For the month of November I am highlighting some of my favorite hiking based companies, giving readers a closer look into the people who make the gear they love on the trail as well as products that remind us of the trail when we can’t be there. Today we are taking a closer look at online ultralight retailer, AntiGravityGear!
|Mr. and Mrs. Tin Man taking a break at King Creek|
Who is behind AntiGravityGear? How did you begin this site and what was your inspiration?
George “Tin Man” Andrews and his wife, Carolyn “Mrs. Tin Man” are the co-founders of the company. The concept for AntiGravityGear was born in 2000 when George led a Boy Scout backpacking trip to the Uwharrie Mountains of North Carolina. Remarking about how light they felt after removing their far-too-heavy packs, it was decided that the best gear for hiking would be anti-gravity gear. Why, they could even make an anti-gravity suit to carry their gear and sell it for a fortune!!! (At least THEY would have paid a fortune for it just then.) Playing Madison Avenue advertising types around the campfire, the Scouts were soon talking about silly sounding slogans like, “it carries you”. And, so it began. George began selling his popular Aluminum Can Alcohol Stove to buy gear for his Scout Troop which is how he became known as, “Tin Man.”
In 2002 George was referred to Carolyn Mejia, then graphic & web designer now co-owner of AntiGravityGear, through a mutual friend. Trying not to appear over anxious (panicked) he said, “I need a website… FAST.” Backpacker Magazine had just awarded him the coveted Editor’s Choice Award for his Pot Cozy, and the release of Spring Editor’s Choice Edition was eminent. It was the beginning of a really great working relationship. And the event that launched AntiGravityGear into the recognized leagues of the ultralight backpacking community’s cottage industry line-up.
Over the next 12 years, George built a reputation for great customer service and innovative, ultralight backpacking gear. He created the Mapdana, the Pocket Profile and a host of ultralight alternatives such us the 1 Gallon Silnylon Water Bag, the Deluxe Ultralight Bear Bag System and the AntiGravityGear Ultralight Rain Jacket and Pants. He also made it a point to form friendships and mutually beneficial working relationships with other cottage Industry companies, like David “Awol” Miller who wrote the AT Guide and AWOL on the Appalachian Trail, and Trail Designs, creators of the “Caldera Cone”. Managing to also break into outfitters and outdoor gear stores, AntiGravityGear survived the “Start-up” phase to become a thriving business.
How do you go about choosing manufacturer products to sell on AntiGravityGear?
These days our phone conversations are littered with rabbit trails about potential products. We enjoy thinking outside the box. George, having capably worn all the hats in the company for the first 13 years, was left little time to focus on producing new products. Now, with the workload split, we look forward to the opportunity to develop some of those brilliant ideas he’s had rolling around in his head into actual products. Of course, we carry other products besides our own. Some things work so well they need little to no improvement. We don’t typically rush out to carry the same popular stuff everyone else is carrying, though we do end up offering some popular options (as they are usually popular for a reason). We take time look for products that are ultralight, well constructed, serve multiple purposes, and if it can’t be found elsewhere… bonus. Lately, we have found some of our newest editions on some, “must have,” gear lists shortly after adding them to the store. That’s always rewarding. It confirms that we still really have our fingers on the pulse of this thing.
What is your one “must have” item you carry with you backpacking?
|Linville Falls- Photo courtesy of Carolyn “Oz” Mejia|
Last modified: September 2, 2017