Wednesday, July 29, 2009


As most of you know I was out in Salt Lake City at Outdoor Retailer last week. I got in Sunday morning and was instantly blown away by the 102 degree temps. It was a rough awakening coming from 65 degrees and cloudy the day before in Wisco. We went to a grocery store to get food and beer and then had a couple of afternoon meetings. It's always fun seeing new product and friends you haven't seen in a while.

I took it easy on Monday and trolled the show floor before it opened on Tuesday. I'm always blown away by how big of an expanse it is and how many vendors are tucked into the far corners of the building. It's impressive how many companies are out there trying to make it in the outdoor industry. It's almost getting to a saturation level that's hard to comprehend. So much crap.

Alongside all of the crap and gimmicky products, you've got other companies who are doing an amazing job and producing a phenomenal product that actually serves a segment of the market and fills a need. They make quality products and don't inundate the market with useless crap.

People like Josh and Liz at Organic Climbing and everyone at Mission Ranch Packs.

I'm sure most everyone who reads this thing knows about Organic Climbing and is somewhat familiar with them at least. The resounding theme with Organic is that it's all made to last. They don't pump out pads with cheap foam and thin fabrics like most companies do. Everything is hand made in the US with the best foam you can find and ballistic fabrics that will outlast everything else on the market.

The price difference between Organic and all the other companies on the market isn't huge and in many cases they actually come in cheaper than the competitors. Plus you won't bottom out your pad. I've had the joy of bottoming out someone else's brand new Mad Rock Pad and I don't want to relive that again. Quality matters.

One of the things I like the most about Organic is the attention to the very small stuff. Last week all of us starting talking about "made in usa" and what that actually means. In the midst of it all Josh got visibly flustered and said "Do you guys know how hard it is to find 'Made in the USA' tags that are actually MADE IN THE USA?". What shined through was how much he cared about putting out the best possible product that would outperform everything on the market and not break down with a weeks worth of use.

I think it's appreciated by everyone who owns one.

On a different side of the industry is a company called Mystery Ranch. I first learned about them last week after they stopped by the Organic booth while we were all drinking beers at the end of the day. Dana Gleason, formerly of Dana Designs, runs this incredible company out of Bozeman Montana. While I don't know too much about them, what I've learned is pretty cool.

Everything they do is designed with an eye toward lasting forever and being useful. They use ballistic fabrics and beefy zippers that won't break. They also design a TON of military packs customized specifically for military use. Instead of just busting out their standard daypacks in camo they've actually put thought and effort into what they do. Crazy!

I encourage everyone to take a look at their website and check out the packs. In particular take a look at the 3Zip system. Very cool! Look here: Mystery Ranch

I'll have a little more on my time in Salt Lake soon and possibly even some climbing! We'll see if the weather holds though.


  1. Thats super cool that Dana is still designing packs. I have an old Dana Design and I love it. I'm having a hard time choosing a new pack to replace it because I love it so much. Thanks for the post Steve. Go made in the USA!
    Oh, the new blue shoes are looking good for you guys, John is on board.

  2. I am kind of a backpack whore. Never owned a Dana Design, but have had friends who have and they are/were sweet. I like one of the climbing ones on the site, of course it's the one they mention is a little cheaper since it's built internationally. Nothing like a little guilt. In any case, when my North Face, 2 Arcteryx packs, GoLite, Lowe Alpine, and Kelty packs all blow out I will be looking into this company. Thanks Steve! Any other good stuff out there (besides Jet Boil!!??) ce

  3. Yeah the Mystery Ranch stuff is pretty cool!

    Chris, there was a ton of good stuff out there! as I try to think of I'll I'll try to do posts. So many toys!!

    Remo, Psyched if the shoe thing would work out!!! We'll talk more....