I love getting to know a brand that has a history, a story, a journey. Kletterwerks is one of those brands. Founded in 1975 by outdoorsman Dana Gleason in Bozeman, MT. Gleason founded the brand in order to supply fellow serious climbers like himself with the durable and reliable packs that they needed for their adventures. The brand eventually slowed down and shuttered their doors, but Gleason didn’t stop there. He went on to found and develop several other outwear-centric brands including Dana Designs. The most successful to date has been Mystery Ranch, making packs for firefighters, trekkers, hunters, climbers, and the USMC and the Navy SEALs. Mystery Ranch has prided their products on being able to withstand the beating they take out in the field with their users. Prototypes are tested thoroughly in the field and the feedback is used to produce better products. The Mystery Ranch products are then made in the USA, every one of them.
This past year, Gleason’s son Dana III re-introduced his father’s first venture Kletterwerks. The company shares headquarters with Mystery Ranch and the packs are sewn by the same craftspeople who are making heavy duty packs for the Navy SEALs. Although, Kletterwerks is geared towards a slightly more pedestrian user with packs ranching from urban friendly shoulder bags like the Kureir, Konker, and Weston to two of the largest packs, the Rock and the Flip. Both the latter are original designs from the 1970s and are perfect for hiking treks or for overnight trips. Each style from the collection is available in three hues black, granite, and rust. The rust hue is tied to the brand’s early roots when Gleason and fellow gearheads Murray Pletz of Jansport, Dick Kelty of Kelty, and Wayne Gregory of Gregory placed a bulk order for a new high-tech fabric Cordura. The fabric’s minimum order size was too much for each individual brand, so when it arrived in the now signature rust color, all three men took it to their brands.
Ben Nobel, Kletterwerks’ brand manager, and I chatted on the phone a couple weeks back about the brand and their collection. Ben was kind enough to ship me a couple of my favorite packs (the Rock and the Konker) from their collection to test out. I got them in the mail just in time for the long Memorial Day weekend. Those packs got filled up and went with me and my fiance up to the coast of Maine to his family’s house for the holiday. Unfortunately, the weather held us back from our plans to go camping and hiking, but we caught some sun monday morning and went for a long walk around Ocean Point. I’ll definitely keep you posted throughout the summer as I continue to use them – from trekking to work and back, to road trips to the ocean, to weekend camping adventures. Here’s to a summer full of those.