Outdoor companies that began as garage startups

Perhaps this goes without saying, but here at Garage Grown Gear, we love stories about garage startups. Or attic startups. Or Kitchen startups. Today, we honor great outdoor companies with humble beginnings. Some are still in a garage while others have become household names; all started with an individual pursuing a great idea.

 

Clif Bar

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“We started mixing. We broke paddles. We burned out the motor on her KitchenAid mixer.” -Gary Erickson

In 1990, Gary Erickson set off on a one-day, 175-mile bicycle ride with his buddy Jay. As usual, he packed six energy bars for the ride—using the only bar on the market at the time. Halfway through the ride, exhausted and hungry, Gary realized he just couldn’t eat another unappetizing, sticky, hard-to-digest bar. Then and there, in a moment he now calls “the epiphany,” the inspiration for the CLIF® Bar was born. He took to his mother’s kitchen, and the rest is history. 

 

TwentyTwo Designs

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Twentytwo Designs isn’t in a garage anymore, but that’s where they started. Now they’re in a community-sponsored industrial space just down the road. 

 

Shredly

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Shredly started in the basement of a house. That means the first photo shoots took place in the garage, which also acted as a storage space for inventory.

 

EnLIGHTened Equipment

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EnLIGHTened Equipment quilts started in Tim Marshall’s Minnesota basement. Just this year the company finally made its way to a larger space, but it is still within walking distance of Tim’s house.



 


 

Meier Handmade Skis

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Meier Handmade Skis began in 2009 in a one-car garage in the beautiful Roaring Fork Valley in Colorado. Matt Cudmore was a ski junkie with a passion for fine craftsmanship. He gave up searching for “the next perfect ski,” and decided to build it himself. In doing so, he created the first pair of Meier Handmade Skis.

 

Patagonia

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Climber Yvonne Chouinard started his business making reusable pitons, teaching himself how to black smith using a coal-fired forge, 138-pound anvil and some tongs and hammers he found at the junkyard in 1957. Word spread about his pitons and soon he was selling them from a small shop he built in his parent’s backyard. (Photo courtesy Patagonia Archives)

 

Supai Adventure Gear

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Supai Adventure Gear’s ultralight rafts were made for years in the living room of owners Shannon Flowers and Aaron Locander home. The couple recently bought a house just down the street to serve as the company’s headquarters.



 


 

Hyperlite Mountain Gear

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Hyperlite Mountain Gear occupies a small portion of what was once one of the largest textile mills in the country. The quintessential New England brick structure was built in the early 1800s to process cotton grown in the south.



 


 

Grace Skis

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David Liechty gutted the original kitchen in his 1894 Victorian house in Denver to make a ski shop in 2011. He built his press and started making Grace Skis. His house still hasn’t recovered.

 

Garage Grown Gear (Yours Truly)

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Garage Grown Gear’s humble beginnings started with a laptop, a table and our founder, Amy Hatch. To shop today’s innovators and tomorrow’s icons, check out our store.

What other garage startups do you love and adore?

 

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