It’s an indisputable fact that Osprey is one of the top backpack makers and sellers in the world, with over 45 years of expertise contributing to their firm cementing of a leading position in the industry.

Osprey had its origins in 1974, when founder Mike Pfotenhauer, all of 16, opened up his own retail shop in Santa Cruz, California. Despite its humble settings (the store was right opposite his rented house), the store and the brand grew in popularity, with the superbly-fitting customized backpacks, put together by Pfotenhauer himself, leaving customers wanting more.

Many customers, especially travelers and backpackers, loyally stuck on and became regulars – a trend that has carried through the years to this day! Unsurprising, considering not just the superb quality, durability, and overall awesomeness of the packs, but also the company’s values and principles.

With the superb customer reactions leading to a surge in popularity – and thereby, demand – Pfotenhauer found himself moving his not-so-humble-anymore business from Santa Cruz to Southwest Colorado, the base of the company’s operations ever since.

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Fittingly, an ill-fitting backpack, on a backpacking trip across Oregon, is what led to the creation of Osprey. Enlisting his mother’s help, Pfotenhauer sought to solve this problem by learning sewing from his mother and creating his own backpack at the ripe old age of 16!

From there, the story moves to Santa Cruz, where word of mouth drew travelers and backpackers in large droves to Osprey (then known as Santa Cruz Recreational Packs) to buy the made-to-order, custom-fitted backpacks that Pfotenhauer himself would painstakingly stitch for days, for them.

It was in 1987 that Osprey backpacks were available wholesale, with 8 new employees doing the sewing while the founder focused his energies on designing packs. Soon enough, the shift to Colorado happened, with a former Gore-Tex factory (which itself was a former Ford Model-T factory!) serving as the new base of operations.

The company hit a bit of a slump in the 2000s when an increasing number of backpack companies were outsourcing their manufacturing to other countries to save money. Additionally, sourcing high-quality material became harder, owing to the closure of many domestic fabric mills.

After many missed deadlines and even worse, business opportunities, Osprey too moved its manufacturing overseas, working with Korean manufacturers. Despite this, Mike Pfotenhauer ensured that he was present in the first four years of the manufacturing facility abroad to ensure that there was no compromise on the Osprey quality.

What Makes Osprey a Hit?

Many factors contribute to Osprey’s popularity in the market.

  • All-Mighty Guarantee: The Osprey All-Mighty Guarantee is a major crowd favorite. With every Osprey backpack that you buy comes the guarantee that your backpack will be repaired, free of cost, in case of any damage or defect caused by any reason. And no, it doesn’t matter whether you bought the said backpack from Pfotenhauer himself in 1974 or you bought it yesterday!
  • Quality Checks: Every Osprey backpack design goes through a quality check. But what’s special about this, you ask? After all, doesn’t every leading brand subject its designs to multiple quality checks? Well, this one is a little special, since every product ever designed by the company and sold under its name is subject to Mike Pfotenhauer’s scrutinizing eyes and produced and sold only after the founder is satisfied. Talk about dedication to quality, huh?
  • Excellent Quality: Talking about quality, it should be mentioned that Osprey’s quality is quite hard to beat, a possible reason behind travelers and backpackers swearing by the brand. Made of quality materials with utmost dedication and attention to detail, Osprey backpacks can last you long adventurous years!
  • Customer Relationship: From designing the packs to stitching them to actively being involved in every aspect of the company’s functioning (including knowing the names of all the sewing operators), Mike Pfotenhauer is a study in developing and maintaining relationships not just with his employees, but customers too. His company follows suit, emphasizing, and maintaining strong relationships between the staff, customers, and the company itself. This is evident in their founder’s and company’s principles, their dedication to building quality products, and the guarantee and after-sales services they provide.
  • Continuous Innovation: As mentioned earlier, the company is committed to continuously innovating to come up with new high-performing products and processes, ensuring that your backpack lasts you for a lifetime.
  • Sustainability on Every Level: Sustainability has become the need of the hour – a factor that Osprey recognizes and takes quite seriously. In fact, sustainability has always been one of the company’s core values, reflecting in not just their durable products and the All-Mighty Guarantee but their use of high-quality recycled materials and safe chemical processes to construct their backpacks and care for both customers and folks in their supply chain alike. The company is committed to continuously evolving their processes, as required, to ensure that the approach is as holistic and impactless on the environment as possible. (As if there weren’t enough reasons to love them already!)

Osprey’s guiding principles are quality, respect, integrity, innovation, and stewardship; all factors that reflect in the company’s products.

Additionally, not only is the company a great brand to shop for but apparently a great place to work as well, with a diverse pool of employees bound by the common belief that adventure can be found anywhere and is open to everyone.

Osprey backpacks are a lifetime commitment in every sense.


A great brand to add to your collection, Osprey backpacks stand out with their quality, durability, and just overall awesomeness. Whatever your needs are, there’s an Osprey backpack to fulfill them. Additionally, they’re extremely reasonably priced, making them quite perfect!

On your next adventure, consider an Osprey – the chances are that you’ll be more than satisfied.

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