The Peak Oil Company

The Peak Oil Company

Unique and durable clothing and equipment.

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A worn Peak Oil

Thor just returned from 4 weeks in Japan, throughly testing the Peak Oil Jacket. 4 weeks of continuous use in snow, rain, altitude, night clubs and tokyo streets. It comes back to us with some incredibly valuable feedback, some spoken, the rest written into the jacket itself.

The very first thing we notice is how great the thing breaks in! The oilskin has rubbed back and softened to a dry, slightly shined, not waxy, worn in looking jacket.

The second thing we notice is that the stitching still shines like new, and this is something we don't like so much. On this jacket we used a thread with more polyester in it. While it certainly retains its own colour, we want it to absorb some of the oil and darken with the jacket. Our normal thread with more cotton does this nicely, so we'll stay with that.

The zips glide beautifully, so Riri earns their reputation.

The pattern worked, breaking in nicely, and coming back without any complaints. Our main question was if the simplicity caused any discomfort or tight spots. None! We've since adjusted the hood design however, giving a draw chord that pulls better around the face, and more room if a helmet needs to be worn under it.

Early in Thor's trip, reports came in about snow sticking to the jacket. We don't yet know if this is a thing with new oilskin, or if a worn in oilskin sheds the snow ok. Watching that space. The main thing we needed to know is that it was water proof.

It's true that plastics are used for mountain and snow sports these days, and that cotton based gear is heavier, and potentially colder. But we'll truck on in the face of that, looking to our principles of natural and recycled materials that anyone can pull together and not need a petro chemical plant to produce. 4 weeks successful use in Japan, including proud wearing in nightclubs is enough encouragement for us. And we notice that either Thor has no body odour, or the natural materials are not inducing it...

And while this one isn't Thor's jacket, here's Leigh wearing his on a recent camping trip with his family up around Mount Macedon in Victoria. Yes, it got cold enough. This jacket is identical to Thor's, but has hand pockets and red stitching.

Our labels are done

Thanks to Eleanor at Kick and Screen, we've got some really nice care labels printed up, and a screen with a squeegee and ink to keep on trucking with, and try out all sorts of different fabrics. These care labels will be sewn into the lining, as a third pocket, and signed by the maker with a date and place written in as well.

We have patches, stamped leather, and ribbon ready to go too. Can't wait to see how they jazz up a finished jacket.

The Australian Flag, in Event Horizon

Event Horizon is not a bad film, but few seem to have seen it. It flopped when it came out, but has apparently become a bit of a cult film now days. Hit the Bay and grab it, it's worth seeing.

As a bit of trivia, and the reason we're posting about it, the crew wear national flags with future political signs. Sam Neill, representing Australia (but probably should have been NZ) sports a flag with the Aboriginal flag in place of the Jack.

We're reconsidering our aversion to Velcro and thinking to place it in key places on some jackets. We'd then produce a range of patches people might like to attach, from removable reflectors to political statements like these.

The care label

We've been thinking about the care label that is required in garments. The tag that says where it was made, out of what materials, and what the washing instructions are. True to our design principles, this label has to be multi functional and DIY-able. So...

We've designed a label that is large enough to be screen-printed, or maybe even block printed. On a piece of material large enough to become a pocket when it is sewn in. And we're aiming to add a quote, hopefully unique to every garment, that carries a little bit of our spirit with it. And finally, we've left space for our makers to sign or stamp their name, date and location - and the more precise the location the better.

From family tent to jackets and bags

We stopped by East Warburton last week, and bought an old canvas family tent. We knew it was beyond repair for its original purpose :( but grabbed it for its recyclable canvas. It's 1970s flavours of green and blue have faded back, and once we made a jacket and bag from some of it, we threw it in the wash to see what would happen. Result: a kinda stone wash, lime green jacket, held together by black stitching and patches of new ripstop canvas. Next we'll oilskin it to see what we end up with. If we could find a reliable source for these old canvases, they'd would make a beautiful line of limited edition products. Nice to know the pattern worked with the heavier material too.

Open source design: The jacket design is settled

Ok, THIS time we think the jacket design is settled. We've thought it before, and every time we make one, something else pops up and we feel a need to fiddle with it a little more. Achieving our goal of uber simplicity, retaining functionality of a contemporary jacket design, and using classic materials turns out to be quite a complicated endeavor! But on the plus side, each time we tweak the design our documentation of it gets better, the pattern improves, we find another path to more simplicity.

Our intention has always been to open source our designs. We've been pretty inspired by the folks at Open Source Ecology, and when they interviewed Lastware about their open source publishing of the patterns to their clothes, we thought - that's what we'll do. Sadly, Lastware have stopped publishing their patterns, saying it wasn't benefitting them. I guess our question is, has it benefited them by not publishing? Our intention is to publish simple patterns, that can be printed on a standard desktop printer, leaving it to the end user to scale up the drawing with say, a grid.

