Is Drop Outdoors Dead?

Is Drop Outdoors Dead?

Is the Outdoor Community on Drop.com (formerly MassDrop) dead? It’d be a shame because it is the ONLY PLACE to buy really high-quality lightweight backpacking gear at heavily discounted prices. For example,

But if you take a look at the other products for sale in the Drop’s Outdoor Community, they are pretty lackluster and few and far between, if they’re even in stock. Every since the original community manager Danny Milks “left”, the Drop Outdoor Community has been in rudderless and in freefall. You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that no one’s minding the ship.

Perhaps more tragic, is that Dan Durston, Granite Gear, and Fizan probably signed EXCLUSIVE distribution deals with the Drop and they’re getting screwed by the Drop’s indifference. If the Drop isn’t going to invest in maintaining its Outdoor Community, they should release these vendors from their contracts so that they can sell their products directly to consumers or through other channels. That would be the moral choice and “JUST GOOD BUSINESS.”

Carry on.

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42 comments

  1. I stopped getting emails from massdrop about 1-2 years ago. So that was it for me.
    Even though I bought two items from massdrop, it never sounded like a great business plan to me.

  2. I’m asking this not to pile on but to see if others had the same experience. I ordered, and recieved the Dursten tarp tent, and I put it on my scale. The fly and the inner came out to be 2 1/2 pounds. One of the reasons I bought it was because of weight. I contacted them and asked to return, or exchange it. They returned my money pretty seamlessly. I wanted it to work. I needed the weight reduction within a few ounces or so. Any other owners with the same experience. Agree about their offerings and with the article.

    • I got the Durston xMid 1P in the most recent drop, and mine weighed 32oz (including bags and stakes), so 2.5oz over list. Not a deal-breaker for me but of course YMMV. Mine arrived very quickly but that’s because I ordered it close to the drop closing, plus being on the East Coast.

    • Vince, it’s hard to believe your observation of 2.5 lbs (38oz) for the fly + inner is accurate because it’s far heavier than what anyone else has ever reported.

      The official spec for the fly + inner posted on the X-Mid page is 27.9oz. We’ve had a ton of users report their own weights and they have ranged from 27 – 30.5oz, which makes sense because production weights (and users scales) do vary. But 38oz is quite hard to believe since it’s no where near anyone else’s observations.

      The tent does also include with stuff sacks (0.5oz) and stakes (2.5oz), so with those the combined spec is 31oz. So JPs observation of 32oz for all of that sounds reasonable, since it’s 1oz over spec (not 2.5oz)

      • Dan, do you have an exclusive deal with massdrop? Or do you own the design and can take it to whatever manufacturer/sales channel you’d like? Any comment on the article as a whole?

      • I don’t really know what’s up either. Obviously there’s not nearly as much going on in the UL/outdoors community as there used to be. Seems like it’s part of broader changes at Drop since they closed other communities at the same time as the UL one. I don’t have inside info on why the changes.

        Not sure if I signed something disallowing me to talk about the legal side of it or not, so I shouldn’t get into it. There is some provision for other options if Drop isn’t using the design. It’s a bit complicated and I haven’t looked too hard into it. I hope that Drop continues to invest in it because doing something else would be a lot of effort/risk/hassle etc.

      • Maybe you can find a reader/lawyer on BPL to give you a little pro-bono contractual interpretation advice. There are usually renewal clauses on licensing and distribution contracts that give you a way to dissolve them if the partner isn’t promoting your products. If that doesn’t work you could also become such a huge irritant (evil company screws inventor) that they dissolve your contract to avoid PR blowback. Those backpackers buy a lot of headphones and pocket knives too.

      • Sorry about that Dan, had the wrong weight for the stakes in my head, hadn’t weighed them separately. In any case I wasn’t bothered by the weight variance.

        I’m enjoying the tent, working on maximizing the inner space since I’m 6′ and it’s a wee bit tight/short for me, but will probably dial it in over the next few times I use it.

