Gear For Everyone, Rooted in Adventure

Gear to get you outside.

By: Sara Sheehy + Save to a List

Sierra Designs has been making adventure gear for longer than many of us have been alive.

Not only have they been making gear, but they have also been pushing the envelope and experimenting with pieces that are both useful (swift clips for tents!) and silly (there was wool holiday sweater line back in the 80s...). Through it all, Sierra Designs has been fueled by one thing — getting you outside.

We caught up with our friends at Sierra Designs to learn more about their story.

The History of Sierra Designs

Sierra Designs was founded in 1965 by Bob Swanson and George Marks. After meeting at the Ski Hut in Berkeley, they spent years adventuring together out on the trail. They decided to funnel those experiences into creating products for everyone to get outside.

They developed new ideas and goods, patenting hundreds of innovations that we take for granted today. Sierra Designs was also one of the first outdoor companies to do women-specific sizing and evaluate the different needs of women when it comes to gear.

By 1968, Sierra Designs had 28 full-time employees (including George's mom in the sewing department!) in their headquarters in Berkeley, California.

The Gear

Sierra Designs' first catalog, which they released in 1966, is a remarkably accurate roadmap for the types of products that the company is known for today. The product lineup included down-filled mummy-style sleeping bags, tents, pack frames, down apparel and booties, parkas, and gaiters. 

Today, Sierra Designs offers many of these same products, albeit in much more modern forms. From tents to sleeping bags, and backpacks to apparel (which now includes full clothing lines for both men and women), they haven't strayed far from their roots over the last 55 years.

The Culture

Through it all, Sierra Designs says that the vibe and culture of their company has always been fun, and connected solidly to adventure. They play pranks on each other's office spaces, welcome dogs into the office, and put aside work for an afternoon to take a mountain bike ride in the Boulder foothills, where their headquarters are currently located. 

They don't just design the products, they use them day in and day out, constantly adjusting and testing for the newest innovation in technology or design to bring to their customers.

5 Products We Have Our Eyes On

Here are a few of Sierra Designs' products that are piquing our interest in 2020.

1. Flex Capacitor 25-30

The space-age looking Flex Capacitor (in sizes 25-40, 40-60, and 60-75) handles adjustable volume with ease to accommodate both long and short hauls flawlessly. 

2. Down Booties

These down booties are perfect for campfire nights, vanlife afternoons, and for keeping your feet safe from cold tile floors while you make coffee in your kitchen.

3. 2L Fanny Pack

Guys, fanny packs are back. Did you know? No? Well, now, you do. Snag this 2L Fanny Pack and join the cool kids. If you're looking for something a little more rugged, check out the Flex Lumbar 7-10.

4. Meteor Lite 2

The Meteor is a time-tested and well-loved tent in the Sierra Designs lineup. The Meteor Lite 2 is an upgraded version using lighter materials to reduce weight without sacrificing quality.

5. Tuolumne Sweater (Mens and Womens)

Insulated jackets aren't just for the cold-weather months. Take this Tuolumne Sweater, which is filled with lightweight Primaloft Silver synthetic insulation. Its versatile temperature range makes it perfect for chilly summer nights.

All photos courtesy of Sierra Designs

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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