Instagram Challenge Winners & Honorable Mentions: #PPexploremore

September 2, 2014

Wow, so many wonderful and WANDER-ful entries – from Colombia to Egypt to Uzbekistan — this week for our Instagram Challenge #PPexploremore with Passion Passport; in fact, this had our most entries to date with over 700 tags, so thank you to all who participated and made this a success!

Congratulations to this week’s honorable mentions who will each receive vouchers for 50% off! They are (left to right, starting top-left): @jessicambosse@suzywasick@lerause@stolenti@sarahanne138@cynthiasundin@ibhee_maulana@ashelphotog, and @bethkellmer. Take a minute to head over to their individual feeds for their write-ups.

The first winner of this week’s challenge is @kimoxenham who will receive a pair of sunglasses whose photo entry and write-up are below!

“Life on Mars. Sahara el Beyda, Egypt. In stark contrast to the chaos of Cairo, the vast expanse of the White Desert gives a sense of being on another planet. the endless horizon is broken only by the striking chalk rock formations. All you can do is sit back in wonderment and take it in before the sun sets and stars light up the night sky.”

The second winner of this week’s challenge is @thekc_99 who will receive a pair of sunglasses whose photo entry and write-up are below!

“Kilauea, on the island of Hawaii, is the most active volcano in the world. The location where the scalding lava (>1,000 C) meets ocean water took three hours of strenuous hiking on sharp volcanic rock to get to. I took this shot close to the lava bench, an unstable structure created by newly cooled lava. The sights and sounds of that evening will never be forgotten.”

The third winner of this week’s challenge is @thephotosonmywall who will receive a pair of sunglasses whose photo entry and write-up are below!

“Driving around Iceland involves constant wonder and adventure. But deciding to follow that bumpy gravel road through the barren landscape further proved my long-held theory that the worse the road, the better the destination. I will never forget the power of the water rushing down and following a path it has carved over thousands of years between the towering canyon. As I sat here, it could have been a thousand years ago, time was irrelevant; the sheer force of the water had me mesmerized.”

Join ZEAL Ambassador Pete Devries as he takes his surfing “Outside The Box” in this epic edit from Adam Chilton.
September 2, 2014
ZEAL Optics is super excited to be heading to Utopiafest, September 12-14. Learn more about this bash for the ages HERE and stop by and see ZEAL when you get there.
August 30, 2014
Getting after it in Aruba with @NelsonOduber - #ExploreMore this weekend!
August 29, 2014
On the fence about coming to tonight’s Industry Night at ZEAL Optics? You won’t be after you see the raffle prizes we’re giving away after Tommy Danger’s talk! See you at 6 pm!
August 28, 2014

Paddle To The Arctic: #ArcticDreams Part II

August 28, 2014

The Horton River flows the furthest north of any of Canada’s mainland rivers and empties into the Arctic Ocean. It is the quintessential barrenlands river and one of the remotest places left to #ExploreMore! Join photographer and expert paddler Jason van Bruggen as he takes his canoe above the 69th Parallel and paddles to Franklin Bay and the Arctic Coast  in the second part of his mission to chronicle his #ArcticDream. 

Photos & Words: @jasonvanbruggen

The third canyon of the Horton River opens up after a harrowing set of canoe eating boils forced us to portage a few of the boats, a first on this trip.

Cedar Jasiuk fishing for Arctic Char. We saw our first Char in some pools about 150 miles upstream from the Arctic Ocean - a long way from home.

@jasonvanbruggen going for a chilly dip at the 70th parallel, as we near the top of the world.

As we near the top of the world the nights (and days get colder). Another misty morning on the Horton.

A three-hour hike through misty and grizzly bear-infested highlands pays off with a view on the Arctic Ocean. With visibility at around 20 feet you never know what’s around the next corner.

