Our President on the Rubicon Trail

The Rubicon Trail is a 22-mile trail in California that is known for some of the toughest terrain for 4-wheeling tests and adventurists looking for a challenge. Starting in Georgetown, CA and traveling to the beaches of Lake Tahoe, the trail provides beautiful scenery and great camping opportunities… if you can make it.

When we heard that our President, Ben Rivera, had a trip to the Rubicon Trail planned – we had to hear more. After returning from the Rubicon Trail we sat down with Ben to ask some questions and learn all about his experience on the Rubicon Trail.

Ben, how long have you been planning this trip?
I’ve been planning this trip for over 24 years as it has been a dream of mine since I first learned about it. I’ve been building my truck for as long as I’ve worked at Leatherman. In fact, I purchased my Land Cruiser (1984 FJ60) using my second ever paycheck from Leatherman. I absolutely love Lake Tahoe; my family and I go on trips there all the time. It’s a beautiful location with lots of camping, hiking, and outdoor adventures. Plus, it’s not too far from Portland.

What kind of planning and prep had to go into this trip?
We started truly planning a year ago. I sat down with a group of buddies and we all agreed we were going to do it. I had to make a list of changes and upgrades (specific to this trip) that I had to make on my truck to even be able to consider doing the Rubicon Trail.

We spent a ton of time on YouTube, watching videos and learning from others who had done the trail. We analyzed the police and rescue cars thinking if our car was comparable with theirs that we would be fine on the trail. It honestly didn’t look too bad. We were wrong; the trail is hard, very hard.

What unexpected things did you come up on?
The internet lies! Or our perception of it was really off; we really underestimated how radical the trail really is and how difficult it would be for me in my Land Cruiser; the length of my truck is too much. I thought there was going to be a difficult trail and then an easy one off to the side in case I needed to, “go around”. It wasn’t like that, you’re on the trail and there is no off-ramp.

There were moments when I was looking at a goal about 200ft in the distance and I didn’t think I could make it or squeeze through the hole between the rocks. It was always small goals and then look ahead to the next one.  It’s a huge puzzle to solve and you’re always thinking, okay how do I get across this one?  Then before you know it the puzzle becomes, okay why won’t my car start?

What would you have done differently?
I wish my car had a shorter length, more length and taller tires (I have about 2-1/2” suspension lift and 33” tires). My friend had a ’66 Bronco which had a shorter wheel-base and 35” tires. He did much better than I did. The trail has too many moments when my car was too long to make it through the gap that was in front of us, I would end up high-centered or stuck between boulders.

Would you do it again?
Yes. I have to do it, and I have to make it all the way through the trail. We turned back not too far from the middle of the trail.  Travelers coming toward us told us the hardest part was yet to come, I was running out of power steering fluid, running out of luck, and out of time.  We got a good idea of what to expect when we go back. We heard from others that it gets easier once you are close the finish line on the Tahoe side, after you get through the middle.

It’s almost like there’s an inside joke going around that no one will tell you how hard the trail really is. You have to dive in and experience it yourself. I talked to a lot of people before the trail, even locals along the way, and no one warned me for the radical trail that I was headed for. YouTube definitely doesn’t give you an idea, either.

Which Leatherman did you take?
Signal! It was great, I used it many times. There was one moment when my power steering cap fell into the engine and it was just dangling in the bottom, seconds from falling onto the very dusty ground. I pulled out my Signal and very carefully went down to use the pliers tip to grab the cap before it fell and was coated in dirt that I didn’t want mixed with power steering fluid. Saved the day, that’s for sure.

There was another moment when the starter gave out.  We trouble shot the situation for quite a while after which we narrowed it down to the starter (the battery cables were on and off a lot using the pliers at first…it sure seemed like they were loose).  We ended up taking the starter apart to clean the contacts in the built-in solenoid.  The Signal screwdriver and diamond file were perfect for the task!

What was your favorite part?
Camping, it gets cool at night and the temperature is just perfect. You wake up and it’s so peaceful and quiet. I spent a few early mornings hiking around and finding viewpoints around the trail.

