For us, there is no greater value than the safety of those we care about, which immediately made us think of Uncharted Supply Company.
Owner Christian Schauf grew up on a farm in Northwest Wisconsin before traveling with his band to Iraq and ultimately working for major brand names in Los Angeles. From those experiences, he developed something that is so impactful, it’s literally saving lives. Uncharted Supply Co. is a survivalist product that takes the guesswork out when it really matters most.
We are massive fans of what you have developed, and clearly we are not alone. Can you give us some background on where you grew up and what brought you to launching a survivalist company?
“Just a kid growing up in Northwest Wisconsin, my perspective was small although I was surrounded by tractors, snowmobiles and the outdoors. I have lived in so many places Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Milwalkee, Utah and I have been to Iraq over 40 times.
Once I left home I found that wherever I was, I wasn’t really connecting to that feeling of “Home”. For example; living in LA the need for nature was hopping on my bike and going for a ride in my spandex. I understood why people entered Spartan Races because they were getting the feel for the dirt.
For me, it’s like eating a meal with all the substitutions of meat—it is still not impactful to me. For me, the scientific evidence with being at peace is being connected to nature. I reflect on the book The Comfort Crisis, where we are seeing that we are supposed to be in our natural elements although, we live in a world that changes faster where we as animals have yet to catch up to.
Can you elaborate on what drove you to launch Uncharted Supply Company?
“Spending a decade as a musician, working for those big brands, I found, far and above, some of the most fulfilling work was spending 10 years traveling to Iraq. Putting smiles on the faces of our men and women on the front lines, had the greatest reward. We were rodeo clowns in Iraq and were surrounded by the big dogs. It was super risky—you name it we saw it—but that all made what we were doing feel that much more impactful and powerful.
One year while in Iraq, I was working with MTV on a show and while traveling, the director said to me, ‘I think we are all going to have a hard time finding as much meaning (in life) as what we are doing right now once we leave.’ We were trading time for something that was impactful and making a difference.
Living in LA, facing a couple weather-related issues, political unrest, diminishing lifeskills, I reflected back on living on a farm. I saw that the generalist things you learn in blue collar existence was lost there. When I talked to people, they were afraid of what was happening and there was nobody out there to provide a solution for this fear.
It was truly the perfect dovetailing of everything that had shaped me to shape this brand.
Empty Nesters, kids in college, etc.—the consumer was endless. When I saw what military surplus stores were selling, I thought, let’s make a brand that resonates with people and put some creative thought into it.
While there was a level of creativity, we also wanted to be impactful within the design. If you find yourself injured in a car accident, you should be able to hang the pack on the car to access the items inside. In an emergency, adrenaline spikes and thought goes out the window because you are not thinking clearly. Why would you have a shrink wrapped knife if you needed to immediately defend yourself or cut yourself loose? That stood out to me, that there would be this packaging that could truly alter the trajectory of survival rate.
We now have an assortment of items that are purchased by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the state, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and other major corporations. This shows us that we have a highly regarded product that is being used by premium experts. It is not complicated or fancy—it truly is what will save you time while getting from point A to point B. Seconds are the difference between life and death in an emergency.”
What does the name represent?
“I thought about the name a lot! To me, the word “uncharted” is being somewhere you have never been before. Not fearful—an emergency I haven’t been in before.
When I added “supply” it was because I knew that the product family was going to grow much wider than just large-scale emergencies.
As a team, we have focused on our passions and we develop according to experience. We identified a need for well executed first aid kits, lightweight so it doesn’t slow you down and won’t be an afterthought while hiking or riding. We have developed our dog collar and first aid kit. While we are launching early next year, this is something I have personal experience with.”
How do you prepare for something that you can’t exactly prepare for?
“Honestly, I have 3 BIC lighters in my truck at all times. They are cheap, they work, and I have no shame in having a quick fire starter in a time of need. I know that if I am on a bike in LA or ski touring in Park City, I am packing a first aid kit. With this simple kit, I know that I am covered in 1,000 different scenarios. The purpose of this is to ensure that we design products that make you the hero of your own story!”
How do you prepare for something that you can’t exactly prep Throughout the years, what experiences would you say have shaped Uncharted’s new product launches? are for?
“People can look at another product and understand “the why” behind our brand. Experience, and authenticity drive our team. We don’t do competitor analysis, we don’t watch Google Trends—most of what we build is what we are living and breathing while using it.
For example, I lived in the Arctic Circle for two weeks alone with just a backpack. Buy something you think is going to work and, when it doesn’t, reinvent it. Nothing replaces experience. Remember, I told you about our new product launch, the Dog Collar First Aid Kit? Well, that too was driven off of a personal experience with our brand ambassador, Barron. In a freak skiing accident, he was severely injured and, had I not had a first aid kit on hand, he wouldn’t be here today.”
Since you have developed some world class products, what is some of the best advice you would like to give to those who might not think they would find themselves in danger or in a predicament?
