Ibex Answers: If you lived in a van down by the river, what kind would it be?

Who hasn’t dreamt, at least once, of cashing out, buying a van, and hitting the open road? “Live simply” is what we romanticize. We’ll pack only what we can fit into approximately 50 square feet of living, rolling, shag carpeting-covered bliss. Even if it’s not a forever thing, living on the road is best attempted right now — in the warmth of summer.

As your friends, Ibex wants to enable this dream, without letting you cross that fine line between boho adventurer and creepy dude in the scary van. There are lots of mobile living options to choose from today. Take the quiz below to find out the best option for you and learn what your ride is announcing to the world.

1. I currently drive:

    a.    An American-built sedan
    b.    A two-door Toyota truck
    c.    My bike
    d.    A 2014 Audi S7 in phantom black pearl

2.    My travel companions will be: 

    a.    My family, my retired spouse, and/or my twin Westie dogs
    b.    My bike and a good friend from time to time
    c.    Just me and my music, bro
    d.    My significant other when s/he can get time away from the firm

3.    My road trip heroes are:

    a.    Any families out living the dream… together
    b.    My mom and dad
    c.    Uncle Rico from “Napoleon Dynamite,” and Matt Foley, motivational speaker
    d.    Professional, extreme athletes

4.    I don’t know why, but when strangers see me they:

    a.    Are as friendly as can be! Strangers are just friends I haven’t met yet.
    b.    Have two reactions. It seems like most people just want to hang out and talk. But, others pat down their wallets and avoid eye contact.
    c.    Grab their daughters and take a defensive stance
    d.    Huh? Who cares what strangers think of me.

5.    Of all the National Parks, I’m most excited to see:

    a.    The glory of Mt. Rushmore!
    b.    All of them, as long as it’s not tourist season
    c.    Any of the 268 National Parks that don’t charge an entrance fee
    d.    Denali because it’s the highest. Death Valley because it’s the hottest. And Wrangell St. Elias because it’s the biggest.

6.    I’m happy to spend time:

    a.    Leveling out for a camp spot
    b.    Rebuilding my engine
    c.    Drinking beer to pass the heat of the day
    d.    Double timing my TRX workout

7.    I would define my general vibe as:

    a.    Pretty darn-tooting enthusiastic for life
    b.    Chill, never in a hurry
    c.    Born in the wrong decade
    d.    Driven to succeed and to have fun

8.    The best road trip movie of all time is:

    a.    National Lampoon’s Vacation
    b.    Easy Rider
    c.    Into the Wild
    d.    Little Miss Sunshine

9.    I’m most likely to document my road trip with:

    a.    A spoken captain’s log into my voice recorder
    b.    A written journal
    c.    A haiku
    d.    Instagram selfies

10.    The max length of time I could live on the road is:

    a.    A few weeks. My lawn is not going to fertilize itself!
    b.    About a year, as long as I wasn’t moving too fast or too much.
    c.    Indefinite, considering I live in my van now.
    d.    I’d love for it to be longer, but I only have two weeks of vacation saved up.
That does it. Tally up your responses to figure out the best “live-in” vehicle for your personality. If you answered…

Credit: Bradley Gordon/Flickr

Mostly A’s: A full-on, bus-length RV or one of those “Tour America” rental campers is the ride for you. Those babies are sweet nowadays, and you’ll be the toast of the campground with your “world famous margaritas” and Pictionary open invitationals. You have a content life outside of your RV, but nothing s-p-e-l-l-s freedom like turning over that key and spending time with the people you love most in this world: your family. That said, you’ve been at this game long enough that you appreciate the creature comforts and the space of hitting the road in the relative luxury of a full-fledged recreational vehicle.

Credit: Markus Spiering/Flickr

Mostly B’s: Start your search now for a classic Volkswagen Westfalia, bonus points if it’s a Syncro (4WD). Start searching because the once ubiquitous van/bus/camper/utility vehicle is now harder to come by than a unicorn surfing a double rainbow. Oh, there are plenty around, but their numbers are trumped by the hordes of “Westy” enthusiasts that troll the Internet non-stop for the latest in retrofitting and rehabbing. Even as the Westfalia enjoys resurgence after resurgence, the driver profile remains consistent: someone who is relaxed traveling well below the speed limit (especially with any semblance of an incline in the road), someone who loves the simplicity of having a van “packed and ready to go” on the fly, and someone who is willing to spend more time and money on the van while it’s parked in the driveway than they ever will spend on the road.

