Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Welcome to Damascus

You know you have crossed the Mason Dixon line when signs like these start popping up.

To the stomachs of the thousands of hungry hikers, cyclists, and outdoorsy people that assembled in the small town of Damascus, VA a week ago, this was heaven.

For the past 24 years the annual Trail Days Festival has served to celebrate getting outdoors (specifically hiking the Appalachian Trail), reunite thru-hikers from years past, show off the area's crafts and culture, and generally turn this sleepy town into a week long circus - bouncy castles and bungee trampolines included.

Connie and I traveled down with giant suitcases full of new gear to show off to current hikers and visitors from afar. We made the most of the trip by spending the night of our booth setup a day out on the Grayson Highlands section of the AT. We were able to fit in a 10 mile hike with only one glimpse of a feral pony.

We met a lot of characters hiking the AT this year (and years past) who all knew the value of great equipment. It was a pleasure to meet so many people genuinely interested in all of the designs we've put so much work into perfecting. I even felt like a bit of a celebrity at moments, having my mug recognized by several people from the recent ads in Backpacker and Outside.

It was great to see and catch up with so many of my classmates (GA-ME '03) who showed up for the festivities. Awol, who I never actually crossed paths with while thru-hiking, sent me away with his newly published AT thru-hiking guide. Though I haven't had a chance to try it out, I am incredibly impressed with how much truly useful information he was able to pack into one book.

Between beautiful weather this year and a slowed economy, it sounds like there are more hikers out there than ever. From thru-hiker accounts, the shelters are all full. I hope that means more people are taking advantage of the shelters they've been carrying on their backs.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It's in the details

We made a subtle change on every page of our website a few weeks ago. Can you tell what it is?

If you have been a lifelong enthusiast of"spot the difference" puzzles, you probably noticed the dark grey background now has NEMO 'N' shields embossed in a pattern. Without completely revamping the website, we wanted to freshen things up and give the site more depth. The embossed looks also makes photos and color pop a bit more.

Check out some of the other concept that didn't make the final cut.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Some of the Perks

I have to travel a lot for NEMO and I have to say that there are ups and there are downs to the travel. One of the ups is that I get to work with some of the best people in the industry who are genuine and generous. On a recent trip to Japan I got the great fortune of going to the Nagano area to ski with my distributor.

I have never once thought of hiking over rice paddies to make turns. We skied and rode beautiful old growth Beech tree forests on spring corn snow. Some of the best turns of the year. If that wasn't enough we took a drive to go visit a bizarre natural occurrence. In the mountains of Japan live a troop of Snow Monkeys (Japanese Macaques)that spend a good portion of their day in the local hot springs. These animals are amazing to watch. You can just tell they are enjoying themselves in the mineral rich waters.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Wallets Here!

I’ve been away at Trail Days for the past week or so (more on that later). But, as promised, I wanted to let folks know when wallets arrived. They’re back in stock after a long hiatus, so go crazy folks!


Friday, May 14, 2010

LongTreksonSkateDecks...Where Are They Now?

Aaron, Adam and Paul, our friends making the ultra-long longboarding journey through Morocco, have just sent some new videos and a quick update. It's not just their talent in front of and behind the lens, but their humor that makes following their journey so much fun.

“We are having a blast so far, although the pavement is keeping us from traveling good distances. These NEMO’s are getting worked! Were hunting them, they’re hunting us, and all around we are having a really great time in our humble abodes. We’ve skated 900kms from Casablanca on an ever changing route through the Moroccan coast to the Sahara Desert and experienced nothing that could even slightly phase these awesome tents!”

You can track the boys here and see more pictures and videos from their journey here.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Snow Playground

NEMO customer (and now friend) Przemek Skrzypek just opened a solo photo exhibition that is part of the International Photo Festival Horizonte Zingst. This year's festival is dedicated to the theme of nature and environmental protection.

Przemek's Playground series focuses on clean and stark white landscapes which illustrate the immense scale of nature compared to man.

Though the photos were shot during ski mountaineering expeditions into the mountains of Austria, Poland and Italy, they almost have an other-worldly feel to them.

