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Do Good & Do Well: Cotopaxi

I’ve always liked telling the masses (read “anyone who will listen to my rambling”) about good things and good people. From my teens and through my twenties, my wardrobe consisted mostly of band t-shirts, which I eagerly wore in hopes of meeting either someone that had heard of the band, or, better yet, someone who hadn’t heard of the band. If asked, I would gladly regale the poor unsuspecting sap with the biography, lineup, discography, and any pertinent trivia they may need to also become a fan of said band. Now, well into my thirties, my shirt collection consists of far more national park shirts than snot-nosed punk bands, but I am still all for grabbing a hold of your proverbial ear and telling you all about why I am rocking a Joshua Tree shirt.

As such, I’ve decided to try to use Bristlecone to help evangelize on behalf of brands and organizations that I feel put people over profit. On that note, I’d like to pontificate for a while about Cotopaxi, a fine example of companies that give a shit.

Cotopaxi incorporated as a B Corp, or certified benefit corporation, which means they were literally designed to do good in the world. As they do well, others do well. It’s a win-win situation if I’ve ever seen one. It was even the first corporation to be formed as a benefit corporation BEFORE getting venture funding. That means it is actually backed by people who were willing to give money away before they were profitable. Hot damn.

Giving permeates everything Cotopaxi is, from employees banding together for volunteer work to the company itself giving their employees 10% of their time to spend in the outdoors. If there’s a way to make your employees brand ambassadors, that’s it.

On top of their insane corporate grant program (which they are exceptionally transparent about), and their phenomenal employee perks, they utilize ethical sourcing in their products and their labor. As their company was built with “the dual purpose of inspiring adventure and alleviating poverty,” it should come as no surprise that their current Kickstarter project, the Libre sweater, is the epitome of this.

The Libre sweater in its natural habitat: outside.

Hot on the heels of their Kusa collection, also launched on Kickstarter, comes the Libre, a sweater with a timeless look made of llama wool, an equally timeless material. It seems to have struck a chord with outdoors enthusiasts, as it has raised over $380,000 at the time of publishing.

Director of Apparel Cheri Sanguinetti was adventuring away in South America when she discovered the Bolivian culture surrounding the llama. Revered as a source of food, clothes, and even religious practices, the Bolivian llama farmers she met weren’t looking to produce the most product in the cheapest way possible. Utilizing the fibers from llama fur, which is referred to as “Bolivian cashmere,” Cheri designed the Libre, a unisex sweater. Combining good looks and honest-to-goodness functionality, the Libre sweater is a piece of clothing that any adventurer can get behind.

I had the opportunity to talk with Ms. Sanguinetti on her thought process behind the Libre sweater. Above all else, the focus was on an element of humanity, “It’s about material sourcing fusion of product design and development coupled with opportunities to improve local livelihoods.”As she continued, we’re trying to reduce labor migration due to lack of market for their traditional products, something we’re trying to do by souring this llama fleece directly from these rural farmers is to create a pathway to market that enables them to keep their traditional livelihood if they wish to stay rather than move to the bigger cities to become miners.”

With their efforts on just the Libre sweater, Cotopaxi has ensured a livelihood for an enduring tradition for countless Bolivian farmers. Along with their grant programs and ethical sourcing and ethical labor for their other product lines, Cotopaxi is proof that companies can do well by doing good.



TriggerTrap – A Camera Remote Above All (Wired) Camera Remotes

triggertrapHaving spent 13 years as a concert photographer, I am used to shooting without a flash. Low-light photography and I have become pretty familiar. I thought I’d take the relationship to a new level and get myself into astrophotography. Now, I love taking my camera out in the middle of the night, pointing it straight up, and seeing what I can capture.

This is usually preceded by thirty minutes of bent over, craning my neck as I fiddled with my focus & settings, and, depending on the location, shivering in the dark. Enter the TriggerTrap. A little dongle (what a fun word) that plugs into your phone’s headphone jack and partners with the TriggerTrap App.

While you still have to set your aperture, ISO, and focus, the TriggerTrap app lets you adjust a wide variety of settings and modes, including three ways to hold a long exposure, five time-lapse modes, and even settings that trigger the shutter based on sound levels.

I decided to give my shiny new TriggerTrap MD3-N3 (a courtesy review model for my Canon 5DMIII, for full disclosure) a test run. I am fortunate enough to live less than two blocks from the Redlands Bowl, an outdoor amphitheater that hosts a free weekly summer concert series. The final concert each year is reserved for the Redlands Symphony, who, in turn, ensures that the final song is Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. While the original score calls for actual cannon fire, the performances makes do with what they have, which are fireworks.

I set up my camera, set up the app (which has a sweet “night mode” meant to save your eyesight in the dark), and I sat back, enjoying the warm summer night, a sweet woodwinds section, and the anticipation of my first decent fireworks shot. And capture it I did.


The Redlands Bowl is explosive.

I admit, I didn’t think it would turn out this stellar. Let alone with a beverage in one hand and my phone in the other, my camera sitting next to me atop my beloved MeFoto Roadtrip tripod. Having set up my focus early, I literally just hit the button. Hot dang.

Looking to give it one more test, we took a trip to the Mojave National Preserve. I found that the main crux of effort on my part was simply finding a solid focus, and after that, I sat there, beer in one hand, phone in the other, just hitting a button. Sure, the shot looked fine in the display, but once I got the files downloaded, I found that the Pleaides wanted to come hang out just before the sun rise. Hot dang.

The night sky at Hole In The Wall Campground in the Mojave National Preserve.

The night sky at Hole In The Wall Campground in the Mojave National Preserve.


There was, however, one TINY issue I found with it. It’s wired. And worse, the cable is pretty short. BUT, it’s an easy fix. A $6 1/8″ cable extender made the cord three feet longer, which makes the already amazing product phenomenal. For under $40, you can snag yourself a TriggerTrap at their website.