Like untold thousands of American inventors before him, Dan Martinson created something new after a bit of frustration at the limitations of a standard product he had sitting around the house. In Martinson's case, it was bungee cords. "I found it very difficult to keep anything on the front of my ATV without a lot of hassle," he said.
As an outdoorsman, he wanted a simple connection to tether gear on his ATV. He needed some of the same qualities of a bungee cord, though he envisioned a product a bit more rigid, flexible when bent, resistant to sun and water, grippy, and endlessly reusable on trip after trip outside.
The fruit of his thought process -- and eventual investment in the machines to make an esoteric product -- has birthed a company called GearTie LLC. It's based in Medina, Minn., and what the company makes can only be described as giant twist-ties like what you get on a loaf of bread.
But instead of a paper covering and a breakable wire, the line of GearTie products includes multiple sizes of durable, rubber-coated wires.
They twist, wrap, grip, and cinch onto bike frames, canoe paddles, skis, and sleeping bags rolled and packed away.
Martinson sums up the invention by calling it a "reusable rubber twist-tie." GearTie products come in sizes from three inches to 32 inches in length. Their thickness increases with length, upping the amount of weight the ties can handle. Cost is $4.99 for a four-pack of the smallest ties, on up to just $6.99 for a pair of the biggies.
I used Gear Ties all over the place this fall. The big ones -- 18 inches and longer -- are great for items in the garage and in the trunk of a car. I cinched a bulky kids' sleeping bag in a tie on a camping trip. I fastened a pair of canoe paddles together to store them away.
The ties are strong and don't easily kink or tangle. A rubbery surface grips on the item you're cinching up, and it also grips back on itself when you twist them to make the connection stay.
No knots are required. Like a mini twist-tie on a bread bag, the GearTie products hold in place once twisted a few times around. Don't expect to tie skis or a canoe to a roof rack. But for any number of common tasks, the Gear Ties holds strong.
GearTie LLC makes its entire line in the USA. Even better, the company supports a Minnesota organization that employs people with disabilities to aid in the construction of the simple -- yet patented! -- GearTie product line.
Try 'em out this fall and winter. At first your Gear Ties might lie around unused, a new item with no set place. But then you'll need to tether some gear, steady a bike on a car rack, loop up a hose in the yard...trust me, the undiscovered uses will soon come.
--Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com.