Wilcox BOSS Xe

Why? Well that’s a Darned Good Question

Recently, Riceball, one of our regular commenters asked this question –

“Why is it that lately whenever there’s an article on some piece of gear or another there’s at least one person who has to comment and say that gear X is a rip off gear Y? The way I see it, there’s bound to be a lot similarities when it comes to tactical gear, there are only so many ways that you can skin a cat after all. I’m sure that many or all of these companies could design gear that looks like no other but then it probably wouldn’t work like any other as well. This is not the world of fashion where looks is everything, in the outdoor industry (to include hunting, camping, tactical, and related industries) form follows function meaning that it has to work first before looking good.”

Truth be told, that’s a great question. What do you guys think?

28 Responses to “Why? Well that’s a Darned Good Question”

  1. Strike-Hold! says:

    Well, call me cynical but I think there are a lot of company trolls and fanboys out there who just like to jump in and talk crap about anybody else’s stuff…

  2. Todd Camper says:

    That comment is a ripoff of another comment I saw .

  3. Sal Palma says:

    Riceball you are absolutely correct. I’m going to give what I think is the answer people fail to understand that business is about getting up on the learning curve as quickly as possible. That means that as business people we learn from each other. We don’t reinvent things we improve on them. Some people view that as ripping off.
    Then again, listing to some people is like listing to someone fart. It makes noise, but aside from that it doesn’t mean much.

  4. Ryan says:

    In some cases inspired by crosses a line. Yes there are so many ways to skin a cat but stealing a design feature for your knife, tomahawk, pack etc is a shitty deal. There do seem to be a lot of company shills on here lately though.

  5. Phil Hagoes says:

    The fact is historically speaking that some companies have blatantly stole design concepts and duplicated items, and then sold them under their banner. There is a difference between taking something and improving it or making a far better version, and being original, creative and cuttting edge, and just trying to make a quick buck off some elses hard work and effort.
    Your right in that there are only so many ways to make a piece of tactical nylon or hardware, but it is also blatantly obvious when ethics go out the window, and knock offs suddently appear after a new item emerges on the horizon.
    For example, I was accused of knocking of a Sniper Scabbard system, and upon talking it out with the gentleman, we determined not only had I never seen his prototype, but I was simply approaching the same concept that he had endeavored to engineer.
    Gear will come and go, but ethics and your reputation can never be repaired once you cross that line deliberately and without regard. Integrity in business and life can only be given away, never taken.

  6. Casey says:

    I agree with Phil. There are some designs out there that are improvements on other companies’ ideas, and I have no problem with those. But there are also a lot of companies that are straight up copying others’ products for no reason other than profit. I do my best to ensure that those who fall into the latter company don’t get my business.

    To answer the original question directly, I think we’re seeing more comments about stolen designs simply because those stolen designs are appearing more frequently, and as end users like us amass more and more knowledge about the gear industry through sites like this one, we’re getting better at spotting this stuff. PFC Snuffy buying gear at the PX may not know Condor from First Spear, but those of us who spend an unhealthy amount of time lurking on the gear forums can tell the difference between US- and DR-made Eagle AIII from 25 yards…

    • Eric Cook says:

      I believe that as consumers we determine what companies will stand and fall. However i agree some people don’t know better and they buy lower quality equipment. The problem there is PFC Snuffy isn’t just uneducated but he buys whats cheap. Lower quality kit falls apart and its our responsibility to exploit that not only to protect the companies but to protect our soldiers from wasting their money.

  7. Eric Cook says:

    Companies make kit because people need kit and want kit. Sometimes companies make items that look similar to another companies but you have to determine which product is best for you. If the change is as simple as a different kind of buckle that might make or break your decision to purchase that item. The consumer will decide which product is best for themselves. Honestly when i joined the army our unit still had ALICE and if you wanted more practical kit you had to buy it. Companies compete for my business and i appreciate the diversity and selection of products i now have.

  8. maresdesign says:

    Working in product development I know what its like to get “knocked-off” and see other tacti-cool brands profit from it. I admire a design that is an improvement over my original, but when I see an exact copy I just wonder about the credibility of the duplicator. However, When I see a clone of my work at retail I just have to smile a bit and consider myself flattered.

