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In the Adventure Biz: Outdoor Element

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When going adventuring it is always best to be overly prepared. Just ask Michael Mojica, who spent most of his time in aerospace and military vehicle modifications before pursuing his love for the great outdoors by co-founding Outdoor Element, a gear company founded in Colorado.

I’m from Texas and discovered Colorado about six and a half years ago. With about six months of acclimation, my neighbor asked me if I wanted to join him to hike a fourteener. I quickly said, yes and then quickly followed that response with, “What’s a fourteener?” 

Dain explained, and a couple of weeks later I found myself in a car at 4:30 in the morning headed to Mt. Yale in the Collegiate Peaks near Buena Vista. I thought it would be tough but completely manageable. I was a runner equipped with some healthy lungs and decent legs under me. 

Once I got above treeline (around 12,500 feet) I found myself counting my tiny steps. If I got to 50 steps without stopping, I would take a 15–20 second break and I was completely satisfied with the progression. 

Before I reached the top, I met a young lady headed down. It was apparent she had fallen or rolled an ankle. Her steps were extremely weighted to one side. I stopped her and asked her to sit down. She conceded. I took off her mid-top hiking boot and opened my day-pack. I kept a simple first-aid kit (and a bit of simple first-aid knowledge) and pulled out a roll of self-adhesive bandage. I wrapped up her ankle, she thanked me and headed below treeline. 

I made it to the top and looked down upon the world. I’m not sure why it was so emotional, but it was. It was as if I was Moses and I was making my trip up to visit the Almighty. It was perfect. 

Upon further reflection, I realized a couple of things about the young lady. First, I was pretty bummed that I did not offer Motrin, which I had in a different compartment in my pack. Secondly, I realized how many of us aren’t really prepared for the small mishaps that we might face in the great outdoors. That notion is part of what inspires our designs at Outdoor Element.

A couple of years later I was visiting Colorado Mountain Club in Golden. I was taking a couple of basic mountaineering courses and one of the instructors said, in regard to fire creation, “Two is one, and one is none.” He explained that if we are smart, we should always have two ways to create fire. 

I thought this was wise and had already helped design a fire-starting survival bracelet, The Kodiak, with a patented slide-release buckle with integrated hardened stainless-steel striker and a ferro rod. 

However, my young daughter had a hard time creating fire with it because it took a certain level of skill to aim the sparks. I decided to implement a simple spark wheel into a carabiner. I noticed that the majority of the outdoor community had a carabiner on their pack or keys. It’s that simple clip that says, “I belong in the outdoors.” I added some other simple features to the design, including a bottle opener, screw-driver tip and small utility blade and the Firebiner was born. 

The Firebiner is the one-ounce solution to my mountaineering instructor’s comments. I know if I get myself in an emergency situation, I have the means to create fire. It’s simple to use and easy to clip on your key or pack. Even though it is small and simple, it invokes confidence. In an emergency, fire can be a game changer that offers light, warmth and protection. Stay warm, be seen, be found. 

Explore with confidence. The beautiful backdrop of the Colorado Rocky Mountains is truly an inspiration behind Outdoor Element gear.

You can purchase the Firebiner and Kodiak on the Outdoor Element website.