Credit: selvedgeyard.com

Mostly C’s: Doin’ it disco-style with a retro-fitted Ford Econoline or Dodge full-size van, circa 1970’s. Hipster or not, you embrace irony on the same level you embrace comfort. The once tacky shag carpeting and airbrushed van art has a certain charm and appeal to you now. Over the decades, vans have endured an inconsistent welcome in our society. Some years they have been the epitome of cool, whether driven by a rock band, the edgy outsider, or the outdoor enthusiast. Some years, vans are a symbol of a life off the rails. Regardless of era, no daughter has EVER been allowed to ride in a van without serious parental concern. Thanks to Chris Farley, an entire generation aspires to live in a van down by the river. We’re willing to bet, though, that the toys, bikes, kayaks, and camping gear stored inside the van total far more than the cost of the van itself.

Credit: Mike & Steve Mestdagh/Flickr

Mostly D’s: A Sportsmobile. While these 4WD “super vans” are undeniably cool and we all secretly want one, Sportsmobiles make no apologies for their “ultimate” status. If you’re behind the wheel of one of these bad boys, you’re confident and un-phased by jealousy. Truth be told, the van is a little audacious, but hey, so are you! The fact that it’s built to go anywhere is the very reason you’re attracted to this vehicle: You work hard, play hard, and have earned the bank account to make it all happen. Ironically, most Sportsmobiles you see are always pristinely clean. Whether that’s due to the over-achieving nature of the owners or to the fact that they never leave the driveway is something we’ll never know. 


A Modest Proposal: The Running of the Sheep*

You mess with the bull; you get the horns.

The annual running of the bulls, at the San Fermin Festival in Pamplona, wrapped on July 14, as it does every year. With rockets (!!) exploding in order to startle (!!) cornered bulls into stampeding the most terrifying 825-meter run imaginable, it’s a miracle only eight people were gored over the course of this year’s festivities. That number only accounts for actual impalements by raging bulls, and not the other dozens of people sent to the hospital for other relevant injuries.

Here at Ibex, we propose a kinder, gentler festival. Yes, the Running of the Bulls has history, which we honor. But isn’t there an old saying about history repeating itself? And doesn’t history need a starting point, too? To the people of Pamplona and the world, we propose “The Running of the Sheep.”

Photo: Creative Commons

Excitement. Adrenaline. Fleece. The Running of the Sheep has you sprinting down the cobblestoned streets of an idyllic village, surrounding by a happy-go-lucky herd of Merino sheep. 

Don’t let their pastoral appearance fool you, though. This is no walk in the park. (For if there were a park, the organizers couldn’t keep them the sheep focused enough to make the 825-meter trek.) This is a mano-a-hoof footrace to the finish. Yes, running sidelong into a bull pits you against 1600-pounds of pissed off muscle. But sheep come with their own warning label. Brushing against an unshorn sheep at speed is like bouncing against a vertical, mini-trampoline of fluff-filled pillows. This could seriously throw you off your line. No joke. Caveat emptor, mis amigos.

We’ve already been contacted by several municipalities to license Running of the Sheep, so it’s only a matter of time before the latest extreme herding animal event comes to your town. Lace up your shoes, tie on a scarf the color of your favorite shepherding dog, and prepare for the most daring, competitive, and life-affirming jog of your life. 

Because unlike when dozens of angry, goaded bulls are chasing you down an ancient alley, running with the sheep means never having to go too fast. Stop for a cappuccino or a nice Chianti, you’ll still have a kickass picture to post to Instagram.

Running of the Sheep 2015. You mess with the sheep; you get a sweater.

*Credit where credit is due: Those fun-loving Kiwis from New Zealand have orchestrated Running of the Sheep events for several years. For a brief moment when we thought we were the first, we reveled in the creative bubble of our offices. Doggone Internet proved us wrong. We salute you, the brainchildren behind the original Running of the Sheep. 


