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Ramblings From Outside

The new Kiwanda 20L Dry Bag Day Pack is finally here!

This thing belongs in your bag quiver.

After spending the last year testing and dialing in our design, then sourcing the most durable and sustainable materials and hardware we could find, we're incredibly excited to finally introduce to you the new Kiwanda 20L Dry Bag Day Pack! With 15 to 20 liters of adjustable waterproof storage, a durable 420D Ripstop Nylon outer shell, stretch performance mesh bottle pocket, and padded, ergonomic straps, it's a lightweight bag that can not only keep your stuff dry, but also hit the trail with you as an everyday piece of outdoor gear.

As seasoned outdoor enthusiasts of varied breeds, we've had plenty of experience over the years with dry bags in general - they are a critical component of any "outdoorist's" arsenal. In general, they've historically been designed as bags to be stored within bags; constructed of ultra-light nylon or sil-nylon, with roll-top closures and limited portability. We've used such bags to keep our down gear and clothing dry within our backpacks, to house our camera gear and electronics when the skies opened up, and even to store our soaked wetsuits in the trunk after a morning surf session. For these applications the old bags got the job done, but they never lasted long, and more often than not, they eventually became wore down and wore out just by transporting them around.

With the Kiwanda 20L, we wanted to solve the issues of durability and portability, while increasing the usability and functionality of a standard dry bag. To address the issues of wear, we manufactured the Kiwanda from exceptionally durable yet lightweight 420 Denier Ripstop Nylon with single-sided Lontra TPU lamination, and welded the seams to keep water out (or in, in the case of a soaked wetsuit) for good. In other words, you can throw this one down on rocks or brush against tree trunks without fearing a tear or leak. Because we were so tired of carrying old dry bags by the roll-top closure, we added contoured, padded straps to the Kiwanda, so it can be carried comfortably while leaving your hands free to do other things (like lay down a cast, throw some fresh wax on your board, or grab a beer!). To add to the Kiwanda's functionality we also added an incredibly accommodating external water bottle pocket (fits bottles upwards of 30 ounces) and small splash-proof zippered external pocket, so you don't need to unroll your pack or expose your stored gear to the elements when you need to get out some money, your keys, chapstick, or take a drink of water.

Tillak Kiwanda Dry Bag

In addition to pouring over design aspects and features with the new Kiwanda 20L, we obsessed over the material and hardware specs for this bag from a sustainability perspective. We worked with our suppliers and manufacturers to identify and test the efficacy of Bluesign hardware, environmentally friendly REACH fabrics and dying methods, and fully recyclable molded and woven thermoplastics. And we didn't stop there - we worked with our design team to create and source plastic free packaging with water based dyes and 100% recycled cardboard, that not only protects our product on its way to you, but is shaped such that it allows it to be shipped en masse while taking up the smallest amount of volume possible.

Anyhow, all of this to say that we are pretty damn proud of our new bag. For the last year the Kiwanda 20L has become our team's go-to for anything and everything - from dawn patrol surf sessions, to fly fishing the Pyrenees, to peak-bagging from basecamps, to a makeshift ice vessel for post-MTB ride libations. We love this thing! And we think you will too.

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A Coastal Reverie

A Coastal Reverie

July 12, 2018 | By Jason Fitzgibbon

Montaña de Oro State Park encompasses roughly 8,000 acres of fog shrouded coastal hills and coastal bluffs that abut the rocky shorelines of south Estero Bay on Central California’s coast. It’s undeveloped coastline and undulating, rhythmic singletrack offer a quick and easy dream-like getaway for various local and visiting trail user groups. It’s evident enough that the trails here didn’t build themselves, nor did the access to them come easily granted – especially for mountain bikers. The Central Coast Concerned Mountain Bikers have been instrumental on both fronts.

