Founded in 1971 in Chatsworth, California, evolved from a mountaineering guide service to an outdoor gear manufacturer. The company was the first to use plastic buckles and backpacks made from Cordura, and “Wild X” was also one of the earliest adopters of Gore-Tex technology. By 1982, you could find Wilderness Experience on the NASDAQ exchange, as it had grown to be one of the largest outdoor equipment manufacturers in the USA. Things took a turn when the company founders — brothers Jim and Greg Thomsen — left in ’83 and ’86, respectively, and Wilderness Experience would eventually file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1987, among falling sales and a crushing debt load. Decades later, the company has been revived in Japan, and fans there can avail themselves to classic pieces like this Kletter Small Backpack. The top-loading pack is built with 500 Denier Cordura Nylon, with adjustable padded straps and genuine leather lashing squares.

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