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Dispatches from 5,506'

Gear: BioLite SolarHome 620

BioLite is an inspirational company on a mission to bring "Energy Everywhere." They even have a hashtag (#EnergyEverywhere) so you know they're serious. Their mission has resulted in amazing gear that delivers power, light and communication to communities throughout the world.

Their latest innovation, SolarHome 620, is their first crossover product. The same system that is in use across 40,000 homes in Kenya can now power your cabin, tent, pub shed, camper or treehouse. It's also the perfect addition to your emergency kit, delivering solar power, lighting, usb charging and radio when the grid is down.

Before you read about the kit, watch the video that inspired us to become BioLite superfans:

You can purchase the SolarHome 620 directly from BioLite.

It started with the search for the perfect rocks glass

The search for the perfect scotch and bourbon glass

Welcome to 5506' Outfitters. I appreciate you taking the time to read this from the bottom of my heart. People like you are going to make 5506' Outfitters a success. Well, a long-term success that is. From a short-term standpoint, it's already a success.

Let me explain: 

It all started with the search for the perfect rocks glass. 

Actually, let me go back just a little further:

My family's dream of having a retreat in the mountains was fulfilled on Thanksgiving week in 2015 when we found the perfect little chalet in the ski village at Beech Mountain Resort. As the highest town east of the Rockies, Beech Mountain has always been an inspiration. In fact, it's altitude of 5,506' inspired this business. 

But I'm getting ahead of myself:

Our awesome real estate agent (if you're looking for property in the North Carolina High Country, I'll make an introduction for you) not only helped us find the perfect mountain home but she also gave us some sweet welcome gifts, including rocks glasses with deer on them. Beech Mountain is absolutely overrun with deer (and bears for that matter). I have never cut a single blade of grass or pulled a weed from our property. The deer take care of it for us. It's hard to think of Beech Mountain without thinking about the does in the spring and the bucks in the winter. Sitting by the fire with a glass of scotch after the nearly 5,000' drive up into the High Country from Charlotte is just about the most relaxing thing I can think of. Sitting there, reflecting on the vast wilderness all around us and the road — literally and figuratively — that brought us to this point is what it's all about. That deer-emblazened glass, filled with a few ounces of 12-year single malt scotch whisky from The Glenlivet, became something much greater. It was a personification of freedom, adventure and the intestinal fortitude to take a risk like buying a chalet three hours from home solely on the gut instinct that you could make it work.

And then the personification broke.

One of the deer glasses broke. I'm not here to throw anybody under the bus so I won't tell you who broke it.

My dad broke it. You can't be mad at your dad for breaking a glass, though. I mean, how much of his stuff did I break over the years?  Sorry Dad!

Anyways, it was one of the two deer glasses with the little horns. That left me with two does and one buck. Call me crazy but if you're sharing Scotch with a deer, it just seems right that it be one of the boys. So I was left with just one buck glass. Come to think of it, the buck was screen printed on the glass and I just knew that some day somebody was going to put it through the dishwasher and his antlers would wash right off, leaving him an emasculated shell of his former self. It should have been etched. Truth be told, the glass wasn't really perfect, either. It was too light and too big to contain something as precious as freedom, adventure and intestinal fortitude. 

And the quest began.

The initial goal of 5506' Outfitters was to find a worthy replacement for those buck glasses and share them with those who would appreciate them. If you've read this far, you have probably gathered that I obsess over and have a great appreciation for the finer details and the objects in life. They should all be objets d'art, if you ask me. 

I knew the buck glasses needed to become Stag Glasses.

Fourteen Points (seven if you're from the Old World).

The glasses had to be perfect rocks glasses before they were adorned by your new drinking co-philosopher (or is it co-conspirator?). And I found them. 

And then the Fourteen-Point Stag needed to be etched into the glass. With lasers. Not "lasers." LASERS. For all eternity. There's no washing off a Fourteen-Point Stag that has been embedded in your glass with LASERS.

Since you're here, you've probably already seen the results. They're pretty awesome. They can totally hold your freedom, adventure, intestinal fortitude and scotch. Or bourbon.

As far as I'm concerned, it's already a success. But along the way, I realized there are a lot of little things in our lives that could embody that sense of adventure on a daily basis if they weren't so damn generic. Would the world's greatest adventurer, Ernest Hemingway, drink out of that? Wear that? Buy that generic art? Never.

He'd punch your lights out for suggesting it.

So 5506' Outfitters was founded to replace a broken scotch glass but I have set my sights much higher. Watch for regular product releases and be confident knowing that I have agonized over the details of each and every item (and made many with my own hands). I'm looking forward to making you some really, really cool stuff. 

Thank you for joining me on this adventure! 

Matt Spangard, Founder