A Conversation in the Woods
I recently caught up with Ryan Frayne, Co-Founder of Windcatcher gear, and inventor of their flagship product, the Windcatcher Air Pad.
He was nice enough to answer some questions for your reading pleasure.
AWitW: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us. Can you tell the readers a bit about the inspiration and background of the company, and the Windcatcher Air Pad?
Ryan: The story behind how I identified the need for a better inflation system can be found here:
After discovering the need, I started to do a lot or research and trial-and-error prototyping. During that research, I stumbled upon the phenomenon of entrainment, which is the scientific principle the invention is based around.
AWitW: Who are your main adopters? How has the reception been so far?
Ryan: Our adopters vary from campers to home bodies that want to use the pad to lay around the house or as a quick guest bed. We’ve also found that several people bought the Windcatcher just because they’ve never seen anything like and just want to try it for themselves.
The reception has been amazing. I think the problem of having to inflate an air pad or other inflatable is something many people can relate with, so the general reaction we get is “why has no one else invented this before”.
AWitW: Do you have any interesting testing/development stories you can share with us?
Ryan: I think our Kickstarter campaign was interesting. Mainly because it looked like we were doomed. I wrote a blog post about it here.
AWitW: Many outdoor enthusiasts develop strong opinions about their sleeping systems that go beyond the specs. There are, of course, other products that are lighter, smaller, warmer, or cheaper (of course, no one system has all of these attributes). How do you feel you compare with them?
Ryan: Other air pads compete within the competitive factors that you mentioned. But I think we’re in an entirely different space. People buy our pad because they want to take it camping but also want to use it at the park, or to power nap at work, or to crash at a friend’s house. Other pads are just to inconvenient to both inflate and deflate for anyone to consider using them for activities that many only last 15 minutes. The Windcatcher’s speed really opens up whole new opportunities not possible with conventional inflatables.
AWitW: You mention on your Kickstarter page that you hope that this approach will inspire entirely new lines of products.
Ryan: The inflatable tent is something that a lot of companies have tried to bring to the market. I think with the Windcatcher, the idea of an inflatable tent is much more feasible. I’d love to see other companies or individuals use the Windcatcher tech to bring new ideas to life.
AWitW: What are the next steps for you as a company?
Ryan: Fulfilling our Kickstarter orders and obligations are still our top priority. Without them we wouldn’t have a company and I’d still be working at a job I hate.
Beyond that, we’re currently in talks with a number of companies about licensing the Windcatcher technology to use in their products.
AWitW: Do you have any closing comments?
Ryan: If you’ve got an idea for a consumer product and you’ve been thinking about doing a Kickstarter, just do it!
Do a lot of research and don’t half-ass it. Kickstarter projects are far from easy. But they’re the best way to launch a product that I know of.
AWitW: Again, a big thank you to Ryan for taking the time out of your schedule. Best of luck to you, and Windcatcher Gear.
Windcatcher Gear’s official site can be found at windcatchergear.com, where you can see more photos, instructional videos, and, of course, find out how to get your own Windcatcher Air Pad.