When cousins Skip Yowell and Murray Pletz founded JanSport in the late 60′s, the two were primarily building technical mountaineering packs right in the shadow of one of the great mountains of North America: Mount Rainier. The cousins used Rainier as a proving ground for their designs by submitting their inventions to the brutal and often unpredictable conditions of the mountain.

Over 40 years later, we’re still using Rainier as a testing ground for new product developments. This past week we made the trip to Ashford, Washington to hang out with our partners at International Mountain Guides, Inc. and pick their brains about what they want in a mountaineering pack.

We’ve been working with the guys at IMG since 2009 on developing high level packs specifically for their needs. The resulting gear is not always a product that you will see in a store, but chances are, you’ve seen the results of our partnership show up in other products that ARE available in stores. IMG guides put their packs through torment in ways that nobody else can; if something can be broken, they will find a way to break it, and this helps us to design and build the highest quality bags to carry your gear up a 15,000 foot mountain, or more likely, to carry your laptop and notebook 15 blocks through the conditions of the urban outdoors.