Backpacker Radio #211 | Matteo Volpi on Starting a UL Gear Company in Mexico, Entrepreneurship Lessons, and Backpacking in the US

In today’s episode of Backpacker Radio presented by The Trek, we are joined by Matteo Volpi, the CEO of Volpi Outdoor Gear, the Mexico-based UL gear company.  We talk about what it’s like to run a cottage gear company out of Mexico, a country without much of a long-distance backpacking culture.  We learn about what goes into starting and running a new business, how he designs the products he uses and sells, the challenges of managing a team, and much more.  We also talk about Matteo’s hikes on the PCT and Colorado Trail and his love affair with backpacking in the US.

We wrap the show with a brief overview (and hopefully some foreshadowing) of the UK’s 230-mile Cape Wrath Trail, the Triple Crown of activities that aren’t but feel like sports, and some further education on the subject of real people who exist that don’t have internal monologues who are real people that really exist.

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Interview with Matteo Volpi

Time stamps & Questions

00:03:39 – Support us on Patreon!

00:05:14 – Introducing Matteo 

00:06:05 – How did you get your trail name?

00:09:05 – How did you first get introduced to thru-hiking?

00:09:58 – Tell us about Guadalajara

00:12:35 – Are there any long trails or public land in Mexico?

00:14:48 – Is there any sort of backpacking culture in Mexico?

00:16:40 – Discussion about gear access and outdoor retailers in Mexico

00:20:40 – What’s the process for getting a visa for hiking the PCT

00:23:30 – What was it like starting at the Mexico-US border?

00:25:10 – Did you face any sort of racism or unpleasant behavior?

00:26:40 – Tell us about your early days on the PCT

00:30:28 – What are the top three non-obvious places to visit in Mexico?

00:37:00 – What highlights do you have from your first days of the PCT?

00:40:40 – When did you start your gear company?

00:42:11 – How did you get started with your gear?

00:45:13 – How do you make the packs?

00:48:24 – How do you source the fabrics?

00:55:40 – What led you to start your gear company?

00:57:11 – How hard is it to ship internationally?

00:59:00 – Tell us about hiking the Colorado Trail with your pack

01:00:03 – What are your favorite features of your backpack?

01:02:50 – How many miles do you typically do a day?

01:04:52 – How do you manage your time hiking, running a company, and going to school?

01:06:19 – What are you hoping to accomplish by going to college and studying GIS?

01:08:07 – How big is your team?

01:08:45 – What are your ambitions for the company in the future?

01:11:28 – What is the biggest, non-obvious challenge for your company?

01:14:52 – What advice would you give to yourself about starting a company?

01:16:07 – How do you approach taking risks?

01:18:03 – Rolf’s celebrity question: what are your plans right now?

01:19:52 – Do you have a favorite section of the CT?

01:21:18 – Where can people keep up with you?


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QOTD 2: Are mashed potatoes just Irish guacamole?

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