I also really liked the people. It wasn’t very crowded but everyone is there for the same reason. We love 4-wheeling, we love camping, we love the outdoors, and we love the challenge. Everyone is willing to help each other out and help us solve the puzzle before us. As you travel along the trail and see people stuck, you stop and ask if you can give them a hand. It was great.

You could seriously also consider going back to backpack the trail. It’s only 22 miles, and you can explore beautiful spots near and off the trail.  Camping with great people and watching people drive their trucks over amazing obstacles would be as much fun as running your own truck over them.

All in all, it was a good experience?
Oh, absolutely. In total it was a really good time, I got some big scratches and dents on my truck that I’m pretty proud of and it was an awesome vacation outside with friends.

Next time, I plan to make it the whole trail. I want to give myself enough time and a better prepared truck. I’m still working on convincing my son to come with me, too. I’m not sure he understands what is fun about wrecking your truck to accomplish a goal…yet!

Sofi Tsingos: Owner of GT-Moto

Sofi Tsingos grew up following her dad around the garage watching him put together old cars and motorcycles in his aircraft maintenance shop. After many years of building alongside pops, Sofi created a company that thrived off the passion her father had passed on to her from the ground up.

Sofi’s love for motorcycles is contagious, we found her passionate outlook for this industry to be fun, creative, and knowledgable. She was a strong-willed entrepreneur and we knew her story would be perfect to share with the Leatherman family.

“It started in a small two-car garage, packed with motorcycle and hot rod parts.”

Working on bikes wasn’t always an easy afternoon in the garage with dad but she’s never let her passion dwindle. While attending technical school, Sofi struggled with many people telling her she doesn’t fit in or belong in the community she had devoted her whole life to. Although heartbreaking, she never let these little comments steer her away from chasing her dream. She ditched the nay-sayers and continued to surround herself with a community that shared the support and passion she did. From there, GT-Moto was born.

Sofi stands on a strong belief that friendship is at the root of everything she does, and that’s clear to see once you get to know her. While running a business full-time and spending days at a time travelling to meet new people and attend events, she still finds the time to commit to helping support all of those who suffer from cancer.

“I believe a cure is possible and as our loved ones have fought and continue to fight, so shall we!”

To help, in the best way she can, she’s been involved in building custom bikes for auctions to support local community friends, participating in events benefitting St. Jude’s Children Hospital, and donating to causes that spend resources to research cures and giving better quality of life after treatment to survivors.

It was an amazing shoot with Sofi, it was great to meet someone so inspiring, creative, and talented. For more on Sofi, her family, her charity work, or motorcycles, head to her website.

Welcome to the family, Sofi – we’re lucky to have you as a friend.

For more on Tread, visit our website.
Photos by Brandon LaJoie

Leatherman supports the Britannia Classic

Downhill longboarding is a sport of friction. It’s how your wheels grip the tar, how tightly you hold your line, it’s that moment before your breath catches and you realize you’re going to have a new hole in your leathers.

At the Britannia Classic, all the gritty business is left on the track as laughs flow as freely as the shouts of exclamation directed at riders nailing a corner or an absolutely spectacular wipe out that turns the race on its head. This year, we got to participate as we gave each rider a Grind.

Many were surprised to hear that Leatherman had a tool directed at skateboarders and were even more shocked at just how much the tool accurately encompassed all their needs. We’re thrilled we were able to be part of a safe and family friendly event such as the Britannia Classic. It was awesome to witness their hard work pay off and young people to develop their skills and become world class athletes.
For more information on our action sports tools including Skate, Snow, and Surf tools: Visit our action sports page. 

A Leatherman Family

When I was 12 years old and a boy scout all I wanted for Christmas was a Leatherman like my dad. He had one that he used at work as a firefighter and around the house. I thought it was the coolest thing. I did get that tool under the tree that year almost eighteen years ago and I still have it today. I used it on every camp out and adventure that I went on as a scout.

Today I am a scout leader and a father and I still carry the same Leatherman I got all those years back. Now I am passing on the tradition to my boys by giving them a Leatherman like my dad did for me. They all got a Leap this year and it has been a fun time teaching them how to use their tools for everyday tasks like working on a bike or more simple things like cutting paper. I hope that when they get older they have the opportunity to share their skills with their kids too.

