Dear Friend of Gura Gear,
Twelve years ago, Andy Biggs and I co-founded Gura Gear. We started with a simple idea, to build an ultra-lightweight photo backpack that would redefine how we travel with photo equipment, and how we work from a bag. That idea, sketched on a cocktail napkin in the Africa bush, grew into a premiere photographic accessories company, which was focused on design details and real-world use cases for avid photographers. However, over the last few years, the company went through a number of changes that I fear alienated of many of you, our core customer base. Without you, this company would not exist. Given that we have version 2.0 of Chobe launching of Kickstarter, I felt that now is the time to discuss the history, quell some of the rumours and clearly state our planned path forward.
We brought in a professional management team in 2011 and the brand continued to grow, due to a continued focus on photographers, but things went sideways in roughly the 2014-2018 period, when we purchased Tamrac. The team focused on the larger Tamrac business and Gura Gear lost its way. Eventually, the name itself was shelved, replaced with the Tamrac G-Elite label. While excellent bags, they were not representative of the Gura Gear that Andy and I had envisioned and built. And as a result, we lost more and more of the trust we had built up with you, our customers.
I took over day to day control of the operations and set about re-building Gura Gear, my labor of love, and set to collate feedback from years of input from you, my fellow photographers. In 2018, we re-launched Gura Gear as a stand-alone brand with an update to our core product, the Kiboko camera backpack. Gone were the difficult zippers, and back were smooth zippers, designed to open easily with a gloved hand (something I did quite often when product testing in Antarctica). Back was a core element of the Gura Gear ethos, Dimension Polyant VX-21 and VX-42, high-performance sail cloth, made in the USA. All our core products will use this material as long as I own and run the company. Yes, it makes some of our products more expensive than competitors, but in twelve years we have never had a single bag fail due to materials failure. Not one.
I sold Tamrac six months ago to focus purely on Gura Gear. The result of this focus is our Chobe 2.0 line, currently on Kickstarter. We have built on the original to create a line of bags that are perfect as a “personal item” when flying, and as an everyday carry bag when going about the steps of daily life. Chobe is a critical piece in rebuilding the brand we love.
As we all begin to see light at the end of the tunnel, when we start traveling again, I hope to see some of you carrying Chobe to a co-working space in Omotesando, slinging Kiboko into a Land Rover in the Sabi Sands, packing your chargers and cables into our updated Et Cetera line, but most importantly, using our products to help you realize your creative vision, carry your tools just a little further, and connect with our fellow (wo)man, wherever your adventures may take you.
We have new products in development that are photographic in nature, or inspired by our history in photography, and carry over the same design ethos: ultra-lightweight sail cloth, meticulous attention to detail, and a passion for what we build. We hope that you will find these products responsive to your needs in other areas of your active, adventurous life.
I sincerely apologize for the missteps of the past, and hope that you will be as passionate about the Gura Gear that we are re-building as I am. Great products and great companies are only as good as you, our customers. We live and die by the online review, the positive post, and tagging us on social media. Please consider backing our Chobe v2.0 Kickstarter, and please follow us on Instagram and Facebook. As we invest in these platforms, we hope to rebuild the community that once was.
Yours in thanks,
Co-Founder and CEO