The Central Coast Concerned Mountain Bikers (CCCMB) is a group of volunteer trail enthusiasts from the Central Coast of California that formally organized in 1989 to help build and maintain multi-use trails in the region, as well as to protect and advocate for mountain bike trail access. Since their inception CCCMB has helped build over 40 miles of new trails and serves as the primary maintenance organization for an extended network of over 100 miles of trails. Together with California State Parks, CCCMB is designing and building a new two-mile trail at Montaña de Oro to enhance connectivity between existing trails, and to improve the user experience for mountain bikers and other trail users.

Checkout the full story on our Tillak.com.

Play harder. Dream harder(er).

Play harder. Dream harder(er).

June 20, 2018 | By Jason

Few things in this world are better (if you ask us!) than packing up everything you need for a few days, or a week, or a month, throwing it into a pack, hoisting it onto your back, and hitting the trail. In a similar vein, few things in this world are worse than loading up your pack and hitting the trail with a crappy sleeping system. Sleepless nights do little to help your body replenish and restore, and waking up sore and cranky is not the most ideal way to start of your days in gorgeous places! Whether it’s loud crinkly material, a pad that’s too thin to keep your hips off the ground, one that’s too short, or one with a leaky valve – you name it, and we’ve experienced it before, and it’s kept us awake.

Sooner or later (well, about a year ago) we said enough was enough and we set out to create our own sleep system. With our rich history of failed backcountry sleep attempts, we knew exactly what we wanted from a sleeping pad and pillow – quiet, comfortable, warm, compact, dependable, and extremely lightweight. And so after a year of designing and testing we would like to introduce the Tillak Sleep Series; an air mattress and inflatable pillow that are both light and compact enough for ultralight backpacking, but comfortable and durable enough for weekend car camping missions, or for accompanying you on trips abroad. Oh yeah, and they don’t come in gross colors like everything else out there, just black and gray, the way we like it.

Shasta Ultralight Sleeping Pad (13.7 ounces)

When we set out to create the Shasta Ultralight Sleeping Pad we did so specifically for extended backpacking trips, when the miles are long, weight and space in your pack is at a premium, and sleep/recovery after each long day on the trail is critical. In doing so, we’ve also designed an air mattress that is so light, compact, and comfortable that it’s also become our staple sleeping arrangement for less weight-conscious car camping trips, and we even bring one along when traveling for work or staying with friends (opt out of the couch or spare bedroom when with a group, you’ll appear extremely polite in doing so, and if you’ve got your Shasta you’ll be the most comfortable one anyhow! #tillaklifehack).

Tillak Shasta Sleeping Pad
The Shasta Sleeping Pad.

Our unique design with its matrix of self-equilibrating Solace Cells adjusts to the shape of your body to keep your hips and shoulders supported and comfortably suspended, whether you sleep on your back, stomach, or side. In addition to providing sleep-inducing comfort, our Solace Cells also minimize contact with the cold ground, which acts to inhibit thermal conduction and helps keep you warmer for longer. The cavities between Solace Cells have also been designed to provide plenty of deep, isolated pockets for the underside of your sleeping bag to fill (or simply to be occupied by air), which provides for an additional level of insulation and heat retention.

No more huffing and puffing until you faint in gorgeous alpine landscapes; the Shasta Sleeping Pad inflates in as few as 13-15 breaths. Once it’s full, adjust the pressure to your liking with just the press of a finger, thanks to our patented Zephyr Valve System. Deflation is also a breeze, just depress the valve fully and roll it up! The Shasta comes only in Obsidian black, a color we chose in homage to the glassy volcanic rocks that you can find scattered across its namesake mountain.

Bubo Ultralight Inflatable Pillow (2.4 ounces)

Named for that ubiquitous harbinger of nightfall, (none other than the Great-horned Owl - Bubo virginianus) the Bubo inflatable pillow will lull you to sleep faster than the comforting hoot of our feathered forest friend.

Tillak Bubo Inflatable Pillow
The Bubo Inflatable Pillow.

