Packaging Digest

VISIONARY AWARDS 2013 – Packaging Development & Design Finalist
The Vapur INC. and Ampac team, consisting of Jason Carignan, Vapur co-founder and chief design officer, and Sal Pellingra, Ampac director of innovation.
The awards entry quoted Carignan on the team’s success: “Ampac not only partnered with Vapur to develop the original Vapur Anti-Bottle, but by partnering through their IDEA program, Vapur was able to develop a defined short- and long term product strategy that was perfectly aligned with our strategic growth goals. Many of the product concepts generated during the IDEA session were subsequently refined by Vapur and introduced to the market, providing significant company growth.”

Women’s Adventure

Vapur MicroFilter. This ultra lightweight military-grade filter and bottle system capably filters 99.9999% of bacteria out of even the nastiest of water sources, transforming muck into something super safe and tasty to drink. Chemical-free and only 2.7 ounces, the MicroFilter removes 99.9% of Giardia- and Cryptosporidium-causing microorganisms. $69.99;


10th Annual Portillo Superstars Ski Camp

Written by Vapur Pro Team member, Chris Davenport.

I just finished my fourteenth year in a row visiting Portillo, Chile during the month of August.  The last ten of those years have been spent running my successful Portillo Superstars ski camp, a week of good, hard-skiing, geared-toward experts looking to up their game. My history with Portillo goes much further back however.

My Dad came here for a few years in the ‘60’s as a ski racer, so I grew up hearing all sorts of tales about this amazing ski resort hidden high in the Andes Mountains.  My Dad and his teammates would stop a few times on the flight down to refuel in places like Panama City or Lima or Quito, since the planes couldn’t make it all the way on one tank.  These were the days before the international highway that links Chile and Argentina through the high pass at Portillo, so after arriving in Santiago, they hopped on an overnight train, inevitably with several bottles of Pisco, and settled in for the long grind up the mountain.  Hearing these tales as a kid made Portillo sound larger than life – a place where ski dreams came true.

The bird's-eye view of Hotel Portillo - a virtual "cruise ship" in the mountains.

The bird’s-eye view of Hotel Portillo – a virtual “cruise ship” in the mountains.

I first came to Portillo back in 2000 to run a ski photography competition called the Andes Photo Challenge.  Partnering with Skiing Magazine, I brought six of the world’s top ski photographers and their athlete of choice to Portillo for a week of shooting a variety of subjects, including air, powder, and lifestyle. After the photo challenge concept was played out, I needed to find another way to come to Portillo, make some money, and ski every day with my friends.  Portillo, with its incredible snow, terrain, and hotel/party life, has a way of getting under your skin and becoming a bit of an addiction. The camp concept was born and that first year I invited Shane McConkey, Wendy Fisher, and Chris Anthony to coach along side me.  Somehow I convinced twelve bold souls to sign up and we were off.  Shane was with us for the first six years of the camp, and early on I added Mike Douglas and Ingrid Backstrom as well.  Now it’s grown so much that I’ve added a sixth coach, Daron Rahlves, to the roster.  We also have a videographer, Jesse Hoffman, who started as a camper ten years ago and has been with me ever since. My twelve-year-old son, Stian, is on his seventh visit to Portillo this season and has been my assistant coach for a couple years.

We’ve been so lucky to get to ski with so many amazing clients over the years.  Our campers range in age from 14 to 69, both men and women, with the common theme being that everyone is pretty much an expert.  These folks trust us to show them the best snow and terrain Portillo has to offer, and we spend quite a bit of time working on skill development.  Our campers ski in small groups and with a different coach each day, so they really get to pick up lots of individual tips from some of the best skiers in the world.  Imagine ripping steep powder lines with Ingrid Backstrom one day and then Daron Rahlves the next.  Or, allowing me to guide you on a hike up a steep and deep couloir.  You could be learning to do your first 360 with Mike Douglas, the “Godfather of the New School,” or even dancing on tables in the bar with Wendy Fisher as the band rocks the stage.  Regardless, Portillo is always a good time and my camp turns it up a notch for our guests with the guiding and teaching program.

Portillo Superstars Camp owner and Vapur athlete, Chris Davenport, demonstrating technique.

Portillo Superstars Camp owner and Vapur athlete, Chris Davenport, demonstrating technique.