Apart from conviviality being a defining principle for us, we think showing the inner thinking of our designs will aid people in their decision to order a jacket or not. But most of all, we're also reaching out to makers. We want to try and build a network of makers who like casual casual work to order. Our hope is that when an order comes in we have a chance of getting it made and modified locally to the person making the order. If makers out there want to try their hand at making a jacket to our design, by all means, we'll put the pattern out there for exactly that, and support them as much as we can. We can source and deliver materials, and give extra advice. If those same people learn to make a jacket to this design at a quality we agree is a Peak Oil Company product, then we want an association to our name to be an incentive for makers. Those makers become partners in the production of this product, and are paid well per item.

If people take the pattern and design and improve it for other purposes, then the expectation is they'll let us know, and share the new design back, under the Share Alike condition of the copyright license we're putting on this.

What do you think.. is this a better path than protectionism? We can't really afford to register a patent, nor will we ever have the capacity or inclination to chase down copycats.. so rather than resist that, can we embrace copying through open source production, and make good on it?

The pictures here in this post are our latest drawings.. we're getting the pattern professionally laid out, and will load it up as soon as they're done. These drawings are used to aid the maker, in combination with the pattern and a sample jacket.

Kanga tales, skin, ventile and oilskin: New materials arriving for our first orders

Kangaroo tales!

The kangaroo tales and skins arrived today. Up from Tasmania. We're looking forward to using this unique product in the jackets we're making for recent eorders from the UK and Alaska!

Large kanga skin
The tales are raw and uncoloured. The skins are died with tree bark. We'll oil and wax them all before use with the jackets. The leather will feature in the hood and maybe the collar and cuffs. We'd really like to make a full kanga skin jacket, and keep the fur on in places. Excellent for the likes of Matt Machine we expect!

Kangaroo skin is known for its toughness while remaining soft and light.

As for the other materials, the ventile arrived last week. It's a beautiful fabric to touch, cut and work with. Think 1000 thread sheets you might've slept in at an expensive hotel, then double the quality.

3 colours of ventile

We're still testing the longevity of the ventile's performance, which is why the jackets are selling at cost at the moment.

The oilskin arrives next week, and then we're good to go!

Swags for the Homeless, Backpack Bed

Image from the NSW Printer, C/o Wikimedia Commons
It's a good idea to try and integrate a bed and shelter into a backpack. We think everything you carry should have multiple functions, and be as simple as possible.

The swag - iconic Australian bed, shelter, and pack system - best known for what swagmen carried through the Depressions (1890 and 1930) (same as in the song Waltzing Matilda) is a classic design of multi function simplicity.

Swags for the Homeless has given the old swag an upgrade, supplying their product as a charity to people sleeping rough.

Here's a video explaining the features.

We've gone ahead and started developing our own version of the swag. Much much simpler, back to the origins, and designed to carry a pair of skis! The Peak Oil Ski Bag/swag/tent/pack.

Smile treck, Winston Fiore

Image from Camping in Taiwan,
but it probably comes from Winston's site somewhere

Google Maps recently posted an add using Winston Fiore's epic treck around South East Asia, raising money for cleft surgery.

It's a great cause, and a brave journey, but what really caught our eye is Winston's vest pack set up. Here he is talking through it before the trip:

There's a more static look at the set up on his site.

Clearly Winston's an innovator, and he's blog makes fascinating reading. I wonder if he'll take on somewhere in Australia next? It'd be great to see what he comes up with for that. For now though, we're pretty inspired by his current setup, and keen to have a go at adapting it into some Peak Oil Company design.. when we get to it, we'll update here and let Winston know.

Mad Bastards

Mad Bastards is a really nice film.

Here's the trailer on Youtube or Vimeo

TJ is a hard-edged Aboriginal man who's sick of scraping out an existence in the city.

He travels to the tiny frontier town of Five Rivers in search of his son. Upon his arrival, TJ is confronted by the equally tough local cop Texas... and so begins a story about hard men battling to do the right thing by their family.

The movie is steeped in the distinctive music of the Pigram Brothers in collaboration with multi-ARIA Award winner Alex Lloyd. Their lilting ukulele and mandolin melodies weave like a dream through the central story.

REAL PEOPLE with no acting experience play the lead roles. This brings a tremendous intimacy and freshness to the movie. Developed in close collaboration over many years with director Brendan Fletcher, the actors play characters based on their own lives. The stories are etched on their faces.

Powerful. Moving. Bold.

Pilgram Brothers "Moonlight" on Youtube

Greenpeace highlight toxic chemicals used in waterproofing

It has always been odd to us, just how far the outdoor clothing and equipment designs and fashions have separated people from the natural environments they seek to enjoy. Mountaineering tents and gear, designed and used for activities that most of us don't even come close to trying. We're all left feeling like a Neil Armstrong stepping out onto the moon from some alien craft, when all we're doing is camping out by a river streaming off a nice mountain in spring!

Now Greenpeace Germany has drawn attention to the toxicity in the chemicals used to waterproof this modern equipment, and we're reminded of another reason why Peak Oil Company is striving to find the right designs for safer, more user friendly clothing and equipment.  

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Mount Dandenong, Australia