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January 15th, 2014 MARTIN CIZMAR | Culture Features
 

Buy Portland: Chop Local

A local gear guide for Portland’s urban lumberjacks.

cultfeat_4011(lumber_scroll)Photos by Matt Wong
1. Bluer Denim

Classic taper in raw selvage

$148, bluerdenim.com

These rugged, all-American jeans are designed in Portland, made from cotton grown in Georgia, woven on shuttle looms in North Carolina and sewn together in Los Angeles. These jeans aren’t washed after they’re cut, sewn and riveted, so if you wear them for a few months without washing (air denim out after each wearing and put them in the freezer inside a plastic bag to kill any smelly bacteria) your pair will take on the perfect creases your legs make as they bend to roll a log into the river or grab the last tall boy from the cooler. Bluer sells online, offering home try-on for three pairs at a time and a 14-day no-hassle return policy.


2. Deller Designs

Eight-panel wool cap with earflap

$40, shaundeller.com

Shaun Deller lives with his wife and son in a yurt outside the town of Deer Island, just north of St. Helens. For the last decade he’s been perfecting the design of his snug wool caps, which he calls “retro-grouch.” Hand-sewn from mostly recycled materials in the studio he built from an old round-roofed shepherd’s wagon, Deller’s cyclist-inspired caps are designed to tuck under a bike helmet. The little brim on Deller’s cap keeps the drizzle out of his face while he tends to a flock of Shetland sheep, so it should stand up to the breeze from a passing MAX train.


3. Trust Co.

Single bit ax

$235, trustco.us

Perhaps the ultimate tool for Portland’s bourgeois outdoorsperson, this restored ax from year-old Trust Co. is actually a work of art. Trust Co. doesn’t forge new steel, but rather grinds old paint and rust off well-used blades from Collins, Norlund or Craftsman to get a shiny metal blade that’s refitted with a hickory handle and a sheath of Oregon leather. Yes, you can get a very nice new American-made Estwing ax for $40 at Home Depot but, damn it, this thing is gorgeous.


4. Gerber

Gator combo ax II

$50, gerbergear.com

For the modern lumberjack on a budget—or, you know, one seeking use beyond display—this inexpensive short-handled ax is a nimble log-buster to toss in your car for the next camp-out. The handle—longer than a hatchet, shorter than a full-size ax—is made of glass-filled nylon that’s strong but relatively lightweight and covered in reassuring rubber. And, for situations better suited to a saw, there’s a 6-inch hacksaw tucked inside the handle.

5. Leatherman

Style PS

$26.50, leatherman.com

Not so long ago, men had pocket knives and Leatherman tools handy on their keychains. Then came 9/11. In the security crackdown, many of America’s tiniest tools were tossed in a TSA trashcan by frustrated owners who forgot to stash them in their glove box. Now, they’re back and niftier than ever. Portland-based Leatherman—which, coincidentally, makes its tools right next to PDX—offers this “travel-friendly” gadget (TSA won’t certify private products) with pliers, scissors, screwdrivers and a clip that will open your beer and hang onto your keys in that white plastic bowl. Also pictured, the Jam skateboard tool ($20).


6. Danner

Mountain light

$330, danner.com

Back during the Carter presidency, Danner introduced a hiking boot so ruggedly stylish it’s still in demand today. At 62 ounces, the “Light” is double the weight of most modern hiking boots, but that weight comes from hefty full-grain leather, a sock of waterproof Gore-Tex and a sturdy Vibram sole. This is Portland’s hiking boot: a classic look welcome in a pub but more at home strapped into a pair of snowshoes thumping around Trillium Lake. They look even better with some mud and a few scratches.


7. Pendleton

Lodge shirt in red-and-black check

$115, pendleton-usa.com

Stumptown’s main claim on lumberjack chic—besides all the trees we used to cut down—is the iconic wool products made by this Portland-based company. This black-and-red check shirt was built from wool woven at the company’s mills, including the century-old facility across the Columbia in Washougal, Wash. You can call yourself an Oregonian without owning anything made by Pendleton, but you’re just talking. Also pictured: a matching Motor Robe blanket ($100) and the Warren jacket in green ($280).


8. Portland Beard Company

Beard oil

$20, portlandbeardcompany.com

Beard oil sounds like a gag gift for a friend who won’t shave his 5 o’clock shadow, but it’s actually quite useful for furry-faced men with dry skin. Look at the label of this bottle and you’ll see it contains argan oil, a vitamin E-rich fluid culled from a Moroccan tree, which finds its way into lots of fancy cosmetics. It might seem funny at first, but the WW staffer who tried it found his facial hair grew ever more lustrous as the skin beneath stopped itching. Each bottle lasts two to three months, depending on the size of the facebush.


9. Orox Leather Co.

Rolling buckle belt

$100, oroxleather.com

Orox Leather, a Portland-based family business, makes everything from dressy handbags to old-timey footballs designed for executive desks, in its Old Town shop. The tawny brown vintage football ($120) and MacBook sleeve ($200) are beautiful, but the best purchase is a classic everyday belt cut from English bridle leather that looks ready for a few decades of faithful service. Also pictured: the Orox belt pouch ($90) and classic billfold ($98).


10. Geier

Deerskin work gloves

$54, geierglove.com

Available at Portland Outdoor Store, 304 SW 3rd Ave., 222-1051.

A favorite of equestrians, duck hunters and gentlemanly motorbikers, Geier’s deerskin gloves are buttery smooth and hand-sewn to fit like a second skin. Made in Centralia, Wash., where the company has been based since 1927, they’re not cheap, but the side-buckle version is ready to cushion your hands through the dissection of a full Sitka spruce. As with most fine leather products, the color improves with age.


Photos by Matt Wong, words by Martin Cizmar. Know of cool products designed or made in Portland? Drop us a line at mcizmar@wweek.com.

 
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