Compass: Charting the Evolution of Outdoor Gear

Some Photos

        Home Brands History Firsts Classics Logos Links Books News Action About



This profile is a excerpt from the Sequel Story that was once told, by founder Jeremiah St Our, on the now extinct Sequel website.

It was retrieved using the Wayback Machine, which can browse through various webpages archived from 1996.

The Sequel Story

Taking the Long Trail

Long-distance foot travel, unlike almost anything else, has a unique way of clarifying your mind–and cleansing your soul. The process begins while you're

still at home, gazing about at all of the stuff you've accumulated. Your stomach turns. You know your backpack isn't big enough. You know your shoulders

aren't strong enough. You know that you'll have to narrow it down to only the items you truly need.

Isn't it amazing how quickly we can eliminate what in the normal course of our lives is considered essential? The TV, sofa, clock-radio, washing machine,

jewelry and pet goldfish all must be "sacrificed" for what really matters: water, food, shelter, and clothing.

Anyone who has spent time outdoors, especially sans shelter, learns to quickly appreciate how crucial clothing is to our everyday survival. I learned this

lesson–slowly–through a combination of experiences that led me to where I am today, owner of SEQUEL…

Growing up on the East Coast, my parents were fond of reminding me of my beloved birthplace, Colorado, and how as a baby I would run around there in

the snow, wearing only a diaper. Puzzled by this seeming paradox–not yet comprehending the concept of solar radiation–I grew up asking myself how

western weather could possibly be so mild, even in winter and at high-altitude, that a half-naked baby could find comfort in the "cold?"

The Appalachian Trail winds its way through a beautiful patchwork of eastern wildlands, where "man and nature coexist in perfect harmony." Or so say the

guidebooks. I don't remember it that way. I was on my first backpacking trip as a proud Tenderfoot in Boy Scout Troop 811, and was too preoccupied with

favoring my blistered feet to feel harmonious with anything. My cheap tennis shoes were to blame. As was my heavy, cotton sleeping bag, which bounced

mercilessly against the back of my legs as it swung from beneath my frameless backpack. I was eleven years old, learning the hard way that the wrong

equipment can ruin any outing.

In High School I searched the public library for how-to books on improving outdoor skills. Though in those days such resources were scarce, I learned that

some fibers were better than others when it came to keeping you warm. Wool in particular was unique in that it continued to insulate the body even when

it was wet. But during the years that I spent as a whitewater raft guide on West Virginia's Cheat River, I could rarely recall my wet wool feeling toasty.

Why did the rule of wool seem not to consider the concept of staying dry in the first place?

Climbing at Maryland's Rocks State Park, home of some of the nation's hardest quartzite, I reached for a handhold that–wasn't. At first amazed at how

far the human body will bounce on solid stone, I quickly gained respect for the principle of conductive heat loss, as I lay waiting for rescue in the damp

autumn leaves.

Mostly mended, I headed west to attend college in Durango, Colorado – punctuated with seasonal work for the National Park Service. I could finally call

the Rocky Mountains and red-rock deserts my home, and live the outdoor lifestyle I had always envisioned. But as a backcountry ranger at Mt. Rainier

and Canyonlands, my outdoor equipment continued to fall short. It was woefully apparent that too many designers spent none of their time outdoors!

With graduation came celebration and a long-anticipated climbing trip to Yosemite. It was there, while traipsing down the Snow Creek trail after three

days on the wall, that I asked myself some seminal questions. With all that I had learned from my many and varied outdoor adventures, from the

weather and physics, from fibers and physiology, could I create a "sequel" to all of the gear that had let me down? Could I incorporate common sense,

rather than marketing nonsense, into a line of outdoor clothing that would function better and last longer than any of the stuff that had failed me? If the

answer to these questions was yes, I thought, then "why don't you just start a company of your own?"

Well, for starters, I was broke. With thousands of dollars of college debt, no knowledge in business administration, patternmaking, sewing, or

bookkeeping–I wasn't exactly primed for success. I didn't have a single product to sell, or a rich uncle to finance the start-up cost. In short, having

absolutely nothing to lose, it sounded like a great idea…

Up from the Basement of the Hardware Store

Back in Durango, I had to find a place to set up shop. I was living out of my 1963 station wagon, and writing letters to fabric mills with my father's

official-looking stationary. This worked until semi-trucks started delivering huge rolls of Borglite Pile to an unsuspecting former college buddy whose

address I had co-opted as my own.

The basement of the old hardware store down on Main Avenue was perfect; the rent was $100 a month. It was dark, hard to find, and literally low

overhead. Rising from the floor under a permanently fixed table that I used for cutting fabric was a single rock, the size of a prize-winning, county-fair

hog. Since the building was constructed in the mid-1800's, I figured they couldn't move the rock, so they built a table over it–then built the building over

the table. It seemed fitting.

My goal of producing a full line of apparel was still just a dream, at this point, so I developed a plan to generate some quick cash: I would borrow some

money, buy a sewing machine, and start repairing outdoor gear. This move provided three critical things: food, sewing experience, and a good look at

what caused my competition's products to fail (so I wouldn't repeat their mistakes).

While my budding repair business supplied enough income to survive–sleeping on the cutting table and eating PB&J–I went about designing my "sequel." I

didn't want the outcome to be just like everyone else's, artificially creating demand for unnecessary junk. I wanted the SEQUEL brand to stand for

something genuinely functional that solved the problems of real outdoor enthusiasts. I called it, apparel with a purpose™.

