Category Archives: Fire and Trail

The Smokey Generation: A Wildland Fire Community

By: Bethany Hannah, Founder of The Smokey Generation

What does it feel like to jump out of a plane and fight a forest fire with only your tools and your wits about you? Or work a year’s worth of hours in only six months, sleeping in the dirt alongside twenty other people? How about felling a burning tree 150 feet tall? Can you imagine working alongside flames taller than your average office building?

Short of quitting your job and starting a new career in firefighting, the best way to experience wildland fire is to hear it from the experts—from firefighters themselves—and The Smokey Generation makes that possible. It is a celebration of wildland firefighters telling stories that ignite the imagination, provide intriguing perspective, and highlight the fascinating culture of the wildland fire community.

Camp Menard (Ninemile) Ford Trimotor. 1st Jump Bob Conklin on left. Photo contributed to Smokey Generation by Leonard Blixrud (MSO 1953).

The Smokey Generation – – is a passion project I founded as a former wildland firefighter and owner of Wildland Fire Careers. The website was created as part of my thesis project for my Master of Arts degree in Environmental Studies – with a concentration … READ MORE >

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Flight Monster Duffel: Behind the Scenes

We designed the Flight Monster to meet multiple needs: Flight Bag, Oversized Red Bag, Out-of-County Bag. The terms to some extent depend on the agency, but in the end this is a full-featured, high volume duffel bag.

First, the bag had to work as a Hotshot type flight bag: big enough to fit fire gear, tent, sleeping bag, pad, and personal gear, for those times when a crew transport is transported via fixed wing. But flight bags tend to get used for a broad range of applications, like spiking and an ensuing packout. When you have a bag of this size, it inevitably ends up heavy, and can get extremely heavy. We put multiple carry options on it, all of which stow away. Backpack straps as padded and ergonomically shaped as our fire packs’, a 2″ duffel style shoulder strap, and traditional haul handles. The stowability is for streamlined travel, both air and wheeled, as well as providing the user with the option to eliminate strapiness and excess harnessing without sacrificing features.

Any duffel bag also has to function as a travel bag, however, and this was something we kept coming back to in our development process. No matter what … READ MORE >

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Mystery Ranch ISO 9001:2008 Certification is Official!

If you had been visiting Mystery Ranch on a Friday at the end of June, you would have been surprised by all the hooting and hollering.

If you worked at the Ranch, you would know that really, we do this all the time.

But this celebration was something different. Dana Gleason, with great fanfare, and in front of a floor of momentarily motionless sewing machines, had just announced that our ISO 9001:2008 registration audit was over – and our auditor was recommending us for certification!

Now, for the acronymically overwhelmed, that last sentence may mean very little at first glance. But for us, it means the culmination of over two years of preparation and effort put into our quality management system.

At the Ranch, we’re committed to upholding the highest standards in the industry for design, craftsmanship, improvements, and customer satisfaction. Not all gear is created equal, and we wanted to ensure that the quality management system that backs those high standards was also one of the best in the industry. After thorough research, several intense analyses of our existing system, and a few not-so-gentle nudges from potential customers in Europe and the fire industry, we chose to start work … READ MORE >

Posted in Backpack Hunting, Disc Golf, Fire and Trail, Military & Tactical, Mountain Adventure, Mystery Ranch Employees, Mystery Ranch HQ, Stories from the Floor, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

ISO 9001:2008 Certification

In the Fire Service, safety is priority number one, and we respect the established safety standards of all agencies in the fire service. That fact drove us, over two years ago, to make a significant decision: to become compliant for the ISO 9001:2008 certification, a commitment that affects every level of our company here. After two plus years, and the accompanying costs, we have just completed our official audit for ISO 9001, and are proud to announce that we have been recommended for that certification.

What is ISO 9001:2008? It’s a quality management system whose primary goal is customer satisfaction, achieved through continuous improvement of our organization, its processes, standards, and structures. While it may seem like a bureaucratic formality, ISO 9001:2008 certification is important to the fire community primarily because ISO is a prerequisite for NFPA 1977 certification. Firefighters from many agencies use our gear, but others cannot because their agency requires this NFPA cert. In short, we feel strongly that every firefighter out there should be able to wear our packs.

