Here at Garage Grown Gear, we love scouting for outdoor gear and clothes that have a “wow” factor. As in, “wow, I didn’t know that existed.” We’ve never stopped being amazed by people’s creativity and ingenuity. With each of the products we feature, someone discovered a problem and made a product to meet the need. Perhaps it’s a problem that you or your loved one know all too well?
1. Boats that roll up to the size of a water bottle by Supai
At just 1.5 pounds and the size of a wide-mouthed water bottle when rolled up, the Supai Adventure Gear packraft is a seriously cool, compact boat. This flat-water packraft is particularly well-suited to descending slot canyons and exploring alpine lakes.
Supai also makes and sells a stunningly lightweight 12 ounce breakdown paddle.
The entire operation is run by a remarkable Arizona couple named Aaron and Shannon. They make each boat and paddle themselves, ensuring quality every step of the way.
2. Lightweight system for making beer and soda in the backcountry by Pat’s Backcountry Beverages
Yep, that’s right, someone has finally figured out how to reasonably bring beer into the backcountry through brew concentrates and a carbonator bottle. Pat’s Backcountry Beverages currently offers Pail Rail and Black Hops brew concentrates. You can also purchase non-alcoholic soda concentrates – a great treat for the kids after a long hike.
We had a chance to taste the beer at Summer Outdoor Retailer. And, believe it or not, it’s not bad. It might not be my first choice at home, but I guarantee that I’d find it wonderfully delicious when I’m 20 miles from nowhere.
3. Indoor tools to train for outdoor ice climbing by Dry Ice Tools
When we first spied these mighty indoor climbing tools, it stopped us in our tracks. Clever is an understatement. Instead of a metal pick, Dry Ice Tools feature rubber straps that loop over plastic holds in a rock climbing gym. The tools have a wooden handle that is ergonomic, has better grip, and won’t slip with perspiration.
And, even better, the company is founded by two great guys, Ben and George, who I recently had a chance to meet.
For those of you with kids, a youth-size tool is also available.
4. Industrial-strength sail cloth wallets made of Kevlar and carbon fiber by Ragged Edge
Now, you may be thinking that carbon fiber is for bikes, and Kevlar is for bullet-proof vests. But it turns out these materials are also used for sail cloths, and when a sailing family started a business called Ragged Edge Gear, they used Kevlar for wallets too.
My husband got a Ragged Edge Wallet for Father’s Day and he loves it! Even after months of heavy use it doesn’t show much wear and tear.
(If you shop by clicking on this link, it helps us minimally with the cost of running this website)
5. Children’s rain boots with a flexible sole by MyMayu
I’m a mom with a 2 year old. I’m also an ultrarunner who is a closet believer in minimalist shoes. (What can I say, I loved Born to Run and now use zero drop shoes exclusively, but don’t want to readily admit it because the barefoot craze is a little over the top).
So, when I first encountered MyMayu’s Muddy Munchkin’s boots I was blown away by the simple brilliance. The flexible soles allow children’s feet to move naturally as they run, climb and somersault. The gaiter-style cuffs that attach to the soles keep out water, mud and gravel. As you’ll see from the photo to the left, they even work reasonably well for river wading (MyMayu is releasing truly waterproof boots in the spring, but our test with the style currently available resulted in nothing more than a slightly damp liner).
The boots can be used with or without the liners, which are sold separately.
Happy days of puddle jumping here we come!
6. Jazzy, ankle-high gaiters by Dirty Girl Gaiters
We don’t sell Dity Girl Gaiters here on Garage Grown Gear, but I had to include this company, because I love the product. I’ve used them for nearly a decade, and they work. Rocks, sticks and snow stay out of my shoes, preventing blisters.
The ankle-high gaiters designed for use with shoes have loads of style, personality and flare. It might depend on your mood, or how far you are into a trail race, as to whether you deem the flashy, brightly colored patterns on the gaiters inspiring or obnoxious. Patterns include “Hot to Trot Purple,” “Iron Butterfly” and “Lime Gaiterade Hurl.” But, if you must, scroll all the way to the bottom of the store, where you’ll find mundane black.
