If you want me to believe that Toray and Kuiu have bested the biggest players in the outdoor equipment business by developing a solution to the one weakness goose down has then I am going to need more than this.
OK, I am getting a lot of questions about treated down in general but specifically the new Kuiu sleeping bags and the coated goose down (Toray calls it Quixdown, Kuiu calls it Super Down) they have chosen to stuff them with.
Here is what I know. Kuiu has bought into the Toray (a Japanese company) program lock stock and barrel. They use Toray products for their waterproof breathable laminates, DWR coatings, goose down insulation source and tent fabrics. Seems the only thing that doesn’t come from Toray on a Kuiu piece of gear these days is the zipper. Those come from YKK.
Toray is a name that has been knocking around the outdoor industry for years but never really made it into prime time with a game changer. You will be hard pressed to find more than one or two companies that use them and they are not big names in the US market. I have an old Lowe Alpine shell layer jacket with Toray Entrant, Bergans of Norway uses Toray Dermizax now on some of their jackets and I remember that TAD Gear used Toray for a couple of seasons before switching to eVent.
Look, the Toray stuff might be the greatest thing since sliced bread but the problem is that it is not commonly used and there are very few independent reviews of its performance in the field. Making matters worse neither Kuiu founder Jason Hairston or his media guy will respond to my inquires so I can’t get any real details beyond the typical marketing hype and based on my experience in this business that just doesn’t pass the smell test.
Normally people at the highest levels in companies like Marmot, Patagonia, Arcteryx, Wild Things, Sitka Gear, Western Mountaineering, Valandre, The North Face, Feathered Friends, etc, etc, etc are always more than happy to talk about their new products and eager to make samples available to legitimate requests. Even up and comers like First Lite are not afraid to belly up to the bar and compete side by side on a level playing field. They welcome it because that is how this process works but here the only reports we have on these new Toray applications are anecdotal fan forum posts or from Kuiu Guides and Outfitters via Hairston who supposedly say it is wonderful. Well, sorry, I don’t accept that from anybody else and I am not about to start doing it now for Kuiu. I have a lot of questions.
The footer on many of my posts talks about sorting through the fads and fashion of the outdoor equipment industry…as far as I am concerned waterproof goose down (that is how they refer to it) is just that until proven otherwise which I sincerely hope is soon. If you, dear reader, are asking for my recommendation here it is. Sit tight and wait for some good independent reporting and field trials before you bet your life on the next big thing because I have been around long enough to know that many times it isn’t.
I have had complimentary things to say about Kuiu products in the past and would love to do so again in the future but I won’t recommend to you what I have not proven to myself. Bandwagons are cool but they just aren’t my thing.
UPDATE – Hey thanks for all the positive comments on this issue, I appreciate the support. I didn’t mean to make a big issue out of this but I have gotten so many questions about it I felt obligated to respond. Apparently that frustration came through in the piece.
One of you pointed out that I am the biggest independent reviewer on the web in the hunting gear space so I am the obvious guy to do the field trials. I don’t know or really care if that is true but the commenter said when you Google hunting gear review or hunting gear recommendation my website is always at the top of the first page. You should know that we spend zero time and even fewer dollars on SEO efforts so those results, if accurate, have to be based on what is contained in over 700 posts. I suspect that we are at the top of those searches because that is what this site is about. My media consulting buddies call that content authenticity and like experience, you either have it or you don’t, you can’t buy it.
The point of this piece was that if you are going to ask highly discerning consumers to spend $700 with a new company to pre-order a brand new product from a brand new product line featuring a brand new technology from a less than well known foreign chemical company then there are going to be some questions. I don’t have answers to those questions.