ NEW REVIEW: Alpkit Bouldering Mats - Mujo and Project
Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/review.php?id=5482
Probably both very good mats, but can't help feeling Alpkit have lost their 'great value for money' tag.
Case and point - Old Phud - £70, new Mujo - £120....pretty big price hike.
Yes because they are trying to do things ethically and produce them in UK and not China. We need to realize that to buy cheap stuff, whatever it is, comes at an environmental cost
Although the Mujo is closer in size to the old phud, i think it's a little unfair to say we have lost our way, when we have our current model of Phud is at £65.
For £120, I feel it still represents a bargain, because of what goes into it. UK made, top class foam, and the best materials we can think of.
The size difference is because the foam is under pressure in the mat ;o)
Nicks pretty busy today but I can tell you the Cordura comes from Germany, except the Black which is woven in Lancashire. We tried to source all the fabric from the UK but the only Cordura you can buy that is woven here is in military colours. There are UK companies that sell Cordura in more colours but it is mostly imported from the Far East. The open cell foam is made and converted (cut to size) in Derbyshire. The open cell comes from a supplier in Israel I have known, used and trusted for over 10 years. All the webbing is woven in Derbyshire as well.
I can understand people's feelings that we have lost our way a little and our products might not have the wow factor they once did on price. I would say our focus is now tending towards trying to make the best product we can and the price naturally drops out. In comparison as prices of raw materials, labour and shipping have steadily risen there are a lot more brands out there that are happy to make sacrifices to achieve a more affordable, competitive price.
We did redesigned the Phud to make it as cheap to produce as possible but this comes with it's disadvantages, which we have publicised on our website, and we find most customers are happy to purchase a Mujo or Project for the increased durability.
Just as a note, all the major components parts of most boulder mats are oil based and when the Phud retailed for £70, petrol was 81p a litre.
There is some debate about source of materials and where manufacturing occurs, its a battle manufacturers are going to be hard pushed to get people to swallow because UK source and build will put the price up... most people want to have things made locally, and organic, when asked but then when they buy they look at price which leads them to far east sources.
What can manufacturers do? Perhaps continued press education so that buyers understand the issues is one way but there has to be other ways?
Perhaps something more fairtrade in style might work, set up a outdoor manufacturers / climbers fair trade scheme? Keep the price keen but commit to paying locals fair amounts in good conditions with good Heath and Safety?
just thinking out loud ...
I've spent the last 8 months prototyping some climbing gear and trying to get it made in the UK. Its a hard struggle to meet competitive price points doing this and I know that even five quid more and I'll sell less. In our start up year a few less sales to hold our heads up high is ok, its sets the scene but I fear future years will push us abroad in manufacturing.
The big problem with UK manufacture as Jim has set out above is there just isn't the supply chain over here and sourcing certain materials can be very hard.
But some stuff you just have to see in the flesh... nobody has quite invented an internet version of the changing room yet. We will have a sales website but wont undercut the shops who sell our gear. They may run sales and undercut us of course, but manufacturers sell to their shop customers first, if that makes sense.
p.s. hows my pyramid doing? ;)
Good luck with your gear, I know just how hard it is to set things in motion. If I can help at all drop me an email. The more of us making things in the UK can only be a good thing and it will have a direct effect on the size of the supply chain.
I own both the Mujo and the Waffa (the little blue one that's inside the red one in the photo) and they've performed well so far. I picked up some of their "rough cuts" - the first ones off the production line that were a little cheaper. I think I got the pair for a hundred quid or so, it was a steal.
I have had one small section of stitching come undone on mine that needed a repair after only a couple of sessions use, but as I say, I did buy their first attempts so they were cheap for a reason. I would have preferred the landing zone to be a single piece of material rather than the offset pattern and colours as it has meant for additional stitching and weakness - this is where mine came undone.
I'd still buy them again though.
I've got a phud. I think it's great at the price and it has allowed me to get out bouldering relatively safely when I'd otherwise either not be going or going without a mat (best avoided if you like your ankles!). I don't know of any other company that offer a decent sized pad (ie one you can fall on rather than just for keeping your feet dry) for £65. Obviously Alpkit have to compete and provide the more expensive large pads that other users need, but the fact they still realise some people can't afford 120 quid on a mat seems to show a depth of thought that a lot of companies don't show.
Also got lots of support for the ethical side of production; something all of us need to think about.
Good job Alkpkit!
Stock is the one thing that I am unimpressed by lately. Alpkit have been going for a number of years now and the absence of any useful stock management is no longer cute. I used to let it slide as they weren't much more than a one man band and the prices were exceptional. But as the prices rise, so does my willingness to wait for items. Case in point - I have just purchased a waterproof rucksack elsewhere as I was unable to wait until May for their stock of Gourdon 20's, which was then delayed until June anyway.
There are a whole host of reasons that we are out of stock, but the main reason is that we sell great products, offer great service and try not to over stock so much that we have to put it on sale when the rent is due. We are prudent and cautious when it comes to running our business and although it's shame that we do lose custom by not having some of our products in stock. I'd rather we sell out than have a warehouse full of dead stock. We have held the vast majority of our stock items in stock, but it's only ever the ones out of stock that people notice.
The criticism that we accept is that we forecast cautiously, however our promotion and marketing efforts extend far beyond that of a traditional outdoor company, so that the pressure on stock at times is far, far beyond what we could reasonably expect. I really dislike discounting but if we buy more and it doesn't sell that what happens. I wouldn't buy a waterproof jacket if I didn't get at least 30% off, and this is not a healthy state of affairs for british retail.
Thats not to say we don't need to continually improve. The UK made stuff helps as we can alter production to what is selling, and so I can finally get to the point.
We now have stock of Phuds and Projects, the factory will work on getting the rest of the mat range in stock ASAP but the duffles are flying out so it's a tough call.
Cheers, enjoy the sun.
visit my site: http://www.shoppingspout.com/usa/campsaver-coupons.html
When are the Rig 7 and Hunka made?
I wanted to buy both for #microadventure on 21 June....any chance you've have before then..?
We have had some issue with shipping of these products and expected them a while ago. So it is still possible that we might have them, i'd say 50/50 at the moment.
For those that don't know it's the year of the microadventure.
Now both back in stock, and selling fast. If you have missed out before on Rig or Hunka then act soon.
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