Another element of the camp that make sit special for our campers is all of the coaches are on new gear – meaning next year’s gear, so our guests get to check out new skis, boots, clothing, and accessories before much of the industry has even seen it. For many years Mike Douglas and Shane, and me for that matter, would show up with white, graphic-less skis to test and evaluate.  We’ve got a pretty authentic and inspired consumer group with us so they enjoy getting first looks, and in some cases, first tests of lots of new gear.  One example is this year everyone was rocking their new Vapur Anti-Bottle on the hill, as they are so easy to roll up in your ski jackets or cargo pants. Another aspect of the camp that everyone really appreciates is the media side.  Every day our resident media expert, Jesse, films and shoots images of the guests as they coach and ski with the pros.  They take home plenty of epic shots and we edit up a nice highlight real for everyone.  And in the evenings each coach gives a presentation, a slideshow of a recent trip, expedition or perhaps even a ski film segment in the works to be released in the Fall. These little details go a long way with our guests and are really fun for the coaches.

The coaches of the 2013 Portillo Superstars Camp: Mike Douglas,  Ingrid Backstrom, Chris Davenport, Wendy Fisher, Chris Anthony, & Daron Rahlves.

The coaches of the 2013 Portillo Superstars Camp: Mike Douglas, Ingrid Backstrom, Chris Davenport, Wendy Fisher, Chris Anthony, & Daron Rahlves.

Fourteen years into my relationship with Portillo, I feel like we have gotten to know each other pretty well.  It’s truly a home away from home for me during the dog days of summer here in Colorado.  I know the other coaches of the Superstars Camp agree with me when I say it’s one of the trips I look forward to most every year.

A month in the Andes allows me to ski with all sorts of amazing people, both in the camp and private clients as well.  My family comes down now every year and my boys have been lucky enough to experience some incredible skiing and deep storms over the years.  I really enjoy the opportunity to work on my own skiing while I’m down there, figuring out new ways of doing things with my body position and balance, and developing skills that really take a lifetime to even get close to figuring out.  But more than anything Portillo gives all of us a chance to share our passion for skiing with each other.  My goal at the end of our camp, and at the end of every season in Portillo, is to send people home with the best ski vacation they have ever had.  I’m proud to say that our record in that department is pretty darn strong.  So thanks to Ingrid, Wendy, Chris, Daron, Mike, Jesse, Stian, Maureen, my Dad, and most of all the Purcell Family, the owners and gatekeepers of one of the world’s greatest ski destinations.

See you next season,

The campers of the 2013 Portillo Superstars Camp.

The campers of the 2013 Portillo Superstars Camp.

Using the Vapur MicroFilter In the Field

This post was written* by Dave Polivy, owner of Tahoe Mountain Sports. When Dave is not working hard to find the best products to carry in his shop, he is out adventuring, traveling and putting all the awesome outdoor products that TMS carries to the test!

Being the gear buyer for an outdoor store might sound like a glory job, but in reality, sifting through and finding the best products to offer your loyal customers is a daunting task because of the millions of consumer-focused products that are available in a wide range of categories. Every year I go to countless trade shows, conferences and product demos to try and find the best gear on the market to ensure that Tahoe Mountain Sports has the highest quality products with all the right stuff and at the right times.

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When I first found Vapur at the Outdoor Retailer show a few years back, their products really stood out to me for their durability, cool looks and overall message to create the best reusable water bottle on the planet. We quickly brought in the 0.7L and 1.0L Element Anti-Bottles along with some of their kid’s products.

Fast forward to Spring of 2013, and Vapur sends me an email touting their new Vapur MicroFilter, weighing in at just 2.7 ounces with the capability of purifying more than 500 liters of water with one filter. In the past few years, with companies like Platypus, Evernew and even Under Armour jumping on the soft water bottle train, this was the first I had heard of a company trying to marry the weight and functionality of a soft water bottle, with a field-ready water filtration system. As any gear dork would, I had envisioned this marriage from the beginning, as it seemed the ideal way to shave the weight of a pump filtration system and combine it with an awesome soft water bottle. Keep in mind, I was already a soft water bottle convert and if you are not by now, then look out for a future TMS post about why soft water bottles are better than rigid!

