Osprey Packs

Bags, Packs, Travel
Cortez, Colorado, 81321

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Osprey Packs
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    115 Progress Cir
    Cortez, Colorado, 81321
    United States

    Osprey Packs



    Since Osprey was founded in 1974, every single product design bearing the Osprey name has passed through the hands of owner and founder Mike Pfotenhauer, undergoing relentless scrutiny. From stitching the first lines of custom-fitted packs, to meticulously designing innovative products with intuitive features, to forging personal relationships with the sewing operators who construct the packs, Mike has been the unbreakable thread that makes Osprey a company like no other.


    Mike remembers backpacking as a young boy in his home state of Oregon with his brothers and father, wearing a backpack with an awful fit. With the help of his mother, he learned to sew, and created his first backpack at age 16.

    As a young entrepreneur in Santa Cruz, California, Mike opened a retail shop in the front of his rented house where backpackers and travelers – drawn by word of mouth – came to get measured for the custom-fitted, made-to-order packs. Each was constructed by Mike himself over the course of several days. To these avid travelers, the legendary packs were worth the wait. The original name of Osprey Packs was Santa Cruz Recreational Packs.

    By 1987, Osprey started selling wholesale and Mike delegated much of the sewing to seven or eight employees while he focused on design. As the demand for the great-fitting packs increased, Mike and business partner/wife Diane Wren found themselves in Dolores, Colorado, population 864, the exact day a local Gore-Tex factory was closing down. Soon after, they rented the 8,000-square-foot building – originally built in the 1920s as Ford Model-T factory.

    They recruited a team of women sewers from the nearby Navajo reservation, many of whom had built upon their traditional sand painting and blanket weaving skills to sew at area factories. Mike trained these experienced sewers in the art and science of constructing Osprey Packs. In 1994, they expanded sewing operations to Cortez, Colorado, and five years later, Osprey moved all operations to this facility in preparation for more expansion.

    By 2000, manufacturing in the U.S. became increasingly challenging. As domestic fabric mills closed, sourcing quality materials became more difficult. Moreover, Osprey’s competitors had moved manufacturing overseas to reduce product costs and prices. There were issues with capacity. As Osprey signed on with distributors around the globe, the company was missing deadlines and business opportunities. Moving manufacturing overseas was crucial to the company’s survival.

    Osprey began working with Korean manufacturers that owned and managed facilities in Vietnam. Distance didn’t dilute Mike’s incessant desire to ensure that his packs were built with the utmost quality and according to his design specs, which meant he was spending months traveling between Cortez and Vietnam. The trip alone took two days.

    In 2003, Mike and Diane relocated their family to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and set up a design center where Mike could more closely manage production. Intending to live there for two years, they stayed for four. Mike recalls, “We visited the factories almost daily to make sure production was running smoothly and that our designs were produced accurately and faithfully.” Mike hired a Vietnamese designer to create the prototypes and samples. Then he hired another local to manage quality assurance. Now, Osprey’s fully-staffed product development office continues to ensure face-to-face relationships with the factory technicians as well as transparency with the company’s suppliers.

    To celebrate its 35th anniversary in 2009, Osprey launched the All Mighty Guarantee, an enhancement of a lifetime warranty that was already one of the most robust in the industry. Free of charge, the company will repair any damage or defect in its product – whether it was purchased in 1974 or yesterday. If Osprey is unable to repair the item, it will happily replace it. The All Mighty Guarantee: any product, any reason, any era.

    Mike isn’t the only one ensuring that every product meets the exacting standards worthy of this lifetime guarantee. Hired in 1990 as one of the original Navajo sewers, Marilyn Jones has had a hand in creating Osprey packs for 20 years. She is now responsible for all pack repairs. “Sometimes a pack comes in and I’ll recognize it,” Marilyn says. “I see how it’s held up over the years, and what adventures it’s been through. Then, I make sure it goes even further.”

