It’s easy to get caught up in it. I get it – both as someone selling, and as someone buying – – – Thanksgiving comes and goes, and the Christmas
It’s easy to get caught up in it. I get it – both as someone selling, and as someone buying – - – Thanksgiving comes and goes, and the Christmas buying season begins, and it’s all about making the most of the time we have and the budgets we’ve got. But there has to be a limit. Like so many others, Vedavoo had plans this year for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. But after seeing the effort some retailers put in to get people to leave their families on THANKSGIVING for an early jump on the frenzy – I decided to change my plan.
Thanksgiving is a holiday when we can all join together and remember what we are most thankful for. In my case – and many others – that means spending time with and remembering family, building new memories, and staying focused on the things that really matter. Further, the central origin behind the season of giving is to remember and honor the greatest gift of all.
So – in an effort to emphasize the TRUE spirit of the season – I have decided to DOUBLE every order placed between Thanksgiving and Sunday – personally asking each of the customers who placed these orders to pay it forward, and gift the second unit to someone less fortunate this holiday.
It’s a small token from a small company, but hopefully it makes a difference.
For all our friends who’ve given us the opportunity to build something truly unique and special for your loved ones – and to those who are planning to reach out in the days to come – we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for supporting our families. Have a very happy, and meaningful holiday! We’re honored to build for you and yours. Scott
Christmas is just around the corner, and this year, we hope you’ll look to us to build holiday gifts for fly fishermen in your family.
Vedavoo packs and gear are custom built to order – pairing American craftsmanship with American materials for durability that lasts.
Vedavoo apparel is custom printed to order – you pick the design, style, color, and where you want the graphics printed to fine tune your gift.
Either way – our work can make a big impact for anglers – and are perfect gifts this Christmas!!!
And for Fly Tyers who need a little organization for their bench…
I love and hate blogging. It’s an awesome way to help paint the picture about what we do – how we do it – and why, but we’re not TFM, Troutragous!, EMBT, or Moldy Chum, where our product is the words on the page. We’re Vedavoo. We design and build packs and other gear for fly fishing, hiking, climbing, and time along that road less traveled. Don’t get me wrong – I wish I had the time to post every day – or even every week like these and other masters of the written word, but the reality is that 95% of my time is spent facing a workbench, designing gear, or pushing packs through my sewing machine.
I design our gear here the old fashioned way – with pencil sketches and trial & error. I cut fabric and pin things in place to play with shapes and layout. I wear it. How does it work? What can I do to simplify the design and still deliver the function? How can I make it lighter, more durable, and more comfortable? Then we prototype and test … what worked? what didn’t? Rinse, and repeat.
Only then do we move forward – - – hand cutting, prepping, building, and finishing every pack to order. Made in the USA is only as good as the pack that carries that title – and we work to make sure that the American flag sewn to every pack is honored by our efforts.
Every pack in the line now – and those that will come – has a story, and I want to tell it.
In short – we’re changing this “BLOG” into something more meaningful – the VEDAVOO WORKSHOP JOURNAL. It’s going to be a place for me to share my thoughts and visions – - – to tell about new projects I’m working on – - – to get feedback on designs in progress – - – and to explain “what the hell I was thinking” when I was designing our packs and other gear. If I get stuck, I may toss up a question to the community – - – I WANT TO HEAR WHAT YOU THINK and HOW YOU’D BUILD IT BETTER… I WANT THIS TO BE A PERSONAL FORUM for my customers to get really involved in what we do. Let’s be frank – - – I’ve worked hard over the past four years for you… and knowing that my efforts will make your time on the road less traveled better keeps my tank full.
Still a long way to go – but in the coming months I’ll start going back through the steps I’ve taken over the past four years, talking about the products we’ve built so far and the hurdles overcome, and start adding in new information about what it’s like in our workshop. Thank you for your support – and thanks in advance for your thoughts and ideas. I’m looking forward to building for you soon!
Vedavoo Ambassador Mike Chambers has spent the past few days in Katmhandu, and leaves in the morning for the Khumbu Valley – and his first steps toward the summit of the world’s tallest peak. He’s climbing Everest for Flying Kites Global – an amazing organization targeting support of orphaned children in Kenya through a Home and Leadership Academy they built. Check out their work – it’s worth believing in!
