As we've been building events, the podcast, and the Navigator Network, we've had the overarching vision in mind of making dirtbaggery more accessible: that is, making serious outdoor adventure something that more people feel like they can do. With events and the podcast, we do that through building up a community because we believe that knowing cool people makes you cooler yourself because they give you both beta and concrete examples of what is humanly possible. With the Navigator Network we're aiming to make it simple to tap into local knowledge when you're trying a new activity or going to a new place.
We've been doing this, basically, because 1) it's a ton of fun and 2) we want to address problems that we've run into ourselves - the challenge of learning new activities, and the challenge of figuring out how to get where you want to go when you're travelling and keeping money in the local economy vs. paying some amorphous, overpriced adventure travel agency.
And as we focus on the nuts and bolts of getting people outside, and looking to grow this even more, we've been actively looking for businesses and non-profits who are on the same path, but are solving problems that we can't at the moment. Which is why, when Angel happened across a startup out of Southern California called Toyroom a few weeks ago, she messaged their founder (a dude named Dane Baker) and asked if he wanted to be friends. Like us, they're just getting started but are picking up steam, and like us they're addressing a key problem for dirtbags: finding gear to try out when they're travelling or just want to try out a new sport without investing a ton of money up front.
Dane did want to be friends, and we're excited to point you in their direction because 1) for people interested in the Navigator experience, they provide a great resource and 2) we think some of you might want to make a little cheddar on the side, or save a little cheddar on gear, using their platform. (Full disclosure - while we're not getting paid for this, Dane is telling his people about us too. We promise that's because the excitement is mutual and not because we get a kickback. We'll be transparent if we do that kind of thing!)
What it is, how it helps
It's also a potential source of side income we're interested in, so we put our kayaks up on their site if you want to check out a personal example of what the experience looks like. (Okay, I guess this is the part where the kickback thing comes in, but just if you rent our boats! They're so cool! You won't regret it!)
Sharing is easy in theory, but there are reasons, I think, that it doesn't happen, and they seem to do a nice job of addressing them. People don't want to get their stuff stolen, so Toyroom keeps basic client data on hand to safeguard against that. People don't want to get their stuff broken (or break something expensive that isn't theirs!), so Toyroom has a team that assesses for appropriate followup if an accident does happen. People need to know that they can trust the strangers they're booking with, so they have a rating and review system, an internal messaging system for communication, and a secure payment system to keep things honest and upfront. People want to know they aren't renting junk, so they filter for quality gear.
This is exactly the part of the "outdoor industry" that we want to promote and be a part of - people helping people. We like what Toyroom is doing and we hope their service grows, which is why we're telling you about it. At the moment they, like us, are building up their network, but they don't have a ton of representation in the places where you're likely reading from (the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada). So, we hope you all will check out what they're doing, and if you're interested, sign up! Or, rent something - like we're hoping to when we (fingers crossed) get down to Veracruz, MX again this December!