The Pack Shack Story About Us

Creating Gear for Wildland Firefighters Since 1985

The Pack Shack was founded by Karen Beddow in 1985 on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. Her husband, Tom, a wildland firefighter, needed better quality gear that met his specific needs. Karen, being a skilled seamstress, designed her first pack for Tom. Having several family members in the fire service, she recognized the need for custom gear and created specialized equipment that was not available elsewhere at the time. The demand for her work grew from there. They moved around the United States for Tom's work until they settled in Eagar, AZ, where Karen established The Pack Shack's first manufacturing facility and hired more sewers to address growing demand. She set out to create high-quality, affordable gear that delivered excellent service, with a focus on practicality. Karen prioritized providing a custom experience for her customers, and The Pack Shack became a community resource for requests beyond wildland fire gear, including custom gear for police and search and rescue, while also repairing gear for hunters and outdoor enthusiasts. She provided excellent service to her customers, much like how wildland firefighters serve their communities.

Crafting Our Legacy

After over 30 years of building The Pack Shack, Karen retired and sold the company in 2020 to True North Gear, a family-owned and operated company that shared her values and was committed to maintaining the company's legacy. Founded in Seattle, True North Gear has provided wildland firefighters with NFPA 1977-certified packs, clothing, accessories, and fire and arc-resistant outerwear through their DragonWear brand for over 30 years. They are committed to preserving The Pack Shack's foundation and building on its reputation as a reliable source of quality gear for the wildland fire community. Since 2022, The Pack Shack has relocated from Eagar, AZ, to its original state of Washington and now operates alongside True North Gear's headquarters in Seattle. Bringing The Pack Shack back to its roots is just the beginning of an exciting future ahead, with plans to leverage new resources and introduce new product designs to take its evolution to the next level.

We look forward to having our long-time Pack Shack customers join us on our new journey.