I quickly hit reply to the email and made sure Tahoe Mountain Sports was on the list to receive this exciting new product the second it was ready to hit the shelves. We got our shipment in early June and it just so happened that my wife and I had a trip planned to hike to the top of Mt. Whitney to celebrate our 5th Anniversary. I will not sidetrack here, but celebrating any anniversary with a 22 mile hike ascending 6,000+ vertical feet in one direction might have been a silly idea, but as co-owners of a specialty outdoor shop in the heart of Lake Tahoe, what more could any wife ask for?

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I thought this would be one of the best places to test out the new Vapur MicroFilter because:

1) Such a long, high and exposed hike was going to demand 5-7 liters of water.
2) My Deuter Streamer reservoir could only hold 3 liters and I hate carrying more water than needed at any given time due to weight.
3) There would be ample water supply along the way.
4) I love testing gear out in the field, so what better situation to put the Vapur MicroFilter to the test.

First – Compactness of the entire system. The best feature of soft water bottles is that you can scrunch, roll, fold, and really do whatever you want to make them as small as possible when not in use or full of water. Although, one of the first things you will notice about the MicroFilter is your ability to roll, fold and flatten is limited unless you remove the filter first. Because 60 meters of hollow fiber membrane is packed into a compact, hard casing, the Vapur MicroFilter can be flattened and the bottom quarter can be folded up to a very compact size, just not as small as a soft bottle with no filter. Still smaller and lighter than any other filtration system I have ever used, this wasn’t a deal breaker.

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Second – filling the bottle. I was a bit concerned it would be difficult to fill up or top-off with the MicroFilter, especially in a shallow stream like the ones found during the summer in the High Sierra. But, because the cap and thread area are made of a harder plastic, the bottle retains a fairly wide opening and does not collapse on itself. If you have ever used a hydration reservoir, you probably understand that sometimes the inside plastic can stick to itself, making filling a total pain. Not so with the Vapur MicroFilter – it was easy to fill in a variety of environments from lakes and streams to rivers. Beware, you do have to get down on some rocks or banks to immerse the bottle in the water. If you get some sediment while filling the bottle from a natural source, not to worry, that is what the filter is for…

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Finally – filtration flow rate. I used the MicroFilter a few times throughout the day, mostly when I was trying to conserve my reservoir water for the 3 hours above any water sources (12,000 ft and above) and again when my reservoir ran dry late in the day. With first use, my snap judgment was that it was slow, hard to squeeze the water through and I couldn’t use all the water in the bottle if it was inverted…  Aside: I, as some can relate, usually demand clean drinking water to be fast, efficient, immediate and thirst quenching now. While this product provided exactly that, without the chemicals, pumping or batteries other brands require, it wasn’t the simple straw, easy flow solution your basic carbon filter provides.  I was frustrated and frankly disappointed given my love for Vapur’s other soft bottle lines.

But then, I had an “AHA!” moment. I was being hard on this product. I had hugely high hopes for a product that was not really designed to meet those specific expectations. So, I sat on a long for awhile, pondered the usefulness of this product and came up with a few conclusions:

  • For the size, weight and ease of use, this product really cannot be beat.
  • The flow rate of this product is necessary if you want safe drinking water.
  • The price of this product is exceptional for its level of filtration.
  • The Vapur MicroFilter is probably more suited for emergency settings, backup filtration options, long day hikes where additional water will be needed or just for piece of mind.
  • Currently, nobody else is producing a product quite like this on the market: a flexible bottle with a filter of this capacity. So, kudos to Vapur for taking chances and getting awesome new products into the hands of people everywhere.
  • Vapur has already made improvements to the MicroFilter since this test and there are talks of a next generation MicroFilter in the works. In these updates, it is said that flow rates will be improved, as well as the ability for the water to enter the filter at the top and the bottom; which will assist in the not being able to drink from the MicroFilter while the bottle is inverted.
  • Managing high expectations is quite hard, but this product did perform exactly as claimed and I was truly pleased with it once I adapted to the capabilities and limitations of this type of technology.

If you have any questions or comments about my experience with the Vapur MicroFilter, feel free to leave them in the comments of this post or visit the Tahoe Mountain Sports Blog for additional gear reviews, videos and pretty pics like the one below!

– Dave Polivy, owner of Tahoe Mountain Sports.

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*Vapur edited and approved this blog post.

The Stressful and Awesome Junior Wheelchair Sports Camp

Written by Vapur Pro Team member, Laura Bylund.

Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital, UCSB Department of Recreation and Vapur, July 22-26, 2013

Every summer, about 45 children and teens with disabling diseases, disorders and spinal cord injuries come from far and wide to the UCSB Recreation Center for a week of intense sporting organized by Santa Barbara Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital. They play basketball and volleyball, racquetball and rugby. They go swimming and handcycling, and have tennis lessons with three-time Paralympian, Anthony Lara. They also engage in adventure activities such as kayaking, ropes course, SCUBA and, of course, what kind of sports camp would be complete without rock climbing?

Real interest in adaptive climbing has been sparked among many wheelchair users across the globe. Perhaps it is the sport of rock climbing becoming more mainstream, or maybe inspiration from famous disabled athletes such as blind mountaineer, Erik Weihenmayer, incomplete tetraplegic competition climber, Fran Brown and the more recent scaling of El Capitan by Stephen Wampler, who has cerebral palsy. Either way, despite the growing interest, working with people with disabilities is still a very complex and out of the ordinary thing for most vertical sports professionals and high angle rope workers.

The Junior Wheelchair Sports Camp has both excited and panicked me for nearly a decade. Beyond the usual concerns that come with any children’s program, including the naturally worrisome parents and doting caretakers, each year purports a completely new test for me and my staff. The kids come to us both excited and terrified themselves, and we are responsible for the quality of their experience.

As vertical world risk managers, harnessing and handling these courageous 6 to 19 year-olds is some of the most challenging work we do. Helping them get to the top isn’t the hard part; we have strong arms and mechanical advantage to thank for that. It is more the meticulous setup and unconventional hard and soft skills that go with it.

We rely on camp staff and volunteers to ask the right questions and transfer the person when necessary for outfitting. Even in my 9th year, I still feel uncomfortable asking whether a camper can support him/herself while we slip the harness on. And while those aforementioned inspirational climbers have painstakingly whittled their systems down to a science, we are given but minutes to determine a specialized setup for each child.

“You’re pretty buff, right?” I ask a camper named Alex from one of the younger groups. This is my standard question for those with high functioning upper bodies. “Yesss!” he replied in a deep voice, flexing his biceps, fists clenched overhead with a bodybuilder grunt.

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Alongside the lighthearted joking nature, this is actually useful information when determining how to connect campers into the system; the stronger their arm and trunk strength, the less intensive the harnessing. Able-bodied rock climbers take their basic abilities for granted, using core strength to stay upright during a fall.

Paraplegics and quadriplegics have decreased muscular tone in their lower extremities, contributing to a top heaviness that makes them very likely to flip over when they let go of the wall or are simply lifted from their wheelchair. A typical seat harness alone is not enough, warranting the integration of a chest or full body harness and even a head sling in extreme cases.

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With safety as the overall goal, comfort and functionality is closely considered. One of the most difficult things to do is put yourself in their climbing shoes. We take precautions to keep body parts such as knees and elbows from dragging against the abrasive wall.

We also need to think about the less noticeable discomforts. It’s hard to imagine not being able to wiggle around in your harness or stand up on something when your feet start to tingle. Some of these campers wouldn’t even be able to feel the sensation of decreased blood flow to their limbs, which can be very dangerous! Prolonged suspension with limited mobility can lead to harness induced pathology, or orthostatic syndrome, which is a major concern.

Even with my (hopefully) silent and somewhat farfetched paranoia, I eagerly look forward to this camp every single year. It just so happens to be the most rewarding work we do. I usually finish the week with a sense of accomplishment, feeling like I did something important to better the lives of these children. For some, it is their first time ever doing anything like this.

“It’s really inspiring to see them do what they never thought they’d be able to,” said UCSB Climbing Center Supervisor, Danielle Broder. “A lot of the kids were really hesitant, so to see their faces light up when they did end up climbing and conquer their fears was really special.”

The smiles and lit up faces came early this year, as each camper was given their very own bright and shiny Vapur Anti-Bottle on the first day of camp. I was pleased to see the bottles clipped to the back of their wheelchairs and put at ease knowing they were staying hydrated, helping to prevent that dreaded harness pathology.

“Working the wheelchair sports camp was an incredible opportunity,” said Hayden Lord, a Climbing Center employee. “Seldom have I met more appreciative kids, or seen more genuine smiles.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

– Laura Bylund

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