Australia’s home to some seriously rad adventures and We Are Explorers love to shout about them from the rooftops. We’re also home to some pretty rad outdoor companies – think Mont, One Planet and Summit Gear – making gear that stacks up against international competitors. But when it comes to ultralight Aussie gear, what are your options?
We’ve explored beyond the high street to bring you three cottage manufacturers who are producing the goods. Ultralight gear fit for Aussie adventures. These are the little guys; the adventure makers working out of their spare rooms, sheds, and studios around the country. We wanted to meet some of these makers and celebrate the act of making ultralight gear.
Terra Rosa Gear
Evan is a maker. He loves creating, building, tinkering – sometimes all three at once! Making lets him combine his passion for nature and adventure and, in his own words, ‘That just leads to some fun times, both in the workshop and out in the elements.’ It’s hard to pigeonhole Evan as making one particular type of gear, as he produces everything from ultralight tarp shelters to bike bags, and even custom dog beds.
Mattie: Where did it all begin for Terra Rosa?
Evan: I started making gear for myself in around 2008. Initially, it was for a camping hammock that I was using a lot back then. There was some cool stuff around but it was either coming from overseas or was out of my budget, so I figured why not have some fun and make some kit? That’s where the foundations of Terra Rosa Gear began.
Mattie: Which product are you most proud of?
Evan: The offcut sleeping quilts are pretty neat. Each one is unique and has a personality, even though it’s a modest sleeping quilt. I’m also really stoked to make the tarps out of an eco silpoly, using 100% recycled material for the body!
Mattie: Can you describe your workshop for us?
Evan: I love my workshop, it’s a place where creativity seems endless and gear comes together that will be used all over the world. My favourite tool is definitely all of the sewing machines. The engineering and history just fascinate me to no end.
Mattie: What’s next for Terra Rosa?
Evan: Maybe a coffee machine in the workshop?
I’ll have a new website in the next month or so I’m excited about that. In terms of gear, the future is hard to predict. I’m keen to incorporate recycled materials as they come into availability to the smaller folks like us who can’t afford the minimum orders of bulk materials.
Dan lives, works and adventures on the Sunshine Coast. When he’s not sewing up a storm in his workshop you’ll find him testing gear out on the Blackall Range in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.
Mattie: Tell us a bit about why you started making bags and outdoor gear.
Dan: I started out making gear for myself, friends and family because it took so long to get ultralight cottage gear from the US. I had a trip coming up to the Bibbulmun Track and had left it too late to order gear from the US, so I made my own tarp and bivy sack for the trip. In 2015 I decided to get serious about building packs because I thought there were enough other cottage businesses focusing on making shelters.
Mattie: Which product are you most proud of to date?
Dan: The Luxmore pack is the most special for me, it was the first backpack I designed and it started the journey of pack building for me. It has been built in many different fabrics and variations over time but has always maintained the simplicity, clean lines and functionality I set out for from the start.
Mattie: Every maker needs a space to work from, how would you describe your workshop?
Dan: Minimal and neat with everything at hand. I’m really geeky and maybe a little bit obsessive when it comes to organisation. I’ve found the more order I have in the workshop, the more it flows. The only real thing that stuck with me from high school was when my principal told me that organisation is the key to success. I don’t know if that’s true but I keep trying.
Scissors are my favourite tool, slow, but I enjoy the scissorcraft. The electric knife is so much more efficient for fabric cutting – unfortunately the scissors don’t get used that much.
Mattie: What’s next for Wilderness Threadworks?
Dan: Bringing ultralight packs to the lineup in some brick and mortar stores to give people the option of trying on an ultralight pack that’s made here in Australia.
It’s a really exciting time for awesome cottage gear being built in Australia!
Simon and Sarah run Tier Gear from their front room in Deloraine, Tasmania. The view across their sewing machines out to the Great Western Tiers gave the inspiration for their company name, and also provides ample opportunity for field testing gear.
Mattie: Who is Tier Gear? Tell us a bit about why you started making adventure gear.
Simon: Tier Gear Tasmania is a manufacturer and supplier of ultralight outdoor gear. We, Sarah and myself, started Tier Gear about six years ago as a supplier of DIY gear. At that time there was no one in Australia supplying materials for people who were interested in making their own outdoor gear.
I started making a few camping hammocks for myself, and then progressed to offering them for sale. The business just grew organically to the point where both Sarah and myself now do it full-time with a focus on manufacturing. We work and live together pretty much 24/7 and we are still happily married!
Mattie: Which product are you most proud of to date? Why?
Simon: Our Goshawk camping hammock is really what got us started on the manufacturing side of things and is still going strong, it’s certainly my favourite bit of kit to use. Our down quilts are what we make most of though and they are being used on most of the big thru-hikes in the USA and of course all around Australia, so they help feed and clothe our kids!
Mattie: What’s next for Tier Gear?
Simon: Our focus is on fine-tuning our current crop of products and ensuring they are as light and compact as possible without impacting on functionality and durability. We have a few new products in mind but getting the time for development and testing can prove challenging. Keep it simple, keep it light is our mantra for Tier Gear so this drives whatever we do.
Mattie: Are there any other Aussie makers you want to shout out?
Simon: There are a lot of Aussie makers we follow on social media and get inspiration from. However, there were a few local makers who really helped us out with lots of advice and support, especially early on, including Bike Bag Dude, Low Vis Gear and High Range Outdoors. I really appreciate the support they gave us, especially through the tough times. Kedan at Bike Bag Dude really was/is an inspiration for the exceptional quality of this work.
Then, of course, there’s Wilderness Threadworks, and Terra Rosa Gear who are the guys more closely linked to what we do. I own a couple of Dan’s (Wilderness Threadworks) lightweight packs that I really love.
Weight matters – go light and go long