The Bubo’s form-fitting chambered design provides comfort and support for both your neck and head regardless of whether you sleep on your back, side, or stomach. The Bubo is slightly thicker along the back and sides to cradle your head, with the curved side of the pillow fitting snugly between your neck and shoulders for dream-inducing support. The patented Zephyr Valve System is easily adjustable while in use, so you can fine-tune the level of support you need. And when you wake up well rested, it all packs down into its own tiny stuff sack, so small that it can fit in the palm of your hand!

Stay Warm and be Cool with the Olancha Merino Beanie

One of our favorite pieces of gear for any trip that involves skiing, snowboarding, camping, backpacking - or any chance of being exposed to brisk or cold weather in general - is a nice beanie. That being said, we are a bit nit-picky when it comes to headwear, and while we want all of the features and functionality of a technical beanie, we've never been happy with the design or look of existing technical offerings. So...we’ve decided that it was time to make one that ticks all of our boxes!

Tillak Olancha Merino Beanie

Our new Olancha Merino Beanie utilizes 100% 18.5 micron Merino fibers and a seamless construction, with a ribbed mid-weight knit that looks and feels great across a wide variety of temperatures and activities. Natural, renewable, and biodegradable Merino wool fibers give our Olancha beanie an inherently warm and comfy fit while still retaining breathability and managing moisture during high exertion activities like no synthetic material can. And to top it all off, the natural odor and stain resistance of Merino will have your Olancha beanie looking and smelling great even if you decide to haul it along for an extended trip without washing.

Tillak Olancha Merino Beanie

Take if from us - we've spent the entirety of this past winter skiing, snowboarding, climbing, fly fishing, camping and drinking coffee and beer in our own Olancha Beanies, and without a single wash, they are still looking, fitting, and smelling as good as new! But don't worry, if you're not into to seeing how long you can go without a wash (although we suggest you try!), you can hand wash the Olancha Beanie in the sink with warm water and mild soap, then hang to dry. Easy peasy, and before you know it, you'll be back to looking steezy.

The Olancha Merino Beanie is available on our website.

The Reluctant Enthusiasts

The Reluctant Enthusiasts

March 12, 2018 | By Jason Fitzgibbon

As Ed Abbey so eloquently stated, it is not healthy - mentally or physically - just to fight for the land, it is of utmost importance that we get out there to enjoy it. And those words still ring very true; the land would have far fewer advocates if it were merely something to fight for, as opposed to something that we fight for because of the limitless joy it brings us. Unfortunately, the opposite also holds true; if we all devoted our lives to merely enjoying the land, and left the fighting for a select few, our growing outdoor community would have a rather significant problem on our hands. And such is the case now, with more and more of us enjoying the land, some of our most beloved places are at risk of being loved to death.

The Buttermilk Boulders, just west of the small town of Bishop, California, epitomize this issue well. Within recent years, there has been a massive surge in the number of people climbing and camping in the area, and the results of the increased traffic have left local land managers in a bit of a tizzy. Increased wear and tear to the area and a general lack of land stewardship (by many folks that are entirely new to outdoor recreation) has also placed quite a heavy burden on local environmental and climbing advocacy groups such as Friends of the Inyo, who have been making efforts to step in where overwhelmed and underbudgeted land managers have been unable to.

Checkout the full story on our Tillak.com.

Finding Balance with Jeff Maclellan

Finding Balance with Jeff Maclellan

December 28, 2017 | By Jason Fitzgibbon

This short film with Jeff Maclellan marks the first of our Finding Balance series; an ongoing project that seeks out inspiring and interesting people and delves into their day-to-day lives; where they live, what they do to pay their bills, and how they have fun outside. These films not only aim to profile the people that inspire and motivate us, they aim to uncover the importance of the natural environment, both as a place to recreate, and a place to find balance amongst the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Finding Balance with Jeff Maclellan

Jeff is a long time friend of mine, we grew up in the same area of Southern California, attended the same schools, and spent a decent portion of our teenage years riding bikes around in the mountains. College eventually saw us go our separate ways, as I stayed in California to study ecology, and he left the state to attend veterinary school. Somehow through our years of study we developed similar interests; surfing, big hikes, and fly fishing…but the similarities ended when he decided to get into ultra running. Anyhow, not too long ago we reconnected to go ride bikes (just like the good old days), and soon afterward headed up into the mountains for some winter fly fishing.

