Gear

Making the Outdoors Safer Using As Little Space at a Time

written by Mark Mckee

Northern Saskatchewan is an unforgiving place, and Todd Weimer, the founder of VSSL, has spent his whole life there and has used his time in the Canadian bush to perfect his survival gear.

When Weimer and his best friend were little, they couldn’t carry much and had to travel light. So they perfected the art of making the smallest, most practical kits to carry their gear. For Todd’s tenth birthday, he was given the classic army surplus strike anywhere waterproof match tube. Enamored with the construction and its workings, he would eventually transform the idea into PVC plastic tubes stuffed with survival necessities. 

Those days spent fishing, hunting, and trapping in that wild terrain dictated the contents of those early prototypes: fishing line and tackle, mini first aid kits, fire starting kit, a wire saw, and other practical kits. Packed up in an easy-to-carry PVC tube, they were perfect for stashing in a rucksack, guaranteeing that Weimer would have the essentials for surviving and thriving in the wild.

The PVC pipes have been swapped out for a military-spec, anodized aluminum tube. The contents are organized into stackable metal tins, but the principles of the product haven’t altered at all. They’re still designed for men and women venturing into the outdoors who either will be honing and using their survival skills or who want an insurance policy in case they run into trouble far from civilization. 

Perhaps the most significant addition to the products, and all their later editions for that matter, is the high-power LED torch affixed to the canister’s end, complete with a pre-programmed SOS setting. It transforms the product into a highly functional tool, even when its contents aren’t needed.

It helps that, as well as being a superbly practical piece of kit, each VSSL has an attractive aesthetic too. Weimer’s keen to point out that the exterior is secondary to the kit’s functionality, but it doesn’t hurt that the sleek metal casing looks at home in a military rucksack and feels comfortable in hand. His inspirations for the design include old Airstream caravans and retro aluminum airplanes; that smooth metal look that isn’t tarnished by a scratch or two when exposed to the outdoors. 

As time moves on, VSSL is evolving its products too. Customizable canisters are available for order on their website, and miniature versions with carabiner clips are in the works, including a stove housed inside one version. The beauty of their products is that the base concept of the VSSL is infinitely adaptable for a vast range of outdoor pursuits and sports, while the original version will never be out of date. Wherever your adventures lead you, having a VSSL by your side is an investment you’re going to be more than happy to make.

Survival isn’t where they have drawn the line, however. Recently VSSL launched VSSL JAVA, a portable hand coffee grinder. The JAVA’s high-end construction and components are designed to deliver exceptional coffee.

“We’re thrilled to finally bring the JAVA to market and to offer excellent coffee anywhere you may roam,” said Weimer, founder. “After years of research, development, testing, and tweaking, we’ve finally produced a premium, unbreakable hand coffee grinder that will offer high-quality results to fuel you for what’s ahead.”

Though the JAVA was designed with caffeine-fueled adventure enthusiasts in mind, its durability, versatility of grind settings, and quality components offer great coffee to all aficionados. Its stainless steel burr blades and ball bearings retain the full flavor of coffee beans by cutting them to a uniform shape and size, ensuring users will extract the maximum flavor and aroma from the coffee bean. The grinder comes with an adjustment dial with 50 settings for the optimal grind.

JAVA was developed with the aircraft-grade aluminum construction of VSSL’s other products, ensuring it can withstand the toughest of elements. To optimize user experience, VSSL added features like a stowable, magnetized, ergonomic handgrip and “Clip and Flip” handle; a collapsible carabiner can withstand loads up to 200 pounds, which easily flips into an extendable grinder handle.

“Whether you’re making coffee in your tent as you prepare for a summit or in your hotel room as you prepare for a presentation, you can trust that the JAVA will help you thrive in the day ahead,” continued Weimer. “It’s time to elevate the quality of your adventures.”

When shopping for survival kits, settling on one designed by someone who spent their childhood roaming the backcountry of Northern Canada is never a bad idea. And consumers have agreed for the last half-decade. VSSL recently celebrated its sixth anniversary since the brand brought the first product to market in 2015. The anniversary comes while the brand continues to experience significant growth under the leadership of President and CEO David Marsala, who joined the team in August 2019.

“Dave has been instrumental in taking VSSL to new heights,” said Weimer. “In a year, VSSL’s revenue has more than doubled, we’ve added four team members, and we’ve opened up a multitude of new distribution partners and sales rep groups. Five years in, and we’re just getting started.”

This year, VSSL signed its first European distribution partner, Essential Basics, and added different sales groups across the United States, including Dedication Sports Group, Ohana Sales, and the Caraway Group. VSSL has also added vital sales partners, including REI, Athleta, Uncommon Goods, and Gear Patrol.

VSSL’s growth this year has been driven by key product launches, including the VSSL First Aid Mini, which launched in June, and the previously discussed VSSL JAVA, which recently surpassed its Kickstarter goal by a noteworthy 1,500 percent.

“It’s been amazing to work with such a great team here at VSSL and see their hard work translate into success this year,” added Marsala. “We’ve got some big ideas in the pipeline, and we’re excited to continue the momentum.”