About six months ago – when his plans were starting to come together for the expedition – he reached out to me to build him a pack for his summit bid. I was ecstatic! By far the most difficult and challenging project I’d taken on to date, and dreams of my work at the top of the world drove me forward through my early trepidation. This was one pack that absolutely could not, and would not fail.
I spent hours designing and refining concepts on paper before I started work – it had to be clean – it had to be simple – and it had to be able to withstand the challenges that the Mountain would throw it’s way. Then, with literally dozens of concepts clouding my vision, I got a message from an old Boy Scout friend that included a link to a page chronicling the first American ascent of Everest in 1963. To say that I was inspired was a vast understatement.
In a few weeks, it will have been 50 years since Jim Whittaker took the last few steps to the summit, and at the time of his climb, only six others had accomplished the feat – Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay included – and the trek to the peak took him almost 10 weeks. There were no airstrips then – so he hiked 187 miles to base camp from Kathmandu to start his effort. Whittaker’s pack – a classic external frame made of bright, gold fabric – became my inspiration.
Given the opportunity to build a pack for Everest – and one that WILL be carried to the summit within days of the golden anniversary, I vowed to pay tribute to the first American, with a pack that would represent him while supporting the bid of another great American climber today.
In the months that followed, I tried various shape studies – cut / trimmed / refined until the ideal layout emerged. I stayed as true as possible to the style and form of Whittaker’s pack – and from that model, I worked on critical improvements and features that would meet today’s requirements for Mike.
The pack I built just flowed – everything had a place and a purpose, and though the effort took almost two weeks of time in the workshop to bring to reality, the final pack more than met my expectations. Like Whittaker’s pack – Mike’s is Gold and Black – and both are products of craftsmen in the United States of America.
Everest is … well… Everest. Like no other test on the planet. So I’m proud to have had the opportunity to test my work like this; but, being able to also share in the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the first American ascent by sending another American-built pack to the summit is something I will never forget and always cherish.
My heartiest good luck to Mike – we’ll all be rooting for you and sending prayers for your safe ascent and return. Looking forward to sharing in your celebration from the Summit!
PHOTOS FROM MIKE’S JOURNEY
FOLLOW MIKE’S JOURNEY THROUGH HIS EXPEDITION SITE
VIEW MIKE’S AMBASSADOR PAGE
I started fly fishing right after I finished at the University of Wyoming. My family is all about the value unspoken – giving meaningful, forever cherished gifts. My graduation present from Dad was no exception – my first fly rod and reel.
It wasn’t anything fancy… Not a Sage, Scott, or Winston and it wasn’t made of bamboo. But it didn’t have to be. My father’s gift – a vintage 7 wt from Eagle Claw – meant far more to me then and ever since.
Modest and subtle, the utilitarian design made it a thing of beauty. The glass was bright yellow with simple orange thread wraps – clearly placed with greater focus on anchoring line guides than on the visual drama of the rod in action. It was light and quick. For a 7-weight it offered a bright response and a sharp return when the rod was properly loaded during the backcast. I remember watching the yellow pass by my periphery – even after the sun had set – teaching me balance and rhythm that has served me well ever since.
Though I’ve tried a mess of rods since that first, I’ve never found another that matched the feel it had while playing out a healthy little Brookie. So it was more than a personal tragedy when the tip broke off by a carelessly lowered garage door.
My son is seven now – and after a few trips out with me, I decided it was time for his first rod. I reached out to Cameron Mortenson over at The Fiberglass Manifesto for some friendly advice – the man knows more about rods than I’ll hope to learn in a lifetime of fishing – and though he had several solid suggestions, one stood out:
“Eagle Claw Featherlight”
I leapt at the suggestion – and picked up a second for my own sense of nostalgia. An excellent starter – it reminds me so much of my own first rod – an I expect it’ll treat him just as well.
Our first adventure out was a great one – several Bluegill, a pretty Pumpkinseed, and a nice Crappie. Many smiles, and a proud Papa.
