Tacoma is full of surprises

Some are large, some small, some remarkable, some great and, as we all know too well, some not-so-great.

Tacoma is full of surprises — some large, some small, some remarkable, some great and, as we all know too well, some not-so-great

For better or worse, the not-so-great aspects of Tacoma tend to be front-and-center, if not in-your-face. From sprawling homeless camp tarps and shopping carts to graffiti on virtually every two-dimensional surface to trash almost everywhere, Tacoma’s anti-greeting committee seems to be at work 24/7. In fact, they seem more than willing to work overtime and on holidays.

The truly remarkable places can be a bit harder to find — even though they may be in places many of us pass on a regular basis. And as is often the case, products or ideas originating, or even still exclusively produced here, have a far more dedicated, even passionate clientele many thousands of miles away with the near absence of local recognition or appreciation.

This is certainly the destiny, or at least the current situation of Rite-in-the-rain (www.riteintherain.com).

As you might see from their website, Rite-in-the-rain offers a full range of products to withstand rain — and far more than rain.

As any local short- or long-term resident would know, things get wet, and in many cases, damaged beyond use or recognition from regular, daily use. And when many of us travel, go on hikes or almost any kind of adventure, our notes, recollections and documentation can often and easily be lost.

Defying Mother Nature since 1916

— Motto of Rite-in-the-rain

Rite-in-the-rain products are, of course, designed to resist/defy much more than rain.

Rain, for most of us in the Pacific Northwest, is a constant, near daily encounter and experience.

But encountering “nature”, in all of its forms and expression, is something that a variety of industries, careers, research, activities and accidents take as a given, or at least a possibility, on a regular basis.

But it is likely to be much more than rain; soldiers in Afghanistan, researchers in Antarctica, mountain climbers and lumber workers encounter all kinds of expressions of nature from tropical humidity to frozen tundra to North African dust and desert winds seem to do their best to reclaim the sturdiest of human architecture and construction. Written notes are, in most cases, as ephemeral as the spoken word in light of the near-constant assault of nature on the best (or even the most mundane) of human aspiration.

If you work in the real world, you need these products

Like many of us, I have found myself not entirely convinced when I hear or see claims of products being “water proof” or “water resistant”. Bare human skin, after all, could be considered “water resistant”. Almost anything, to a point, is water resistant, but Rite-in-the-rain products are not just water resistant, but are outright nature defiant. And by nature, they mean almost anything not welcome to the written page. From oil to mud to moisture to the passage of time, Rite-in-the-rain products are designed to be impervious to whatever nature, human incompetence and the sheer unpredictability of life might throw at our best attempts at keeping records that many of us spend our lives collecting.

In any given year, the U.S. military is about half of the sales of Rite-in-the-rain products. As you might imagine, there is no set “season” for products like this, in fact summer is, in terms of sales, the slowest season, but for good reason — the vast majority of customers are off in the field using the products.

And if you take gardening seriously, take a good look at the moisture/dirt/worm resistant notebook here — www.riteintherain.com/garden-planner.

From scuba divers (yes, the pens and notebooks work under water as well as under pressure) to

Spelunkers to sky-divers, these pens and papers will work in all manner of situations.

As you might guess, necessity was the source of inspiration of these products, you can see a history of the whole line here — www.riteintherain.com/rite-in-the-rain-history

And you can see user-written profiles of products here — www.riteintherain.com/field-portraits.

And, as with many “working” products, you can find these products at hardware stores.

Bolt-action pen?

I have to admit that I am a big fan of the bolt-action pen that writes upside-down, in tropical heat and humidity and alpine or desert conditions. It’s also shorter, with a better grip and more durability than any pen you are likely to find anywhere else.

The main thing I like about all of the Rite-in-the-rain product is that they are simple solutions to near universal problems and have been field-tested for virtually any messy, unpredictable, precarious use.

I picked up a set of the small notebooks and pens for my grandkids. If Rite-in-the-rain products can survive the abuse of my grandkids, the austere and demanding settings of blizzards, deserts and war should be no problem at all. For those whose definition of work from home is FAR from home, take a look at their products including this — www.riteintherain.com/dirtbag-pouch. Portable reliability is what they do.

If you go off into the wilderness — of any kind, to rephrase a common statement, don’t leave home without these products. You might not survive, but your notes will.