My first crack at product development was a bit comical. After all, as a biologist, the sum total of my design experience consisted of taping newspapers to

my little sister, then cutting them off to marvel at their geometry. But after having my brains baked by the sun on the glaciers and the slickrock, I knew

the world needed a sun hat that worked.

The prototype Desert Rhat was built from parts I scavenged from the grocery store, and Mary's Fabrics & Things, in Moab, Utah. The cap was blue, so I

spray-painted it white to maximize reflectivity. Whenever the mesh crown flexed, the white paint would flake like dandruff onto my head. I taped

aluminum foil into the top of the hat to see if, as I suspected, it would reflect the sun's heat away from the wearer. I sewed a French-Foreign-Legion-

style cape around the perimeter of the cap, but increased its size and contour to cover more than the simple neck-flap's of yesteryear. Velcro tabs,

dangling from the cap's interior, allowed the cape to be rolled up and fastened when not in use. It was a lot like wearing an awning that telescopes out

when you need it. I'll admit that it did look pretty ridiculous, but all I cared about was whether it worked. So–in spite of my friends and family's belief

that it would never sell–I forged ahead.

Coming of Age (without selling out)

To paraphrase the Grateful Dead, what a long, strange trip it's been, since setting up shop in 1982. Today, the Desert Rhat is our most popular product,

and the cornerstone of the SEQUEL Solar System, a sophisticated line of sun -protective clothing that's the envy of the outdoor industry. Along with our

now complete line of technical outerwear, the Desert Rhat is currently available from any number of outdoor retailers through whom we distribute around

the world, and online through this Web site.

Our success is the result of our refusal to deviate from the founder's original mission: to create useful products that solve problems and facilitate comfort,

thereby enhancing the outdoor experience.

Though we've grown larger since the days when we could operate out of the back of a station wagon, we've yet to sell out to a multi-national

conglomerate – Jeremiah still owns the company. We're not the biggest outdoor gear manufacturer, but we don't ever want to be. We don't do tents, we

don't do packs, we don't do sportswear and we don't do lunch. We want to remain focused on our single-minded mission to produce the world's finest

technical outerwear, and never lose our innovative edge.

So What Makes SEQUEL Special?

Concern for the Environment

At no point is our concern for the environment outweighed by our quest for profits. Our business depends on a healthy, natural landscape, and we intend

to do all we can to help it be that way. We don't wear our environmentalism on our sleeve for all to see as some sort of good-will advertising prank. We

take this mission seriously, and reconcile our promotion of the resource-intensive products we build with the following attitude:

It simply makes more sense to purchase fewer items of higher quality. Adopting this philosophy will make your backpack lighter, your wallet heavier, the

earth healthier, and your mind rest easier.

Innovative Design

It's a well-known fact that reliability increases as complexity decreases. In spite of this truth (or because of it, when planning obsolescence), our

competitors are bent on offering you a wide range of gimmicks–disguised as "features." With slick marketing campaigns that misuse terms like

"technical" and "extreme," they pander to the notion that more is better.

SEQUEL takes a simpler path. Our elegant solutions provide for your needs, without creating more problems than they solve. Excess zippers, decorative

patches and embroidery, pockets you never use, these are "features" that only add weight, bulk, expense, and a greater risk of failure. We guarantee our

products for life, but a warranty in the backcountry is about as useful as a traveler's check. Clean design insures that your clothing will perform when you

need it to, period.

Made in America

We believe very strongly that no one cares as much about the integrity of our products as we do. That's why we believe in doing everything ourselves, in-

house, right here in Durango, Colorado, and at our Navajo-Indian-run factory in Blanding, Utah. From design and manufacturing, to shipping and customer

service, we don't hire out our work to some disinterested, foreign subcontractor. We're proud to be one of the last U.S. garment makers.

Real People

The big-name athletes you see wearing SEQUEL chose to purchase it themselves, just like you. We won't insult your intelligence through the promotion of

meaningless endorsements. Face it, anyone will wear anything if you pay him or her enough to. People choose to wear SEQUEL because their lives may

depend on it, not their livelihoods.

Upgrade Your Softwear™

This Web site carefully describes each article of SEQUEL outdoor clothing, and the reasoning behind its design. We explain why certain features were

included–while others were purposefully left out. We encourage you to look around and compare what SEQUEL has to offer with other, better-known

brands. Pay close attention to the designs and their details: the way they integrate with multiple layers; the quantity and quality of seams, seam tape,

stitching and thread. Though most brands look good in the store, on paper, and on the Web, envision how they'd actually perform outside–when the storm

is raging, the sun is baking, or you're up to your eyeballs in mud–for it's in the guts of our clothing that our quality shines forth. Thank you.

circa April 2001


After 18 years of offering a full line of outdoor clothing, and working long hours to engineer and oversee it, company founder Jeremiah St. Ours has

decided to spend a little more time outside. His decision coincides with Sequel's growing inability to profitably manufacture clothing in America—all of our

competitors employ much cheaper foreign labor, something Jeremiah refuses to do.

Going forward, we will continue to produce the unique Sequel Solar System, but discontinue the rest of our product line. Close Out specials are offered on

the balance of our discontinued inventory, though availability is extremely limited. The Sale Items page will be updated daily, so check back often.