The next night out – Jade had the opportunity to wear his new TFM shirt (and matching Yeti hat) for what quickly became one for the photo album. I bought and tied on a foam bodied yellow frog popper, and helped him launch it about 10′ off the bank. Within seconds a nice (NICE) Largemouth Bass inhaled the bug. Easily 4 lbs – and ultimately a broken Tippet… but not before a well-bent yellow fiberglass rod in the hands of a beaming little boy.
I believe in yellow glass.
This year has been a special one. December through May brought nothing but beautiful weather to South Dakota. We were fortunate enough to climb and hike almost the entire winter, with only a handful of days where we were trapped inside a climbing gym. Spring brought more of the same, but with more intensity. I doubt we’ll ever see seasons like these again – perfect for making new stories with good friends and family – climbing, falling, trekking through snow, and sitting in the rain through thunder storms.
I climb to test my limits – many of those terrifying bouldering top-outs and long-standing projects are behind me, and new projects are ahead. One of those, is my return to music.
The past five months I have been writing a lot, learning new songs and playing all around Rapid City and Wyoming. Pulling inspiration from my surroundings, I have been focused on creating something new with my music. That creative process helped me express feelings and writing helps me to understand myself.
As I’ve have wandered down this road, I have come to appreciate the creative arts, creative minds, creative hands, and the dedication of those who pursue their passions… and learned through my own experience, how those passions re-point creativity back at us.
For me, creativity is about the mixture of chords and lyrics that resonate in our souls to express emotions words alone simply cannot say. We climb because of the aesthetics and creativity that are involved when faced with a 100 foot challenge. We fish because of our connection to pristine waters, our serene environment, and the adrenaline we feel when our lines go tight. And, as artists, we create because we believe in the joy of seeing something emerge from nothing.
They patiently chip away what does not belong in order to expose what was already there – to find something special that’s been hidden from view. This kind of creativity means having the heart to discover what was there all along – and to stick it out. As artists, we create because it is our passion.
Passion is about the extremely late nights and early mornings to finish the final stitches in a pack that we hope to see on the trail or river someday. Determination chips away the frustrations in order to create patience and success. It is about trekking down the road less traveled because we are driven by our passion. This passion is a flame within our very being. It ignites and burns the shadow of doubt that creeps into our minds and it fuels our hearts to push us through the most difficult of tasks.
True beauty is not forced. It takes more patience and time than our fast-paced, wireless internet, smart phone, Facebook-driven society can cognitively grasp. Nature’s perfect beauty was fashioned from the many years of rain, snow, wind, ice, and sun. As much as people have tried to recreate it on a canvas, no one will ever be able to do it as perfectly as the process of time has. As much as we would all love to see immediate results, all we can do is face this road as it is, persevere through the trials, and accept that we are part of a creative process … being carved into who we are supposed to be, and ready for what we are supposed to do.The failures, sleepless nights, cuts, bruises and falls are all part of how we learn to move forward. As we choose our passions and our passions choose us, our experiences help mold us and create who we are as people.
In the brilliant words of E.E. Cummings, “It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are.”
Send your projects, and NEVER forget to take the time to appreciate those who walk with you and always have your back. Create, express, pursue, overcome and always challenge yourself. Continue to fall, fail, cry and heal… just stay determined, remember you’re part of a process, and keep moving forward. Be terrified. Be excited. Be courageous!!! This whole time life has been chipping away the extra shit to expose who I truly am. My passions are creating me. All of our roads are less traveled, and I am a firm believer that wherever we are, good or bad, we are always right where we are supposed to be.
Continue to follow your passions, be patient, stay determined and when the dust settles…keep moving.
With the support of family (my wife) and friends (you know who you are), overcoming these projects seems to make the blood, sweat and beers worth while. Thank you to all my friends and family for keeping me motivated and always putting up with my antics! Ya’ll are the creative artists that continue to chip away the unneeded shit in my life that makes me a better human being. I am truly in debt to ya’ll and I got nothing but love and mad respect for you. Thank you for being my inspiration. Cheers! Collin
Growing up chasing trout around Wyoming, I had about a dozen packs – all for different things… and I was constantly unpacking and repacking based on what I thought I needed…
- I forgot things…
- I wished I had something I hadn’t packed…
- or I wished I had brought it in a bigger / smaller pack instead.
