Montana-made backpacks by Mystery Ranch
Posted on 21 January 2004
Dana Gleason: a pioneer in packs
Since the 1970s, Dana Gleason has been making and repairing backpacks in Bozeman for hikers, skiers and snowboarders from around the world.
But for the last four years, Gleason, former owner of Dana Design backpacks, has been cranking out packs under a different name: Mystery Ranch.
Gleason and Renée Sippel-Baker own Mystery Ranch, a backpack manufacturing company in Bozeman that makes packs for the active outdoor lifestyle.
Mystery Ranch’s internal-frame backpacks run the gamut of the active outdoors person, from the small Mountain Monkey pack, to the beefy Futura Prime.
The company, which employs 12 people in Bozeman, specializes in packs for backpacking, skiing, climbing and snowboarding, but this year has started lines for hunting, a market that has its own set of demands.
Having the Rocky Mountains and several ski areas right out their door, Mystery Ranch finds Bozeman “a fantastic place to do our testing,” says company representative Andrew Crow.
While other companies use computer designs, Gleason still designs and sews each new pack by hand.
After Gleason started Dana Designs, he sold the company to K2, but stayed with his devotion to building quality outdoor gear. “We’re definitely settled in and have found a niche that is working for us,” Crow said. “We’ve got a strong grassroots following. That’s something you really only find in the outdoor industry. It makes it a lot of fun to work in.”
For the first few years after the company was founded in 2000, Mystery Ranch outsourced production of certain backpacks to China. Now, however, production of those packs has been brought home to American soil. “Outsource manufacturing wasn’t our style,” Crow said. About 80 percent of the company’s commercial and retail lines are now made in Bozeman.
Mystery Ranch packs are built to the demanding specs that active outdoors people need. “We orient our product to people who know their gear and are willing to pay a little more for a product that is U.S. built and one that more time and effort have gone into.”
The packs are available at about 20 dealers throughout the United States. In Montana, the packs are available at Northern Lights in Bozeman, Scheel’s in Billings; Sportsman Ski Haus in Kalispell and Whitefish, and the Trailhead in Missoula.
Retail location: 2010 N. Seventh Ave., Bozeman. Info: 585-1428; On the Web:www.mysteryranch.com