I'm excited to talk with Dana Gleason today. Dana's been making packs for over 40 years in the outdoor industry. Some of the best packs I've ever carried. It's always fun to catch up with him at trade shows and now on the podcast.
The man behind Mystery Ranch packs, Dana Gleason, has seen many pack trends and brands come and go during his forty years of designing and sewing packs. Several of the brands were his own, including Kletterwerks, which he started as a young ski and climbing bum in 1975, later revived by Dana’s son in 2012. In the late 70s and early 80s, Dana and business partner, Renee Sippel-Baker, threw their creative energy into Mojo Systems and Quest camera bags. Dana’s namesake brand, Dana Design was established in 1985 quickly becoming the pack to trust for uncompromising durability and a comfortable carry among mountaineers and backpackers. As is often the case with entrepreneurial brands, cash for growth was needed and Dana and Renee ended up selling off their interest in each of those brands. In 2000, after some time off, Dana and Renee once again crafted a small selection of durable packs for a new endeavor, Mystery Ranch.
“The fact that we’ve succeeded in this is more than luck. ‘Luck’ consists of holding on to the good stuff and letting go of the bad,” explains Dana as he recounts his history building packs. After 40 years, Dana has observed dozens of load-carrying systems come and go. He’s seen trends like the superlight movement catch the interest of consumers and he’s seen the pendulum swing in the opposite direction for professionals whose highest priority is a comfortable carry. As the majority of US factories were shut down, and production moved overseas, Dana has observed quality become inconsistent. He’s seen fabrics and materials evolve from the original thick rust Cordura to the high tenacity lightweight versions available today. All this experience has found significance in the new 2016 Mystery Ranch packs, which like all of Dana’s packs are Built For The Mission.