Gear | A Continuous Lean.

Direct Line: Marc Newson and the Montblanc M

Sep 2nd, 2015 | Categories: David Coggins, Gear, Writing Instruments | by David Coggins


What we carry everyday inspires devotion. That’s why people obsess over watches and bags, and know their phones’ width and weight and texture without even looking. Not many set out with a fountain pen, but those who do leave an impression. This group of hearty souls has feelings, some quite strong, about all details of their pens. And that’s a good thing—it’s refreshing to know there are still people who obsess over the width of a nib. (We see you Big Apple Pen Club.)

So it was natural that when Montblanc approached Marc Newson to design a pen, it made an impact. Both are defining names in their fields. Newson, of course, is the industrial designer who’s rumored to take over at Apple when Jony Ive moves on. He’s worked with everybody from Jaeger Le Coultre to Heineken, designing furniture, airplanes, backpacks—it’s not uncommon to see his work at Gagosian gallery or setting records at auction houses. Montblanc of course needs no introduction, they’ve been making pens since 1906, in their Hamburg factory (they’re German, not Swiss, despite the name). The company’s line has expanded to include finely made watches, bags and leather accessories. But the fountain pen still represents the soul of the company.

Montblanc had never worked with a designer outside the company. They turned to Newson, who draws regularly, and gave him free rein. The result is the new Montblanc M. It’s singular and elegant, something you want to look at and want to use. The cap snaps shut with a satisfying click, and an internal magnet aligns it with the base of the pen. It has a perfectly measured weight and writes beautifully (even for those of us who are left-handed, and notoriously struggle with fountain pens).

Stuff That Gets Used.

Jan 5th, 2015 | Categories: Al James, Gear | by Al James

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2014 was a big one for me – bought our first house, a new baby boy arrived in August, I quit my band after a decade of touring and started a new business. With all this change I found myself doing lots of grown-up (i.e. old man) things – cleaning gutters, walking dogs, changing diapers, working long hours and a fair bit of fishing as well. As the new year begins I took stock of the items I use every single day and this is the list I came up with – no sponsors, no pretense – just the stuff that got used and gets used all the time. —Al James

Patagonia Nano-Air Jacket

Normally I would say leave well enough alone, but Yvon Chouinard and his Patagonia crew tinkered with their already awesome Nano Jacket and made it better. The Nano-Air has the same lightweight, super-warm design, but now it has a little stretch in the fabric and the texture of the material is much better – softer and lighter. It’s still water-resistant and breathable like the original Nano, but the fit and feel is far superior. This is my go-to for layering up on a steelhead trip, trail running in the elements and for walking the dog every morning and night in the Oregon rain and cold.

Bobo’s Mountain Sugar – Dark and Robust

When you marry a Mainer you have to resign yourself to the fact that there’s going to be a lot more maple syrup in your life. When our secret stash of Maine Grade D black tar syrup ran out, I started looking for another source and came upon Bobo’s Mountain Sugar. It’s a small family farm run by Tina Hartell and Skye Chalmers in Weston, Vermont and they make fantastic maple syrup. Their tagline is “A Taste of Tree” and it’s right on the money. Their grade B syrup (Dark and Robust) is smoky, earthy and flavorful – suitable for pancakes, granola bowls or (my favorite) after-dinner shots.

Tudor Heritage Black Bay

I wrote about my Tudor Heritage Ranger back in July and any doubts I may have had about owning and wearing an automatic watch have been abandoned. I love putting this watch on every day and I reference the Heritage Black Bay for this list because that would be the next watch I buy. Like everyone else I dig a Rolex Submariner, but a Tudor Heritage Black Bay with snowflake dials just says something different.

Yucatán Escape | Warm Weather Packing Ideas

Feb 24th, 2014 | Categories: Al James, Gear, Travel | by Al James

Tulum (1)

I’ve always viewed a winter get-away to warmer weather as a bit of a luxury, but this year with the exceptionally harsh and unrelenting cold, it feels more like a life line. With a ten day trip to the Yucatán Peninsula (Cancún, Isla Cozumel, Tulum) planned and booked at the end of last year, anticipating the vacation became almost as important as actually getting there. With the extra time to prepare, my packing became more thoughtful, more streamlined and more precise. This trip I got a few things right for once and I’m happy to share what I learned. —AJ

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Elevate Your Camping Kit | Snow Peak Portland

Nov 19th, 2013 | Categories: Al James, Camping, Gear | by Al James


There are few things that make me long for summer camping trips and weekends of trout fishing like my Snow Peak Hozuki Lantern.  Its ingenious and elegant design immediately brings to mind the soft internal glow of a dome tent, slugging down tumblers of rye around the campfire with friends and reading late into the night tucked into my little camper van. It’s a product that actually inspires me to plan a trip simply because I get such a kick out of using this smart little piece of gear. This connection falls directly in line with Snow Peak’s brand promise as the “natural lifestyle creator.” Their tools and gear truly inspire a life lived in ease and harmony with the outdoors.


Wanted & Acquired | X100 Accoutrements

Aug 26th, 2011 | Categories: Camera, Gear | by Michael Williams

Three things have been on my list of wanted items to compliment my newish Fujifilm X100 camera: a leather strap, lens hood & adapter and a leather case. The X100 has quickly become my preferred camera because of it’s light weight, ease of transport and amazing ability to take great photos. In fact, it has prevented the Canon 5D from coming on all but one of my recent trips. This is further compounded by the fact that the X100 is a lot of fun to shoot and not at all bad to look at. I don’t think I have ever owned any single thing that has garnered more attention; everyone asks about it.

Everyday Carry

Mar 30th, 2011 | Categories: Gear | by Michael Williams

There’s a website called Everyday Carry where people document the stuff they carry, well, everyday. Sort of seems silly when you think about it, but for me it is a pretty cool concept into “gear” (aka material things) and also into the psyche of the minds of men. Some people would brand the photos and contributions on EDC as leaning more toward “mall ninja” than modern gentlemen, but at the end of the day who knows what these people do. The site could be read by half of the staff of Blackwater (or whatever name those scary dudes are operating under now) which would make all of the guns and knives completely plausible. Or not. Either way, I don’t care much. If you have a gun permit and carry concealed I suppose that is your right (if it is legal of course).

Carrying a pocket knife is something I have done nearly all of my life. My dad always carries a pocket knife and it is something that I embraced as soon as he let me. This concept (carrying a knife) is something that was slightly lost on the readers of Boing Boing, which sort of surprised me. I don’t see the big deal with carrying a pocket knife, even in NYC or whatever big city.