    Mike says his innovative designs and commitment to top-notch manufacturing shows in every product, even, or especially, decades later. “Osprey is, in large part, about exceptional relationships,” says Mike. “Between the pack and its wearer. The pack and its makers. The company and its staff.” He continues, “So many of our staff have been with the company for decades. It shows how fervently we believe in our process and products. The All Mighty Guarantee proves it.” No wonder there’s such a close relationship between the words “Osprey” and “quality”. You could say it’s a lifetime commitment.


    1974 – Mike Pfotenhauer and Laurie White start up Osprey Packs in Santa Cruz, California

    1976 – Breathable mesh panel introduced on Osprey packs

    1979 – First Osprey travel pack, the Outlander, released upon the masses

    1986 - Osprey adds partners Gabriella Salinas and Diane Wren and begins selling packs wholesale

    1990 – Mike Pfotenhauer and Diane Wren move Osprey into former Gore-Tex factory in Dolores, Colorado (population 864). Hires new skilled workforce, primarily from Navajo Reservation

    1993 – Osprey introduces the Isis an innovative custom fit women's backpack, the first in a legacy of women's custom fit

    1994 – Osprey moves production to new location in Cortez, Colorado

    1995 – Pika kid’s pack receives Backpacker Magazine Editor’s Choice Award

    1995 – Recycled HDPE framesheets introduced in Osprey Packs

    1998 – Mike Pfotenhauer literally dreams the Straightjacket suspension compression system

    1998 – Osprey ErgoPull hipbelt closure and introduced to the masses and changes backpack hipbelts forever

    1999 – Osprey expands facility in Cortez and all operations are moved from Dolores

    2000 – Osprey begins to move some production offshore to Korea and Vietnam

    2001 – Aether pack graces the cover of Time Magazine

    2002 – Aether 60 receives the Grand GG award from Outdoor Life Network

    2003 – Aether 75 receives the Outside Magazine Gear of the Year Award

    2003 – Osprey partners Mike Pfotenhauer and Diane Wren and family move to Vietnam

    2003 – Design and Quality Control Center in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is formed with Vietnamese staff

    2004 – Switch 55+5 is awarded Editors' Choice by Backpacker Magazine

    2005 – Osprey introduces Custom Molding technology

    2005 – Osprey Atmos 50 is awarded the 2005 Outside Magazine Gear of the Year Award

    2006 – Osprey Meridian 22, the first wheeled travel pack designed by Osprey Packs, wins the 2006 Outside Magazine Gear of the Year Award

    2007 – Osprey Circuit daypack designed using 71% recycled materials by content is awarded Outside Magazine’s Green Gear of the Year Award

    2007 – Osprey expands Cortez, Colorado headquarters incorporating LEED like standards and adding an additional 3600 square feet of office space

    2008 – Osprey Packs Inc awarded REI’s Vendor Partner of the Year Award

    2008 – Osprey expands U.S staff to a total of 29 Team Members while the Vietnam Design Studio increases to 12

    2008 – Osprey selected by Outside Magazine as one of America’s Best Places to work

    2009 – Osprey celebrates 35 years of independent design and innovation

    2009 – Osprey Exos 46 awarded Outside Magazine’s Gear of the Year Award

    2009 – Osprey Ace 48 receives Backpacker Magazine’s Editor’s Choice Award

    2009 – Osprey receives Outside Magazine’s Best Places to Work Award for the second year in a row

    2009 – Osprey awarded REI’s Vendor Partner of the Year-Camping Division

    2009 – Osprey Packs expands product warranty coverage introducing the All Mighty Guarantee-Any Reason, Any Product, Any Era

    2009 – The Osprey Exos 46 wins a 2009 Good Design Award for the World’s Best Design

    2009 – Osprey Manta 25 hydration pack receives Gold Industry Award for design from Outdoor Europe

    2010 – Osprey releases first dedicated hydration packs, the revolutionary Hydraulics™ Series featuring the Manta and Raptor