      • There should be some kind of performance clause in …on their part …to ensure they are actually keeping up their end of the agreement.

  3. I tried to buy a few knick·knack a few years ago just to see how it worked. Figured I’d put them in my son’s Easter basket. First, the drop got extended past the original end date, then I got a shipping date, then a postponement notice. Items ended up in his Christmas stocking.

  4. I’ve bought a few things from them over the years and had a good experience. Recently the outdoors stuff just seemed to become few and far between so I stopped their daily email. With nothing of interest to offer, there seemed no point in continuing.

  5. Once they changed their name to Drop, that was about it for me. In the months leading up to the change I noticed a distinct lack of quality products (in all categories) and prices that after shipping (which takes forever with them) really were not saving you enough to justify the long wait for the item.

    I still get their emails, but I rarely open them.

  6. I’ve gotten gear I’m happy with over the years from them – at the same time, I agree the offerings have become a bit stagnant.

    In the outdoor area, Drop has seemed to increasingly focus on their “private label” items (quilt, Veil windshirt, Klymit co-branded items) which are semi-perpetually in stock. I see more energy in the EDC (every day carry) and Audiophile offerings, which I think have much larger audiences and may not have reached saturation points as quickly as others (how many quilts/pads/poles/tents does one person need?).

    I agree with bootsie’s observation about business plan – I think Drop can create buzz about an offering and be a good pilot for a manufacturer, but then subsequent batches might go through different channels, or be co-opted by manufacturers of knock-offs on Amazon.

    Increasingly, manufacturers want to own the relationship/channel and cut out middle-men.

    • “(how many quilts/pads/poles/tents does one person need?)”

      I ask myself this question every week when I buy a new quilt, pad, pole, or tent.

  7. Dan,

    I get what you are saying. I weighed the outer and the inner and that is what it came out to. I did not include the stakes, stuff sack. I thought there was something wrong with my scale so I took it to a friend’s house and it was the same weight. It was very odd hence the reason I asked. I do realize variances in an ounce or two or three.

    I hate being a gram counter but I have to be. Again I really wanted this tent to work.

    No problems with customer service and return.

    BTW: I did ask for another, and was just told to return it and refund it.

  8. I noticed exactly the same thing as you once they changed to Drop. Still hoping to get a Fan Duration 2 person tent, but not optimistic they are going to offer it again

    • They do have some extra coming of the 2P this spring. They could open that anytime between now and about April when they arrive. I wouldn’t be surprised if the extra are sparse though since they typically don’t order enough. If you want a notice for that but don’t want all the Drop messages you can sign up for the mailing list on my site (DurstonGear.com).

  9. I got couple things I wanted from there pretty early on. (Fizan poles, a Rab down jacket). The Fizans are a big disappointment. The tops of the grips are hard, slippery plastic and tiny, even for my small hands. Not Drop’s fault, really, but a grave flaw I wasn’t expecting given the rave over them, and a poor association was made.

    Much worse, though, they were constantly sending me emails about EDC junk, headphones, keyboards, whatever. Whenever I emailed to ask about an opt in/out to receive notices for only the UL (now Outdoor) community, I was told that to increase the relevance of products in the emails I needed to spend more time on the site voting in polls (and more time off the site researching products to determine what to vote for, presumably). Real helpful! I finally just unsubscribed from all notices. One less email a day to delete. Every so often I scroll through and request some stuff, and if they ever come up, those are the emails I get.

    • Hm, I really like my Fizan poles. Aside from the tips being too fat for a StickPic, they’re my favorite. To each their own! :)

      • Kerstin, if you have a Dremel you can sand them down. I had to do that to get them to fit in the pole extenders for my Duomid.

  10. I bought several items through massdrop. I used to check the site daily because there were so many good deals popping up all the time. Since the move to drop I’ve been very disappointed in the lack of products.

  11. The Fitsok Spectra running sock is a super hot weather hiking sock. I wish I could get more of those but other than that I have given up on Drop and no longer really care what happens to them.
    Thanks for bringing the issue out into the open.