  9. Paul says:

    Wasn’t the Eagle RRV was sold to Blackhawk a long time ago because they couldn’t keep up with a contract? This probably goes for all those larger companies such as Eagle (Allied), LBT, and Blackhawk who were some of the first pioneers but as gov’t contracts grew they probably just sold designs or split contracts with each other. I could be totally off base but when you look at their products there isn’t much difference. Paraclete was another one but stuck with their own proprietary designs. The newer companies have definitely developed on the originals and with so many custom stitch bitches out there now you can have whatever pleases your little heart.

    Either way, it’s not a big deal. If you want to be a brand whore, go ahead, but the rest of us will use what we 1. get issued, 2. can afford, then 3. make sure our CDI factor is at the highest level.

    • Craig says:

      I don’t think its really a matter of being a brand whore but rather, who do you give your money to, the guy/ company that worked long and hard hours designing, prototyping and refining a product and then bringing it to market, or the overseas company that sends a guy to Shot Show with a camera to take pictures, send them back to their reverse engineering people who then have the clone products in the market within a month?

      I support creativity and originality, granted there are companies who take a product and significantly improve it and make it their own, that’s not the issue here, the blatant copying is.

  10. ODG says:

    Don’t support “parasitic” products.

  11. Alexander N says:

    I agree that in the tactical industry form tends to follow function, but I doubt it’s always that cut and dry- especially in the civilian (read commercial) market. As a community, we like to act like we’re tough and manly and don’t care about girly things like fashion. But it’s pretty evident that there’s certainly some emphasis on looks that I’ve seen on the commercial side. TAD is a perfect example. Let’s be honest, their clothes aren’t revolutionary in performance. I can buy a fleece of the same exact fabric from the North Face or a shell from a company less associated with operators. The difference is in the styling, and TAD openly says this on the front of it’s page. Their pieces have a modern cut and tacticool features like patch panels and ITW d-rings. The same goes for cool-guy brands associated with people like Costa and Haley. I guarantee there’s a part of the mentality of the “omg this shell is the best and i never get sweaty in it” that is actually “dude Costa looks like a boss in that Arc’teryx Naga and so do I. best fleece ever…” I’m not calling out the members of the community as complete fashionistas, not at all. The general trend for products really is usually function, which is so awesome in my opinion and gives me hope for the world. Let’s be honest, though- sometimes we do think about being “badass operators” in the war-ridden suburbs of Washington. And that’s where I think brand hatred comes from. It’s the same as anywhere else, from Xbox vs playstation to mac vs pc. People associate themselves with brands and buy more than just a product, but a lifestyle. People want to know the cool things before they’re cool and then take credit for it. In our culture, what you own reflects on you. So when some guys come out with a product that threatens you, you lash out. As a caveat, I’m not making a generalization. I just think that sometimes it happens.

    • straps says:

      Only a small portion of North Face’s line continues to match the performance of TAD or Arc’Teryx product. North Face mostly cuts gear for people who wear it over Land’s End button downs.

      Far as brand appeal to (a) operators (b) people in between, (c) fanboys, great points–good gear improperly worn can do more harm than good–in NoVa or Afghanistan.

    • Phil says:

      Totally agree with your points made here. Bravo on your great comments.

  12. Thomas Jane says:

    Repackaging and selling a product that incorperates only Minor changes to a successful design is inevitable. The enraging part isn’t that but the dishonesty when the new producers don’t acknowledge the inspiring design. As an example, the D27 tourniquet holder- I have no objection to it, but in fairness, the designer would have to say “I liked the S&S Precison tourniquet holder and thought I could improve on it by changing the fabric it’s made from.”

  13. James says:

    Having been on the product development side of things for 25+ years in a numbers of different industries… if someone copies your idea and manages to improve upon it than as a designer I should be flattered to some extent… If my design was the building block for something even better than increases its potential for keeping our soldiers safer than I am all for it! The end goal is to make sure they have the tools they need to do their job safely and effectively… and get them home in one piece!

    That being said… when a company flat out ignores patents and uses someone else’s IP for they gain… and not to point fingers but I am currently dealing with an Asian company who is not only producing my patented design but marketing it under my trademarked brand name… not much can be done except alert the companies buying the copies and make certain they know they are buying counterfeit.

