Everett Jesse (pictured) moved to Arizona for the weather. Tired of the cold spells in Carson City, Nevada, he made the decision to give the Valley of the Sun a shot about eight years ago. Turns out, Phoenix proved to be the right place to launch his invention — and Fossil Outdoor, the company he created to sell it.
The invention is the BōnDry (pronounced “bone dry”), a product inserted into the bladder of commonly used hydration packs. It helps dry the bladders and keeps them from getting moldy. The idea came about, as many do, out of necessity and a desire for convenience.
“I’d adopted an active lifestyle [after some health problems], and as a result, I was using a hydration backpack frequently,” Jesse says. “As I propped it open to air-dry it, it would get moldy and mildewy, so I thought, If it’s inefficient to bring the air to the moisture, maybe it would be more efficient to bring the moisture to the air.”
Jesse, who has a degree in finance and years of experience building renewable energy projects for the state of Nevada, used his knowledge of hydropower to figure out how to get the water to move away from the bladder and out into the air to evaporate. “I started testing different fibers and learning what would be the best way to take advantage of the capillary action of water, and the BōnDry was born,” he says.
The BōnDry is made of sustainably sourced plant material and recycled plastic bottles sewn together to create a fabric that helps with the moisture-wicking process. The product can generally dry itself and needs to be washed only if residue gets left behind after several uses.
Kari Truett, an avid hiker and mountain biker, was one of the first people to try the Bo ¯ nDry and says it saved her from having to continually replace her water packs. “I have six kids, so you can only imagine how many water packs I have,” she says. “I’d use spatulas and towels and all kinds of concoctions to dry the bladders out, and it wouldn’t work.”
Truett has been using the same BōnDrys for at least two years and says they work like a charm. “You can absolutely see the water being absorbed the moment you stick it in,” she says. “I haven’t seen anything else like it. It was my Christmas present to everyone I know.”
Fossil Outdoor started marketing the BōnDry in November 2019. As it did for many small businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic changed the company’s plans and made for some difficult times. For Jesse, it was also an unfortunate déjà vu: He had started a business in 2008, but it dissolved due to the recession. Having learned from that experience, and in an effort to preserve his business, Jesse moved out of his condo, sold all his furniture and moved in with roommates to make sure his latest venture would survive. And it did. In fact, through what Jesse calls a “serendipitous coincidence,” some factors of the pandemic may actually have helped with the BōnDry’s production and sales.
“I think I did benefit from people initially being forced inside and not having much to do except for looking at their cellphone and social media. I think it forced a lot of their eyes onto me,” he says. “And then the next phase, people were sick of being inside and adopted outdoor activities, so they started buying hydration packs and needed ways to maintain them.”
COVID-19 restrictions also worked well for Jesse’s production model, which involves subcontractors sewing BōnDry inserts in their homes and getting paid per unit. The method keeps people socially distanced and avoids any overhead costs of renting warehouse space.
Fossil Outdoor also sells the LilBōn, which is used for soft water bottles, and the WishBōn, which fits bladders with a center divider. The company is hoping to expand its product line with more outdoor gear, a market in which Jesse believes Arizona should play a more prominent role.
“I’d like to see Arizona become fairly strong on the retail side of outdoor products, because there’s a lot to do here as far as outdoor activities,” he says. “I think it’s an exciting time for outdoor retail in Arizona.”
Fossil Outdoor products are available for purchase on the company’s website, as well as through Amazon.