  12. Bill in Roswell GA

    I’ve had good luck with Drop over the last 3 years, including a X-Mid and Durston 40L pack (yet to ship). Like others, things seem to have fallen off. Last I saw was a survey for a Smartwool hoody months ago, but nothing since then. However, Drop seems to offer 3 new knives and headphones per week! I know a few knife collectors, but come on, there are dozens now on drop.

    • I think what Drop is missing is I bought one or two knives
      and flashlights is because of the outdoors/ ultralight stuff.
      Not the reverse, if it wasn’t for Dan Durston I would’ve
      dropped Drop a long time ago

  13. Marko in Jackson, WY

    It isn’t easy to stay at or near the top, but when you make changes that cause a downhill slide, it’s time to consider changing back to a more successful way of doing business. I have received a number of items from Massdrop, happily. Over time, and especially since the name change and offerings changes, I go there far less. It starts off with seeing a lot of the same old things, so you go there less often. As that continues, going there drops further down the list of places to visit, pun intended. It goes from a primary to a secondary to a once in a while to not bothering, over time. Hopefully they can regather their mojo as I used to like it there.

  14. I stopped mails from Drop.

    My impression:
    They are not into outdoors any more and at the same time want to make big quick bucks. A community that is quite critical of products and discusses them in detail is too complicated.

    We find this with many of our premium hikers as well when starting out with very good and interesting vids and very soon turn to influencers who are obviously in the salesman business and not really in the hiking business so much. It is thus all about money and having other people finance ones trips.

  15. I was able to get good deals on DarnTough socks, Showerpass waterproof socks, an EE quilt, all which saved me some money on my ’18 AT thru hike. Not long after that however they seemed to implode with only a few hikiing deals and often not at a good price. I’d be curious if their business is well. They might just have decided to veer away from hiking gear to other things that perhaps are more profitable. Or they could be on deaths door. Since there’s often a big delay between purchasing and receiviing on the site, I’m even more hesitant to make purchases because of the latter possibility.

  16. Drop will still be sending out the pre-ordered mid xp2 in April is that correct. They are not going out yet i hope. Any news about that tent?
    Thanks
    Robert

  17. Oh No! I’ve been watching for a while, and just this week signed up for the Durston XP1! I gave my C.C. info. They say the “drop” will be in a few months, arrival mid summer. I’ve heard so many good things about the tent, I decided to go for it. I wonder what I should do now?

  18. As an EU customer, for me the EU customs charges (25%) is what changed my enthousiasm about the site. Even rhough i love the Dan Durston tents and the Drop quilt its just too steep of an added cost. The good thing in my perspecrrive is that it makes me actively search for european made outsoor gear. But from a Drop perspective, thats not much hel (unless they feel like broadening their scope)

  19. I agree with what most have said. I used to buy things regularly back when they were MassDrop, socks, a pack, gadgets, 2 tents – most recently Dan Durstons XP1. Looking forward to using that next summer!
    But over time the offerings became less relevant to me and the emails more annoying. I was not interested in most of the items I was getting emails about – they were not from my “communities” as I think they called interest areas. I don’t know who needs multiple $200 knives and lock-picking tools but it isn’t me.
    Worse, it wasn’t possible to change email settings to see only items of interest, so I finally opted out.

