1st June 2018 | Words by Jack Hart @ WildBounds HQ
Todd: “We had a customer who decided to throw it off a mountain to test how indestructible it was.” WB: “Oh, wow.” Todd: “Yeah, it was a live video on YouTube too, so we had no control at all.” WB: “How did it do?” Todd: “It survived.”
The above is, although not exactly a typical story from VSSL founder Todd Weimer, not a surprising one, and for a couple of reasons. For a start, their products - long-barrelled torches filled with survival essentials - are tailor made for outdoors folk and survivalist enthusiasts, so the ‘mountain drop’ test suddenly makes (a bit) more sense. Secondly, the products themselves are hardy, rugged and built to front up to extreme environments all over the world, so its 100% pass rate isn’t too surprising either.
We’re at ISPO in Munich, the biggest outdoor adventure convention in the world, and Todd is explaining just how VSSL came to be, from the aforementioned Camp Supplies model and its later editions. These days, they’ve expanded their range to include a Flask version (with shot glasses, naturally), a First Aid edition and even a Zombie model, complete with a four-inch metal spike for ‘negotiating’ with the undead. They’ve collaborated on special edition models with brands like The North Face and Suunto, too.
The Supplies is where it all started, though. Back home in Northern Saskatchewan, Canada, Todd had been creating homemade survival canisters as a kid, establishing the principles of what would become VSSL, albeit in a more rustic, primitive version. 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 kit. Packed up in an easy-to-carry PVC tube, they were perfect for stashing in a rucksack, guaranteeing that Todd would have the basic essentials for surviving and thriving in the wild.
The PVC pipes have been swapped out for a military-spec, anodised aluminium tube, and the contents organised into stackable metal tins, but the principles of the Supplies 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 civilisation. Perhaps the greatest addition to the Supplies, 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. Todd’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 the hand. His inspirations for the design include old Airstream caravans and retro aluminium aeroplanes; that smooth metal look that isn’t tarnished by a scratch or two when it’s been exposed to the outdoors. Or tossed down a mountain.
As time moves on, VSSL are evolving their products too. Customisable canisters are available for order on their website and miniature versions with carabiner clips are in the works, including with a stove housed inside one version. The beauty of their products is that the base concept of the VSSL is infinitely adaptable for a huge 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 endorsement we’re more than happy to make.