After arriving in Denver, one of my first finds was TOPO DESIGNS. A mountain gear/outdoor company that has found meaning in what it means to build high quality, durable, American-made goods. The owners, Jedd Rose and Mark Hansen, found their inspiration through years of growing up in the Rockies. Fishing, Climbing, Biking, Hiking, Camping, and truly soaking up the beauty of Colorado. When growing up, Mark and Jedd would receive hand-me-downs and after years spent of using the same gear they would ask themselves, how has this gear lasted so long and stayed in such prime condition? The answer was quality, over quantity. American made goods have been long fading, since the rise of cost, and demand in the states. However from what I could tell from the goods, these were well priced, and would last a lifetime. The designs are made by true gear heads with a fun and loving nature. OYO MOUNTAIN is another one of their brands which is more vintage based on gear found in the 80’s and 90’s. When asked about TOPO DESIGNS, it was said that it was based on French Gear in the 70’s and Japanese Mountain Gear in the 80’s, which ironically was made mostly in the US during this period. The material is made out of a high quality nylon named 1000D Cordura. Which basically means it has that many strands of nylon per square inch. In other words, means it is one of the most durable nylons you can by. Some of the hardware is alminium based, but when asked about it they actually claim that the high durable plastic has made the bags tighter. With that, the interiors are a high contrast yellow, so finding goods in less-than-optimal lighting conditions is a lot easier.
After looking around for a bit I met Josh Deiss, a California Transplant, who took his dream of living closer to nature, and following his passion of climbing by moving to Boulder, Co. Attending University of Colorado – Boulder, he found a city that truly was within and hour’s time of doing just about anything the mountains had to offer. Working in Denver, he seems to have the best of both worlds. After a day of work he likes to meet up with friends at another local brewery, “Our Mutual Friend” and on the weekends heads back to Boulder to tube in the creek, and climb in the mountains. This, of course, is the ultimate summer lifestyle, and was he pleased to announce he had his first Moose encounter in the wild the weekend we met up. Positive and uplifting, Josh brings a spirit to the store front that makes anyone feel at home. His favorite TOPO item is his own briefcase which he says he takes everywhere, and has used for some time.
Sometime after talking to Josh, I met Jules. Creative Director of TOPO. She was born and raised in Colorado, and considers herself a “weekend warrior”, working hard on the weeks so she can find time to explore and hike on the weekends. She says her favorite place to visit in Colorado is Evergreen. It’s 15 miles west of Denver and is a beautiful little place of the main road. As a designer, she says she is always influenced by nature, and she likes hanging out with friends at the “Sputnik Bar” in Denver.
When asked why TOPO was based in Denver, the answer was clear; Better goods from the source. Though markets in both the East and West Coast are completely saturated, goods are meant to be used, and Denver is the heartland of mountain living. A truly charming place, TOPO is located in a series of shipping containers built together to make one of the most sustainable businesses I’ve seen. Why? Easy. An obsession by both of the owners, a shipping container is not only inexpensive, but durable in winter and summer conditions, insulated, and just plain amazing. It is the perfect amount of space to fill a store with high quality goods. Though most of the store is TOPO or OYO products, they do have an arrangement of mugs, patches, accessories, grooming products from other parts of the country, and featured local products such as Zeal Optics. A boulder based sunglass company, that makes sustainable products out of cotton. Camping goods are also seen such as MSR Stoves, and Snow Peak accessories. When asked about the other brands, TOPO says they are all friends of the same dream. Living a nature-inspired, sustainable and good life. This place is one of a kind and if you are ever in the Denver or surrounding areas, a must see.