Out Your Backdoor

Indie Outdoor Lore 'n' More

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What is OYB? --An HQ for Indie Outdoor Education

August 22, 2012

OYB fans the indie outdoor flame. How? ... 2000+ articles on bikes, boats, skis & much more -- showing from diverse angles how the active indie world interconnects. Also, OYB is a catalog of hard-to-find media & gear -- keeping a bunch of good old books alive across a wide range of indie cultures. Your purchases keep us working on the mission. Indie businesses can easily afford to advertise here, to a wider-than-usual range of readers (usually general advertising is very expensive). All for one and one for all!

So, who's in charge? Why, me, Jeff Potter -- I herd the cats here. OYB has been celebrating thrifty, indie culture since 1990. Hey, that's 20+ years! And, yeah, it's my Day Job.

This ol' website was edgy back in 1994 -- people weren't sure the web was even viable then -- but OYB was in with both feet. Free color, access, no postage, searchability! Our Forums were also among the first and had hundreds of members, until niche-specializing siphoned 'em away.

In 1990 I had started OYB as a print zine before the word 'zine' was even a thing. I saw that how-to, high-tech, big-bux and specialization/segregation were dominating outdoor/culture media. The world as I knew it didn't appear. And the way I learned to approach the outdoors -- integrating the whole scope -- with the help of a bunch of wonderful books and friends/mentors with general skills -- just wasn't shown anymore. So I'm doing what I can to re-add that kind of small-world, holistic voice to the scene. ...With your help, it's a cinch!

What a "share and share alike" global ride the zine scene was up to the mid-90's! Truly, it was the Web on cheap paper (with wild artwork).

I see young, searching people out there WHO DON'T HAVE GUIDES or anyone doing similar uplift for them. So I gotta do what I can.

Heck, there's novels, music, movies and philosophy, too! OYB is like a Barne & Noble for Indie Roots! It's a Foxfire for moderns. A Prairie Home Companion for active folk. A Patagonia catalog for backyard folk. A sustainable, affordable keeper of the Whole Earth flame.

I used to run the nation's only outdoor rec culture bookstore. I sold thousands of outdoor sports books, new and old. I kept great old books alive and in play. I also sold a bunch of drygoods, hard to find gear and rucksacks, and I fabricated a line of repurposed vintage bike luggage. For some reason sales dropped thru the floor for all those.

I still a LOT of XC ski gear and Nordic Ice Skates.

I also imported Scandinavian cutlery and easily sold it all, but I just stopped doing it since most of my other drygoods dried up.

Yeah, I can't cover every topic, but I do cover a pretty wide range. (Anyway, it's more an attitude thing than about the specifics.) And I don't keep posting fresh stuff on all subjects -- but my backlist is deep and full of insights you can't find elsewhere. If it's new to you that's good enough to me.

I'm always game to have other folks pitch in. This isn't about me! I started OYB as a pen-pal kind of place for kindred spirits to share reports about what it's like in their neck of the woods -- who else will understand them? Sure, I tend to have a Michigan emphasis, but my topics can usually apply anywhere -- in spirit, for sure!

OYB is for all ages, all types. The message is: you can do it! You can afford it! As you press forward just keep an eye on your roots and include your friends and family and it'll stay alive for you.

I suppose plenty of folks don't need outside support to make their breakthroughs and to keep the spark burning. Great, but we all can't think of everything. Share your ideas! OYB is for team-players. It's for those who want to, or need to, stand on shoulders to see as far as they can...and then pass the word along. We know you take care of your immediate pals. OYB thinks it's neat to connect these small systems into a bigger constellation.

I'd like to do more paper issues of OYB. At least half the OYB audience wants paper. But how to get there from here?


Tough economic times aren't new. It's the base condition for folk culture and social creativity -- it's just expanded out to the wider public. Such times can even be voluntary or barely noticed: the indie spirit often has to make do. What's more, doing without some consumer "necessities" can be freeing. What's hard for one is just-right for another. Thrift encourages creativity, hands-on culture, integration and versatility, which makes us want to share and celebrate what we've found. Where? Here!

These efforts can be lonely. And it's easy to lose our bearings. So, OYB is a place to share what it's like for you, as well as to discover, and to support, so we can make it all work together.

Flush times, lean times, sharing is good.

Remember, shopping here and visiting nifty OYB advertiser websites, is how you support this kind of DIY round-up, since there's no paid subscription.



I note that most items have their postage cost included in the listed price on the order button. So that's all you'll pay! (Non-US orders pay extra.)

OYB Customer Service / Shipping Policy is: I try to ship once a week and I try to promptly acknowledge all orders and inquiries. I'm pretty good at answering and giving special service for Special Needs questions. Feel free to knock again if you're wondering. Feel free to phone me at 517 * 992 * 1010 as well (sane hours for a family, please, EST). I'm a one-man show, doing book, media and product development plus fabrication and shipping. Whew! And sometimes we're out of town a few days. 5000+ satisfied customers since 1995 can't be wrong! : )

Returns... Also, if you're not satisfied with what you buy, feel free to return it promptly for a full item price refund (less my nominal postage to you, and you do pay return postage).


I have a few copies of old issues of OYB. Send a $5 tip and a request and I'll get one out to you.


For those who honestly don't like, need or want such a big picture as OYB, I've spun off several specialty areas into niche sites. So you can have your cake and eat it, too, with OYB. Really. OYB is both general and specific. Check it out... There's AllBike for the whole range of indy bike culture. HooknBullet for the indie view of outdoor foodsport (?). And UpNorth for the indie take on (non metro area) Michigan culture.

OYB dares to say that everyday indie culture IS general. ...Bikes, canoes, and XC skis are more general than Brad, Angelina, CSI, politics, talking heads, or stadium events.

It's what I call Modern Folkways. Technically that's an oxymoron, but really it isn't.

"Folk" is what people do to thrive as they get by. Folk appropriate anything they like as they go. Folk used to be considered illiterate. Not any more, baby! It can be high-tech and it can look like and use some aspects of a consumer culture, but it's different. Dig in!

General culture is actually kept alive by indie biz, not by big biz. Big biz is blind. Sure, it's needed for steel and electricity, but it CANNOT lead. It can only serve. (And I suggest that the professionalization of recreation along with the credentialism of academia are all part of big biz.) OYB is about sharing and hooking-up.

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