  14. Haji says:

    A different angle to the same conversation: the consumer doesn’t always know the story like they think they do. I was recently told of a situation where a customer was all up in arms about ” How dare this Mystery Ranch company rip off the Camelbak Tri Zip!”. Camelbak and MR came to an agreement several years ago for CB to make CB-manufactured versions of MR designs, and market them under the CB brand with a lower price tag. That was a great deal for both companies, and some say it kept MR from having to close their doors. The point is, that customer thought he knew the story; he didn’t. That’s not an uncommon situation.

    Of course IP theft happens, and happens a lot. It’s just not what’s happening in every case that it appears to be.

  15. straps says:

    I saw that little flame war about the eyewear that inspired that post. And it’s an apt example for the larger issue.

    There are a few makers out there whose MO is to bite others’ designs (they’ve been identified here once and again), others who truly innovate (also discussed here). The vast majority of the market is somewhere in between. A radio pouch might be truly unique but what, really, can you do with a 3-mag AR shingle? Lots of makers do ’em, does any one “deserve” to rule the market? And even in this mundane pursuit there are variations like 3 rows of PALS vs 2 rows for stacking other pouches, how it integrates with the Admin pouch above it or the ability to accommodate/not accommodate USGI/Lancer/PMAGS. So even in a market segment saturated with seemingly identical choices, there are subtle but important variations.

    Bottom line, the adults in the room know the deal with Pollo Nero, but if their gear is (a) free or nearly free and (b) gets the job done, we’ll hold our noses and integrate it into our gear right next to one of Caleb’s or Matt’s newest designs. No emotional baggage, we just need it to get us home to families we’re committed to providing for…

  16. Jason Crosby says:

    Thomas Jane-

    I would like to clear the air a bit about the D27 Admin pouch for you, if I may.

    I made that pouch based on a need that I, as an individual, had. When it saw the light of day and Legion wanted to have it built I thought that maybe it would fit the same niche for others with the same requirement.

    It was an evolutionary step based upon my TQ location (high on the chest) and my need to enclose the TQ to protect it from the damage TQ’s were encountering in the terrain of my last deployment. Using shock cord to place the TQ on my admin pouch flap was my previous answer for a few years but I wanted to find a way to fully enclose my TQ of choice, the SOF-T Wide.

    I specifically went out of my way to avoid using the quad-fold method seen in the S&S pouch. The quad-fold is also used in the TACMED TQ pouch. These are both, to my eye, a smaller version of the quad-fold medic pouches as seen from Paraclete and others from quite a few years ago, which in turn looks a lot like the cardboard box my printer came in.

    The method works and all of those TQ or medic pouches are very functional and, had they fit the niche requirement I had, I would have just bought them instead of making my own solution. For a stand-alone MOLLE-compatable horizontal TQ pouch I would certainly be using the S&S or TACMED pouches.

    My initial prototype (for the SOF-T Wide) used the base of the admin pouch flap and one covering flap with elasticized sides only. When the request arose to encorporate the other common TQ types as well I found the need to add the two side flaps to maintain the enclosed nature of the flap. I believe the two side flaps are part of the reason this method is compared to the quad-fold pouches in existence. I am working to evolve the design further to eliminate the non-load bearing side flaps and return to my original one-flap concept. The comparisons will be less common once I crack that code.

    I feel that the other reason you and others would question my motives or methods has to do with how the admin pouch has been presented to the public, and for that I truly apologize.

    The pictures and the marketing focus on this being a TQ pouch. I don’t consider it to be that. It is an envelope-style admin pouch that happens to have an enclosed TQ retainer integrated into the flap. A niche product for a certain set of requirements. I did not explain that myself and things were lost in translation.

    Again, the TQ retainer was constructed with a deliberate effort in avoiding the extant quad-fold method. I honestly feel that my technique of elastic sides on one load bearing pull-down flap does this. If I can refine my methods to eliminate those side covers (only needed for the CAT and standard SOF-T) I believe I will be there completely.

