This story, like all the great gear brand stories, starts with a man looking to make a product he couldn’t find anywhere else. This time it was a backpack for used for hauling climbing equipment, to be sure. And so, in 1973 Mark Epperson founded Epperson Mountaineering in Nowheresville, Montana. The brand was a hit early on, but sometime in the last two decades it died, due to factors ranging from a waining public interest in climbing to globalization. As has been the fate of many a pioneering outdoor brands.
Luck for us, a team of keen Japanese designers with an eye for Americana revived the storied brand, and now we have the current incarnation, complete with original designs and supreme build quality. The business end of Epperson Mountaineering is now based in Hermosa Beach, California, with manufacturing taking place elsewhere in America.
Brand history aside, the packs speak for themselves. Timeless designs with genuine functionality. We’re most drawn to the mid-sized Climb Pack, originally designed to haul climbing rope.
Available in two sizes (16L and 22.5L), each pack is made by hand of DWR-coated 1000 Denier Cordura fabric with a Mil-Spec nylon webbing and a climbing rated carabiner for securing the top lip. A daisy-chain down the middle front with either zippered or snap-closure side pockets round out the design.
Did we mention the colors? Oh boy, the colors. When it comes to gear haulers we're usually in the “all-black everything” camp here at Field Mag—or at least "all-olive drab"—but the colorful patchwork vibe is something to be admired too. To get the wild colors, you have to go straight to the source.