A lot of buzz lately about Brian Frankle joining Six Moon Designs as the Director of Pack Designs (link to the website).
For those who don’t know, Brian is the founder of Ultralight Adventure Equipment (ULA). As an accomplished long distance hiker, Brian started designing and building is own packs for his own use and this eventually morphed into ULA.
After 9 years, Brian tired of the day-to-day operation of running his own company and sold ULA to Chris and Sally McMaster in 2009.
ULA packs are well known and are plentiful in the US on some of the long distance trails, such as the Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail.
One thing that has probably helped with ULA’s success is a stable model line-up. For many years the packs have a good reputation have remained in the line-up, although there have been some tweaks along the way. The downside is that not introducing new models may not keep the company in line with the market place. But it seems to be working for ULA and they have grown. A lot of quality lightweight equipment is made by cottage manufacturers in the US, but it seems that ULA has progressed from a cottage manufacturer to more of a small business with several full time employees.
One of the difficulties for small cottage manufacturers is to find the time to develop new products, when the day-to-day manufacturing and normal business operations take so much time. This is especially true when a manufacturer, such as Six Moon Designs, builds multiple products like shelters and backpacks.
I have owned a couple ULA packs and they are well made, although a couple features just didn’t match my daily routine when hiking. I own a Six Moon Designs Wild Oasis tarp and it is a great little shelter. Anyway, good luck to Brian and Ron Moak (owner of Six Moon Designs).