During our rides and hikes we talked a lot about Jeff’s new life up in Reno, Nevada as a board-certified veterinary surgeon. He spoke about the demanding schedule at the hospital he worked at, and how he now spent countless afternoons and long weekend days trail running through the local mountain ranges around Reno and Tahoe. He still fly fished often, and rode his mountain bike, but his focus now was on training for ultra-running races – massive, masochistic trail running events that wove giant loops through rugged, natural terrain for anywhere from 25 to 100 miles. And I found out that the dude kicked ass at it! He was a regular podium finisher and had even won a handful of events.

To say I was inspired would be quite an understatement. Having been an endurance athlete at one point in my life (bikes, which are way easier than running), I could not even fathom the difficulty of finishing such events, let alone winning them. And something about the simplicity of trail running made such a feat even more awesome – there’s definitely something to say for carrying yourself through the mountains with nothing other than a pair of shoes.

So here is a glimpse at Jeff’s work, his home, and his play. As a veterinary surgeon working hard hours in a bustling city, the forests and the mountains around his home offer him much needed respite. Running loamy trails and expansive ridgelines, and moving through the mountains on nothing other than his own two feet, helps him find his balance.

Checkout the full story on our website.

From Sawmills to Singletrack

From Sawmills to Singletrack

September 28, 2017 | By The Tillak Team

Environmental stewardship is not as black and white of a subject as one may think. Ensuring the benefit of the environment amongst balancing the needs of people, considering economic effects, and obtaining the support of local communities is quite the challenging endeavor. Advocating for passive forms of outdoor recreation such as climbing, catch and release fishing, kayaking, hiking, and mountain biking, is one such way that we at Tillak believe we can help to promote stewardship for the land and natural resources, without neglecting the economic needs of local communities. Additionally, it is our belief that by attracting a growing network of outdoor recreationists to a region, the likelihood of its protection in the long term increases. That is why a portion of the proceeds from our Goods that Give Back program (25% of our profits) will always be allocated toward supporting sustainable trail development and the promotion of non-consumptive forms of outdoor recreation.

From Sawmills to Singletrack

Nearly thirty years ago, the small town of Oakridge, Oregon lost its last sawmill. And almost overnight, what was once a booming logging town lost the brunt of its economic affluence to the newly listed as endangered northern spotted owl – a cryptic species which requires large swaths of intact old-growth forest to persist. With its need for dense, contiguous stands of forest, the northern spotted owl had thrown a rather large stick in the spokes of a thriving logging industry - one that likely would have logged every square inch of old-growth forest left in the Willamette Valley if it had been left unchecked. As protections for the struggling species continued to ramp up, Oakridge and the surrounding towns continued to decline. People fled as jobs vanished, and local businesses shut down. For decades poverty and unemployment ran rampant, and became an issue many thought would leave Oakridge down and out for good.

Now, some thirty years later, swaths of clear-cut have begun to slowly recover, and ribbons of mouth-watering singletrack run through them. The scenery is beautiful and the trails are flowy, and people have begun to take notice. A bike shop, a pub, and a bakery have sprouted up to feed the needs of the town’s increasing visitors – the numbers of which have been growing on an annual basis. In short, this quaint town tucked into the verdant foothills of the Cascades is now well into its transition from depending entirely upon resource extraction, to actively promoting non-consumptive recreation and even forest preservation, for recognized and realized economic benefits.

Needless to say, the hundreds of miles of trails in the greater Oakridge area did not build themselves; they are the result of numerous years of hard work and dedication on behalf of a core group of local mountain bikers, many of whom are active members of the Disciples of Dirt Mountain Bike Club. During our trip to Oakridge, we set aside some time to meet with some key members of the Disciples of Dirt, and joined them during one of their many, many days of volunteer trail work. To say what they’ve done for the greater Oakridge area is inspiring would be an understatement – they are a testament to the good that can come from people that are willing to build the trails they want to ride.

