Author Topic: D4 Octapod Review - Initial Thoughts  (Read 16731 times)


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D4 Octapod Review - Initial Thoughts
« on: October 22, 2019, 06:43:16 PM »
I got an Octapod (with prototype green fly) at the start of 2019 for a solo kayaking expedition to a remote open ocean wall.  Unfortunately I didn't get a weather window for the trip at the start of the year and will be making another attempt in early 2020.

Here is some feedback/thoughts on the Octapod.

The packed size and weight does allow the Octapod to be taken on trips where light weight and low volume are important.   I would never have considered taking a portaledge on a kayaking/climbing expedition in open ocean, particularly during a large crossing 50km+. 

The weight (sub 5kgs incl fly and bag) and low volume allows the ledge to be stored on the deck of my sea kayak without adding too much instability to the fully laden boat.  Due to the length it is possible to store within one of the main hatches (just), however due to it's density (weight vs volume) it makes sense to have the heavier items rack/ropes, food, water etc lower in the boat and the Octapod on the deck in a dry bag. 

Boat handling and boat speed needs to be taken into consideration when assessing weather conditions as any item on the deck can reduce stability, increase the effects of wind (especially effected during a crosswind), and make righting the kayak in the case of a capsize more difficult - all of these factors also come at a physical expense.  If it were crucial, the ledge could be deconstructed into it's individual parts, spread around the kayak and re assembled by re-tension the bungee.

Initial thoughts on design: it is very easy to assemble.  The ledge basically assembles itself as you pull it out of the haul bag.  The position of the cam straps/tension points allow easy adjustments to the ledge while you are on it.  The ledge is big enough for two people to sit, backs to the wall, or to lie with knees bent, head to toe.  Packing the ledge is easy and can be done in less than 60sec, this is a huge incentive to take the ledge on shorter missions / walls where you may be sitting at a belay for a while.

We recently took the Octapod on a in-a-day ascent of Ozymandias Direct at Mt Buffalo.  I was the only one in our team of three who had learned how to pack the ledge as described online.  The other guys were able to consistently pack and assemble the ledge in under 2mins from a hanging stance without seeing the technique, this goes to show that the simple design must be fairly intuitive when it comes to packing and deploying.  We would often have one or two of us on the ledge at the belays.

The ledge was surprisingly stable, despite it's shape, shorter tube lengths and having shorter/smaller contact points with the wall than most full size ledges (or all other ledges for that matter).  I took a girl I was seeing out to experience a night on a portal-edge for the first time, she wasn't a climber and felt comfortable on the ledge at the top of the North Wall of Mt Buffalo Gorge despite it's size which is a testament to the stability of the ledge.

We use the BD Cliff Cabana's mostly whilst guiding Cliff Picnics for Bright Adventure Company.  The D4 ledges seem to be far more efficient to deploy and pack down, this is a huge bonus particularly if there is any wind and you are setting up solo- or from a hanging stance!  I like the two attachment points (Wall Side/Air Side) as it seems much easier to pack/deploy/handle the ledge solo, particularly in any sort of wind.

I will most likely use the Octapod for solo missions, for similar short pushes like our in-a-day ascent of Ozymandias Direct, or trips where weight and packed size are crucial.  It's kind of inspiring the places that you can take this thing!

I have not yet tested the fly.  I have the green prototype which John suggested would keep you alive in a storm but not totally water proof.  At some stage I'll test out the green fly (even in the back yard while raining) to get more of an idea of what he means.

RE Design/Things I'd Change:  There's a lot to like about the ledge: light, low volume, rigid, and quick to pack/deploy.  I like the simplicity of the ledge, nothing on it is unnecessary and basic repairs that may be required of the ledge seem straight forward.  Some additional clip in points (single points/daisy style) on the webbing could be useful without adding too much bulk to the ledge.  The haul bag I have has a dry bag style closure, it probably needs a little bit more material near the opening on both sides to get 3 or more solid rolls, a rigid side (similar to most dry bags) would help form a better closure to ensure it does become properly sealed.  This is not crucial as I am containing it within a dry bag anyway and understand that waterproofing was not it's intended purpose, just some feedback if you were curious.  As always, lighter and low volume is desired but, to my knowledge, this is miles ahead of anything else in existence and is super epic to have a ledge and fly at the size and weight that you've achieved!

I can come back with some more feedback after testing the fly and after going on some more missions.  It's definitely nicer being on it solo than with someone but that is the point, it's a small light weight, low volume ledge - made for ascents that require that level of gear- form follows function.  I appreciate that lowering the pack size and weight hasn't totally compromised stability or rigidity which is a testament to the design - the bullet joins are great too!  Well done on a solid, light and pack-able ledge.