A prototype is a preliminary model of something. Projects that offer physical products need to show backers documentation of a working prototype. This gallery features photos, videos, and other visual documentation that will give backers a sense of what’s been accomplished so far and what’s left to do. Though the development process can vary for each project, these are the stages we typically see:
Proof of Concept
Explorations that test ideas and functionality.
Demonstrates the functionality of the final product, but looks different.
Looks like the final product, but is not functional.
Appearance and function match the final product, but is made with different manufacturing methods.
Appearance, function, and manufacturing methods match the final product.
We have been hard at work creating the new paradigm in big wall portaledges. You can currently pre-order your D4 Portaledge for a 10% discount! Note that though we have conservatively estimated an April, 2018 delivery for the 10% off orders, all is going extremely well with the development and prototype process (see the Updates!), and we currently expect all Kickstarter orders to be shipped this year. We have also offered early Kickstarter supporters a significant discounted price on the first batch of 28 ledges (sold out).
If you don't need a portaledge (though just like Sneeds, everyone needs one!), please consider one of the other rewards--all proceeds will be used to outfit some of the best big wall climbers with early prototypes for their cutting edge adventures.
All D4 Portaledges come complete with ledge, rainfly, and haulsack.
John Middendorf created the first truly stormproof Portaledge in the 1980's and 1990's, testing each iteration on the world's toughest big walls. By sharing the technology though his company, A5 Adventures, a huge boom in big wall standards arose as climbers could withstand severe storms on the world's most remote big walls for the first time.
John sold his company in 1998 and since then, his 1990's design has become the standard for all the major Portaledge manufacturers today.
In 2016, while climbing with his family, John was asked by a climber in Arapiles why no one made the nice, strong, stormproof, and lightweight ledges like A5 used to make, and the conception for D4 was born.
In the past year, using FEA tools along with ideas that had been floating around in his head for 20 years, John has created a revolutionary design, with four major cutting-edge innovations, and sure to become the new paradigm in Portaledge technology.
The frame has been redesigned using FEA computer tools, and uses multiple diameters of tubing to make for a stronger, lighter, and more rigid ledge. Full Size (80" x 46.5") yet no spreader bar needed! These ledges are so strong, there is literally no flex even when set up in a tree with only one point of contact. For more details on the structural innovations, please see SuperTopo Design Discussion.
John Middendorf, the inventor of the D4 portaledge, pioneered the world's first Stormproof portaledges back in the 80's and 90's with his A5 Adventures company. One of the solutions he came up with to make a rigid ledge back then was the "Block Corner" design, which is seen on virtually every portaledge manufactured by other companies today. The new curved corners is a superior solution, offering more strength, lighter weight, and most importantly, increased rigidity of the overall frame.
The four-point suspension allows for easier adjustment and a more stable platform--the new D4 system is a 4/8-point equalising suspension with each of the four fins distributing the load to eight attachment points, creating more stability in typical off-center big wall loading situations. Weight is saved, fewer straps to tangle during set-up, and adjustments are easy for every big wall and tree bivy situation.
The D4 portaledge is the most compact folding ledge design, and even the haul sack has been re-invented to make packing up, and most importantly, deploying the portaledge tons easier, even in high wind situations. The zippered haulsack enables packing up to be simple and easy, while also ensuring an organised deployment. This unique design also allows for the portaledge to be optionally integrated with the fly (which fits in a separate pocket) as the system is packed up, for full stormproof deployments in minutes. Poised in readiness!
Stronger, Lighter: With these four innovations, the D4 ledge is the strongest, lightest, most rigid full-size ledge available today. The size is 46.5" x 80", and current prototypes weigh in at 10.5 pounds. Complete with fly, haul sack and tent pole, the system weighs 14 pounds, making it the lightest full-size portaledge system ever created. There are a number of other progressive innovations as well, such as the top-vent, a novel fly tensioning system, and integrated fly-tentpole pocket. Every aspect of the D4 Portaledge has been redesigned and enhanced from the ground up!
This is as authentic as it gets. We don't sell a product right after the initial design, and hope it works. We are continually refining and improving our design, and personally testing each iteration. Currently we are building a series of prototypes that are going out with some of the world's best climbers, including Marek Reganowicz (who has the D4 Prototype on an extreme wall in the Canadian Arctic right now), Mike Libecki (for a Greenland trip), Twid Turner (for an Alaskan wall), and even the El Cap master, PPTP, who is known for his abuse of ledges (he hauls them fully assembled up the walls). We are also supplying TheTreeProjects with the D4 Portaledge for their tree camping adventures, so will be covering the whole range of vertical camping experiences in our development and product testing.
D4 design isn't about just how the trim will look or colour combinations, it is about creating the strongest, lightest, easiest-to-use, most functional and safest product possible. It begins and ends with engineering, and in between is the creative process of exploring a variety of ideas and materials to ensure the most rapid and efficient innovation possible.
We won't compromise--you can be assured that when we begin building the official Kickstarter batch in May, they will have the latest design refinements, features, and best materials possible for the world's finest portaledge.
UPDATES: Stay tuned for updates--this is where you will see the design process unfold. During the next few months, we will be building a series of prototypes and sending them out to the field, examining the ledges after use, and with the feedback received, will be continually improving the design. As we get new data and information from our field testers (including John Middendorf), we will post updates with the information and explain exactly how we are improving the product for our Kickstarter production.
By the way, we know that other companies will copy our lead, and future portaledges will all incorporate D4 original innovations--that's par for the course as explained in this radio interview. As also explained in the Business Insider article, we will simply continue to "out-innovate" the rest, as many of the best climbers are already on board with the D4, and their feedback and expertise will drive future innovation. Just as the A5 design was the best in the 1990's, the D4 is the best portaledge ever to hit the big walls of the world. Accept no subsitutes!
Another great thing about this project is that we are "getting the band back together". The A5 era of the 80's and 90's was a highly collaborative time with many climbers pushing their own limits in both climbing and craftsmanship, bringing great ideas and product-feedback to the table for new climbing gear. Barry Ward was one of the original craftsmen and fellow innovator at A5, and will be making the sewn parts of the new ledge in his Durango Sewing Solutions shop. All Kickstarter orders will be shipped from Durango, Colorado, USA (note, it is likely we will be able to ship batches of the 2017 Kickstarter D4 Portaledges earlier than September--if so, they will be shipped on a first ordered, first shipped basis--so order sooner than later!)
The classic Buddy Bag is back! This is the absolute best extra pocket for big wall climbs and other adventures. The streamlined design allows for all day wear even through the tightest of big wall chimneys! ($45 value). Fits phone, keys, notebook, pen, tape, swiss army knife and hacky sack. Random cool colour combinations, just like in the old days! Thank you for supporting our project!