The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Camping

The Blissful Matrimony of Beer and Gear

American Craft Beer Week ended last month, but the relationship between the outdoor industry and craft breweries is just getting started. In May, for example, Anchor Brewing Company announced that some of the proceeds from its California Lager will go to the National Parks Conservation Association and the California State Parks Foundation, expanding packaging to cans for greater outdoor versatility.

But it’s the following four gear brands that have taken the beer-gear marriage to another level.

Patagonia

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Last November, clothing company Patagonia recruited New Belgium Brewing—best known for producing Fat Tire Amber Ale—to help it produce a beer honoring 40 years in the business. Adhering to the California-based company's famous commitment to organic products, California Route Organic Lager uses Cascade organic hops to produce a tawny-colored, medium-bodied brew with a malty character and earthy hops. The name, California Route, is a tribute to the famous route on Mount Fitz Roy, originally climbed by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard in 1968. Note: The beer is hard to find—try Patagonia retail stores or around Fort Collins, where New Belgium is based—but it's worth the search.

KEEN

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You've may already have tried the popular hefeweizen made by America's ninth-largest brewer, Portland-based Widmer Brothers. In solidarity with the city's bicycling community, Widmer joined the Bicycle Transportation Alliance to help provide safe bicycling routes in the area. And he decided to treat members of the organization to a new brew developed specifically for the occasion. Teaming with KEEN Footwear, Widmer came up with the Full Fender Brown Ale, a light, malty English brown. Unfortunately, Widmer only distributed the small batch to business leaders who attended a March BTA meeting. We can only hope Rob Widmer's love of cycling (he bikes to work every day) leads to larger-scale collaborations with the community in the future.

Carhartt

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Carhartt, whose line of workwear is the fashion of choice for many hipster bros, called in its fellow Michiganders at New Holland Brewing Company to conceptualize and produce a beer from Michigan-made ingredients. The brew is slated for wide release this fall. "Carhartt is the epitome of craftsmanship," New Holland's president, Brett VanderKamp, said in a press release. "The same dedication to hard work and creativity that we admire in farmers, chefs, artists, and other brewers is exactly what you'll find at Carhartt. They reflect the same devotion to quality raw materials, artisan processes, and delivering remarkable results as we do."

Woolrich, Inc.

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Woolrich, Inc., a company that’s been producing outdoor apparel since 1830, partnered with Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in June to produce a limited batch of custom beer matched with a clothing collection. The beer—dubbed Pennsylvania Tuxedo—was brewed with spruce tips from, you guessed it, Woolrich, Pennsylvania. Named after the red and black wool outfits made famous by woodsmen in New England, the rye pale ale debuted as draft-only at Analog-A-Go-Go, Dogfish’s music and beer fest, on June 13.

Then there’s the apparel and merch, including a classic chambray men’s button down, a throw blanket made from 100 percent wool, and beach hat and coozie. It’s all designed for a day in the sand, where you can sit back, relax, and crack open a cold one. Preferably from Dogfish.

“Dogfish and Woolrich have very similar DNA’s,” says Dogfish Head president Sam Calagione. “We’re both family-owned, east coast companies committed to our communities, obsessed with celebrating nature, and using the best natural ingredients we can get our hands on.”

 

Clean your glasses and prepare for the perfect pour, because these shared values mean more collaborations between craft brewers and quality gear outlets are coming.

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A Throwback Road Trip Essential Worth Bringing Back

Americans have an on-again, off-again love affair with teardrop trailers. At the height of the real estate bubble—a 3,000-square-foot home, media room, and eat-in kitchen for every family!—there wasn’t much innovation in the industry. But since the 2008 financial crash, more and more trailers have appeared on the scene. “There’s just something attractive about being fully self-contained and on the road,” says Ashley Grimes, founder of Utah-based Moby 1 Trailers.

Take the So-Cal Krawler, which has a reinforced steel frame, adjustable shocks, and a burly roof rack for gear or a tent ($16,195). And the military-grade Schutt Xventure is a utilitarian beast, with 19 inches of ground clearance ($11,995).

For sheer ruggedness, however, no trailer can compare to the Moby 1 XTR ($18,500). Measuring 54 inches wide and 108 inches deep, and weighing in at 1,600 pounds, it comes equipped with a queen-size mattress, a loaded galley kitchen, multiple rechargeable power sources, and, most important, an adjustable five inches of suspension—because sometimes the open road isn’t so open.

Moby even has add-ons, like a solar package to take it completely off the grid ($350) and a rooftop tent to fit the whole family ($2,400).Grimes knows a guy who’s living in his unit full-time and another who uses the trailer as a beachfront shack. “There’s an inclination to pack them with amenities,” Grimes says. “But the beauty of these trailers is that they force you to be minimalist. You have to get outside to cook and shower and do everything except sleep and read a book.” Now that’s an American dream we can believe in.

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Sealander Camper

You’ve always wanted a camper that can travel by land or by sea, right? 

If so, you're in luck. Folks in Germany created the Sealander, a towable trailer that’s both a camper and a boat. The transition from land to sea is surprisingly simple: just secure the low-emission, outboard motor to the stern and launch the two-in-one vehicle into the water.

As you might expect, the Sealander as a boat is best suited to calm, shallow bays. (Don’t even think about a trans-Pacific crossing.) Thankfully, the shell is made from fiberglass-reinforced plastic designed to stay afloat even if it springs a leak.   

Inside, you’ll find all the creature comforts you’d want in an amphibious trailer. The Sealander comes with a large sunroof, a fold-out table, and seating for six that turns into a bunk bed. Plus, there’s plenty of below-seat storage, and customizable add-ons are available. 

Starting at $24,575, sealander.de

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Luxury Rooftop Penthouses—for Your Car

Car camping is a bit like backpacking, except that instead of a backpack, you have a multi-ton vehicle to lug all your gear.

So yes: when your car plays double-duty as base camp and storage, you’re entitled to luxuries you definitely wouldn’t have while backpacking. Sleeping in a penthouse atop your vehicle—away from dust, dirt, mud, and creepy crawlies—is one of those luxuries. 

Enter Eezi-Awn, a South African company with more than 30 years of experience crafting vehicle-based expedition gear. It makes field-proven rooftop tents that have long been the premier choice for intrepid explorers in Africa looking for a good night’s sleep in the bush.

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For Eezi-Awn’s customers—a group that consists of safari guides, around-the-world travelers, and four-wheel-drive aficionados—the only comfortable bed they’ll retire to after a week of adventure is the one mounted to the roof of their vehicles. 

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Setting up an Eezi-Awn tent takes less than two minutes once you’ve gotten the hang of it. Simply remove the tent’s waterproof cover, use the attached ladder to help you unfold the tent on the car’s roof, then climb up, crawl in, and fall asleep. Having spent quite a few nights in an Eezi-Awn (with temperatures ranging from zero to 95 degrees), I have yet to find a more comfortable shelter to sleep in at the end of a long day.

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Did I mention the tent comes with a built-in mattress? Well, it does, and it is light years ahead of the backpacking pad I usually sleep on. I was also pleasantly surprised how well sealed the tent was against the elements. A durable wax-impregnated ripstop poly-cotton fabric keeps the rain, sleet, and snow outside, while still allowing the tent to breathe effectively. In short, it’s old-school tech done right.

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This comfort comes at a price. Starting at just over $2,000, Eezi-Awn roof tents are more expensive than their competitors. And at more than 100 pounds, they’re not exactly lightweight either. (Granted, no rooftop tents are light.) But when it comes to durability and build-quality, the Eezi-Awn products are unsurpassed.

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