Mystery Ranch History


Mystery Ranch is built on a heritage of function, comfort, quality and durability. Since 2000, Mystery Ranch has been manufacturing packs and load carriage systems for military, hunting, wildland fire and mountaineering customers, with a focus on use-specific designs and hand-built quality. Based in Bozeman, Montana, Mystery Ranch is a global brand with worldwide production and distribution.

Owners Dana Gleason and Renee Sippel-Baker have worked together since 1978, when Dana hired Renee as a production sewer with his first company, Kletterwerks. Their business association grew through building packs at Kletterwerks and then designing specialised carry systems for cameras and other electronic equipment with Mojo/Quest Systems.

In 1985, Dana and Renee founded Dana Design, the backpack company that would come to be recognised as the industry standard in load carriage technology. Dana's ArcFlex internal frame was the first pack system that integrated different kinds of materials to maximise the benefits of each for more effective load transfer. By the early 90's, Dana Design was the pack to own and the name had become synonymous with comfort and quality.

At its peak, Dana Design had three full time production facilities in Montana, over 200 employees and dealers all over the world. Prompted by the need for capital to expand into wider markets and manage a growing company, Dana and Renee accepted an offer to sell Dana Design to the K2 Corporation in 1995.

After a few years of what they thought would be a skiing and backpacking-filled early retirement, both Dana and Renee realised that they still wanted to be in the business. When Dana's daughter, Alice, asked him to design her a new hip sack, he went back to the design room and found that there were still some great packs that needed to be built.

Dana and Renee officially founded Mystery Ranch in 2000, and they were officially back in packs. The hip sack that Dana built for Alice was the beginning of what would become Mystery Ranch's patented lumbar wrap, and the designs for the NICE frame and SATL would soon follow. Though firmly entrenched in outdoor retail, Dana was approached by the Navy SEALs for custom packs in 2004, and Mystery Ranch began a relationship with the military that would significantly alter its business model and design strategy.

Dana and Renee decided to move the company to a direct sales model so that they could focus on designing products for specialised customers with a new capacity for customisation and rapid prototyping. The feedback from the military and Special Forces users provided a better understanding of what customers wanted and how best to give it to them. Dana and Renee took what they learned from these relationships and applied it to design and construction of all product lines, so that regardless of the mission, a Mystery Ranch pack is up to the job.

This was a move away from the traditional wholesale model in the outdoor industry, but one that provided Mystery Ranch an opportunity to design for high level customers in military, wildland fire, backpack hunting, and mountaineering. The innovation that followed allowed Dana the creative freedom to push the boundaries of what was possible in pack design and materials technology, while building on his history of designing durable and comfortable packs, and has inspired user-centric designs across all Mystery Ranch products.

Mystery Ranch continues to grow into new markets, and every product we build is steeped in a history of innovation that spans four decades and is rooted in our dedication to designing the most functional, comfortable and highest quality packs on the market. With both domestic and international sales and production, as well as direct to consumer and wholesale business models, we maintain our standard of quality around the globe.