My frustration drove the design of the INTERCHANGE system. I set out to build packs with simple modularity so you could swap gear around without unpacking. Throw your prepacked pouches into a big duffel, and throw that into the truck – - – then grab what you need ONLY AFTER you’ve seen what the water is doing.
I could tell you more about the features and how they’re designed to best pack your gear, but I’d rather leave that up to your imagination. Bottom line – no other line of gear is more versatile than Vedavoo Interchange packs – thanks for looking!
Our CHEST PACK is designed with a removable neckstrap so you can connect it to our other INTERCHANGE PACKS
Our TIGHTLINES SLING is built with a removable gear pouch that you can leave at the car or exchange for the CHEST PACK or another pre-packed gear pouch.
If you want to use BOTH at the same time, we’ve built DELUXE GEAR POUCHES so you can stack the CHEST PACK on top of the pouch to maximize your gear.
For longer days or backcountry trips, we built the SPINNER DAYPACK to work with all of the Pouches and Packs from Interchange products.
So if you’re in the market for a new pack for fly fishing or hiking – I hope you’ll take a look at the work we’re doing at Vedavoo. Instead of trying to guess what the conditions will be – forgetting important items during packing – or wishing you hadn’t left something you needed at the house, try our INTERCHANGE. It’s all made in the USA, so you can have a better time outdoors.
The life of the entrepreneur makes it rare for me to fish more than one day a week. These days, I’ve always got a pack to sew, a new design to finish, or a pile of email to answer. But last weekend, I got three consecutive days on the river – - – unheard of, but much appreciated – - – and those three days soon became one of the most refreshing and fun I’ve had on the water.
After a miserable effort at my Brown Trout standby on Thursday – including an afternoon hailstorm while I was waist-deep in the river – I opted to go back to basics on Friday evening. I grabbed my son – unplugging him from Phinneas and Ferb – and made my way out to a local river I’d heard a lot about, but had not aggressively tested.
I started him out with the same thing I learned on – running currents with an ultralight spinner and a trout worm. I caught hundreds of little rainbows and brookies like that when I was his age – and built a library of great memories at home in Wyoming or in the Black Hills of South Dakota where we vacationed. It’s not fly fishing per se, but the principles are still very similar. Drop the worm, keep your other hand on the line to feel for takes, and work the worm into pockets and around rocks to find the fish hiding in holes. We explored for the better part of two hours without any luck – but about half an hour before dark, we settled into a deep little pool and found what we’d sought.
After a few dozen soft strikes, Jade connected with a really nice little Brookie… and soon after, I did as well. It was the perfect end to a great outing. Jade and I both caught our first Eastern Brook Trout in the same hole, on the same day – something I’ll never forget.
The next morning, I got up early – filled with new confidence and energy to take another new fly fisherman out for his own crash course. Chris is a big time bow-hunter, and though he’s had very little meaningful experience with anything other than a bass rod in hand, I knew he wwould appreciate the subtleties of drifting a soft hackle through a run.
I started him in the same hole Jade and I had fished the night before, but several fishermen had the same idea, and I decided to take him instead to a lesser known spot. It’s my own personal corner of heaven – away from the crowds – and where small little native-born fish covet an opportunity to take a small, well-placed nymph.
When we settled in, I took some time to explain some of the basics… showing him caddis casings and mayfly nymphs on a small rock retrieved from the water. I showed him how to play the fly through the run… and demonstrated how I’ve learned to simulate a rising bug. About 5 minutes of prep… and it wasn’t long before he connected with a hard-fighting little trout. Thereafter, Chris hit another four little natives before we called it a day – but I’m glad I gave him a chance to see how much fun and rewarding fly fishing can be.
The next morning, I was beaming. I’d caught a few fish – but my fellows had done excellent. And it occurred to me… that I’d had the opportunity to be the guide… to take what I’d learned and been taught, and to pay it forward.
This coming Sunday, I’m headed out again – and I’m hoping to guide Jade to his first fly-caught trout. It’s with no small amount of satisfaction that I know his first will come on a yellow fiberglass Eagle Claw … just like the first pole my Dad gave me.
Tight Lines… and when you get a chance, pay it forward.