We approach everything here at Mystery Ranch with our end users in mind. Our fire products are probably the best example of our commitment to design, construction READ MORE >

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American River Hot Shots


The American River Hot Shots operate out of Forest Hill, California, and have been carrying the Hot 3 since 2010. Designed and built specifically for the long days, heavy loads, and intensive labor that are givens in the job, our packs can now be found on the majority of the Nation’s 110 Hotshot Crews, logging countless hours on the Fireline. A Hotshot can call only a few things their own: boots, nomex, sleeping bag, pack, the seat in the crew truck. The pack becomes home; it’s lived out of, it’s on the back for every mile walked, with you when a Pulaski is swung, a burning tree is cut down, a burnout is lit. It shapes to the body, the body shapes to it. It carries everything needed for a 16, 24, sometimes 36+ hour shift. For the six months of primary fire season, each IHC can be dispatched anywhere in the nation, will log more than 1,000 hrs. of overtime in a busy  year, and clock tens of thousands of miles on their crew buggies. When it comes to home you don’t want to compromise. You want comfort, you want it to last, you want to trust that it … READ MORE >

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Mystery Ranch Front Loader Pack Outfitted for Smokejumping

Editors note: Just last week, in the local market, I ran into our buddy Sam Cox. He’d just finished PT, and was within weeks of returning to McCall for another season of jumping out of perfectly good airplanes to swing a tool at the dirt ringing fires of all sizes.  Fire season has its rhythms, and this year’s rhythms have begun. The jumpers in AK are likely at it already, rookie training at least, and jumpers in the lower 48 are making their way back to jump bases. The Hotshot crews have done their hiring, and some, in the Southwest, have come on the boards already. In California, there’s virtually a year-round fire season, but the big ramp-up will commence in early May. It’s reliable, Fire is, though severity does fluctuate. Just like every year, there will be a snowstorm, every year, there will be a fire. This season could be on the high side of severity, but we won’t know the end of that story until the snow flies next winter. 

The following footage is from Lane Lamoreaux, who jumps out of McCall with Sam. Before the 2010 fire season our repair guy retrofitted a stock Hot 3 for READ MORE >

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Moving In… the Timelapse!

Dana Gleason and Luke Buckingham at the Official Ribbon and Tie Cutting Ceremony!

Moving into a brand new building this January was quite the event!  We captured the three day process through the camera lens… it only took 10,369 photos stitched together to make this video!… READ MORE >

Posted in Backpack Hunting, Dana DNA, Disc Golf, Fire and Trail, Military & Tactical, Mountain Adventure, Mystery Ranch Employees, Mystery Ranch HQ, Mystery Ranch on Denali, Skiing, Stories from the Floor, Trip Reports, What's Hot | 1 Comment

Dana goes REALLY BIG on the Facebook Pack Giveway!

Dana had more fun than should be allowed... check it out!

Did you win?!  Watch the video to find out!!!


Posted in Backpack Hunting, Dana DNA, Disc Golf, Fire and Trail, Military & Tactical, Mountain Adventure, Mystery Ranch Employees, Mystery Ranch HQ, Skiing, Stories from the Floor, What's Hot | 10 Comments

Winners Announced!!! 2011 Mystery Ranch Photo and Video Contest

The entries have been received, the chads dimpled, ties settled with sewing machines at 20 paces and recounts recounted. We are proud to announce and showcase the winners of the 2011 Mystery Ranch photo and video contest. Congratulations to grand prize winners Ryan Krueger, Matthew Irving and KGB Productions and thanks to everyone who entered your unbelievably awesome photos and videos.… READ MORE >

Posted in Backpack Hunting, Dana DNA, Disc Golf, Fire and Trail, Military & Tactical, Mountain Adventure, Mystery Ranch Employees, Mystery Ranch HQ, Mystery Ranch on Denali, Skiing, Stories from the Floor, Trip Reports, What's Hot | Leave a comment

Fire and Corn


Author, Steven Drake, arcing big GS turns down the Gardner Headwall

“We are having way more fun than they are,” said Jake. He wasn’t kidding!

On the 4th of July weekend, I found myself perusing through Yellowstone Park en-route to my family’s cabin just east of Cooke City. I had no expectations for the weekend and expected nothing more than a lackadaisical few days, all while enjoy the beautiful scenery that the Beartooths have to offer.

Pilot and Index Sunset

With that said, you’d be a fool to drive into the Beartooths not toting ski gear. I’m no fool! On the morning of the 4th I drove up to the Beartooth Plateau in search of snow. Things were looking grim at the Wyoming summit. After descending the last switchback before the Gardner Lake pull out, I turned around and was treated to a pleasurable sight. Gardner Headwall’s north and south lines were very skiable!

Gardner Headwall from Gardner Lake

With my gear on in minutes, I hitched a ride back up the switchbacks to the summit and then anxiously trekked across the plateau to the top of the southern aspect of the headwall. The line hadn’t been skied for at … READ MORE >

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