RIP SuperLite... Long Live SuperLite

December 10, 2021 3 min read 17 Comments

RIP SuperLite... Long Live SuperLite

Why We’re Killing the SuperLite

(And why it will eventually live again)

When the SuperLite RTT went on sale, we sold a lot of them—and quickly. It was well-received; by all accounts it’s a great product. So why are we killing it off?

That’s a good question. But to answer it, first, it’s worth exploring what the SuperLite is and why we made it in the first place.

The SuperLite RTT was born as a challenge of sorts: How could we build a hard-shell RTT that was as cheap and as light as possible? Our goal was to make a tent that would open up the roof-top camping experience to the world’s dirtbags (we use this as a term of endearment.) We were originally going to call it the “Crashpad,” in honor of all of our dirty bouldering friends, but that name was taken by another tent company, so SuperLite it was.

Anyway, the point is, the Superlite was an exercise in extremes. An endeavor to create an absolutely no-frills RTT that was optimized entirely for weight and cost. If you wanted a place to crash after a long day of getting dirty, the SuperLite was for you. In effect, it was an even more stripped-down version of our Platform RTTs and campers. Yes, even more minimalist than our minimalist flagships.

We did a pretty damn good job of meeting those goals thanks to the SuperLite’s “Panel-in-Bag” design concept. However, in order to go from concept to production, we had to make a decision that we’d eventually come to regret: We outsourced production of the fabric components overseas.

This was exactly what the experts insisted; and we were new to the whole process of manufacturing, so we gave it a shot. Even though we handled the SuperLite’s final assembly in our Belgrade, Montana factory; and even though it used a fair portion of US-made components, the decision to have the fabric parts constructed in China never sat well with us.

Essentially, it was an experiment of sorts. What we learned, having given it a go, is that outsourcing any production of our products just isn’t the way we want to do things at GFC.

The reason overseas production isn’t for us is primarily because, at our core, we are a company that designs and manufactures stuff. We’re interested (philosophically and practically) in the challenge of doing both. Outsourcing the fabric production was a necessary choice at the time because we didn’t have the production capacity or technical knowledge to make the SuperLite entirely on our own. What we discovered though, is that outsourcing doesn’t really lessen the work, it just changes it into a different kind of work.

Instead of working with the excitement of rapid product iteration, refinement of design elements, and tool optimization, you’re dealing with the nuances of transport logistics, customs minutia, and procurement scheduling.

Ultimately, what we confirmed is that outsourcing overseas is by no means the easy way out. While we could continue to spend our limited time and resources getting better and better at it, we decided that’s not how we want to move forward. We’d rather work toward building up our own fabric production capacity so that the next time we want to make a tent for dirtbags, we can do so by getting our own hands dirty in the process.

What does this mean for the future of the SuperLite product line? It means that we still believe there’s a need for an RTT that’s optimized for weight and cost. We recognize that the Platform Camper and Platform RTT are out of many people’s price range, so we’re committed to finding a way to produce SuperLites entirely in-house. We want to own that process from start to finish, so that we can solve all of the problems that come with it.

However, that’s a goal that will take time to achieve. We’ve made a lot of gains this year around our Platform camper production system and those gains translate well into an eventual release of a SuperLite V2. We can’t say exactly when that would happen, because so much of it depends on the wild roller-coaster that is the supply chain environment right now.

What we can say is this: the SuperLite will live again. When it does, we will be the ones manufacturing it. While it’s always a difficult decision to part ways with a successful product, we believe that by doing so, it will help us get to where we eventually want to be, much faster. So that’s what we’re going to do.


17 Responses

Matthew
Matthew

May 31, 2022

Love an honest company, tons of respect! Have to stay true to your values. Really looking forward to V2 or whatever you all do next!

Erik Furr
Erik Furr

June 02, 2022

Get it together and start catering to people who use your products. I live in Tahoe and see tons of your fancy campers and none of them are being used. I on the other hand spend weeks beach camping in nor cal yet the only product you make that I could afford is the one you cant keep in stock. But at least your not supporting communism.

Daniel Netzky
Daniel Netzky

May 31, 2022

One of my biggest regrets was not jumping on getting one while they were still made, hopefully they will be back again sometime soon.

Von Wenner
Von Wenner

May 31, 2022

Hey Guys,
I really need a Superlite V2. When is this going to happen? I’m out in Portland, OR but I’ll take any and all opportunities to visit my sweet home Montana. I can’t afford a camper!!! Must of us dirtbags cannot!!! Bring on the Superlite V2!!!!!!
-Von

David K. Estes
David K. Estes

May 31, 2022

Any updates on the Superlite V2? Put me down for two!

Keep up the good work!

David

Brenan Greene
Brenan Greene

March 16, 2022

I’ll be waiting if it ever comes back. You guys changed the game with the superlight. Mad respect for the choices moving forward.

David Mast
David Mast

March 16, 2022

Purest reasoning brings respect!!! Awesomeness written all over you guys!

Dave
Dave

March 16, 2022

Looking at your business from Canada, kudos to you and your value based approach. Branding North American made is overdue. I wish I could have the superlite v2 now.

Archimedes Abeleda
Archimedes Abeleda

May 31, 2022

I am stoked to have my superlite.I am repping it in the PA/NJ/VA and NC as I surf and snowboard. Thank you for sticking to your core beliefs of being made U.S.A. Looking forward to the next gen superlite. Stay stoked!

Archimedes Abeleda
Archimedes Abeleda

May 31, 2022

I am stoked to have my superlite.I am repping it in the PA/NJ/VA and NC as I surf and snowboard. Thank you for sticking to your core beliefs of being made U.S.A. Looking forward to the next gen superlite. Stay stoked!

John Watters
John Watters

December 11, 2021

I understand your reasoning and really respect you guys. Glad I was an early adopter and got to visit you all when I picked up mine last spring. I have friends that will be interested in the next generation of the super lite.

Tom Tanner
Tom Tanner

December 11, 2021

What an Exemplar for others. Values based decision, Living those values even if difficult and less short term profitable. I hope your example is considered, reflected and followed by others. Thank you.
Ps – You may have just doubled your V2 orders .

Chris D’Amico
Chris D’Amico

December 10, 2021

Y’all are one of the most authentic brands around. Stay true. I can’t wait to afford one of your products. They are worth every penny.

Ian
Ian

December 10, 2021

Happy that this is the reasoning! Lots of respect for the way you guys operate!

Kevin
Kevin

December 10, 2021

Hi I with like to head up your sewing line of tents.

Nico
Nico

December 10, 2021

Respect 🤘🏼

Laura
Laura

December 10, 2021

Absolutely the right call. I’ll be the first in line to put an order in!

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