Cory L.
Las Vegas, NV

Cory was the winner of one of our Father’s Day Tool Tales prizes. For more information on how you can share your favorite story about Dad and win one of our Father’s Day prizes, click here. Final winner will be chosen on 6/19/2015. 

Mother only asks for a Tread for Mother’s Day, what happens next?

Joel cut it pretty close and visited the Leatherman Retail Store on Friday before Mother’s Day. He was hoping to get his wife, Tarah, the one thing she asked for, a Leatherman Tread. Unfortunately, they’re not for available until June.

When we heard word of this and that the Tread is the only thing Tarah asked for, we couldn’t leave Joel empty-handed. Watch the story unfold…

SSgt Josh Burnett and Military Working Dog, Jecky

We sometimes hear about awesome organizations who use our products to give to military men and women around the world for various reasons. Very rarely do we get something as cool as an image of them in the moment with our products.

The Vietnam Security Police Association assembled some packages with Surge multi-tools and M5 LED LENSER lights to give to members of the Old Dawgs and Pups program.

Here, in the image below, you see Staff Sergeant Josh Burnett opening his new Surge and M5 with the help of his MWD, Jecky. Jecky must assume there’s dog treats in the box but there must be another package from his official Old Dawgs & Pups sponsor on the way for him.

This is a one-of-a-kind photo and we thank all the military men and women around the world for everything they do. 

New VP of Marketing at Leatherman Tool Group, Inc.

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Bobbie Parisi to Vice President of Marketing of Leatherman Tool Group, Inc. as of February 16, 2015. Parisi will be located at our Portland, Oregon manufacturing headquarters and report to our President, Ben Rivera.

Bobbie Parisi

Bobbie Parisi

Parisi has an extensive brand management background in the outdoor industry in the Northwest. Prior to this role, Parisi served in executive level marketing and brand management positions at Yakima Products, KEEN, Dr. Martens, Nike, and Jose Cuervo.

Parisi is an outdoor enthusiast, active in the community, and passionate about getting youth into the outdoors. She is currently serving as a board member on the OIWC (Oregon Industries Women’s Coalition), a non-profit that promotes diversity in the outdoor, bike, and snow industries, and as a Board member for Big Brothers, Big Sisters organization. She also serves on the Portland Athletic & Outdoor Advisory Council.

“At Leatherman, we place top priority on crafting quality products for end-users at our headquarters in Portland, Oregon,” said Leatherman President, Ben Rivera. “Bobbie Parisi will be instrumental in driving the global direction of our brand, product innovation, and communications. I’m very excited to have Bobbie join Leatherman as Vice President of Marketing.”

In this role for Leatherman, Parisi will be responsible for leading the marketing department, as well as global brand strategy, advanced product development, and product management. She will also be managing the LED LENSER brand for the US market.

WELCOME BOBBIE!

U.S. Commerce Secretary Visits Leatherman

On February 17th, we were host to Secretary Pritzker as she held a roundtable business discussion with leaders from around the Portland area.

Leaders from Nike, Columbia Sportswear, Intel, Portland Business Alliance, CH2M Hill, Austin Industries, City of Roses Disposal and Recycling, CMS Consulting, Columbia Green, ESCO, Greater Portland Inc., Greenbrier Companies, King Estate Winery, Pacific Northwest International Trade, Pacific Seafood, Portland Development Commission, Port of Portland, Schnitzer Steel, Simplex Aerospace, SolarWorld Industries America Inc., Vigor Industrial, Mayor Denny Doyle of Beaverton, and Mayor Charlie Hales of Portland were all part of the roundtable discussion.

Secretary Pritzker Speaking With Tim Leatherman

Secretary Pritzker Speaking With Tim Leatherman

Pritzker then wanted to visit with our President, Ben Rivera, and founder Tim Leatherman as she got a guided tour through our factory. They spoke about how Leatherman employs close to 500 Oregonians and exports our products to over 100 countries around the world – all from our one manufacturing facility here in Portland.

