BigWalls Forum

Big Walls => A5/D4 Open Source Designs => General Big Wall Portaledge and Gear Design Info => Topic started by: Deuce on September 21, 2019, 07:05:57 PM

Title: D4 Portaledge development--general
Post by: Deuce on September 21, 2019, 07:05:57 PM
I don't have time right now to post a more concise full progression of the design, but anyone interested can see where we have been by first checking out some of the frame concepts at

The reason for this new design is explained via the Business Insider article here:

Next, check out the Kickstarter at

To understand the nuances of the initial design process, check out the kickstarter updates at

If you are really bored and want to see all the progression over the past three years, scroll like a madperson on the Facebook BigWallGear page (now deprecated, a new D4Portaledge page in the works) at:  If Facebook ever blows up, I actually took screenshots of all the posts and these can be seen at   We used Facebook more as a way to document our progress, so we ourselves could remember where we've been and where we're going.

The goal of this whole project is to make Portaledges portable again.  I noticed a lot of new climbers thinking that portaledges were only a giant, heavy, and super awkward package only suitable for travel to the base of El Cap, as the main portaledge in 2017 was the BD Cliff Cabana, a design originally from A5 Adventures, but had acquired 10 pounds of additional "features" in the past 20 years.

Besides the fact that the D4 frame is stronger and lighter and more rigid than the old "block corner" A5 design, the main new aspects of the new D4 design are the foldability--the 8-piece design with curved tube corners has an efficient packed geometry, making it a much more compact and easy-to-set-up ledge system.  Other new aspects introduced with the D4 are the integrated zippered haulsack system, and the deep corner pocket single zip fly system, which eliminates the need for a drawcord or under-ledge straps, never a fun part about securing a fly to the ledge.

Lastly, for now, you can check out my design notebook for the full size D4:
(I also have design notebooks for the Trapezium and the Octapod, which I will post soon;  these delved into a lot of additional experimental features which might be useful for a future ledge design).

By the way, there is a lot of "open-source" info on how to build a portaledge on the old BigWalls Forum, still searchable, but for example, here might be a useful link:  There is lots more in the old Bigwalls Forum, searchable here:

I have always maintained my design as Open Source and have helped dozens of people make ledges in the past.  I see a lot of A5 copies out there, some are really bad, which makes me wonder why they never got in touch with me (like the Altus sold on ebay).

This design is also essentially open source (license available on request), except for my new bullet joiner system, for which I have applied for a patent--if you are a small maker, I would be happy to supply these or provide the CAD files, with agreement on use.

Thanks for your interest--I will be posting more on this forum as time goes on.

Title: Re: D4 Portaledge development--general
Post by: Deuce on September 22, 2019, 05:09:07 PM
I might start working on a new 3-person design. I have a novel idea which I *think* might work well (ya never know until the first proto is built).

We have made a few three-person systems in the past, notably the first one ever at A5, used by Mike Hoover in Antarctica. see pic.

We also made the A5 Diamond Ledge, where the third person slept in "Little Rico" (thanks, Mark Synnott for the name!), a hanging hammock underneath in the bottom side areodynamic anchorable bottom section of the fly (picture in 1996 A5 Catalog, attached).

I have a new concept in mind--time to brainstorm--anyone else have interest in a three person design, or know of any other 3-person portaledges that have been tried or used?

Title: Re: D4 Portaledge development--general
Post by: Deuce on October 15, 2019, 07:28:49 PM
funny, someone told me there was a flapper saying that the D4 ledge is bulky compared to my old A5 Design.

Here is the packed size comparison--same area ledge, both Alpine Doubles.