Whether you want one-ounce rain mitts for your ultralight array or a cute tote to carry your pug (what?), High Tail Designs makes it in Dyneema.
Founded by a seasoned thru-hiker, High Tail Designs prioritizes weight and utility without sacrificing style. From satchels and stuff sacks to dog bowls and chalk bags, the company focuses on fun and function.
Brightly patterned gear for a range of outdoor pursuits fills out its robust lineup.
If you’re hiker trash, you understand the advantages of Dyneema — it’s waterproof, strong, and incredibly lightweight. These features, along with a void of personality among available gear, drove Conor “Dos Eggrolls” Brown to found the company in 2018.
On a Continental Divide Trail thru-hike, Brown identified that hikers wanted to express themselves through their kits but couldn’t do it due to a dearth of options. High-performance, ultralight gear proliferated; it was just boring.
“I noticed that my gear, as well as everyone else’s, wasn’t reflective of the fun, quirky people I was meeting on the trail,” he said.
“All of our tents, packs, bags, etc. looked very muted or militaristic and everything just took itself so seriously. I figured we’re out here to have fun, why can’t our gear reflect that?”
So the man they call “Dos Eggrolls” (in reference to a dubious order at a Mexican restaurant near the CDT) set out to develop a company to fill the niche.
To do it, he leveraged a degree in industrial design and a job background in garment sewing. Soon, he’d sold the idea to his partners at work, and High Tail Designs leaped into existence.
“Using the combined two decades of dye sublimation experience, we were able to transpose creative, colorful designs and patterns onto ultralight technical fabrics like Dyneema hybrid and composite fabrics and XPAC,” he said.
“Now, we’re always on the hunt for new artists to work with to broaden our range of prints and designs.”
Want a flower-print fanny pack designed by Colorado-based landscape painter Hannah Beimborn? You got it — and it only weighs 1.8 ounces. How about a collapsible, 0.7-ounce dog bowl (MSRP $36) covered in cute animal cartoons? Got that too.
The brand’s gear satisfies a fairly wide range of aesthetics, from silly patterns to muted pastels. It also spotlights and financially supports creatives like Beimborn; 15% of proceeds from any collaborative design go directly to the featured artist.
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Accessories aren’t the only thing the company builds. Quality over volume is the clear intent. The purpose-built gear comes at a cost, in both dollars and construction time.
But gearheads and ounce-counters will rejoice at the obvious attention to detail, reflected in the website’s in-depth product descriptions.
Take the Ultralight Catenary Curve Tarp, for instance. Trail weight for the fairly spacious rig is just 7.4 ounces (tarp, rigging, stuff sack, no stakes), and it packs down to 5 x 3 x 9 inches.
The $500 MSRP shelter is not just a sheet of Dyneema; delivering one requires especially thoughtful construction. It starts with a super lightweight Dyneema compound. To avoid the inherent weak points introduced by stitching, each seam is bonded.
The tie-out patches utilize heavier Dyneema and a fan shape used in racing sails to maximize resilience and load distribution. Finally, the edges and ridges describe catenary curves for precise tension without wrinkles.
Similar care goes into pretty much every High Tail Designs build, so delivery times take up to 2 weeks. The Tarp, which the company says is by far its most complex build, takes five to twelve days to construct.
Other items come in excruciatingly limited runs. The Flagship Shell looked to be a tour de force, with high-tech fabric and drum-tight construction. But a painstaking build process limited production to just 10 units.
According to Brown, though, the company does plan to widen and deepen its lineup by consolidating its construction techniques.
“Once we figure out how to make rain gear more efficiently and reliably source the fabric we need, we’re ready to roll on rain jackets,” he said. “Our current Flagship jacket uses 36 feet of seam tape! But we’re looking into other processes like ultrasonic welding and pure bonding.”
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For the most part, High Tail Designs builds gear for everyone. Colors and patterns abound, and each product should live a long life thanks to Dyneema’s famous toughness.