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Develop - what's new from the Alpkit Design Team

Phud Version3 (V3)

By alpjim | 22, Oct, 2006

The latest version of our popular Phud bouldering mat has some great new features. Jim tells us where they are and why he put them there...

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I know Phud has been out of stock for a while. Our UK factory has had to make several hundred body bags in a hurry. Not sure if this a bad omen or not but hey! Anyway Phud has undergone some quite major changes that we have been toying with for a while now.

Carry Strap Amenments

The rucksack strap system seems to be a firm favourite with you and will remain on V3. We have replaced the nylon ladderlocks for a quick release aluminium buckle making the strap much easier to firstly adjust and secondly to remove when at the boulders. We have been working on this aluminium buckle, Slider, for sometime and after some early prototyping in steel and aluminium we opted for the ali version. Why? Firstly it is a lot lighter than its steel equivalent. This has a knock on effect, literally, when the mat is carried around quickly without securing buckles, they don’t hurt half as much when they clonk your leg.

Alpkit Slider Buckle

We also found the aluminium buckles bent far more easily if they somehow ended up sticking into the mat vertically and were then landed on, a problem if you don’t always check your mat before setting off. Although this meant they could break if bent back in a hurry or you have the strength of the hulk, the ali buckles are much cheaper to produce meaning if you break one during use we’ll happily replace it for you. We’d rather you broke a buckle than a foot. Phud V2 had the ability to easily fix the strap through the closure d-rings enabling it to be worn over the shoulder. V3 now comes with webbing tabs on the sides allowing the strap to be quickly fixed with the aluminum buckles enabling you to carry it over the shoulder. Great for a short walk to the next bloc.

Closure Straps

Chris Gillespie asked if we could lengthen the closure straps. Unfortunately this wasn’t really possible when they were fixed with velcro. However the closure straps now feature the same aluminum buckle as the shoulder strap. This makes closing the mat with boots etc inside far easier. Removing the velcro also reduces the build up of vegetation that can happen on the straps over time. We have also added a third strap to the base of the Phud to help prevent gear slipping out of the bottom when carrying rucksack style as asked for by Ken A.

New Colours

Finally, with the successful introduction of Rocket and Jaffa colourways for the Woomf, we’ll be launching these colour options in Phud V3 too. Unfortunately for someone looking to buy BMW’s new Mini, Phud retains its generous proportions including the generous 100mm of impact resistance. The original foam combination used in the Phud allowed the closed cell foam to absorb an impact if the mat bottomed out. This meant this layer had to be slightly thicker. Over time we have been trying different combinations and we have tweaked the foam proportions slightly giving V3 a slightly harder feel but with an increased open cell crumple zone. The closed cell foam has been reduced to 20mm, but the density has been increased. The open cell foam has been increased to 85mm, which means it is slightly compressed when stuffed into the 100mm shell giving a more immediate resistance when landed upon reducing the possibility of bottoming out.

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We have managed to retain the £70 price point with some slight juggling of suppliers, the Slider buckles and the strap are now both sourced from China. We are currently reviewing our Phud and Woomf shell production with a view to moving it off-shore. This would have an immediate impact on the price enabling us to lower it considerably. It would also give us more flexibility over the design without imposing considerable cost implications. However much we like the fact the Phuds are made in the UK we would like to hear what you think. Would you prefer a cheaper China made Phud, possibly £50 cheap? Would you like a China Phud covered in Cordura for £65? or would you prefer it if he stayed the same and continued to be made in Derbyshire. These are not certainties, only thoughts but we would like to hear your thoughts… Do you own a Phud and think a small change to the design would make a big difference.

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