Chouinard Equipment of 2018: what you can't get at REI
“If you want to understand the entrepreneur, study the juvenile delinquent,” Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, has said repeatedly in interviews. “The delinquent is saying with his actions, ‘This sucks. I'm going to do my own thing.’”
I’m not one of those people who left flowers outside the Apple Store the day after Steve Jobs died. What I mean is, I’m not one to be inspired by businessmen, but one of the reasons why I look up to Yvon Chouinard is because he isn’t, either. With a complex relationship to capitalism, Chouinard “never, ever wanted to be a businessman,” he says, “but I happened to be a craftsman, and every time I would come back from the mountains, I had more ideas for how to improve various equipments.”
The outdoor industry is a great place for Chouinards: people who look at popular industrial design and see ways to make it better. The busy cottage industry of backpacking is filled with innovators, not inventors, who hope to improve upon REI's products.
Here are are four pieces of gear that I use that were created by the delinquents of the outdoor industry. Perhaps the future Yvon Chouinards of the world will someday be powerful enough to successfully sue the Trump administration.
Everyone I know who has an Osprey Aura or Osprey Atmos backpack complains about the wimpy pockets on the hip belt. The only thing you can fit in there is a flip phone from 2005. I wanted the convenience of a large front pocket that gave me access to things like chapstick, sunscreen, and my phone without having to remove my backpack. This one is great and fits just fine on my non-Zpacks backpack. The pouch is also ultralight and durable, and the mesh exterior pocket allows me to see what's inside.
I'm a cold sleeper and even the summer temperatures in the Sierras get down into the 30s, sometimes 20s, at night. Goosefeet Gear's down socks keep my feet from going numb and add only a couple of ounces to the weight of my pack. If its especially cold, I'll stuff a couple of hand warmers into them.
Before I started backpacking, I used either heavy, oversized sleeping bags or mummy bags that twisted around me as I moved, forming a tangled cocoon of zippers and synthetic fabric. Sexy. Luckily, I was enlightened by The Enigma, a simple, minimalist and lightweight quilt that keeps me warm and stays in its place where it belongs.
My ideal day in the wilderness involves leaving my tent intact and hiking somewhere nearby without all of my gear. This 3.5-oz daypack can be stuffed into a tiny pouch, but when in use, I'm surprised how much it carries.