Here are details of the exhibit opening if you can see it in person:

National Park Centre Königstuhl
Stubbenkammer 2
18546 Sassnitz/Rügen
Opening times 21.04. - 08.08.2010


Friday, May 7, 2010

Listen Up! Will Gadd on Grades/Ratings

There's a great op/ed piece in this May's issue of explore (Canadian outdoor mag) by Will Gadd about why grades don't matter in outdoor sports.

This may seem counter intuitive from a guy who just proposed a grade of WI10 for a new ice climb Spray On, but listen to his reasoning:
By rating something so difficult, I made all the other ice climbs in the world sound relatively simple, and therefore took bragging and posing rights away form those doing the climbs. Which is pretty much exactly what I meant to do. (We named the route Spray On not only because it was created by spray from a waterfall , but also because in climbing, "spraying" refers to bragging about a route.
He makes a good point about ratings systems as a whole:
For years now, outdoor athletes (especially men) have been applying grades to their most difficult accomplishments. The purpose of these ratings, of course, is to show how badass we are based on what we've done. The problem is that at the top levels, these outdoor grades are starting to fail us; the comparison system is breaking down.

Let's take kayaking as an example. The whitewater class used to go from class I (gently moving water) to class VI (assured death), but many of the rapids that were previously rated class VI are now run daily by second-year boaters. Meanwhile, in the last 20 years, high-end kayakers have taken the standards of whitewater and punted them through the stratosphere. A kid just ran a 198-foot waterfall. How do you grade that?

The kayaking solution has been to simply ignore the upper grades. I haven't read a rating on a high-end paddling run in years; it's assumed to be class rad. What really matters is how cool the story, the photos and the video are. Now, this hasn't stopped the dick-measuring contests about which run is the sickest, but it has put the emphasis more on the experience than the grade. A multi-day first descent of a remote river with numerous aesthetic waterfalls is cooler than a single-day run down a river with one nice waterfall, even though both may be more or less equal technically. The experience trumps the measurable.

As Will also mentions, surfers operate on this principle of experience trumping grade. Wave size isn't irrelevant, but it's what you do on the wave that matters. And as surfers of all levels have heard time and time again, the best surfer in the water is the one having the most fun.

We have tremendous respect for Will Gadd, his climbing and paragliding abilities, the spirit/humor with which he does it all, and his innovative style of adventure. It will takes athletes like him, who are at the top of their sport, to change the general testosterone attitude of adreneline sports. And we wish him good luck!


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Missing Catalog Day

Erin and Bill, this post is for you.

Today was the long awaited 2010 product catalog arrival day, a joyous event for all. Unfortunately, the two stars of the show, Bill and Erin, whose countless hours of creating, nudging, and perfecting have made this catalog into the sexy piece of art it is, weren't around to share in the unveiling. We congratulate Bill on his (day after) turkey opening day success, and send our condolences to Erin who is hopefully no longer feeling clavicle pain after her clash of exuberant dog, speeding bike, and asphalt. Here's a sneak peak for you (and all of our NEMO fans.) There are a lot of special details in the catalog this year, but I don't want to be a spoiler for those of you who will get one in the mail. Here's the teaser.

Hand cut embossing of the mountains on the front cover

NEMO Culture Gallery 2010

Full bleed glossy images

To order your very own 2010 NEMO catalog visit the catalog request page on our website.

We're starting to show signs of Spring around the NEMO headquarters and it got me thinking about the dreaded spring cleaning ritual. Along with getting rid of old clothes and packing up the winter gear, maybe you're finding that that old laptop is just too slow and it's time for a new iPad or Notebook. If that's the case, World Computer Exchange is a great organization contributing to positive social change while recycling your old computer. We learned about them back in 2008 while looking to recycle some of our computers. And one of the 26 chapters located worldwide is in Boston, so it was easy for us to drop the computers off.

WCE donates computers and funds to schools, libraries, refugee camps and community centers in over 71 developing countries. Their aim is to provide logistics to source and deploy computers, materials and services; recruit volunteer teams to train partners and troubleshoot networks & upgrades; build partnerships and raise awareness of the need to recycle and to strengthen local electronics recyclers.

The British Embassy just donated some of their old computers which are now heading to Tanzania. Since 2000, WCE has helped establish 2,550 computer labs in 40 countries, connecting over 1 million youth to the Internet each year. To find a chapter near you, click here.