Secretary Pritzker Was Very Active During The Tour, Asking Many Questions About Our Processes

Secretary Pritzker Was Very Active During The Tour, Asking Many Questions About Our Processes

“It’s a fabulous company,” Secretary Pritzker said during her media interview later that afternoon. “It sells to a hundred countries around the world. It’s been in business since 1983. They employ 500 good folks – close to 600 now. That’s how we ended up here.”

Secretary Pritzker With A Leatherman Manufacturing Employee During The Factory Tour

Secretary Pritzker With A Leatherman Manufacturing Employee During The Factory Tour

The 2015 SHOT Show Recap

We had so much fun this year at SHOT Show. We launched three innovative new products, along side LED LENSER, who launched amazing new groundbreaking lights and headlamps as well.

Here is a recap of the three new tools we launched this year at SHOT Show:

  1. Tread – The 25 tools you can wear on your wrist. Inspired by a trip to Disneyland, and our President being asked to remove his Skeletool, we wanted to design something that was the ultimate accessory to every day. A few notable facts are that this bracelet comes TSA compliant with 26 wearable tools, an optional watch, and black DLC or stainless steel finish. The bracelet will be sold late spring 2015, and the watch should be here fall 2015.
  2. Rev – The entry level multi-tool. This tool was designed to be the light, easy to use, and low-cost entry-level multi-tool for users. Carrying 12 useful tools this becomes an upgrade from pocket size, but not as heavy or complex as the Wave. This tool makes a great household or light activity tool. Comparable to the Sidekick and Wingman, the Rev removes the scissors and spring-loaded pliers, allowing us to give you a lower cost with same great quality.
  3. Signal – The survivalist multi-tool. This tool comes packed with the must-haves if you ever should come into trouble. A ferro rod to start fire, a whistle for communication and the favorite or useful outdoor tools like pliers, wire cutters, hammer, saw and knife…among others.

All these tools are backed by our 25-year warranty, and will be available starting Spring 2015. More information coming as we get closer to the release dates, stay tuned!

To follow updates our new products and be the first to know when they are available, make sure to sign up for our newsletter. Click here for more details. 

Want more? Check out our Leap children’s multi-tool for your 9-12 year olds. And buy them ready for purchase now, here. Available in green, red and blue.

Questions? Contact us at info@leatherman.com.

The wearable tool, the new Leatherman Tread

[UPDATE] Need more info on specs and links? Our Tread product page is now live, click here. 

This summer, Leatherman Tool Group, Inc. will debut an industry first: a multi-tool that can be worn on the wrist. The Leatherman Tread is crafted of high strength, corrosion resistant 17-4 stainless steel links that include two to three functional tools each, making a total of 25 usable features like box wrenches and screwdrivers available at a moment’s notice.

“The idea originated on a trip to Disneyland with my family,” said President Ben Rivera. “I was stopped at the gate by security for carrying a knife, when what they had actually seen was my Skeletool. I was unwilling to give it up, so they made me take it all the way back to my hotel room. I knew there had to be another way to carry my tools with me that would be accepted by security.” When he returned from his trip, Rivera, who began his tenure at Leatherman Tool Group 24 years ago as an engineer, began by wearing a bike chain bracelet to see how it would feel. As his thoughts took shape, he brought his idea to the engineers at Leatherman who helped fast track his plans.

The Tread bracelet began taking shape. Each complex link was metal injection molded for strength and intensity. The bracelet was crafted to be fully customizable with slotted fasteners, so the user could rearrange links, add new ones, or adjust for wrist size to ¼”. Even the clasp is functional with a bottle opener and #2 square drive. Other link tools include a cutting hook, hex drives, screwdrivers, box wrenches, and a carbide glass breaker.

“I began wearing prototypes myself to test comfort and usability, and to ask for feedback,” said Rivera. “Folks immediately associated the bracelet design with a watch and asked, where’s the watch? We decided to make a timepiece an optional part of the Tread.”

A version of the Tread bracelet that includes a watch will be available in Fall 2015. The Leatherman TreadTM QM1 will feature a unique Leatherman-designed and Swiss-made timepiece with precision quartz movement. A shock resistant sapphire crystal ensures scratch resistance for heavy duty wear, and the curved watch limits reflection and increases outdoor visibility.