The Smoking Hills of Canada are located near Franklin Bay on the Arctic Ocean in the Northwest Territories of Canada. The uninhabited hills are above the Arctic Circle. Discovered in 1826 by explorer John Franklin the hills are notable for exuding constant smoke from burning coal underground. The mountains contain large deposits of lignite (brown coal), sulphur, and oil shales. A reaction between sulphur and lignite leads to spontaneous combustion, and it is believed that the lignite has been burning for hundreds of years.

Photographer @jasonvanbruggen is baptized by the chilly waters of the Arctic Ocean after a paddling for weeks to reach this final destination. The agony and ecstacy of a hard-earned true polar bear dip.

The world’s most beautiful fish (in my view). Schools of Arctic Grayling can be found in all of the streams we ventured up. These guys were happy to let me walk right through them. I probably could have caught a few with my hands had I been of a mind to do so. 


Daily Inspiration With Nikola Yager

August 27, 2014

Inspiration is all around us. We recently found an amazing bolt of it out of the blue here in Boulder from Nikola Yager, a powerful force for good in a teenage frame. Catch up with this year’s Boulder “Emerging Youth Leader” award winner and prepare to find some inspiration to start your day.

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

I was born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, as the middle child of three sisters.  I enjoy Puerto Rican drumming, beekeeping, trying new foods, attempting to grow exotic plants in my bedroom, and ultimate frisbee. One of my favorite things to do is run in Colorado’s beautiful open space alongside my golden retriever. 

I’ll be a freshman at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill this year.

You recently won a little award here in the Boulder community. Tell us about that and how you came to be honored.

The Boulder Chamber annually honors women who have made significant contributions to their community. I received their “Emerging Youth Leader Award” and was lucky enough to stand beside these very inspiring women being honored. 

I volunteer with Barrio E’ (which enhances the presence of Puerto Rican culture and music in Colorado), Boulder-Nablus Sister City Project, the Boulder Homeless Shelter, and I helped organize a story-telling night at a local retirement home.

I believe the largest threat to the U.S’s political stability is under-representation, which, on a micro-level, I believe is fed by under-appreciation. In Boulder, for example, I observe disabled students ostracized to the special education wing, elderly people corralled into retirement homes, and our four trailer parks conveniently located out of sight on the outskirts of town. Most of my service efforts have been to counter-act this exclusion by embracing diversity. 

Most high school kids don’t see life beyond themselves, or at least their immediate circles. What has inspired you to focus so much on the world and people around you? 

Sometimes I wonder if we have souls. Was I born Nikola or do I become Nikola? I don’t know, but I know that when I feel most happy and alive, it is when I am living and breathing as something larger than myself. The Buddhist monk and scholar Thich Naht Hanh said,

 ”When we look into the heart of a flower, we see clouds, sunshine, minerals, time, the earth, and everything else in the cosmos in it… The flower is made entirely of non-flower elements; it has no independent, individual existence.” This philosophy has broken down the boundaries between myself and the world and exemplifies what propels me to volunteer.”

What I am trying to say is that community service should blur the lines between giving and receiving. I am serving myself just as much as I am serving my community because “I” am only a creation of the latter.

Three things you’d like to accomplish in your life:

  1. Motorcycle across New Zealand like my dad did when he got out of college
  2. Learn how to not take things personally
  3. Ban Neonicitinoid pesticides in the U.S. Save the honeybees!

Three things you’re most proud of:

  1. Feeling okay with being really terrible at some things
  2. Being a good sister
  3. Educating young girls on how to remain body positive despite body negative culture and media influences

Words to the wise: 

Respect others, respect the Earth, and respect yourself. From all that I’ve seen and heard, ZEAL is a company that stands for similar values. I am so grateful to have the support from this company!


Shop Profile: Sawyer Land & Sea Supply

August 26, 2014

In times of evolution comes revolution, and on the ground floor, it’s truly an amazing time to enter the surf retail market and Santa Cruz’s Sawyer Land & Sea Supply is on the ground floor of this sea change.