  20. I don’t know if Massdrop was ever a great thing, but it was ok and it was fun and it was most often interesting. I signed up with them early on and then left only to come back when the ultralight products started to ramp up. I think while their “business model” is novel, it can’t survive well without having all of the regular business basics in place. My own experience echoes apparently a lot of others’ with hassles regarding shipping (not late drops), returns/exchanges, failed drops, etc. etc. They were sometimes incompetent with product knowledge and that spilled into product descriptions and information, but the community usually took care of that for people who read the comments. Too many times I truly feel that various people at Massdrop were dishonest (I did not see that in the ultralight community at all, but in a few others on the site). So if the pricing is iffy, the service is very subpar, the wait times and shipping times are long, and the truly good buys get fewer and farther between – and then to tack on such a great upheaval with all aspects of the website (and the dumb name change) – writing has been on the wall for years. If they make it they make it, if they don’t I’m not sure too many people care anymore. They took a pretty good thing and ruined nearly everything about it. I still get two emails every day and have not been able to make those stop. I haven’t even opened more than one of them in the last, gosh, over a year I think. I had hope that the ultralight section would prosper but behind the scenes it lost a lot of support before any signs were visible to most, and then Danny Milks’ departure sure looked like the nail in the coffin. It was great to see Dan on board and to bring out such a big hit of a product – only reason I kept listening to anything “drop” at all. What I saw and learned about various other communities was pretty bad. The real kicker? Skimming personal data, which started before the site revamp but then morphed into what must be at least partially lucrative for them. They’re no Avast/AVG of course but it was a double-dipping low blow to loyal members. At this point I am almost positive I will never buy anything from them again nor log in to the site. Lots of great places to purchase our gear and interact.

  21. I’ve gotten some excellent gear through Drop, and I recommended it to many folks new to the outdoors, but I haven’t seen a single “backpacking” item available in well over a year. I’ve gotten shoes, clothing, electronics, my current pack, and my current EE quilt through Drop at an extreme discount since 2016, and I don’t understand why it suddenly stopped. I haven’t turned off the emails yet, but it is so frustrating that it’s all pocket knives being offered. I don’t want knives! Who needs this many knives?? I’d love rain gear, camp kitchen stuff, SOCKS, anything like that! Heck, even the Massdrop Exclusive Fizan trekking poles were great! I’d recommend them to all of my friends, but they aren’t offering this stuff anymore. So I don’t recommend the site to anyone, period.

  22. Like others I have found the offerings in the Drop emails not relevant to my interests. I thought it was just me – not having managed to set my email preferences up correctly (but why had they changed from when the emails came from Massdrop?) I thought that, maybe, UL offerings were still happening but I was missing out on the emails. Obviously not. Thanks for raising the issue Phil.

  23. I bought my pack and a few other things from them and liked what I bought… well, except for one thing I fell for that was thirty five bucks wasted–my fault, not theirs. I also bought a rain shell that was too small and they refunded my money promptly. There was also a Klymit V insulated pad that leaked–once again, I got a prompt refund. The Durston tent is really tempting, however, I have an adequate tent and don’t need to spend some of the family’s budget on another that isn’t so incredibly better than what I already own. I bought some ExOfficio Give-N-Go boxer briefs to try them out and really liked them, however, the drop ended before I could buy more and I haven’t seen them again (they’ve been requested but not offered during the times I checked their website). I finally decided paying an extra few bucks for something I’d use a long time wasn’t an issue and bought more off the internet from another vendor. Their market idea is intriguing but not always practical.

  24. I suspect their collaborations take a bit more work than just reselling like Garage Grown Gear… Will be interesting to see if they change up their model and/or survive. I’ll miss them as I’ve received some great gear (still hoping I can get an xmid 2p). They have been an enabler of my lighter load, which has helped get both my wife and I further than I imagined given my wife’s injuries after being hit by a drunk driver.

  25. Danny Milks curated and helped produce so many quality and reasonably price items for Massdrop Ultralight. I used many items (x-min 2p, Massdrop x Klymit Ultralight Double, EE down quilt) when I camped last weekend. Would love to see him back, or as part of a new venture.

  26. I wonder about Drop, but certain details make me think it is still on life support. I got my tent I ordered, but the backpack has been moved from an expected delivery of Nov 15th to Dec 15th in an email. I think they are still trying to fulfill their obligations. However, they are still selling tents, and there have been subtle changes in what is offered now. Instead of getting 8 Shepherd stakes, they are giving 4 of them plus 4 titanium V stakes. Also, I hear that the guy line rope is a bit more robust now.

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