In the early seventies, Dana Gleason and his wife Laura were the passionate proprietors of one of the first true dedicated outdoors shops, Mountain Man, located in the shadow of the Black Hills Forest at the heart of Deadwood, South Dakota. Unfortunately this sleepy town did not share the Gleason’s enthusiasm for the outdoors, and so with their store faltering, the coupled decided to pack up their shop and move to the bustling metropolis of Bozeman, Montana.
Remarkably, during that frantic week in 1975 as Dana trekked back and forth between Deadwood and Bozeman, he was struck by inspiration not once, not twice, but five times, completing a handful of brand new bag designs as his final act in the shuttered South Dakota studio.
Those five designs would lay the groundwork for Kletterwerks (which roughly translates to “climbing factory” in German) the bag company that Dana founded once he had officially settled down in Bozeman.
Kletterwerks died before it could truly take off though, as Dana sold his share so he could focus on other open-air pursuits, and it took three decades for the label to make its way back to the summit of the outdoor accessories world. The company was resurrected this past year as Dana’s son, Dana III brought the company back to life using, you guessed it, those original five designs. And while Kletterwerks’ contemporary collections pay homage to the past, they are far from outdated.
From an aesthetic standpoint you could easily picture a Kletterwerks bag in a spread from a seventies Japanese publication on all things “Made in America,” but they still remain well above par from a practical standpoint. I’ve used my Flip bag for everything from traveling, to rock climbing, to surfing, and it hasn’t let me down yet. And to think it all began with one hectic week back in ’75. —JG