The lines are blurring between categories, quality is trumping marketing, and surfers are grabbing onto the “local” vibe embodied on a larger scale by the resurgence in farmers’ markets and small boutiques stocking local brands across industries and affinities. All of these trends are converging to create vast opportunities for small, DIY brands and retailers to flourish in a landscape that has been held in a vice by action sports juggernauts and largely ignored a broad section of the surf demographic.

Opened in April, 2013, Sawyer is the embodiment not of the brands it carries, but of the vision behind the store—a translation of personality and place that helps open its customers’ eyes to one person’s vision of the transformative power of the outdoors, of the waves, and of man’s place where the land meets the sea.

We sat down with Owner/Operator Stacy Forrester to learn more.

Give us a little background on the inspiration for starting Sawyer Land & Sea Supply: 

The initial drive was to curate all of the pieces of life I enjoy most. Surfing, camping,… Not necessarily to sell all the stuff you can find at just about any outdoor store, but to share all the things I love with my community. It’s about the blending of those things to create an outdoor lifestyle-meets-surf-meets-general store.Bringing that all together into a single space was my goal, showcasing the flow of all of the treasures Santa Cruz has to offer- it’s really about the lifestyle much more than the activities.

The back-story on the name of the shop is really cool- what inspired you about your grandfather and how does his legacy and love of adventure and the outdoors come through in what you do?

My grandfather was a logger- trade name Sawyer. He was an adventurous man that helped me become the athlete and outdoor person I am today. He taught me to fish, skip rocks, hunt, and chop wood, all things I believe a girl should know how to do. All this and more helped me to seek out adventure as well as create a love for the outdoors.

In addition, when you walk into Sawyer you will see my love for wood. Wood is shelter. Wood brings us comfort and warmth. Again this link goes back to my grandfather, a Sawyer who braved the outdoor elements and dangers of doing such a laborious trade.

You were in the outdoor industry for years- what brands did you work with?

I spent thirteen years working as a rep for Merrell footwear. Before Merrell, I represented Icebreaker, Timex, PowerBar, Ultimate Direction, Timberland, and… The list goes on. Altogether, fifteen years of my time has been devoted to the outdoor industry, so Sawyer has definitely been a shift in focus. I’m still repping the outdoor lifestyle, but my now my sights are really set on the heart and soul of what that means.

What lessons did you take away from observing other retailers as a rep and how did that help translate into Sawyer’s niche?

The goal behind Sawyer was to create a space that didn’t just support the outdoor industry, or surfing, or any one particular thing; it supports all the things that are important to me, in my life. I think you can see that in the way the store operates, the things we carry, what we do. It all tells the story of the path I’ve chosen to pursue. People walk into Sawyer and they can see my heart. It’s so much different than being a rep for some company- I’m representing my own soul here. You can see when a real human being is behind a company. I’ve made sure that every single one of my customers knows that they are welcome, that I personally care about them and their happiness. I think that retailers often forget that their customer is their livelihood, and I don’t- I can’t. Sawyer is inclusive; it’s for everybody. Your customers are so much a part of your success, that’s why I do the in-store events, and why I support my community and customers: I want everyone to be invited to live this dream with me.

How would you describe Sawyer and what makes it unique?

We are a mix…we aren’t a surf shop or an outdoor shop…we are telling the story of an active ocean living lifestyle. Another point of difference is that Sawyer is set up as a boutique, but selling outdoor and surf products, I find that incredibly appealing. One of the most important features to me is all of the wood. When you walk into the shop, you can immediately see how much I love being surrounded by that aesthetic. Wood, whether it’s the roof overhead or the fire crackling, I feel like it really gives life to a space. Our demographic is another thing I think sets us apart: we’re not going after the surfing youth, but we’re going after the 30+ range. We’re also featuring quality over quantity or trends, which is definitely what speaks to my particular clientele.  We are more cabin than we are locker room.

What have been some of your milestones since opening in April 2013?