    2010 – Osprey Raptor 6 receives 2010 Best of Adventure Award from National Geographic Adventure Magazine

    2010 - Osprey establishes Mill Valley, California design studio to help meet the challenges of 21st Century Design

    2010 - Osprey receives Men's Journal Magazine 2010 Gear of the Year award for the Raptor 10 hydration pack

    2010 - Osprey receives Outside Magazine's 2010 Gear of the Year award for Sojourn 25" / 60L travel luggage

    2011 - Osprey’s Pro Deal Donation Program breaks all previous records donating a total of $10,470.00 to select nonprofits including the Breast Cancer Fund, Women’s Wilderness Institute, Colorado Environmental Coalition, American Hiking Society and The Conservation Alliance

    2011 - Osprey expands operations to include an additional five warehouse complexes in addition to the main headquarters and distribution center

    2012 - The Aether 60 is awarded 2012 Best Buy from Outdoor Gear Lab

    2012 - Osprey releases the Poco Series to critical acclaim raising the bar on technical child carriers forever

    2012 - Osprey becomes the first corporate sponsor of American Hiking Society’s Hike the Hill event supporting trails, outdoor recreation and conservation

    2013 - Osprey receives Gear Junkie Best in show for the Portal

    2013 - Osprey Ariel 65 receives Reader's Choice Award

    2013 - Osprey receives Outside Buyer's Guide Gear of the Year Award for the Xenith 88

    2013 - Osprey Verve receives Single Tracks Editor's Choice Award for Best MTB Gear 

    2013 - Osprey receives Men's Journal Gear of the Year Award for the Ozone Convertible 22"

    2014 - Osprey Rev 12 receives Elevation Outdoors Peak Gear Award

    2014 - Osprey Rev 1.5 receives Trail Runner Gear Guide Tester's Choice Award

    2014 - Osprey Atmos AG and Aura AG receives Gear Institute Best New Gear Award

    2014 - Osprey receives Gear Junkie Best in Show Award for the Atmos AG and Aura AG

    2014 - Osprey Exos 58 receives Blue Ridge Outdoors Gear of the Year Award

    2015 - Osprey Atmos AG and Aura AG receive Backpacker Gear Guide Editor's Choice Award 

    2015 - Osprey Atmos AG and Aura AG receives Men's Journal Gear of the Year Award - Best in Class

    2015 - Osprey Ozone 46L/22" receives 2015 Best Carry-On-Bags Award

    2015 - Osprey Zealot 15 receives Men's Journal Best for Mountain Biking Awad

    2015 - Osprey Atmos AG and Aura AG receive Gear Junkie Greatest Gear for 2015 - Best in Show Award

    2015 - Osprey Atmos AG and Aura AG receive Backpacker Editor's Choice Award

    2015 - Osprey Atmos AG and Aura AG receive National Geographic Adventure Gear of the Year Award

    2015 - Osprey Atmos AG 65 receives Elevation Outdoors Peak Gear Award 


    Many of us live in southwest Colorado near Osprey’s headquarters in Cortez. Nestled at the corner of the rugged San Juan Mountains and on the edge of vast sandstone canyon country, this landscape provides us with constant inspiration and a superb testing ground for our packs.


    Our mission is to create innovative high performance gear that reflects our love of adventure and our devotion to the outdoors. We succeed when we meet the demanding expectation of our most discerning customers and they are proud to use our packs.

    You’ll find the rest of us, often Osprey founder and head designer Mike Pfotenhauer, in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Here, surrounded by heat, endless bustle and vibrant energy, we design and build our packs to the exacting standards expected of Osprey. Living in HCM City provides many benefits, including the ability to ensure fair labor standards and face-to-face relationships with the factories that build our packs, cultural enlightenment, and the design inspiration of a cosmopolitan city.

