Years ago, manufacturers used to make the products they have become known for, ie msr stoves, thermarest sleeping mats. Of recent manufacturers seem to be adding to the range of products they make, so thermarest now make tents
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
Whether it's explicitly stated or not, a companies primary goal is usually to continue to exist. By branching out, they're hedging their bets and making it more likely they can continue to do business if one part of the market takes a dive.
Hiking is the ultimate realization that the journey is more important than the destination.
Some companies expand their lines by acquiring other companies. MSR, for example, didn’t just start making tents: they bought Moss tent company, re-labeled the products as MSR tents, and then let the old Moss team continue to update and improve the line. (I think there may still be some or the original Moss folks at MSR, though they are probably rapidly aging out of the workforce.) MSRs trekking poles trace their origins to Tracks (who came up with the push-button feature.)
MSR is owned by a company called Cascade Designs. At some point, CD bought Tracks, kept the Tracks brand going for a while, then consolidated it into the MSR line. CD also bought Thermarest, and never consolidated them into MSR. (Like you, I’m completely baffled as to why they are starting their own tent line. Maybe that’s where they’re going to get the car-camping market?) CD also bought Platypus; the Platypus filter is identical to the MSR Autoflow (except for the brand on the label; my guess is they told MSR to label some as Platypus, so they could offer a “complete water solution” under the Platypus label.
Sometimes, these decisions turn out well. Other times, not so much. (Remember the old North Face? They left the market, and are now trying to re-enter it, with mixed success.)
I think “mainline” companies are also expanding their lines to compete with all the excellent “cottage” manufacturers (Tarptent, Six Moon Designs, etc.) and former cottage manufacturers (Z-Packs?) who are starting to take market share from them. I also believe the reason they’re taking the market share is the quality of their products.
In the end, all you can do is look at the quality of the product, ignore who made it, and buy what works best for you.
But, if it’s a good product, does it become less functional when it is orphaned? Granted, you won’t be able to replace it with the same product when it wears out, but that’s no different than a company staying in the same range, and discontinuing a product. (There’s a Murphy corollary to the effect that “if it’s good, they’ll stop making it.”)
The bright side is, that when the product does wear out, there will be a fair number of good quality replacements to choose from.
How long have thermarest been making sleeping bags for ? They do not seem to be ones i remember seeing before a few years ago.
I think the merging idea is better than the create your own line option. It always seems that great technical makers go under because of market pressures, leaving only bland options left. Maybe its one of the reasons kit for years was hideously heavy.
Looks like an Amazon exclusive. I have an E Mail address on the Tarptent site. Because of that , every few days I get another E Mail or two from another Chinese manufacturer wanting to supply us with tents. You just pick the shape and colour you like, order 500 or 1000 and you have another tent with your name on it. Tarpent does not do that but a lot of brands do. BTW, the first MSR product was a stove. In 2000 MSR merged with Edgeworks who at the time made tents for Moss, Walrus and Armadillo. Those three brands were then discontinued with some of the models becoming MSR tents. Most brands don't make their own tents in house so you have factories that make several brands side by side.
The only reason I even looked at MSR tents was that I was then using a Moss Helix (?) one-person tent; I think it might have eventually led to the Hubba design. As I recall, it was a single pole, running somewhat diagonally across the tent (I think it was actually 5-sided - one of the long sides was pushed out and given a slight angle to accommodate the door.) It was a really neat tent, and “only” weighed about 4 pounds - which would have been ultralight for its time except that “ultralight” hadn’t been invented yet.
I really liked Moss tents, and really liked MSR tents. Now that I’ve committed to removing as much pack weight as possible (so I can keep backpacking into my 80s, by saving my knees now), I’ve switched to a Fly Creek UL1 only because it is the best balance of light and functional I’ve found in double-wall tents - so far. (For what it’s worth, Franco, it’s lighter than the Rainbow 1 - and yes, I am visiting the Tarptent page again regularly. I haven’t ruled out a single-wall tent, even though I hike in Humid Valley, Ohio. Any recommendations you care to make would be appreciated. By the way, good to see you posting again.)