Tell us about you ?
Joe: My name is Joe La Pointe, I grew up in the Midwest and my love for the outdoors started when I was just a kid. My dad would take my brother and I camping. That soon turned into Camping trips with dirt bikes (motorcycles) In Baldwin, Michigan, where you can take off right from your campsite and ride for miles and miles. Once I got older I began Hiking and riding a street bicycle, mainly in Whitewater, Wisconsin, which has some of the most beautiful roads and trails around. Friends and I would travel there to do late night rides on dark roads through the corn fields and Kettle Moraine Park. I moved to Oregon around 2016 where I began Hiking a lot more. Timberline Trail, Rouge River Trail, and the Kalmiopsis wilderness, these are some of the best times I’ve had being on the West Coast.
How did you come to hiking? more specifically UL hiking?
Joe: I did most of my hiking early in life on the Ice Age Trail. Before I moved to the West coast a friend had introduced me to Thru Hiking when he was preparing to hike the PCT with his brother. Just last year I did my first Thru Hike with that same friend on the Colorado Trail. It was a journey that changed my life. When I was preparing for the trip I had done quite a bit of research and decided a Zimmerbuilt frameless 40L pack and only the essentials would make the best trip possible. I used the SMD gatewood cape as my tarp and rain gear, cold soaked my dinners, and slept on a Gossamer Gear nightlight torso sleeping pad. These choices might not work for everyone, but I loved them and it worked out perfectly.
What is your UL hiking vision?
Joe: I feel like the UL hiking mentality is all about simplicity and efficiency. You’re able to focus more on what you love while on trail, whether it’s stopping and enjoying the scenery or just crushing miles every day, going UL makes you able to concentrate only on the task at hand. I try to incorporate this belief in my everyday life, and my business.
Why did you decide to make your equipment?
Joe: For years I’ve been very interested in the properties and durability of different Fabrics. That translated into making gear when I picked up a small Sewing machine from a goodwill and began with making drawstring bags and fleece caps. I was inspired by the MYOG makers on Reddit and decided to expand into Alpha Direct and other polartec materials. Initially I only made Caps but soon made a couple hoodies which got great reception. I now make Hoodies, pants, and caps, from Hemp, Merino, and Synthetics and will be venturing into other fabrics and products as I continue to grow.
Can you tell me tell me the story behind your brand names?
Joe: I played around with different names at first, like TAMET Gear (These Are My EveryThing) but eventually decided on FarPointe. Not only does it have part of my last name, and I’m able to pay respect to my family, but It seemed like everytime we were hiking, we were always trying to reach the farthest point, or at least wanted to. There’s also a bit of an easter egg in the name. I am a huge fan of Star Trek, and the first episode of The Next Generation was called “Encounter at Farpoint” 😉 The show always tries to end on a good moral ground and to do the right thing, which makes me feel very optimistic about the future, even if it is just Sci-Fi.
How do you feel when you see hikers with your equipment on the trails?
Joe: I have yet to see anyone on trail wearing my equipment, mainly since I’ve only really started selling gear at the beginning of this year, and haven’t had the chance to get on a trail yet. I do receive a lot of complements on the build and fit of my different products and that always makes me feel great.
For you there is an ecological impact to buy are equipment from small manufacturers?
Joe: Absolutely. The more small shops we see, the more you are able to customise your gear. I think it’s a far more efficient way for the industry to develop, by the consumers saying what they want and are looking for from their gear, rather than big companies putting out products with limited choices. Though I do think larger “cottage companies” like Gossamer Gear or Zpacks are still producing great products and are listening to their customers, which is key in any industry.
How do you see the small shop in 2021?
Joe: I was planning the Continental Divide Trail this year, But once I started receiving so much interest and customers I felt the responsible thing to do was focus on the business. I see it quickly expanding from custom orders Via Email and Instagram, to a busy online shop, and hopefully getting some products in different stores.
Do you think that people want more and more to turn to small shop ?
Joe: Yes, definitely. I believe one of the main reasons is how you’re able to customize your gear with smaller shops, and the demand for excellent customer service must be met to survive this growing small cottage industry. When going over my pack options with Dan from Dandee Packs, he was very helpful with all my questions and we were able to get exactly what I was looking for in a pack. This type of help and support doesn’t seem to be matched by larger companies. It’s also always fun to have a new, unknown product and watch that company grow.
Finally, if you had a message to pass on to everyone who would watch this interviewl and who would like to support the small shops?
Joe: When you decide to shop with a small company make sure to do your research, look around, and find exactly what you want. Sometimes products are very hard to get, and you might have to wait hours in a line to get that special Hoodie, or wait weeks to months to get that DCF top and bottom, but usually it’s worth it and the wait can make it that much more fun and special when it finally arrives. I want to finish by giving a special thank you to anyone who has supported my small shop as it’s grown over the year, and to my family and girlfriend who have always been there, I wouldn’t be who I am without them.