“Plan ahead and prepare! It doesn’t matter what you are doing—not thinking through everything you need, knowing the weather, and listening to your body could cost you dearly. Think about football for example: Nobody goes out there without studying the games. You study the games and prepare so that you know what you are getting into.
Do not be fearful, but trust your instincts—if you have any hesitation, head back.”
Heading into winter in North Idaho, building fires can be a lifesaver in the home as well as in a situation where you may be lost in the elements. What is the best way to detect sound wood to use as a fire starter and warmth driver?
“Keep in mind, it doesn’t have to be wood! Look under the branches of a tree, look for the super dry, dead material. Carry a lighter (BIC) that’s lightweight and doesn’t leak. Find what is dry. No shame in starting a fire fast, but be sure to have that fire starter and kindling ready. You may start small over and over to make sure that conveyor belt doesn’t go out.”
What do you think is the most recommended product you sell, and why would you suggest this to a new consumer?
“Our survival kits are the most complete solutions. Every emergency is different, everyone’s life is different. We took this into consideration when we built these, and they are extremely adaptable to whatever comes across your day. Many people have first aid kits, but there are more times that you need warmth, water, tools, etc.”
What would you suggest to someone their first step be if they find themselves lost?
“‘Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.’ Most people want to fix things immediately, and that can result in getting further lost or panicking and creating other issues. Slow down, think, and put a plan together. I also always recommend creating a trail, whether through paracord tied to trees or tracking on your phone, etc. Being able to return back to your starting point is critical. I am a Garmin ambassador, and I agreed to it because I’ve trusted their products for years. When I’m in the backcountry, I’ve always got my GPS watch tracking me from my truck. That way, no matter what, I know both my trail back and the shortest distance to my truck. It’s an incredible peace of mind.”
I have always been a huge fan of Field and Stream. They have a section that talks about survival moments and people living through the worst situations possible. Is there a situation you have ever found yourself in that was extreme or left a lasting impression?
“I’ve had many scary moments. I used to snowmobile daily when growing up in Wisconsin—I remember a storm so bad that I was in a complete whiteout and couldn’t see 10’ in front of me. Fortunately, I was able to slow down, find a fence line, and follow it to a road, which led to a house, which was a shelter until my parents came to get me—in a huge 4×4 John Deere tractor—the only vehicle that could make it.
Another time, I was elk hunting in Montana and separated from my crew. I found myself completely lost in an area I knew nothing about, and that was full of predator animals. I had the foresight to drop a GPS pin on my watch where basecamp was and walked back to camp seven miles. Not sure what would have happened if I hadn’t done that. There are many more…”
With the holidays right around the corner, what are some of your favorite apparel staples for the outdoors?
“So many companies build great gear. I’m big on layers and keep well stocked in my vehicle. A waterproof (Gore-tex or Toray) shell, a big puffy with 850 fill, and a wool sweater can get you through almost any weather. I always keep a pair of waterproof and insulated hunting boots in my truck (warm, dry, and light enough to hike in if I’m stuck or need to traverse some tough land), as well as a couple hats, a couple sets of gloves, a couple headlamps, snowshoes, shovel and hand warmers. You just never know.”
Congrats on the new store! Can you tell us what drove this and how it feels to connect with the consumer?
“Our products are most impressive when you can touch and feel them. The quality of the materials, the craftsmanship, and the vast array of products inside each kit—it’s just hard to translate all of that via one Instagram picture. Having a store allows customers to truly experience our products, and we think that’s a good thing. It’s also a basecamp for training and supporting our favorite charities by holding events and fundraisers.”
We know you are a huge outdoorsman. Any insight into some of your favorite places to get outside?
“The first thing to understand is that the outdoors can be as dangerous as they are beautiful. Never get in over your head. If you’re unsure, don’t go further. The outdoors is a constant learning experience, which is beautiful but also can be dangerous. That said, one of my favorite all time places is Jackson Hole and Teton. I always tell people that Teton National Park is what you think Yellowstone is. Less tourists, more big game, epic mountains—it’s truly special.”
Lastly, what would you like to encourage those outdoor enthusiasts with while signing off? Any closing statements?
“I believe our world is changing, and not for the better. I believe so much of what ails people can be solved with time in nature. I tell people that nature is my yoga, tai chi, meditation, therapy, and exercise all wrapped in one. If you’ve never truly gotten out there, start. Do what you can, and build on it every day. Your life will change—for the better. “
Be sure to visit the Uncharted Supply Co. website and, if you are in the Park City, Utah area, drop in to their beautiful store. We are honored to have been able to share this interview with you and hope that you find peace knowing there is a brand out there that has your back.
We hope you enjoyed this amazing brand feature! If you are in need of a simple health update we challenge you to visit our Kickback Session with Tenril!
We love showering our loved ones with gifts, but especially in the times we’re living in currently, always with the goal of gifting responsibly. Whether that has to do with responsible budgeting or giving something with lasting, practical value, it’s important to give a gift with a deeper value.