One of the most difficult struggles as a thru-hiker (whether for the AT, PCT, or CDT), is finding sponsors. After months of trying to contact the “big name” companies and receiving no replies , we sent an email to Big Outdoors. Incredibly, we heard back instantaneously. And after a few conversations, Big Outdoors decided to sponsor us!
We wanted to give everyone an opportunity to hear more about this innovative company that is helping our trip become a reality. I had the privilege of asking Lloyd Vogel, founder and owner of Big Outdoors, a few questions.
Big Outdoors features companies and products not found at the “big box” stores. What is the motivation behind this vision?
“Large companies make good gear. It’s undeniable. But as any outdoorsy person will tell you, the connection between a person and their gear is deeper than its simple utility. We trust gear, we build relationships with gear, and we share some of the best experiences of our lives with the gear we bring on our adventures. On these incredibly intimate experiences, why bring a generic piece from a company you have no real connection to? The small companies we are working with are owned, operated, and created by individuals and families. Products made with intentionality by people who have put their heart and soul into their creation. When you wear a product from a small company you are literally wearing the fruition of thousands of hours of dreaming, planning, testing, and creation. By wearing these products you are repping and advertising their creators, and actively participating in the growth and development of a company. And thats a pretty awesome opportunity.”
When you aren’t running your start-up, what could we find you doing?
“When I’m not running Big Outdoors, I am working as a high school special education teacher. My background is in outdoor education, and I currently work at a experientially based school where our students spend a great deal of time outside! In my free time I love playing ultimate frisbee, listening to podcasts, and spending as much time away from my computer as possible.”
You are a small company showcasing small companies. What happens when Big Outdoors gets BIG?
“Certainly a problem we are hoping to encounter! If this happens, we will continue to do what we are doing now. Support small companies, and help them to establish themselves within the market. The difference is that we would be doing it with more resources!”
Favorite thing to do outside?
“I certainly consider myself a bit of a renaissance man in regards to outdoor activities, but my favorite would have to be sea kayaking. I love hiking, but there is something intensely powerful in our connection to water. Its unpredictable and powerful, and it demands respect. I love camping right on the water after a long day of paddling, and there is something very reassuring about waves.”
Favorite food? Book/Author? Piece of outdoor gear/clothing item?
“Favorite Book– Voyage of the dawn treader by CS Lewis
Favorite piece of gear– Fanny pack”