Posted June 9, 2012 in Gear Reviews by Jim Markel
Just as our PR5 Safari Beano was being tested against a competitor’s bag at the Army Natick Soldier Center testing lab in Natick, Mass., the PR5 received "Gear of the Year" recognition in the 2004 spring issue of Outdoor Buyers Guide. Although the Natick testing isn’t as glamorous as the "Gear of the Year award, the Army’s strength testing is second to none, kind of like the Safari Beanos”
The PR5 is a rugged airline duffel-style carry-on bag, one of 15 outdoor products receiving special recognition in the annual buyer’s review. It’s manufactured by hand in Billings, Montana. It features locking pockets, an inner compartment, and 12 color choices.
Lab data confirmed that the Red Oxx bag has features superior to its overseas competitor. The lab used specialized equipment to grab, pull, and generally stress the complete PR5 and its broken out components. In tests lasting about three weeks, experiments covered design, materials, and construction of the gear.
One of the biggest challenges Red Oxx faces is competition from the import of cheap "knock off" imitations. For that reason the company works hard to differentiate its product and build customer relationships.
Both he and co-owner Perry Jones are former military riggers and quite familiar with fabric quality and dependability and build those features into their products. When asked how the Natick Lab results compared to his expectation, Markel said they exceeded them in some ways. The numbers, he said, were all very good.
Fabric strength, seam construction, and shoulder strap design were tested for strength before and after weathering.
Red Oxx fabric withstood the weathering better, testing more than 3.5 times stronger than the competitor bag after weathering and was 2.5 times stronger even before weathering. The shoulder strap design, much stronger at the outset, suffered less after weathering. And Red Oxx seams, while rated stronger both before and after weathering, were affected slightly more by weathering than the competition. A statistic that did not go unnoticed by a rigger’s eye.
"The test results have stimulated lots of things: Exploration of new thread, concrete numbers to help build business, and a nice add on to marketing. We’re going to make the most of it," Markel said. Soldier Center is working on a second phase of tests, as we have some thread issues. We have contacted thread companies about specifications, and they are sending samples for more testing."
"We want it even better so there is no question about superior quality. The numbers provide insight and are concrete, we’re not just saying it’s strong."
The followup research brought the company to a Nylon 92 Bonded (the weight) thread that will cut through your skin before it breaks. Manufactured in the U.S.A, by American & Efird, the thread is "bonded." That is, each filament is twisted together, then wax coated. This twisted, continuous multi-filament thread is used by the automotive industry, medical devices and more. Resistance to acid, alkali, abrasion are all rated good to excellent. This, combined with double and box stitching, makes our seams extra strong and worthy of a "Life long Warranty."
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