    Every couple years, we take a group of our retailers and media to visit our facilities in Vietnam. The trip gives them a chance to see first hand the unique systems that we have set up there and an opportunity to truly understand the challenges of developing and producing packs. To really understand where we are today, let’s rewind about 15 years.

    In the late nineties, Osprey found itself in the position of many U.S. backpack brands. Sourcing was becoming more and more difficult with fabric mills in the southeast closing and in some cases going bankrupt. Fabrics and hardware for building backpacks were becoming widely available in Asia at a fraction of the cost. Many major brands had already shifted sourcing and production to Asia but we chose to maintain our facilities in Cortez - we had excellent talent and most importantly, founder and lead designer, Mike Pfotenhauer could directly interact with the production team – something that has given us an edge in our pack designs throughout the history of the company.

    An example of this would be when a designer creates a pack design that in modeling looks great but once patterns are cut and the sewing process begins that design can sometimes be very hard to sew or look ill proportioned. However, a simple alteration in the pattern can make the pack easy and quick to sew. A designer can’t learn this without direct interaction with the people who are actually building the pack.

    Inevitably and far beyond our control, sourcing continued to dry up in the US and by 2001 we had begun work with Korean factories on our larger model packs with the bulk of our production still in Cortez. Our persistence in this, nearly resulted in the demise of the company but it also gave Mike and the rest of our team time to strategize a system that maintained many of the advantages we had worked so hard to establish and in particular, direct interaction with the factories.

    As a result, Mike moved his family to Vietnam in 2003 where they lived for four years. The end result was a product development office that now employs nearly 30 people and is home base for Mike’s continued and regular visits to Ho Chi Minh City.

    The Osprey Vietnam office is located next to the Saigon river in what was formerly a French villa. The team there work on product development and design and ultimately, all that is needed to get the products produced and shipped from the factories we work with.

    The team in Vietnam work in three distinct areas; The first (and arguably the most important) is Design and Sampling. Two designers work in tandem with Mike and the team in the US to develop concepts and new products that can then be fed through our in-house sample room to create a prototype to feel, evaluate, test and then improve. Having a dedicated sample room enables us to remake samples in as little as a day and continually improve a design until it is truly ready for the market.

    A second part of the team works on then ‘industrializing’ the product and preparing it for mass production. This involves carefully specifying materials and construction techniques to make product that stands the test of time and maximizes efficiency.

    Finally a team of five inspectors quality control the production of Osprey Packs within our factories on a daily basis. They work to check product as it is created, ensuring problems are avoided and that the factories have the best systems in place to monitor and control their standards to the highest levels.

    Having a local workforce in the country of origin offers benefits in both rapid communication but also in gaining a unique understanding of the everyday conditions within factories and their workforce that few other brands achieve.

    Our group of retailers and media arrived for an interactive day of education at the office. Following a tour each was set to task at three stations – stuffing foam into a harness strap, inserting the cross-bar into an AirSpeed™ suspension frame and sewing the flap onto a FlapJack or FlapJill pack.

    Performing these tasks really gave the group a keen sense of the skill involved in building our packs. Foam is stuffed into our harness straps by pulling the outer fabric (which is sewn inside out) over the foam and into place. Our AirSpeed™ suspension design utilizes a double bow cross bar that tensions the whole system. It’s a simple and elegant design but requires some directed skill to do. Check out our repair video on how to do it. Finally, everyone loves to operate a sewing machine and the process of actually sewing a pack together produced lots and lots of laughs. Each person received a rating from 1-10 with the highest only netting a 7. Adding insult to injury, every single pack was pulled apart and resewn before being gifted to our guests!

    We also take our guest on tours of the factories we work with as well as giving them a taste of Ho Chi Minh city via a cyclo tour. There is always a great adventure too as in our recent bike ride over Hai Van pass. Everyone comes away with a better appreciation for the products we sell as well as personal insight into the people who make them. We are proud of our Vietnam operations and will continue to share what we do there with all our customers.