7. The ultimate rechargeable, long-lasting headlamp by Bosavi
A headlamp isn’t the most glamorous gadget and too often people take their lights for granted. Yet, it’s often one of those items that you don’t realize how important it is until it fails. With a Bosavi light, that moment hopefully won’t ever come. Bosavi is a long-lasting, rechargeable headlamp which features durability, water resistance, bright light and reliability.
Larry and his son Dan Freschl launched Bosavi on Kickstarter, raising nearly $50,000.
*Update on 11.16.15: Founder Dan Freschl decided to move on to another opportunity, and Bosavi is no longer in operation.
8. Custom branded leather gloves by Give’r
There was a phrase in the Canadian small town where Bubba Albrecht spent time while growing up: “Give’r.” It meant ‘get after it,’ ‘do your best,’ ‘be in the moment.’
When Bubba and friends spent seven days kayaking to Northern Ontario, Canada in 2011, he made everyone a hat to commemorate the trip. It featured the phrase Give’r. After the trip, people regularly stopped him to ask where he got the hat, what the phrase meant and if there were more for sale.
After dozens of requests, Bubba and friends Carly and Jed formed the Jackson Hole clothing company Give’r. Their waterproof leather gloves can be custom branded with your initials, by far their best seller.
9. Gourmet, healthy dehydrated backcountry meals by Good To-Go
Jennifer was active, but not outdoorsy when she met David six years ago in Maine. He’d traveled the world backpacking, climbing and mountaineering. She was a chef who trained at the French Culinary Institute in New York City and owned Annisa, a nationally recognized New York City restaurant.
Rather than give up her love of outdoor adventure, about three years ago Jennifer began dehydrating meals for camping. She picked her favorite comfort foods like Thai curry, and soon Jennifer and David’s meals were the envy of their friends and trip companions.
These meals were the start of Good To-Go, a company that makes healthy dehydrated meals for camping, that are so delicious that some people make them for lunch or dinner at home. I particularly recommend the Thai Curry.
10. Skis that attach to strollers by Polar Stroller
After the birth of her first child, Kelly took lots of walks. It was the only way she could get her son to sleep. Plus it helped keep the postpartum mood swings at bay. But then something happened–winter came.
Kelly tasked her husband, an engineer, with finding a way for her to keep getting out for walks. After some trial and error and a few prototypes, her husband, Glenn, developed what would become Polar Stroller, skis that attach to the wheels of nearly all types of strollers.
“We have to give all these other parents the opportunity to live,” Kelly said. “It’s not good for anybody to be house bound.”
At a price tag under $100, this is an affordable way for parents to get out.
11. Insulated bottles with a magnetic lid by Liquid Hardware
A magnetic lid sets Liquid Hardware apart from the slew of other water bottles on the market, allowing you to stick the lid to the side of the container while sipping, slurping and gulping.
The magnetic lid is especially useful while driving–it doesn’t flap in your face or fall under your feet. In fact, Stephen, the company’s founder, got the idea as a fumbled water bottle lid rattled around underneath his car pedals.
Liquid Hardware offers a regular water bottle called the Outrigger and a vacuum-insulated bottle called the Sidewinder. I’m a particular advocate of the Sidewinder. It keeps hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. It has also achieved a zero BPA rating. And, a silicon sheath placed over the magnet on the lid provides enough friction to stick your water bottle to nearly any metal object, including your fridge, car or workout equipment.
12. Custom lightweight sleeping quilts by Enlightened Equipment
The idea behind using a quilt, instead of a sleeping bag, is that the fill used on the floor of a sleeping bag is more or less unnecessary extra weight, since as your body lays on top of it, the compressed fill doesn’t add much warmth. The warmth along your underside mostly comes from your sleeping pad.