Why You Should Wear Merino Wool in the Summer

First of all, one billion sheep (worldwide census, circa 2011) can’t be wrong. Come summer, sheep around the world shed their heavy wool for a lighter-weight variety. The average sheep only lives about 10 years ‒ they’re not going to spend five of those uncomfortable.

But we’re not resting on our laurels for this one. We’ve collected the top five reasons from history to culture to science to comfort - to sport Merino wool this summer.

Click here to visit the Why Merino in the Summer page.


World Cup Fever: What Not To Do at THE Biggest Football Match in Four Years

Thanks to Tim Howard, flamboyant hairstyles, and the collective enthusiasm of the rest of the world, Americans have finally begun to like soccer. This Sunday, the biggest tournament of the globe’s most popular sport wraps up with the final match between Germany and Argentina. 


If you’re lucky enough to be partying in Rio right now, what are you doing wasting your time on the Internet? More pertinently, if you’re in Brazil holding golden tickets for the World Cup 2014 finals, Ibex has a few points of etiquette to ensure your game results in the kumbaya of fandom and not in the ire of Germans or Argentines aimed in your general direction.

These tips work for those of us watching at home on the telly, too. In no particular order…

  1. Do not refer to the game you are watching as “soccer.” It is football, futball, or futebol. End of story.
  2. Do not be tempted to blow a vuvuzela. That was so 2010. We think they may have even been outlawed in 98% of the World Cup nations. Even if they are not illegal in and of themselves, it will be incumbent upon a righteous citizen’s brigade to go full vigilante on your ass for vuvuzela-ing.
  3. Do not paint USA colors on your face for the final match. Yes, American fans earned a following of their own this tourney, but show some respect for the teams still playing.
  4. Speaking of face paint, do not wear face paint if the forecast calls for rain.
  5. If you see Gisele in the crowd, do not say hello – beyond a friendly acknowledgement. We hate to break this to you, but you (male or female) will not be the one to turn her away from Tom Brady. Even though he doesn’t play the “right” kind of football, we can promise that this is not your “in.”
  6. If you don’t have a solid grasp of the offsides rule, do not use the finals as the opportunity to learn about it, complain about it, or otherwise ask “real” soccer fans to explain it to you. Just pipe down and pretend.
  7. Do not complain about how “slow” or “low-scoring” the game is. Particularly do not do so in front of any Brazilians (see exhibit A of the team’s historic flouncing by Germany).
  8. Do not yell “goooooooaaaaaalllllllll!!!!!!!!!” along with the announcer. It is undeniably satisfying, but it is a skill best left to the professionals.
  9. Do not order a caipirinha – the national drink of Brazil – unless you are either: a) in Brazil, or b) in a U.S. bar that is running a special on caipirinhas in honor of the World Cup. To do so is akin to ordering a Malibu rum, basil-infused, frozen strawberry daiquiri in a dive bar. World Cup fever does not cover this faux pas.
  10. Do not talk about Manchester United or other Premier Soccer League teams during the finals. You’re either with die-hard fans who are currently bleeding World Cup colors, or rainy day soccer fans who have been swept up in the excitement of the moment. Bad form to press either too hard, my friend. Bad form.
  11. Do not, under any circumstances, tell people around you to “quiet down.” This ain’t golf, buddy. This is the mother-freaking World Cup! This is football, and this is our time, as Americans to celebrate life and sport as freely and jubilantly as the rest of the uninhibited world. One look at the fans in the stadium and you know: This is not the time to worry about being reserved or cool. Let your flags fly, my friend. Have some fun.




Stranded in the Backcountry With Fearless Ibex Intern, Alex Bozuwa

Ah… the glory of working at Ibex. What speaks of more glamour than sheep, Vermont winters and fancy new office clothes covered in dog hair? Clearly, these were highfalutin selling points to Alexandra Bozuwa, whom we’ve recently welcomed to the team as a summer intern. 

Alex is a Vermont native, trying the West Coast on for size while she studies economics and sociology at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California. We could tell you we hired her for her sweet and envy-inducing Eurovan, but the truth is she’s whip smart, motivated, an innate adventurer, and can cut a fabric swatch like no other. 

