AirVenture, Where It All Started

Thumb 29 Feb, 2020

Welcome to the Outdoor Donkey Blog. My name is Sean and I am the founder of Minneapolis, MN based Outdoor Donkey, LLC. I started Outdoor Donkey in 2016 out of frustration with a picnic blanket and a pretty simple idea. Before I get into it, let me give you some context, a bit of a back story. I must admit that I am a bit of an airplane geek and wanted to be a pilot ever since I was a kid. I got the opportunity to attend AirVenture for the first time in 2010 and I was "bit by the bug" and have been going back ever since. After leaving AirVenture in 2010, I was inspired and more motivated than ever to get my pilot's license (certificate). After a long winter of flight training, I got my Private Pilot License (PPL) in 2011.

Now, back to Outdoor Donkey. As I mentioned, I've been going to AirVenture every year since 2010. So in 2016 when my wife and I had our son, I just had to take him to AirVenture with us. He was only 6 months old by time summer rolled around and AirVenture was in full swing so we had to figure out a way to make sure he got his naps in while at the airshow. We figured we'd use a picnic blanket and lay it out on the ground. That's where all the frustration began. We quickly realized that we needed a "stay put" blanket. The picnic blanket we were using at the time just kept bunching up with the slightest movement and to make matters worse, the wind kept blowing the corners of the blanket over the poor kid. We thought it would be great to have a blanket that would just “stay put”. After I got back home I decided to try a couple of ideas I had to make the blanket stay in one place.

The design we came up with involves the use of 4 specially designed stakes that are used to anchor the blanket to the ground so it will be blown around by the wind or get bunched up each time an occupant on the blanket moves. This is similar to the concept of using stakes to anchor a tent to the ground. While we were at it, we had to design a set of lightweight stakes that would work for the blanket because we could not find any that was lightweight yet strong enough to hold the blanket down. After several prototypes, we had a product that was amazing. We called it the " StayPut Connect Picnic Blanket ". StayPut because the blanket will stay wherever you put it. Connect because you can easily connect multiple blankets to form one giant blanket.

A byproduct of our StayPut Connect Blanket were some pretty awesome stakes (StayPut Aero™ 7075) that our customers love. We noticed our customers were also using their StayPut Stakes to anchor their tents. Many of our customers wanted the stakes because they were amazingly lightweight, and super strong which made them ideal for backpacking. Because of customer demand, we started offering the stakes as a separate item. A few months later, we added a second stake that we call the StayPut Deep-V™ Titanium. We have since then added the Versa Cord, the Big Bertha Heavy Duty Tent Stakes, and the Outdoor Donkey Stake Hammer.

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