More than 30 years ago Jim Lea, Neil Anderson, and John Burroughs set out to reinvent the self-inflating mattress. For two years the trio tested improvements to what had traditionally been a bulky and leak-prone piece of camping gear, and the fruits of their labor became the first product they sold through their company, Cascade Designs. Today the business includes eight lines, like cookware and trekking supply manufacturer MSR, whose Trail Lite Duo set is specially designed for easy packing and quick backcountry cooking. $70, msrgear.com

 

 

Andy Gregory has a pretty impressive resume: He holds a BA in ecological studies from Seattle U, substitute teaches at Seattle Public Schools, dabbles in photo production, and moonlights at the Seattle Bouldering Project. If that weren’t enough, last year he turned his tool-refurbishment hobby into a full-blown business, Northwest Axe Company. From his Seward Park outpost Gregory rescues antique American-made axes and cleans them up, removing rust and adding fresh handles and handcrafted leather sheaths. And later this year he’ll begin producing a line of new axes and assorted tools. Most axes around $150, nwaxeco.com 

 

 

Peter Hickner and his wife, Carol, founded Feathered Friends in the early ’70s after losing their jobs. Determined to make the most of the Pacific Northwest’s great outdoors regardless of their financial circumstances, the couple began fabricating their own tents, jackets, and sleeping bags only to find a growing list of friends and colleagues in line to place an order. Today most of the Hickners’ products are hand sewn and assembled in their South Lake Union factory. Their most popular sleeping bags, the men’s Swallow and women’s Egret, feature water-resistant materials, an antisnag zipper, and cozy European goose down. From $370, featheredfriends.com

 

 

When the construction market tumbled in 2007, Seattle architect, builder, and lifelong surfer Steve de Koch started handcrafting and repairing surf- and paddleboards for friends. And before long he realized his hobby could be a real trade. Through Hemel Board Company de Koch creates hollow-core standup paddleboards engineered to last years longer than standard Styrofoam-core boards. This summer keep an eye out for the Hemel SUPulance, a converted ambulance he uses to deliver paddleboards to customers; or rent a board for the afternoon at Hemel’s Matthews Beach booth. Boards from $2,045, rentals from $15 per hr, hemelboards.com

 

In 1983 brothers Dennis and Mike Hill founded Magnolia-based Seattle Sports Company to develop a line of dry bags that would keep their belongings safe while kayaking. Thirty years later, the company, now headed by Dennis’s son-in-law Mike Moore, has expanded to outdoor and camping gear ranging from paddling navigation systems to car-top carriers. The newly released multifunctional HydroStar SOS SeaStar Deluxe flashlight features a built-in safety whistle, emergency strobe settings, and a suction base that attaches to a car or boat to function as a deck light. $40, seattlesportsco.com

 

Ben and Laura Masters launched Scout last year to bring beauty back to the outdoor experience. “Too often we were taking overqualified, overmanufactured gear on camping trips when all we were really doing was hanging in beautiful places,” Ben says. The former advertising executives’ products are all made in the USA and inspired by the scenery of the Pacific Northwest, from boots to a single-pole tent, which combines the form of a teepee with the function of a tent. $982, scout-seattle.com



Published: July 2013

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