How 6 Totally Unique, Outdoorsy Stocking Stuffers Came to Be

Startup StoriesAmy Hatch

Ever have that moment where you think to yourself, “How did someone come up with that?!?” Today, we’re sharing the story behind 6 totally unique, outdoorsy stocking stuffers. Gifts in those giant socks are where it’s at this holiday season, and with these ones you’ll knock those socks right off.  

Cusa Tea

Outdoorsy Stocking Stuffers Premium Instant Tea Cusa

Cusa Tea founder, Jim Lamancusa, discovered his passion for tea while exploring the traditional tea shops of Hong Kong as a study-abroad student. Inspired by that first trip, he ended up living in the region for over two and a half years. While there, he received a complete education in the craft and culture of tea.

Fast forward through fifteen years to a backpacking trip in the Colorado Rockies. As his friends prepared instant coffee around the fire, he steeped a tea bag he would have to pack out at the end of the trip and thought to himself, “why hasn’t anyone developed a high-quality, instant tea?”

Jim began to experiment with tea and quickly realized that existing production methods for instant beverages damaged tea characteristics, resulting in a final product that didn’t reflect the flavor and nuance of high-quality tea. After nine months of trial and error, he found a completely new brewing and dehydration process that could deliver a perfect cup of premium organic tea in seconds. This new Cold Steep Technology retained all the taste and character of the teas Jim hand selected from specialty organic plantations, and Cusa Tea was born.


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Variety Pack Instant Tea by Cusa Tea



Gobi Gear

Outdoorsy Stocking Stuffers Gobi Gear Compartmentalized Stuff Sacks

Chez Brungraber and her husband, Griffin, live in Bend, Oregon but travel a lot. They spend three to four months every spring in San Diego working with endangered species. They make international trips a priority. And, as West Coast transplants who grew up in the North East, they make their way home regularly to visit family.

All this bouncing around resulted in disheveled belongings, especially when the couple shared luggage to minimize airline fees. Chez’s socks would end up in her husband’s shirt sleeve and they’d have to dump everything out onto the floor to sort through their items. 

“This is insane. I can’t do it anymore,” Chez found herself thinking, which soon led her to an idea for a solution – compartmentalized, packable, lightweight bags to store, segment and organize all of their things.

Chez made the first prototype for what would eventually become Gobi Gear on a sewing machine before a trip to Asia. It took her 20 tries to get that first bag right. But eight years later, there are now 70,000 Gobi Gear bags circulating this planet. They're used for everything from travel, backpacking and camping to organizing more routine activities, like yoga, skiing and dog gear.


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SegSac Original by Gobi Gear



Hero Clip

Outdoorsy Stocking Stuffers HeroClip Carabiner ToolIt was a typical rainy day in the Pacific Northwest. Mina Yoo was on a training hike preparing to summit Mt. Rainier.  When it came time to take a break, the ground was soaked, muddy and there was nowhere dry to set down her pack.

Later that day, she returned to her home that was in the middle of a remodel – offering no place to lay out her drenched clothes to dry. This was her ah-ha moment.

Mina decided to create an effective, efficient, and simple “extra hand.” She had no background in design or manufacturing, but that didn’t stop her. Several prototypes later and with massive support from Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and a talented team, the Heroclip was born.

The Heroclip is a fully functioning carabiner on one end, equipped with a 360-degree, dual-rotation swivel hook on the other.  The company calls it the “indispensable life hack tool that goes everywhere you go.”

Use it to hang water bottles from backpacks, bags from bathroom stalls, lanterns from trees, paint buckets from ladders, or bikes from garage rafters. Prop up your wet gear, hydration packs, tools, cables, cords, bags and toys – you name it, as long as it’s less than 60 pounds, the uses are infinite.


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Heroclip by Heroclip




Outdoorsy Stocking Stuffers Flowfold Sail Cloth Wallets

It all started in 2005 with a withering wallet. Flowfold’s co-founder, Charley Friedman, was a young kite surfer working in a sail loft on the coast of Maine, learning the trade of making and repairing boat sails.

After his hand-me-down wallet fell apart, he decided to sew himself a new one from scraps of sailcloth that were otherwise going to be thrown away.  

His creation was minimalist and built to last. Soon after, he started making them for family and friends as gifts. By 2010, Charley was scratching together enough discarded material to make 1,000 wallets to sell on his own.

The following year, Charley joined forces with a couple of his buddies and officially set up Flowfold’s first shop in a basement on Peaks Island, Maine.

Flowfold’s operations soon expanded and its product line has grown substantially, but the brand still manufactures damn fine wallets using reclaimed material.

In 2016 alone, 40% of the material Flowfold used was reclaimed. That’s a lot of wallets.  Like, 23,589, to be exact. Lined edge to edge, the wallets would be twice the height of El Capitan!


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Vanguard Wallet by Flowfold



Lever Gear 

Outdoorsy Stocking Stuffers Lever Gear Toolcard Pro EDC Tool

Before starting Lever Gear, Mike Scully spent 15 years as a product design consultant in San Francisco. He always had a love of designing and building things (coupled with a seething hatred of poorly designed crap), so consulting was a natural fit. Projects he worked on ranged from consumer electronics to solar PV systems and kayaks.

While the projects were fulfilling, Mike had a desire to develop his own products. He wanted a company where decisions were driven by design, where the products had meaning, and employees were empowered to do their best work.

The idea for the Toolcard Pro came out of problem Mike had in his own life—how to have my tools handy without carrying extra stuff. There were a few card tools on the market but they seemed cheap or poorly thought out. Mike felt I could add value through design and engineering.

After a year of development, the Toolcard Pro launched on Kickstarter in March of 2016.

The Toolcard Pro packs a best-in-class 40 tools into a 1.5mm thin card tool. It slips easily into your wallet, is TSA compliant so you can take it anywhere and is made in the USA.


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Toolcard Pro by Lever Gear




Outdoorsy Stocking Stuffers Thrupack
Paul “Skunk-Ape” Thomas racked up a full seven years of hardcore hiking experience before launching Thrupack, which is making a name for itself with its signature line of fanny packs designed specifically for long-distance backpackers and hikers.

Between journeys, the stout-drinking, music-loving Thrupack founder spent a lot of time looking at ultralight gear and noticed that fanny packs were becoming popular. After purchasing one himself and putting some miles on it, he realized how helpful the extra storage space could be in terms of accessibility and overall convenience.

Even so, Paul realized soon after using the pre-existing fanny packs on the market that there was (pun intended) room for improvement.

Thrupack fanny packs are light and built to withstand the elements. The Dyneema (or x-pac) body and Aquaguard zipper keep out the rain, and inside the main compartment there are two distinct pockets. Plus there is enough space to fit most smartphones, snacks or anything else you need handy. The hip packs’ snug, modular designs are built with versatility in mind.  


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Summit Bum Fanny Pack by Thrupack



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