Brice here, with another production update on our Ultra Light Backpack Ventilation Frame that we here at Vaucluse are launching with a lot of excitement.
I'm delighted to say that our frame is 99% complete! There is just one miniscule functionality detail that we’d like to finetune before we send this out to all our pre-order customers. So I’d like to explain what that is because as they say, the last mile is always the longest, and that is the case here.
I have with me tons of samples, of all the different parts that we produce, and I'm going to show you (in a YouTube video as well) how we manufacture them. It's really, really cool, it's very high tech, and it's what allows us to be so light.
So as I'm showing you, we've got tons of parts. There's just one slight modification we have to do. I'm going to show it (kind of) on the backpack in this video. I'm going to take you in, first at this angle and then, at a closer angle, so you can see what it's all about.
I have our Ventilation Frame on a very basic day pack. As I’ve mentioned in other videos, our frame can be attached to different backpacks of lots of different sizes. We have customers that have used our frame while packed with a backpack of 55 to 65 liters. This is just one example.
So, the frame sits on this, and the one thing that we're having an issue with, that I came across once I actually had the physical piece of product in my hand, is how to keep this loop snapped. I can show you how the frame can easily attach on any backpack and there is a loop around the strap, and then it snaps in. And these loops are supposed to stay snapped in. So, looking at the material that we use (and I'll walk you through what material we've used), this is plastic, made out of the same material as milk cartons, so it's easily accessible and easily recyclable (there's nothing bad about that, which I'll get into in a second).
But first let me show you, on this other screen, what we're facing.
Here we are, looking at the frame from this angle and, as you can see: it's flexible, super smooth, and really comfortable and light. It's great. Now, the one thing we're having a struggle with – and this is why I wore this shirt so you could see it better – is how this loop, which goes around the strap, then snaps in place right here. The challenge we're having is when it's on the backpack (I'll try to show you here). When it’s on the backpack, and you're hiking and (obviously) moving, these things can snap off. Now, we can do a ‘work around’ and put Velcro there. That would work and (more than likely) we are going to send Velcro to our customers so everything stays in place.
However, I still want to make sure that these things don't pop off so easily.
You might be wondering, why didn't you think about this before? Why is this an issue now? I understand how our customers are frustrated. We’ve been frustrated. When we were designing this on a computer and creating prototypes, all the materials we were using were different. And the way it is finally produced is very different from when you get it as the customer. There's only so much that we could analyze and assess in the beginning and along the way.
When we got it right, they were ready for manufacturing, and then we got the same physical product that’s going to be sent to you. That's when we do the final assessments. And when you make one minor change, and I've mentioned this in other videos, it has possible repercussions. Unfortunately, the repercussions here are that everything else is fantastic; however, these loops pop off just a little too easily.
As the president of Vaucluse I know, everybody's waiting for this, and they've been pre-ordered for a while, but I cannot in good faith send this product the way it is right now. That's not how this was designed to work. That's why we've just got to pause for a moment and fix this.
What does this mean for shipping dates? We are not going to be shipping them in the next day or two, obviously. We have to resolve this. The team is working on it and I'm in collaboration with them. I spent the last week with the team to resolve this. They're fixing it and I'm going to keep you – our customers – up to speed about the next estimated window to ship.
Let me walk you through some things that have to happen to get the final product into your hands because it's very cool and it's somewhat transforming how backpack frames are made.
What I'm showing you is a video shot during my trip to the manufacturing facility where we're having the frames made. The machine you can see in the background is operated by a highly skilled technician. It's an injection molding machine. The machine uses 300 tons of pressure to inject the material (I'll get to that in a second) into a cast in a mold that creates the pressure so that the cavity itself is filled. Then you have a frame that is technically one piece on both sides, to make it very strong and durable and it really can withstand the rigors of everyday use.
And it's manufactured here in the United States which we are very proud of. We're using technology our way, because injection molding is not necessarily what I've seen used in frames, but it is used to make other pieces of gear stronger. You'll see this when you get your Vaucluse Ultra Light Frame.
It's really going to benefit how you hike because the frame is so strong and light.
Let me get into the material that we're using: a high quality high density polyethylene material or HDP (I'm reading my notes so I don't make a mistake). It is the same material used to make milk cartons, so the frame is lightweight, strong, non-toxic food-grade and, best of all, recyclable.
Another great thing is that we've been able to get this frame to 3.3 ounces, or 93.55 grams or 1/5th of a pound. So this frame is phenomenally light. I'll do another video about all the ways that you can use it. One of the things that you can do is, if you don't want to use it all the time (and I hear people say they want to keep the backpack next to them) you pop this off. I did it very quickly, then you fold both sides so it's flat, and put it in your backpack when you don't need it. Then if you're hiking or doing something rigorous, you take this off, you don't need it. But if you're someplace flat and need a breath of fresh air on your back, take it out, assemble it within a minute and put it back on the backpack.
The last point I'm going to make about our frame is its comfort. Because it is one piece on both sides, and designed with injection molding, this is going to be on your back completely flat, completely smooth and completely flexible. No matter how your back moves, this is going to move smoothly on your back and there's no rough edges. It's not going to be rubbing like some massive pieces of material on your back. It's going to be very, very comfortable.
My sincerest gratitude to everybody for being so patient. We're at the last mile because there literally is one last, tiny functionality detail that needs to be fixed. Every issue we face, we resolve. This is the one piece that we've tried to resolve for probably over a month and are nearly there. So thank you for your patience and I look forward to getting all your orders out very soon.
You will be getting a direct message from me by email and if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out. We are here for you to answer your questions and get your order out ASAP.
Thank you so much - here’s to sweating less and see you on the trail.