The very first milestone was finally opening the store. Making it through the first year was another huge one, and it truly could not have been done without the outpouring of local support I’ve received. All throughout the year, the thing that has inspired me most is seeing Sawyer hats, sweatshirts and tees around the community. I am humbled wherever I see it. The next big milestone for us is going to be the upcoming launch of the Sawyer brand of clothing.

How have you worked to grow the store and its reach?

In store monthly events, social media, and the selling of our Sawyer goods.

Of course, there’s a lot to be said for being interviewed for an upcoming issue of Japan’s Blue Magazine, being in The San Francisco Chronicle, and being featured on various blogs. I didn’t exactly expect it all, but the reach is expanding in quite a few ways.

We’re digging the land and sea supply products- how did you land on these product categories? 

Thanks! That was simple: it’s just the Santa Cruz lifestyle. The whole idea was to bridge the space between land and sea living. We supply goods for life. 

Tell us about your product mix:

The goal is to define what the Santa Cruz life is all about. Our top shelf products are definitely our surfboards, belly boards, and hand planes. The featured makers of the moment are Tim Folkert of Migration Surfboards, Christine Brailsford of Furrow Surfcraft, Manuel Caro of Mandala Surfboards, Travis Reynolds, and Ashley Lloyd. The absolute cream-of-the-crop item at Sawyer would be our custom-made wetsuits by Axxe.  You will find quality apparel, car camping and surfing essentials from brands like ZEAL Optics, Patagonia, SLVDR, Sundry, Topo Designs, Strawfoot, Snow Peak, Bio Lite, Alternative Apparel, Beyond Yoga, Kleterworks, books, art, etc. 

And, as mentioned before,something I’m super excited about is our upcoming brand launch! The storefront was phase one, and our line is the second phase. Think timeless pieces with a dialed fit, made specifically for your life in and out of doors. Artisanal chambray shirts, swim shorts that are not only the right look but also provide comfort while paddling, and stay put even after that epic fall… It’s all going to be really unique, because it will be catered to coastal living. Our seasons are different here, and I know how much we need good, weather-appropriate, year-round sweatshirts and basics. I believe strongly in quality, so these are going to be items that are an investment toward your wardrobe and lifestyle, rather than budget pieces that are going to fray or fall apart in a month. The new line is the epitome of what Sawyer stands for: comfort, practicality, beauty, timelessness, and pure happiness.

Three top lessons you’ve learned:

My initial thought is that I am still learning! The toughest thing I’ve taken on is just finding the balance between work and life. This is all a manifestation of my life, so being able to walk between those two worlds is something I’m working on. I’ve also been learning about holding on. There are some days when all of this feels really… Big. The idea of giving up can be appealing sometimes, but the more I hold on, the more reward I get. And should this all go away? Hopefully it doesn’t of course, but if it does, I have learned that my community is right here. I’ve met so many friends I’m going to have for the rest of my life, all because of that roll-up door. Allowing these people into my world, and in turn being invited into theirs, has taught me how to be vulnerable. As someone who has always been fairly introverted, that’s a huge, beautiful thing. You really just have to put everything you have into it. You have to be it. 


See you this Thursday for our August Industry Night featuring a talk by ZEAL Ambassador Tommy Danger on his mission to climb the Seven Summits, great prizes including a fully kitted and portered train and hiking trip outside SIlverton, and beverages from Sanitas Brewing. RSVP HERE.
August 25, 2014

Photo Gallery: High Country Mission With Leah Evans & Nick Waggoner

August 25, 2014

Words/Photos: Leah Evans

Its not often that winter friends easily transition into summer friends, with different passions, plans and projects. However, this summer myself and Nick Waggoner from Sweetgrass Productions decided that we needed to take the plunge and see what mountains we could explore in hiking boots.

These photos are from the stunning Abbott Ridge in Rogers Pass. A small but intensely vertical hike will get you up into the alpine and from there the views will slow down your pace because of there sheer beauty and magnitude. We highly suggest checking out the Glacier Spa (a Caribbean looking alpine lake) and enjoying a refreshing dip and Europe lunch. #Exploremore in your backyard…with good company.