Ultralight Adventure Equipment was established in 2001, two years after Brian Frankles' thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. At that time there were a few companies that catered to ultralight backpacking enthusiasts, but the majority of innovation was coming from home-based creative folks that happened to have some sewing skills, a copy of Ray Jardine's, A Pacific Crest Trails Hiker Handbook , and an internet connection to share their ideas with the online trail community.
After a one year apprenticeship with a local pack maker, Brian took the skills he developed and struck out on his own. He designed gear that would address the needs of ultralight and lightweight hikers as well as transitioning traditionalist. We continue to use Brian's balanced approach of lightweight, durability and comfort as the standard for every pack that we sell. The original gear (P-1 and P-2 Packs) were received warmly by the distance hiking community, and ULA-Equipment quickly established itself as a provider of functional, durable equipment...albeit a slow provider! A 4 month backlog was standard , but the customers were incredibly gracious, recognizing that Brian was one man with one sewing machine. In the ensuing years, Brain created packs that became the gold standard for through hikers. His first hand knowledge and backpacking skills made him one of the most respected authorities in the world of light weight backpacking equipment.
In the fall of 2007, my wife, Sally, contacted one the ULA retailers to buy a Catalyst for my Christmas present, as Brian was off on a hike. Naturally the packs were on back order, however, the retailer mentioned that Brian was thinking of selling his business. The seed was planted! I did eventually receive my Catalyst, and after using my new pack, I was so impressed that I contacted Brian to investigate the possible sale of ULA. To make a long story short, Sally and I bought ULA two years later, in August of 2009. We moved the business out of Brian's garage into a real shop, one that even had a bathroom! Brian stayed on for a while to show us the ropes, and it's been full speed ahead ever since.
The past four years have exceeded our wildest dreams. The first person we hired, Rodney Tripp, has proven to be as knowledgeable about sewing operations as maybe anyone on the planet. He has singlehandedly raised quality and production to the highest level. In 2010 Rodney became a partner in the business; we couldn't be more pleased to have him and his beautiful family on board.
We are in the process of moving the shop again as we've outgrown our existing space. The move is scheduled for the fall of 2013. Since we purchased the business in 2009, sales have quadrupled. We now have dealers in Japan, Denmark, Germany and the UK, and soon will have dealers in China and Israel. We did all this while retaining the same employees who were with us from the beginning, and kept all our manufacturing in house, in the USA.
Our future plans are more of the same; we want to focus on selling directly to the customer, sewing the highest quality backpacks possible, and providing a level of customer service that no one can top. A huge thank you to all our customers who have spread the word and made all this possible, we will continue to do everything in our power to continue to earn your trust.Happy Trails, Chris, Sally and Rodney