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From our first factory in 1973 until 1977 we made only backpacks. The line grew to include daypacks, mountaineering packs, internal frame packs and with the expansion of our manufacturing, welded external frame packs.
Our products were sold nation wide through a fantastic sales representative company, Roundtable Associates started by Marty Stilling. Marty decided he could start a sales organization formed of top climbers and mountaineers. He represented three companies, Snowline/Snow Lion, a manufacturer of sleeping bags, apparel and tents, Sierra West, a manufacturer of many accessories and Wilderness Experience, manufacturer of backpacks.
But then, at a major nationwide trade show (NSGA Chicago) in 1977, Snow Lion declared bankruptcy and went out of business. Roundtable Associates had already written orders with retailers across the country for Polarguard and Down sleeping bags, tents and insulated apparel. So, lots of orders and no products.
Somehow Greg and Jim looked at the possibilities and decided, no problem, we'll make sleeping bags out of Polarguard and down, insulated jackets and tents. So, we set up new lines in our factory, developed designs, sourced material and started production. And delivered on time for the next season. Looking back I'm amazed we pulled that off!
We had pushed for years that we were better than other companies because we only made packs. Now what do we do? We started off naming the sleeping bags, tents and apparel "SOLO by Wilderness Experience" but soon realized that wasn't smart, so in another year or so switched all products to the Wilderness Experience label. The 1978 catalog was our first with all the product categories.
This catalog was produced by Kris McDivitt and the crew at Chouinard Equipment.