Our History



After first meeting in late 1963 at The Ski Hut in Berkeley, Bob Swanson and George Marks decided to team up and found Sierra Designs in 1965 on the premise that all people deserve to have good gear for exploring the outdoors, regardless of their background or experience level. Taking their years of adventures together out on the trail and putting it directly into the products they made, Sierra Designs pioneered many of the outdoor innovations taken for granted today. In fact, we’ve held hundreds of patents (and some pending) that have made getting outdoors easier and more enjoyable.

It’s about more than just great product, though – it’s about the passionate people who think it up. The original SD team of Bob and George ballooned to twenty eight full time employees by 1968 – even George’s mom helped out in the sewing department. When we say, “family affair,” we mean it literally.

We’ve seen many different versions of ourself along our 50+ year history. We’ve been as small as two, as large as 80, and everywhere in between. We’ve been based in NorCal, SoCal, and now Colorado. We’ve made revolutionary products, sign-of-the-time based products (we rocked some mean fanny packs in the 90s…), some head scratching products (an ugly wool Holiday sweater line in the 80s…), and everything in between.

Today, our home base is shared between Pasadena, CA and Broomfield, CO, but our mission hasn’t changed at all – Sierra Designs continues to be a place where you can find happy dogs (lots and lots of happy dogs), new ideas, always-reliable camping gear, and good to the core people who are always down to Think Outside.

We’ve been encouraging (and practicing) wanderlust since 1965. And we can’t wait to see what the future holds.