2018 has passed in a whirlwind of growth, development and the endless pursuit of excellence in every area of our business. Like every relationship, we got to know each other, had quite the honeymoon phase, rocky patches and (on our side, at least) a decision to commit to being the best for you.
The Vecto, our flagship product, only hit the market around Thanksgiving last year, so 2018 was really our first full year of making, selling, perfecting and servicing them. We came out with a second color, picked by popular vote, which provides an easy way to keep your dirty and clean bags easily identifiable. We also made a 3L version as a direct result of customer feedback.
There were some issues with some of the batches, which we have worked tirelessly to fix and update so as to avoid those problems going forward. We are trying our best to produce instructional content that is relevant and useful, so you can get the best out of your Vecto.
And there is more coming! Behind the scenes, we have been working on further improvements, as well as all sorts of accessories that will make your Vecto even more versatile. We have also started partnering with other companies who make complementary products (such as HydroBlu's Versa Flow and Sawyer's inline adapters) and will continue to grow that offering.
2018 was also quite the year for our line of trekking poles, and much of the action happened behind the scenes. Some of you will remember that we started out selling ONLY poles. Now, there are only occasional refurbished poles and a few last stragglers on the site - but we aren't discontinuing them! This product line is in the cocoon stage as we fix, modify, add features and most groundbreakingly: move production to the US. We will be the first gear company to do this with trekking poles, so this has been a mammoth effort. We aren't quite there yet, but please don't give up on us! We'll let you know when these are coming.
For those wondering, we also spent quite a lot of time trying to figure out whether we can move Vecto production to the US. After months of research, conversations, negotiations, debate and much much struggle, we had to leave the idea for now. It just isn't feasible in a way that allows us to operate according to our principles of producing simple and affordable gear. If we can solve this conundrum, we absolutely will revisit the option. The more you know!
On the topic of behind-the-scenes action, poles are not the only item being worked on! Without saying too much (because what fun is life without a little suspense), we have been developing other new products - one of which will be having a Kickstarter in 2019! That one we can talk about, and it's really something special: pull-on traction devices made especially for those super-muddy hikes. We're calling them Mudpons (TM and patent pending). They are light, can be taken on and off so you can walk comfortably in variable terrain, and will help with giving that extra amount of traction only when you really need it.
We are still committed to our mission of solving the unsolved problems hikers face and we are really excited about these products. We will share more as soon as we can!
And on that note, we (still) want to hear from you! Is there a product you want but can't seem to find? Or a problem when trekking that you just don't have a good solution for? Let us know! We might make it into a reality.
In 2018, Cnoc Outdoors started partnering with and distributing additional, external products on our website. We did this for two main reasons: to give our customers more variety when shopping on our site (this was a customer request), and to bring together a number of related products that don't seem to be found in any one place on the internet. For now, we are focusing on hygiene products; they are products that everyone needs but no one likes to talk about - but you can't go thru-hiking without them! So we are here for you.
Moving on from gear, the company has had some exciting additions this year. The staff grew from one to four - you may have heard from any or all of us over time. Lauren is our Director of Marketing, Aimee takes care of our customers, and Devan manages the warehouse. Yes you read that right, the warehouse! We expanded from my garage to a full-blown, grown-up warehouse and office space. This means we can hold more stock, work on exciting projects, and host events every now and then.
Additionally, we have started to work with distribution partners around the world, to better serve those of you who are not in North America! You can always buy from us directly, but local distributors can offer better shipping options (and prices) and other services that we just can't offer from so far away. That doesn't mean you can't be in touch though, we always love to hear from lands far away!
And that's about it - not too much! We're barreling towards 2019 at full speed, excited about all the cool stuff that's in the pipeline. And we hope you are, too. Thanks for sticking with us, and we promise it will continue to pay off. We have said it before, and we'll say it again - be in touch about anything! Product issues, new ideas, just to say hi, whatever! See you around!