Vargo Outdoors is an outdoor company that sells specialized gear, nearly all of it titanium, that happens to be a fairly small cottage company yet with a big global reach. Located in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, with a population of about 6000 people, Brian Vargo(founder/owner of Vargo Outdoors, hence the name) and Chad North(the #2 guy at Vargo) recently took a bit of their time to allow me to interview them!
Hello guys and thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions!
Before we get started, anything you would like to just throw out there for readers?
For those who aren’t familiar with Vargo, we are a titanium outdoor gear manufacturer based in Central Pennsylvania. The company was started in 2002 by Brian Vargo a few years after his thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. With an innovative approach to product design and an almost exclusive use of titanium, we aim to create unique products that help lighten loads and meet the needs of adventurers worldwide.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Ron ‘Fallingwater’ Moak, owner of Six Moon Designs, based out of Beaverton, Oregon (population ~90,000) and one of the original outdoor cottage companies.
Ron started Six Moon Designs back in 2002 with TarpTent and Nunatak being two of the few start-ups that are still around and older than Six Moon Designs. And while not the first to introduce shelters made of cuben fiber (as it was called at the time) Six Moon Designs was producing DCF shelters back in the 2008 era. Eight years later, now in 2016, many are wondering if they have finally thrown in the towel on this fabric, but more on that below.
Six Moon Designs has been a company that maintains a very narrow focus on a few products, with little energy spent on trying to come up with the next big thing, and instead focusing their efforts on constantly trying to refine their current products. In an age when most cottage companies fly with the times and are constantly putting efforts into new products that oft do not make it more than one or two generation cycles, Six Moon Designs has constantly stood by the business model of putting years of effort into a new product to make sure it is great and stands the test of time.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Tim Marshall, owner of Enlightened Equipment, based out of Winona, Minnesota(population 27,000), which has been a rising company within the ultralight outdoor industry for the last few years. The amount of times I have gone “wow” while conversing with Tim is likely more than any other interview I have ever done.
What I thought was a rather small time operation is actually a fairly large scale company.
Why not just move right into the interview and let Tim share some insights into the industry, his company, product development, and all that good stuff.
A few weeks ago Vargo presented their second generation of the backpack, being called the ‘ExoTi50‘.
Very little has been known about the ExoTi50, outside of a couple of folks who took pictures of it at the OR event in SLC, which I was not able to attend.
Being a huge fan/user of the Ti-Arc, and being sponsored by Vargo Outdoors, I figured I would contact them to see if I could find out some additional on this next generation backpack.
If you have not already read it, it might be good to first meander over and read my review on the Ti-Arc, so you can fully understand some of the logic/reasoning behind some of the changes in this second generation backpack, and why I make a big, or not so big deal, out of the different changes in this next generation backpack.
Love it, hate it, trying to ignore it exists, or completely committed to it – cuben fiber has continued to prove itself for the last decade, against all odds, even at times when almost everybody in the industry wanted it to just go away – and many still do. Through it all, cuben fiber has been the mysterious product of a rather small company based out of Mesa, Arizona USA, called Cubic Tech Corporation. There is no doubting it anymore, Cuben fiber, or cuben fibre if you are from across the pond, has become a mainstay of the outdoor hiking industry over the last decade. It has proven itself to excel in many ways. It has also had a few blunders along the way. Over the years some cottage companies started importing other fabrics in an attempt to get cuben fiber to ‘go away’, yet cuben fiber prevailed. It has become a fabric that a few outdoor hiking cottage companies have fully committed themselves too – and grow they have! Other outdoor hiking cottage companies have used it sparing, while other companies totally sworn it off – and at least two or three of those companies have started to sell cuben fiber products over the last two years – is this a sign of its popularity and potential lost of business, or has the fabric reached a point where it has proven itself to even the diehard-anti-cuben-fiber-crowd. What is unquestionable is that cuben fiber has survived both the good and and bad times.
The buyers: well known fabric manufacturer Dyneema, a subsidiary of DSM Dyneema, a subsidiary of DSM, officially known as Koninklijke Dsm Nv.
Expect this article to be a huge leap away from any previous article I have published. In it we are going to get an insiders look of what the consequences and/or advantages of Cubic Tech Corp(herein CTC) being sold means to a number of the outdoor hiking cottage companies that most of my readers buy their hiking gear from. If you do not care about cuben fiber, there is no reason to keep reading. If you do not care about what the outdoor hiking cottage company owners think about cuben fiber, there is no reason to keep reading. If you have utterly no desire at all what happens within the industry side of hiking, yep, there is no reason to keep reading. I fully know this article will only appeal to the die-hard gear geeks out there. This topic interests me, and this is my website, so I am writing about it.
The following is a Q&A session between myself and Evan Cabodi, the founder and owner of Black Rock Gear, based out of Washington USA.
I have been a fan of BRG for many years now, know an insane amount of fellow hikers that also love them, and I have been super proud to a sponsored hiker of BlackRockGear.
Black Rock Gear is introducing their very first pack, a rather impressive leap forward for a company that has only made garments and accessories, and they have brought forth an amazingly beautiful and functional pack right from the get-go.
Below is a short interview that took place with Evan and myself, it will give you a bit of insight into how BRG operates, approach being a cottage industry company, and of course details about their brand new packed called the “BlackRock Day Pack“. It might not be something for everybody, no pack out there is, but all indications are this is going to be one really amazing pack.