Sometimes after many hours of designing, patterning, cutting and sewing it’s difficult to be objective about your own work. Then reality materializes in the form of a customer critique. With the benefit of time and distance, hindsight kicks in and you see the work in a different, more critical light. Criticism can be hard to take but provides a crucial dose of clarity that you don’t get sitting behind an industrial sewing machine all day.
The original 1.5″ Light Cobra Belt was designed and built as a one off, custom piece. It was a way to inject some outside the box thinking into existing Cobra belt designs. The customer specified a 1.5″ wide belt with an Austri Aplin Cobra buckle. Although the overall frame of the Cobra buckle is 1.5″, it only slots 1″ webbing. Others have dealt with this problem before. I saw it as an opportunity to have a different take on the design.
At the core of the belt was a strip of HDPE (plastic) material that provided a load bearing structure without excess weight or bulk. The HDPE is wrapped in 1.5″ webbing. Instead of mounting the Cobra buckle on top of the belt, supported on a length of 1″ webbing, the 1.5″ webbing was folded and slotted through the buckle at the belt’s end. This meant less material layered directly under the buckle for a lower overall cross section. The 1″ webbing that was still necessary for adjusting the belt was anchored at a split in the webbing towards the end of the belt.
He didn’t say he hated it, but he had some very pointed design critiques, not the least of which was (embarrasingly for me) a poor fit. On getting the belt back, there were other signs that showed his dissatisfaction. On seeing the belt again for a second time, numerous glaring errors jumped out at me. Like I said, it’s difficult to be objective about your work after having invested many hours into it, but it was clear that there was a lot of room for improvement.
For his part, the customer was generous with his time and patience. It took a while for his schedule and my work load to match in order to permit the work to proceed.
So what had to change with the new belt?
Sizing was done based on an entirely different protocol than before. I’ve learned the hard way that waist measurements and trouser size do not equal belt size, particularly with loadbearing belts.
There was a split in the original belt where the two ends of the 1.5″ webbing came together and the 1″ was rolled under allowing the underlying white HDPE plastic to show through. A major oversight.
The customer did not complain about being able to see the HDPE “guts” of the belt sandwiched between the supporting webbing, but there was permenant marker residue where he obviously tried to black it out. Message received.
The customer also indicated the need to add hook and loop to the areas where the belt ends met and overlapped to stabilize the belt under the buckle and keep it from separating.
With these apt critiques in mind, the replacement belt was rebuilt to address the issues and compared side by side with the previous version, the difference is very clear.
While the overall structure and design of the belt remain the same, fixes were incorporated to address the oversights of the original. The HDPE core of he belt was sheathed in a nylon tube that had to be laboriously sewn and fitted over the plastic to effectively encase the HDPE core so that the look of the belt was uniformly black. The split where the ends of the webbing met were carefully overlapped to eliminate the previous, unsightly gap and the overlapping of the belt ends were fitted with hook and loop to keep the belt together.
This blog exists to promote Down Range Gear and provide supplemental material for the main site. As such, it consistently presents the best of Down Range Gear’s efforts. To constatnly present only the good side and downplay the bad or not mention all the things that go wrong can be unbalanced and misleading. As this post proves, there are ample screw ups, mistakes and gaffs behind the scenes and there is a lot of work that goes into correcting them.