Ingenious? Obvious? After two years of using a quilt, I’d say a little bit of both. Now that I’ve told you why to sleep with a quilt, let me now tell you why you should check out Enlightened Equipment quilts:
EnLIGHTened Equipment quilts are anything but a mass-produced, one-size-fits all piece of outdoor equipment. On the contrary, they’re custom and handmade in Minnesota; and get this, they’re also incredibly affordable.
If you have children, or you are shopping for a child, check out Enlightened Equipment’s youth quilts.
13. USA made wool outerwear by Voormi
We totally adore this company and are crossing our fingers to be able to sell its clothing at some point. One hundred percent produced in the U.S., Voormi is one of the only companies that sources its wool, Rocky Mountain Highcountry Merino, exclusively from the Rocky Mountain region. Wool that’s grown in higher elevation regions, often above treeline, has natural unmatched attributes.
“The higher temperature swing—sometimes 20 to 30 degrees—introduces sulfur into the fiber, and the fiber is more waffle-like. That higher crimp makes the fiber a bit stronger and gives it more loft, so it can trap more air, which can be made into a warmer fiber,” said Dustin, the company’s founder.
In 2015 Voormi will be introducing one of the first-ever waterproof breathable wool outerwear designs in the market.
“We’re like a microbrew of apparel,” Dustin said.
(If you do order a gift from Voormi, tell Dustin we sent you.)
14. A purse designed to attach your bike handlebars by Po Campo
Po Campo took a great idea–creating bags practical enough to attach to a bike and stylish enough to take into the office–and ran with it, er … or pedaled with it.
The company offers a variety of messenger and travel bags, but my favorite is the Six Corners Handlebar Bag. It’s become my everyday purse, that also, quite conveniently, attaches to the handlebars of my bike and the push bar on our stroller.
15. The best technical ski jacket made in Colorado by Freeride Systems
When a product for skiers is developed by skiers the results are, well, better. Freeride Systems is the brainchild of Mike, an avid skier with a knack for running a business.
Mike told me that if the day ever comes when the business becomes too consuming for him to have time to ski, that’s the day he quits.
“I do it all, I take the trash out, I sweep the floor, but I still ski every morning,” he said.
Freeride Systems makes a truly stellar technical jacket. It has a hood that fits over helmets, pit zips, 2-way zippers, waterproof but breathable fabric, and is fully seam-sealed. Best of all it’s sewn in Colorado (and for sale on Garage Grown Gear!)
You, our readers, always have so much to contribute! What else should be on this list of outdoor gifts you didn’t know existed? Leave us a comment below.
For more gift ideas, check out the links below
We’re thrilled to be participating in a link up to gift guides with several other great websites and blogs. Some of them even include giveaways! You’ll notice the list has a strong family bent. What can I say? As an outdoor mom myself, I’m linked into fellow outdoor families. And … I’m a passionate advocate for getting kids outside!
- Holiday Gift Guide for Outdoor Kids – Cragmama
- Holiday Gift Guide – Go Adventure Mom
- 25 Great Holiday Gift Ideas for Outdoor Kids + Giveaway! – Rain or Shine Mama
- Gift Guide for Outdoor-Loving Moms: Under $50 + a Giveaway – Mommy Loves Trees
- Top Ten Christmas Gifts for Snowy Winter Fun (with Giveaways!) – Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies
- Wishlist for the Backpacking Lovers and Their Little Adventurers – Rockies Chick
- The 2014 Holiday Gift Guide for Ski Moms and Their Skiing Families– Brave Ski Mom
- Gift Ideas for Outdoor Women, Mamas & Babies – Rockies Girl
- Outdoor Family Holiday Gift Guide 2014 – Tales of a Mountain Mama
- Experiences vs. Things: The secret to holiday gifts that can actually buy happiness – Bring the Kids
- 7 (More) Gift Ideas for Outdoorsy and Adventurous Parents – The Adventures in Parenthood Project