We get it. Performance isn’t always the main reason you love an item. Sometimes it's the story behind the gear that matters. And many of our favorite outdoor tools stand out because they're handmade.
Believe it or not, sites like Etsy aren't just repositories for jewelry that looks like it’s meant to be worn on Game of Thrones. They're filled with innovate, useful, and thoughtfully designed outdoor products crafted in small batches in garages and home workshops.
We prove the renaissance in custom outdoor gear, we present three of our favorite new products.
The Best Custom Camping Products: iPhone Lightclip
Made by 3D designer Lab02, the Lightclip creates beautiful ambient light inside your tent when you slip it over your phone. The design is as cool as the backstory on how it’s made to order. First, you specify whether you have an iPhone 5 or iPhone 4/4s along with what color you want (white offers the most light). When you buy the light, a 3D printing company spits out a hardcopy for you using the designer’s blueprint and sends it your way through the mail.
Dimensions: 2.5 (high), 1.4 (wide), 1.3 (deep)
The Best Custom Camping Products: Hand-Wash Station
Great for group river rafting trips, the hands-free washing station issues a stream of water from the copper spigot when you step on the rubber bulb on the ground. Everything is assembled by hand in the Lake Forest Park, Washington, workshop, except for the 5-gallon bucket, which you supply.
The Best Custom Camping Products: Oak Camp Stool
Hand crafted and finished by two women in Vancouver at a small company called Gallant and Jones, the Camp Stool is meant to go with an equally expensive high-design deck chair. On its own, the stool also makes a great seat at the beach or camp site, and it packs flat for easy transport. Before gasping at the price, remember that it’s made from North American white oak for maximum rot-resistance and has a replaceable 100 percent polyester seat. This one’s going to be with you for a long time.
Dimensions: 16.0 (high), 16.5 (wide), and 15.0 (deep)
The Best Custom Camping Products: Spalted Maple Knife with Leather Sheath
To craft this knife, the tiny Eugene, Oregon, operation starts with a Japanese 8-A stainless steel blade with rope-cutting serrations on top and a hole in the center for aiding grip. The craftsperson then adds a spalted maple handle from a local storm-damaged tree (spaulting is the cool topo-map like effect on wood caused by a fungus.) Lastly, you also get a right-handed sheath made from vegetable tanned leather (lefties can have one made upon request).
Dimensions: 3.0 (blade length), 6.3 inches (overall).