I joined the Army Infantry in 1996 and got my first ruck - a large ALICE pack. It was a heck of a rucksack, built by the lowest government bidder. In 1999, I became an Infantry Officer. While my large ALICE was what I was issued, I very quickly realized its configuration was unacceptable for all the extra components leaders were required to carry. I began modifying my field ruck in late 2000. Luckily, I was at Ft. Bragg, and someone off Bragg Blvd or Yadkin Rd was always willing to modify your ruck even if it did piss off your Company and Battalion commanders.
Then I did my combat tours, and even though one was in Afghanistan and Iraq, they had one thing in common: my gear failed at the worst possible times. It stuck with me—it ate at me—and I told myself one day, somebody would make gear that wouldn't quit. After leaving the Army more than a little broken, I continued to work on pack designs. After contracting for a few years in Afghanistan, I returned to the U.S. ready to work. It took a few years to find the right production partner. Everyone wanted me to do it their way, use cheaper fabric, or cut corners on manufacturing. Those were nonnegotiable requirements for my brand.
Quality Before Price and Profit
We had a tough call when we decided to start pushing our designs into the civilian hunting, prepper, survivalist, and tactical markets. Since the mid-2000s, every gear manufacturer has been making gear overseas. Chinese products were racing everyone to the bottom of the barrel on quality and price. From my MBA class, I remember that price comprises three items: speed of production, quality, and price; as the experts say, pick two because you can't have it all. Also, the three sides of that triangle diagram impact what's in the middle—your brand. From that moment forward, we decided to make the Abrams Tank of packs.
Right then, we also committed to offering a lifetime warranty on our brand. We wanted to look at our failures and mistakes and then engineer them out; sure, it's a lean Six Sigma approach, but it's also an unrelenting commitment to be the best.
Why Made in the USA Matters
It's simple for us: it's about quality. It's about being able to interact face-to-face with suppliers. It's about being able to look designers and stitchers in the eye. It's about getting their ideas and solutions to solve problems. It's about teamwork and pride in your craft. It's about those little words we hear so often; "I love this pack a little bit more every single time I use it." It's about putting Americans and American ingenuity back to work. You set 16 other American manufacturers to work when you buy from us. That's thousands of Americans making a living, feeding their families, and building the American economy. Our commitment to them is to create a product that lasts.