Obviously, we’ll hope to challenge and mentor Alex through the world of Merino, which we love so deeply. Before that, we wanted to test her mettle in the second entry of a little series we like to call, “Stranded in the Backcountry.” (See SIB with Serena Gordon here.)


Ibex Question (IQ): It’s July, present day, present season. You’re stranded alone in a remote place with plenty of water, basic food and basic shelter. Because we’re benevolent stranders, you get to choose: Where would you love to be stranded for a week?

Alex Bozuwa (AB): I’d love a good stay anywhere in Southeast Asia with a lot of rivers.

IQ: What goes through your mind:

a) Sweet, a few days to myself!

b) Ugh! What am I going to do without my daily latte!

c) Okay. I’ll have fun, but I sure wish it were a party!

AB: C. It would be a blast by myself, but after a few days I might want some good company.                           

IQ: What outdoor piece of gear (non-apparel) do you bring?

AB: A small inflatable kayak. It’s the perfect transportation and a paddle is always enjoyable. 

IQ: What luxury item do you hope is waiting for you at your shelter?

AB: The most comfortable pillow in the world. I would also love to have my iPod, so I could have a soundtrack to my adventure!

IQ: Cool. You get to keep you iPod, but tragedy strikes! It crashes and leaves you with only room for three songs. Which three do you salvage?

AB:      1) I’d have the song “Send Me On My Way” on repeat. It’s a great travel song.

            2) “Home” by Edward Sharp and The Magnetic Zeros. Definitely one of my favorites.

            3) I would also have to throw in some country with “Whatever It Is” by Zac Brown.

IQ: On the flip side, which song - if played on endless repeat - would you cause you to run naked and screaming into the wilderness?

AB:Sail” by Awolnation     

IQ: Excluding friends and family, which person – living or dead – would you most want to be stranded with?

AB: I would have to say someone like Amy Poehler; we’d have a great time no matter the situation!        

IQ: And for what will be clearly the most important element to your survival and sanity, which piece of Ibex apparel would you be sporting during your stay?

AB: During the day, I would sport the Synergy X Tank, and as temps cool at night throw on the Shak Lite Hoody.

IQ: When you escape the blissful serenity of ‘alone time’ in the wilderness and arrive back in society, what’s the first thing you do?

AB: Binge watch New Girl, and then start packing for my next adventure in the backcountry!

Well played, Alex. Well played. We’re happy to have you on board.


Happy Fourth of July from Ibex

Happy Independence Day! It was some forward-thinking in 1776 that set out the philosophical foundations of our country: equality, inalienable rights, power granted from the consent of the governed, and more. And this (see below) – this – is how we honor those game-changing ideals? Say what?!?


Not so fast, Mr. Fanny Pack. An argument could be made that your message is getting lost in your… err… exuberance. We’re not making the argument; we’re just sayin’.

Ibex is wicked proud of being an independent, U.S. company from the great state of Vermont. It’s just that we demonstrate that enthusiasm with a little more subtlety and (what we hope is) a lot more substance. Over 70% of our apparel is sewn right here in the USA: creating jobs, paying solid wages, and ensuring responsible environmental practices. When you wear an Ibex piece, you are supporting America — without the worry if primary colors clash with your skin tone.


Still feeling an unscratched itch of patriotism? We take it to the next level with our Shak Lite line (women’s and men’s ½ Zips and Full Zips, plus women’s Shak Lite Hoody) and our complete sock collection. Both of these lines are from the fleece of homegrown Montana sheep. The raw fiber is from the US; it is woven into wool fabric in the US; it is sewn in the U.S. Boom: trifecta! That’s what we mean when we say, “Made in the USA.”


If there’s ever a day to wear red, white and blue together, it is most definitely July 4th. Rock that flag loud and proud. If you’re seeking the substance of that feeling the remaining 364 days of the year – albeit with less conspicuous symbolism - Ibex has you, and America, covered.

Here’s to continuing to strive toward the ideals set forth in the Declaration of Independence and here’s to a Happy Fourth of July!