Osprey: The Legend Behind the Brand

Vintage Osprey Backpack made in Dolores, CO

Going shopping for a backpack can quickly feel like Harry Potter looking for his wand. There’s a lot of trying on, adjusting straps, seeing what feels right for you, and comparison across brands. But there’s something magical about Osprey backpacks that just feels “right” for everyone- and for good reason. 

Since Osprey was founded in 1974, every product design has passed through the hands of owner and founder Mike Pfotenhauer, who created his first backpack at age 16. 

Born in a small home in Santa Cruz, California, young Pfotenhauer opened a retail shop within his rental home for backpackers and travelers to come for custom-fit, made-to-order packs constructed by Mike himself. As the demand for the great-fitting backpacks increased, Osprey found itself relocating to its home in Southwest Colorado. 

Osprey remained one of the few American-made backpack companies until they eventually moved manufacturing overseas. But instead of viewing this as “selling out” or abandoning the American dream, Osprey saw it as an opportunity to create more company diversity than ever before, provide more quality jobs to communities, and donate thousands of backpacks to children in schools all over the world. They view backpacking as not simply a past time, but a pathway to something greater.

Paul Hawken said, “Business today is the only mechanism on the planet today powerful enough to produce the changes necessary.” Osprey is a company who takes this quote to heart and applies it to every aspect of the brand. They actively work to reduce their carbon footprint, whether it’s the energy used in production or a single lightbulb at an office, the materials used on products or waste mitigated from all waste streams. Osprey partners with organizations and nonprofits across the globe who show a proven track record in climate change, environmental hazard reduction, conservation and stewardship. And perhaps the most important, Osprey cares deeply about its community. Osprey believes that the product you make in the supply chain is just as important as the people within that supply chain. Respect, trust, care, health, and safety along with appropriate wage and hours create the foundation of working at Osprey. 

And because Osprey believes so much in the craftsmanship of their products and community, they offer a lifetime guarantee. It doesn’t matter if you purchased the backpack from the founder himself in 1974 or yesterday on Out&Back, if there is ever a repair or a replacement needed, they’ve made a promise to keep you ready and outfitted for your next adventure, anywhere in the world. 

Osprey is known as the top backpack manufacturer in the world and is a melting pot of diversity, backgrounds, ethnicity, and skills. The belief that grounds everyone in Osprey is the idea that adventure is open to everyone and found absolutely everywhere. We share that belief and founded Out&Back on the same principle. And if a price tag is the limiting factor of being able to take that first step outside, we want to change that for you. It’s why we offer top brands, like Osprey, that have been inspected by hand, cleaned to hospital grade standards, and brought down to an affordable price. 

And just like Osprey, once you’re in the Out&Back family, you’re always in the Out&Back family. 


Interested in Osprey packs made in the USA? Check out these two vintage Osprey backpacks that came our way.


About Us - Our Roots - Our Values - Osprey Packs Official Site