    The D27 isn’t “innovative” or “revolutionary” in the least. This applies to the topic as a whole- I cringe when I see these terms applied to any item of kit made with standard materials using standard techniques.

    At this stage of the game I categorize such products as BFG’s Helium Whisper, Crye’s CAGE, or First Spear’s 6/12 as “innovative/revolutionary”.

    Gaining efficiencies or cutting weight while still using standard methods is, to me, only “evolutionary”. There is nothing wrong with that and I’ve spent thousands of dollars on “evolutionary” kit. Manufacturers have to look at existing needs and determine how to meet a requirement better. Sometimes they accomplish this by a breakthrough, sometimes by a tweak. At the end of the day, when these efficiencies are gained through honest evolution of design, the customers benefit.

    To answer Thomas Jane’s concern about my inspiration- I took a good hard look at every horizontal TQ pouch I could find to include the S&S. My inspiration was to enclose the TQ in that orientation as efficiently as I could when placed on an admin pouch flap. The quad-fold method lacked some efficiency for my individual needs. My three- (or single- for the original TQ it was specc’ed for) flap worked better for me when hard-attached to the flap of an admin pouch. Otherwise I would have just attached one of the multiple quad-fold TQ pouches to my admin and this pouch would have never been made on my machine or produced for real. I was inspired by the existing designs only so far as to find a way to solve the problem in a different way.

    I see enough finger pointing and have done enough myself to not want the finger pointed back at me. I’m not a manufacturer or a gear designer. I’m a Soldier with a hobby that dovetails nicely with his profession. Had I not identified what I truly feel is a different method there is no way I would have ever allowed this thing to be produced. It isn’t “innovation” any more that folding four flaps to cover something (a method used in manufacturing and portage since long before Cordura was invented).

    Had I know that the presentation would cause such a reaction as yours I would have been more involved in the process and explained the “why & how” with my own voice. This was an admitted shortcoming on my part.

    So I offer this to you Thomas Jane. If you have a use for an envelope-style admin pouch and wear a TQ high on your centerline I would like to put a D27 in your hands so you can determine, in your eyes, whether I have accomplished what I set out to do- Fit the niche of a flat admin pouch that encloses various TQ’s on the flap in a horizontal fashion using a different technique than the well established quad-fold method. I hope that you will take me up on this and I look forward to your honest feedback, whatever it may be.

  17. Riceball says:

    Kind of cool that a simple comment from me spawned this thread which in turn generated a good bit of discussion.

  18. Yer, well we got hammered on here for our take on a Multicam Helmet Cover. It’s a helmet cover, of course its going to look like someone elses helmet cover – even if its for a different cut of helmet!

    It’s not easy trying to make something look diferent just for the sake of it so people dont think that you have copied designs.

    A 5.56 mag pouch is going to look like the next 5.56 mag pouch, thats just the way it is.

    Dont even get me started on Soft Shell Jackets – dont theu all look the same!

    What we have tried to do is just make the product out of the best military spec materials available and to the highest standards. Thats about the best you can do!

    • B307 says:

      Wow it’s amazing how dumb you are, thank god my ancestors kicked your asses off this continent 236 years ago. You got hammered for blatantly ripping off a reputable free lance designer and a prominent gear manufactuer design, and instead of taking responsibility for it, you blamed it on your user community, and then justified it be saying it was for a different helmet cut. I hate to bust your bubble but First Spear has been making that cover for not only the ops core fast, and maritime but also for all 3 cuts of the MICH for at least a good 10 months before you released your crap knock off. I wonder what Magpul would say if I designed a polymer magazine that was a direct copy of a PMAG, and then said, “well its what my SOF users wanted, and I only designed it for the SA-80 so it’s ok cheers mate”. Get a clue IA! Happy 4th of July everyone!

      • I think that you just made the point yourself with the Magpul comment. They have not re-invented the wheel either, just taken the weapon manufacturers design and made improvements to function and build.

        As for your other comments, grow up or at least stop hiding behind a user name and pop in and see us for a face to face.

        • B307 says:

          Like I said you’re dumb, and have no integrity to boot. I would strongly caution you in who you proposition for a face to face, it’s all fun and games until a group of bearded barrel chested freedom fighters show up in your booth and make it 1776 all over again.