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Trail Tales

Quality and Craftsmanship: Home Brews, Woodworking, Oboz and me

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As a hiker, woodworker, and home brewer I sometimes feel like an anomaly in our hyper-connected, instant gratification society. I’m someone who loves the experience of creating the life that I want, not just buying stuff. Whether it is the sensory experience of drinking a saison that tastes exactly as I imagined it would a month prior when I bought the grain and hops, or the tactile and physical experience of getting a smooth finish on a woodworking project, I enjoy the process of making quality things.

The author brewing a saison. Photo Credit Kat Andrew
The author brewing a saison. Photo: Kat Andrew

My experiences on the trail have also given me similar hard-earned rewards such as sunrises on a lonely beach and the hypoxia-induced dream of climbing above 18,000 ft.

Citlaltepetl Pico de Orizaba Mexico. Photo Credit Matt Allenbaugh
Citlaltepetl, Pico de Orizaba, Mexico. Photo: Matt Allenbaugh

But it takes time to develop the skill to master our crafts. The journey is humbling and our mistakes evident. In my early home brewing days exploding bottles of wild berry stout awakened me. My coffee table holds the scars of early lessons in finishing, and I’ve had poison ivy in places I care not to disclose. So many hours have been spent alone in my basement with a hand plane and sandpaper or my brew kettle, but the pieces I have created in those hours are some of the things that I am the most proud of.

s coffee table under construction. Photo Credit Matt Allenbaugh
Matt's coffee table under construction. Photo: Matt Allenbaugh

Being able to create the goods in life that I want—not just accepting life off the shelf—has given me a sense of self-sufficiency. In those lonely hours I have learned not to rush the process, and to pay attention to details, the direction of the wood grain and the temperature of my mash and fermentation.

Hiking and backpacking are much the same. They are about creating the experiences that we want and being self-reliant. Carrying less, focusing on quality and relying on our wisdom allows us to see places many never will. We develop the skills to go farther and into new environments. Learn to read the clouds and the subtle changes in wind that tell us it will be raining when we wake at dawn, and gain the confidence to know we will be safe and comfortable when the temperatures dip below zero.

I suppose this is why I was attracted to Oboz to begin with. These shoes and boots were built for quality. There are no gimmicks, just durable, beautiful footwear that goes the distance. When I applied to be an ambassador, I was drawn to the company’s ethics and commitment to quality. Craftsmanship is a process, and Oboz has honed that process to create some of the best boots I’ve ever worn.

Quality craftsmanship—this is the result of extensive hours devoted. For me, brewing beer, woodworking, or backpacking, I rely on skills I’ve developed over time. Also—I have made many, many mistakes and still have much to learn from my mentors. But making mistakes doesn’t make me feel diminished. Instead it allows me to learn even more about the things I love.

And isn’t that what we all want? To be able to look back when our last day comes and feel proud of the life we crafted.

Matt Allenbaugh is a backpacker, cyclist, climber, home brewer and woodworker living in beautiful Roanoke, VA. Follow his adventures in craft and on trail on Instagram @mattallenbaugh

At the heart of everything we do are the folks who make the magic happen. A group of likeminded footwear-industry vets who left our big-brand jobs back in 2007 intent on doing business a better way. 

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