If you like the idea of shopping local this holiday season, it’s easy to do in Maine when it comes to purchasing outdoor gear. There’s L.L.Bean, of course, a hugely successful company based in Freeport that shares the Maine outdoor lifestyle with the world through the company’s boots, flannels, camping gear and much more. But there’s also several smaller Maine businesses that create some really awesome, innovative products. Here are just a few:
Based in Biddeford, Maine, STABIL has been around for nearly three decades, helping people stay upright in the slippery winter season with their ever-expanding line of ice cleats. When it’s icy and snowy outside, their ice cleats — cleverly called STABILicers — are really a necessity, whether you’re hiking up a mountain or walking across your driveway. In fact, the company now provides a variety of models suited for different activities, ranging in price from $22 to $70. Learn more at stabilgear.com.
Running out of Deer Isle, Guyot Designs creates a number of products for the outdoor industry, including their popular Squishy Bowls, flexible silicone bowls designed for easy outdoor use and efficient packing. Available in a variety of sizes, these bowls are ideal for outdoor eating. And the company also provides a line of wider, shallower squishy bowls for dogs, perfect for serving your pup food and water while traveling. This product is available through a number of big retailers, including REI and Amazon.com, with prices ranging from $8.50 for one bowl to about $17 for a set.
Developed in Blue Hill, STERIPen is a handheld water purifier that uses ultraviolet light to sterilize water, making it safe to drink. Believe it or not, getting sick from water is fairly common in the outdoors. Just ask any Appalachian Trail hiker about “beaver fever,” an illness that usually starts with someone drinking untreated water (from a stream or spring), then, unfortunately, is quite contagious. SteriPEN destroys giardia, the parasite that causes this fairly common outdoor infection — along with many other types of bacteria and viruses living in untreated water. In a nutshell, the technology — in a matter of seconds — scrambles the DNA of these little organisms, making it so they can’t reproduce in the human body in harmful amounts. SteriPens cost between $70 and $100, and they can be purchased at steripen.com.
Based in Biddeford, Hyperlite Mountain Gear offers a range of lightweight backpacking gear that has won several awards from Backpacker Magazine over the years. Using a special fabric that is lightweight, durable and waterproof, the company constructs backpacks, tents, jackets and more. This is pretty high-tech gear. The main fabric, Cuben Fiber, is a high-performance, ripstop, composite laminate developed in the 1990s by a nuclear weapons physicist and aerospace composite engineer for world-class sailing. Check them out at hyperlitemountaingear.com.
With offices and all operations in Kittery, Good To-Go is a fairly new company that offers a growing selection of tasty dehydrated meals that are made out of all-natural ingredients. Thus naturally preserved, these meals are great options for backpackers and campers. All you have to do is add some boiling water and they’re ready to eat. And let me emphasize that these aren’t your typical dehydrated meals. Good To-Go has created recipes inspired by cuisine from all around the world, and the company’s recipe creator and co-founder, Jennifer Scism, has been a professional chef for nearly 20 years and was a part of the first all-women team to win against Iron Chef Mario Batali in the TV Food Network’s Iron Chef program. Good To-Go prices vary from $6.75 for a single serving to $12.50 for a double serving. Learn more at https://goodto-go.com.
In addition to the five listed here, there are plenty other Maine companies that make great things for the state’s outoorsy people. In fact, an alliance of like-minded business leaders recently came together to form Maine Outdoor Brands, a group with the mission to “ignite Maine’s outdoor recreation economy,” according to a recent press release. Founded earlier this year, the group has already grown to nearly 30 brand members and affiliates already. To learn more, visit maineoutdoorbrands.com.