I’d never been to Utah for a climbing trip, so when some friends were talking about going I was interested. I soon learned that the place they were headed (Indian Creek) was pure crack climbing–aka no footholds except for shoving your feet into the crack. I must say, this turned me off a bit so my pursuit of getting work off and making plans slowed. I did some investigating and read some things about Indian Creek though, and decided that it’d probably be good for me to expand my climbing techniques to more than just balancy granite climbing. I was able to get work off, packed up some stuff and went! And I am SO glad I did.
Aside from the climbing, Indian Creek is an absolutely gorgeous place. The red cliffs looming on each side of us as we drove through the multiple canyons reminded me of how small I really am and how big this world is, let alone the Creator of it all.
We were able to spend 10 days at the Creek, climbing most days but taking time for some rest days as well. It did take me a bit to switch from balancy, granite slab climbing to frictiony, sandstone crack climbing but after the first couple of days I was really starting to get the hang of it. I probably didn’t lead routes as often as I should have, but toproping was a blast too! I did hop on a few 5.9s that I led, at about the halfway point of my climb I realized that I really need to work on my mental game!! I make myself so nervous and psych myself out.
During a lead climb I usually have to stop at least once, take a big deep breath, assure myself that I’m capable and remind myself that I always have someone other than my belayer watching out for me. Some very noteworthy routes that I got on would include: Our Piece of Real Estate, Railroad Tracks, Desert Moon, Wild Cat, The Wave…and those are only a few! Not only was the scenery awesome and the climbing incredible–the group that I went with was tons of fun too! The hours that we spent around the campfire were just as special to me as were our climbing/exploring hours. Catching up with old friends is always a treat, as is sharing stories and learning about new friends that we met while we were there. I included some photos with this post–mostly scenery since I quickly learned that the boys I went with aren’t too big on taking pictures! Utah was a wonderful adventure–there’s so many more things that I wanted to do and routes I wanted to climb; I suppose I’ll just have to go back some day. Bummer.
- Brianna Stengel is a Vedavoo Ambassadors – stay tuned for new posts from her climbs and travels.
Mexico will always have a special place in my heart. It’s where I fell in love with Saltwater fishing. It’s where I realized that there are wild places in this world that are worth just skipping town and leaving everything behind. There’s something special about the small towns that bring in a fresh catch each day. The tiny grocery stores that serve little more than a cold coke and a bag of chips. They’ve managed to survive the overwhelming technology consumption by society, and still remain attached to their roots. I’ve had a dream since I was about 15 to go off and live in Mexico and storm the Cenotes each morning in search of untouched waters. I could live on the beach and travel with a pair of clothes, a fly-rod, and a camera.
The first trip I took to Mexico was when I was 14. My dad and I traveled to the small fishing village of Punta Allen along the southern end of the Yucatan. We stayed in a rustic, glorified shack and ate fish and fresh fruit each morning, but the highlight was being able to fish Ascension Bay. We left each morning in the lagoons of Boca Paile, and made the run south into the large, expansive bay. The rich turtle grass, the dense mangroves, and the sticky, hot inferno of the backcountry was enough to make me think I was in another time zone. I’ve always been fascinated by the historic Caribbean cultures of rum runners, drug smugglers, and fisherman. Instead of seeing Yankee Stadium in the 30′s or something of that nature, I wish I could experience these wild places for what they were 50 years ago. I’d like to snorkel with Castro in Avalon Bay and maybe go bonefishing on Norman’s Cay with Carlos Lehder. I enjoy learning about these wild pastimes and anytime I can get a glimpse of that I jump at the chance.
Atop the legendary peninsula steeped in Mayan Lore, lies the convergence of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. This famed intersection brings a bounty of nutrient rich waters, which attract baitfish and predators alike. All together, the waters surrounding Isla Holbox make up the most diverse Tarpon fishery on the planet. The ocean side flats and drop-offs bring large schools of Tarpon each spring to feed on the abundance of Sardines. These fish range in size from 60-200 lbs. and can be seen rolling on calm mornings. The interior lagoons host Tarpon from 5-80 lbs. and these fish can be rolling, cruising, or layed up beneath the mangrove trees. There’s Snook too, and Jacks, and Barracudas resembling large missiles.
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Dakota Richardson is a Vedavoo ambassador, avid fly angler, published author, and student at NYU.