As part of our Diorite Gear launch party, co- founder Mika gave a speech introducing Diorite, as well as the goals and values we want Diorite to have and embody. Her speech is here in its entirety for folks that would like to learn more about all the Diorite Gear has to offer.
"My name is Mika Nachmani, and I am co-founder of Diorite and Cnoc Outdoors. Cnoc is the name you are probably more familiar with – our flagship product is the Vecto, which has become a must-have on thru-hikes and backpacking trips around the world. In fact, Cnoc is an entity within Minimal Gear, which is the name of the legal company Gilad and I started seven years ago.
During that time, we have been running Cnoc as a jack-of-all-trades gear company; basically, experimenting with and making all the gear Gilad wanted to have with him in the backcountry, but couldn’t find in stores. The Vecto was a surprise hit, and was followed by the Vesica, and suddenly we found ourselves with a hydration company that also made other things – trekking poles, tent stakes and more.
But the thing is, our first product was actually trekking poles. When Gilad thru-hiked the Cape Wrath Trail in Scotland in 2015 and broke yet another pair of poles, he thought that there must be a way of making a better product, and one that he could fix in the middle of nowhere if a part failed. So when he quit his job 7 or 8 months later to start a company, that’s where he began.
Back then, the poles were manufactured in China and every design change was painfully complicated and laborious – they were also not great. It was clear that we would have to keep working on the poles, and also have more products to offer. The next product, the Vecto, was a runaway success, and for a while we even stopped making poles altogether. Manufacturing in China just wasn’t working for us, and we couldn’t afford -slash couldn’t figure out- making the
So there we were, the Vecto company with various other random offerings. In the meantime, we were growing into ourselves as a company: establishing priorities in environmentalism, leave no trace principles, innovative and minimalist design, community and more. While we could embody these values in a lot of ways with our hydration product line, it became pretty clear to Gilad and I that we would need to move manufacturing of the poles to the US.
And thus began a long, painful process that resulted in our truly remarkable poles. Except, now we were a hydration company that wanted to sell poles, and there was confusion in the market about what we were doing and why. We needed to establish a distinct and separate brand, which leads us to today. Diorite Gear is a brand that makes trekking poles, tent poles and the relevant supporting accessories, currently focusing on products based on carbon fiber.
We believe in the right to repair, harkening back to Gilad’s frustrations on the Cape Wrath Trail. We are walking our talk about shorter supply chains, for local economic as well as environmental benefits. We are able to execute on faster innovations, while always pursuing minimalist and durable designs.
What does all this look like in the real world? Minimal Gear used to only trade as Cnoc but now will have another brand under its umbrella: Diorite Gear. This allows us to put the right amount of time, people and resource where they are needed most. Additionally, Diorite will benefit from all of the work we have done over the last 7 years: Minimal Gear is a certified B-Corp that gives 20% of its profits to nonprofits operating in the outdoors space. We have adopted a section of the PCT and are out there regularly doing trail maintenance, and we have been working on component recyclability for years.
There is no anticipated change to our product line – we have carbon fiber trekking poles with EVA or cork grips, sold as singles or as pairs. We have tent stakes, which actually start as a happy accident. The tent poles were a result of cross adventure people wanting to take the same tent they use with trekking poles, also on bikepacking trips, just as we do ourselves: in our family we use the same tents for backpacking and bikepacking, but just exchange the poles for a lighter and more compact option when bikepacking.
None of these products are going to go away. Not only they are not going away, they will become better without changing any of the dimensions, allowing for back version compatibility. We look forward to the more focused, deliberate and intentional brand identity that Diorite will allow us to exemplify. Diorite is a company committed to shortening our supply chain – as far as we know, we are the only company making our poles in the US, with component parts sourced from the US wherever possible. We will continue to make our carbon fiber poles, right here in Portland, with carbon fiber from another small business just up the road in Mount Vernon, Washington – that’s a four hour drive away. That company is called Goodwinds, and they also supplied the carbon fiber for
the NASA Mars drone, which is very cool. Gilad designed the quick lock here, and they are made in Corvallis, an hour away. While we can’t make cork in the US, we are working on creating a process by which we could recycle cork already stateside and mold it into our grips.
And this isn’t just for us – we are working to develop a compressed cork manufacturing industry here in Portland – an example of our dedication to innovation, the environment and sourcing component parts as locally as possible.
Looking forward, we would like to be able to offer aluminum made poles, but currently have no access to the materials and processes we would need to make them. We might be able to find a domestic partner to help us with it, just like Goodwinds, and if not, we will just have to do what we are doing with our grips, which is to reshore a whole industry that makes, anodizes and finishes aluminum tubes for our poles. It’s a big project, but something we are all excited about.
Something that I think is particularly great about this new brand and the way it approaches gear, is the modular aspect of it all. Poles designed for different uses have subtle changes that make them more appropriate for the right activity: backpacking, backcountry skiing, mountaineering, ski mountaineering and more. All use poles, but the poles have slightly different configurations. By bringing the grip manufacturing in house, we can offer you a pole that can have modular
parts according to your activity: cork for summer, EVA for winter, long grips for backcountry skiing or even a built in whippet, similar to an ice axe, for ski mountaineering. You will be able to buy one pair of poles with the right grips for each of the variety of activities you go out on. As we bring more manufacturing in house (like we are already doing with the cork and aluminum, but may also do with other parts), the opportunities are pretty much endless. We will continue to be a company driven by innovation, epic adventures and environmentalism.
Before I let you all enjoy your beer in peace and the great panel we have coming up, it is worth mentioning one last thing: we started by making Z style poles that were 5 segments, and were small and quick to deploy. Somewhere in the reshoring of the production we had to drop them, but they are still on the design table and we very much still intend on find a way to make collapsible, light, domestically made and fully repairable Z-style poles. A little part of our origin story, but done in true Diorite style.
That’s all I have! Thank you for supporting the launch of a brand that will hopefully produce some of your favorite pieces of gear in a way that makes us all feel a little bit better about where we are and what we are doing in the world. Thank you."