Deliberate Life Designs Interview

Tell us about you ?

Adam: My name is Adam Paashaus (pash-iss), and I’m a bearded husband, father, and general lover of life. I travel full time with my family in a self-converted 40′ school bus (skoolie) and I’m able to build sandals wherever we find ourselves. the whole family enjoys backpacking, exploring, rock climbing, and just about anything outside. We hiked the Long Trail in Vermont in the fall of 2019 with our kids which made us all fall in love with the state. I’m excited to say we bought land up there last fall, so DLD will become a VT company very soon!    

How did you come to hiking? more specifically UL hiking?

Adam: Haha, my early backpacking trips far from UL. When I turned 16 and got my drivers license, I got my 1st pack from an Army/Navy surplus store, rolled up my plaid rectangle flannel sleeping bag, strapped it (and a full-size ax!) to the outside and off I went, off-trail, into one of the most rugged places on the east coast of the US, “Linville Gorge”. I had no mentor nor had I ever even known anyone to go backpacking. That would have been around 1997. While I look back and see the absurdity of my kit, the desire to explore and spend quiet time with the forest was a huge drive that I was excited to pursue. 
A few years later, after working summer jobs in Yellowstone NP and Yosemite NP, I decided I needed to surround myself with like-minded people in my “hometown” and got a job at a small but reputable outdoor retail store where I worked with half a dozen Appalachian Trail Thru-hikers. That experience put me on my path to UL backpacking. the hiker trash gear-head in me was born. I grew a beard and haven’t cut it in almost 25 years…

What is your UL hiking vision?

Adam:I love to see UL hikers tweaking their kit. It’s an activity that is part of the fun of UL hiking. We can’t all be on trial all the time, but we can give out kit attention and improve things. That to me is part of the UL mentality. But once we hit the trail, the UL approach allows us to be closer to our surroundings. If our bodies are too tired or broken from a pack that is too heavy, we lose that connection to the world/nature around us. With a UL kit, we can stay in a better outward-looking place. That’s how I see it anyway. Sometimes sure it means you can go faster and see more but that all comes down to how you like to hike. 

Why did you decide to make your equipment?

Adam: I was working from home back in 2014 and also acting as a stay-at-home dad when I came across a YouTube video for making a simple huarache with a sheet of rubber and a piece of paracord. I went to the local cobbler, bought a sheet of rubber, and made a pair for everyone in our family. At that same time, I was trying to get back into trail running after a long hiatus since running High school Cross Country competitively. My knees were trashed and I was about to give up but a week after making those original pairs, I read born to run and soon realized what I had just made (barefoot running huaraches). I changed my running style and fell in love with “barefoot running” for the freeing feeling and the decreased impact on my knees. It wasn’t for a few more years of making sandals for myself/family/friends that I improved the design to the point I was ready to offer them to the public.

Can you tell me tell me the story behind your brand names?

Adam: The name “Deliberate Life” comes from a famous Thoreau quote “I went to the woods to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived” the quote continues but that’s the idea. We have a choice to live the life we want or fall in line with what collective society thinks we should do. My choice has been clear from my National park working days. After returning home from a summer job in paradise, everyone thought that what I did was a great thing for a kid to do before “real” life starts. I didn’t keep working those summer jobs but I made sure to never start the “real” life because I knew what that implied. 

How do you feel when you see hikers with your equipment on the trails?

Adam: I love making gear for people but I try not to do it for my ego. Each sandal represents a person who put trust in me, and that gives me great satisfaction.

For you there is an ecological impact to buy are equipment from small manufacturers?

Adam: For sure, Anytime a big box tent is made a factory across the world is operating to produce it. However, I too make an impact. The idea is to reduce the damage done, and make products that hold up for as long as possible. I started the company by making every pair of sandals using retired climbing slings for the straps and currently use spools (from a large climbing gear manufacturer) that were destined for the dumpster. We continue forward always asking hard questions.  

How do you see the small shop in 2021?

Adam: I’m very optimistic about the future of small outdoor shops. Not only optimistic… I feel we are already in a huge resurgence. I get great passionate support from so many who are excited about the options that small cottage industry shops offer. I can make any sandal you can imagine (almost) and so many other great small brands have the latitude to be able to make “one-off” gear tailored to individual enthusiasts!

Do you think that people want more and more to turn to small shop ?

Adam: Absolutely. It’s a growing “industry”. We are finding out that the inspired makers and creators out there have an outlet for their craft. “If you build it, they will come”. 

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?

Adam: When you support small businesses in this outdoor space, you are not only helping the little shop survive, you are allowing him or her to create, which is a gift all by itself. If a creator can’t sell their art/goods, they have to make a living some other way and often end up feeling “trapped” in a job they arent happy with, keeping them from living more deliberately.

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