Checkout the full story and how you can help out, on our website.

Look Cool and Stay Cool With the Wallowa Camp & Trail Hats

If we are outside, and whatever we are doing doesn’t require a helmet, you can sure as hell bet we are wearing hats. Why you ask? Well, until recently we didn’t really know. The hats we were wearing often appealed to us because of their looks, but their cotton twill fabric, cardboard bills, and lack of breathability left a lot to be desired in regard to functionality. All they basically did was keep some sun out of our eyes and smell bad. And at the end of a long day on the trail, the big crusty sweat stain above the bill didn’t score us any points when we hit the bar afterward for a beer.

On one of our more recent Tillak trips to do fun things outside (they are mandatory for employees), we realized that if we wanted a good hat, we were going to have to make it. And thus was born the idea of the Wallowa 5-Panels; hats that looked good, but were made of versatile and functional materials suited for doing fun stuff outside. We quickly settled on Nylon as the base material of our Wallowa line – Nylon is light, breathable, quick-drying, and packable. And to solve that old soggy or sweaty bill dilemma, we chose a water-log-proof polyethylene material for the bill. So you can sweat like crazy or fish all day in the rain without worrying about ruining your hat or having it forever smell just like your hiking boots.

Tillak Wallowa Camp Hat

Wallowa Camp Hat

Our Wallowa Camp hat gathers together a full Nylon, 5-panel construction, and polyethylene bill to produce a stylish and comfortable little piece of stowable outdoor gear. Packable down the slim profile of its bill and sporting a rugged granite grey color, this thing keeps the sun out of your eyes just as well as it keeps the rain off of your face. While it breathes well and wears light on your head, this is our favorite hat for wet and rainy hikes, or for swinging flies to winter steelhead in nasty Oregon weather. As an ode to our wintry fishing pursuits, we went with grey on this hat for its ability to blend into overcast skies or dreary backdrops. People will notice it, but fish won’t.

Tillak Wallowa Trail Hat

Wallowa Trail Hat

The Wallowa Trail hat gets the same 5-panel construction as the Wallowa Camp hat, but utilizes nylon mesh on its large side panels to keep the wind cruising through your hair on those hot or high effort days. The rest of the hat carries over the same Nylon panels and polyethylene bill of the Camp hat, and packs down just as small for when its better suited in a backpack pocket than it is on your head. We went with black on the Wallowa Trail because black doesn’t discolor with sweat, and if it gets crusty, a quick rinse makes it brand new again! The Wallowa Trail hat is our go-to for trail running, summer backpacking, hot days wet wading, bouldering, and we keep one in the car to throw on after mountain bike rides.

All of this to say that if you do fun things outside, and you wear hats, then you would probably be happier if you grab one of these for the next time you do both of those things at the same time.

Say Hello to the Sitka Camp Chair!

Say Hello to the Sitka Camp Chair!

June 22, 2017 | By Jason

If there’s one thing we like as much as doing fun things outside, it’s chilling comfortably outside (after doing fun things outside). So after years of perching awkwardly on cold rocks, sitting on splintery logs, or simply standing under the stars, we figured it was time to make something tough enough, compact enough, light enough, and - most importantly - comfortable enough to take a load off anywhere and everywhere.

When we finally sat down (get it?!) to design the Sitka Camp Chair, we had a few major requirements; we wanted a sturdy, robust design, a collapsible and portable modular form, and an overall aesthetic that was sleek enough to be as suitable for stargazing in the woods as it is for a backyard barbeque. On top of these lofty goals, the gram-counters of our team mandated a sub-2 pound weight, and the gear-breakers of us pushed for a 300lb weight capacity.

Meet Sitka – svelte, sleek, and coming in at a scant 1.75 pounds; it is the end result of many months of designing, testing, and sitting. With the ability to comfortably carry up to 300 pounds of outdoor addict, the Sitka can likely support you and a fellow stargazer, or a pile of up to ten small children (that’ll keep them busy!). The Sitka can even comfortably sit one half of a moose, so just make sure they keep their front hooves on the ground should they decide to take a load off in your campsite.

Tillak Sitka Camp Chair
Cabin lounging with the Sitka on a recent fly fishing trip in Western Oregon.

At the end of the day, we are excited because we now have a product that accompanies us on camping and climbing trips up in the mountains, to the beach for lounging between surf sessions, and to the backyard for comfortable beer sipping with friends. And because of it’s small size and sleek design, more than a few have already taken up permanent residence in the trunks of our cars and our cabinets at home, to ensure we are always adequately prepared for any unexpected relaxation emergencies. So now we can chill, because we know we are always ready to chill.

So grab a Sitka and take a seat anywhere! You’ll never regret being comfortable, we assure you.

Together Against the Mines - A River Steward Story

At Tillak we recognize that as a purveyor of outdoor goods, and as staunch advocates of good times spent outside, our health both as a brand and as individuals relies completely upon the health and accessibility of outdoor places. In an ongoing effort that we consider to be more of an unspoken responsibility than an act of gratuity, we have committed to giving back a minimum of 25% of our profits toward those people and organizations that fight day in and day out to protect, restore, and expand those special natural places that support not only our hobbies, but the wildlife and ecological processes that existed there far, far before we ever set up tents, pedaled our bikes, casted fly lines, or paddled out into the lineup.

As devout fly anglers and passionate fish conservationists, much of us here at Tillak were well aware of the hard work being done by the Native Fish Society across much of the waters that span the Pacific Northwest. As a grassroots, science-based organization they constantly strive to protect and recover wild, native fish and promote the stewardship of their habitats. Through the implementation of their River Steward Program they have inspired and empowered a vast array of dedicated people to stand sentinel over their local watersheds and the fisheries that they support. So when we heard that one of their most recent River Steward-led campaigns was successful in deterring a group of proposed, highly toxic strip mines within a network of incredibly pristine and beautiful watersheds, we felt compelled to help them share their story. So please enjoy this short film that we co-directed and produced in partnership with The Native Fish Society and Zangs Films, we hope that it not only inspires you to become involved with this incredible organization, but to become a active steward of your own home waters or wild places.

Just seven miles upstream from River Steward Dave Lacey’s home in southern Oregon a foreign owned mining company was quietly working to develop a nickel strip mine on public lands. The mine would sit in the headwaters of two important wild salmon and steelhead streams. Learning about the poor environmental track record of the hard rock mining industry (the most toxic polluting industry in the United States) Dave and the Native Fish Society’s staff embarked on a three year campaign that ultimately sought to stop not one, but three proposed strip mines before they could irreversibly damage some of the wildest country, cleanest water, and healthiest wild salmon rivers on the west coast.

Working with his local community, Dave canvassed his watershed going door to door with a petition against the mine, (later joined by River Stewards James Smith and Sunny Bourdon) they worked with the Native Fish Society to host events raising awareness about the mines in their rural communities, built local business and brewery coalitions to weigh in during public comment opportunities, gained the support of local city councils and their county commissioners, rallied hundreds of neighbors to turn out to pivotal public hearings, and flooded the public agencies and decision makers with over 64,000 supportive comments.

Thanks to this immense and wide ranging support, Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio and senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley introduced legislation for permanent protections and secured the maximum protections the Department of the Interior can provide to discourage mining — a 20-year mineral withdrawal safeguarding 101,000 acres of public lands. Signed in 2017, this mineral withdrawal will not only help protect these public lands, it also protects the salmon studded rivers and communities found downstream.

The Native Fish Society is a truly grassroots organization and it is individuals like you that enable their community of River Stewards to protect their homewaters. If their work inspires you to become more involved please feel free to check out their website to learn more.