By Frank Hemmer
Every morning as the sun begins to peak over the treetops in the small, mid-western town of New Haven, Missouri, the sound of gravel crunching under car tires rings in the start of another day at the headquarters of ALPS Brands. As employees emerge from the wooded gravel drive, they are greeted with the picturesque, mid-western setting that ALPS Brands calls home. The tan and green buildings that encompass the ALPS compound literally work their way up the hill and through the woods from the original headquarters building, evidence this is a company that started from modest beginnings and added space as their growth required it.
Founded in the early 1990’s by industry veteran Dennis Brune, ALPS Brands (then known by Active Lifestyle Products & Services) was a one man operation run out of the backroom of Brune’s home. Today you can still find ALPS Brands’ corporate headquarters on the same piece of property where it all began. However, the operation has grown quite a bit from those humble beginnings and now encompasses several office buildings and various warehouses both on the original piece of property and down the highway in the local township.
Today, ALPS Brands is the parent company of several outdoor brands, all specializing in a particular category of outdoor recreation. The oldest and original brand is ALPS Mountaineering, which specializes in designing gear for backpacking, camping and hiking, stemmed from Brune’s years of experience running another company in the outdoor industry. In 2007, the company enjoyed its first expansion by introducing ALPS OutdoorZ, a brand that designs camouflage packs, camp furniture and other accessories geared toward the hunting market.
In 2009 the company moved into the realm of licensing by becoming the official licensee of Browning Camping. ALPS Brands designs and manufactures high quality tents, camp furniture, hunting blinds, air pads & beds and other camping accessories under the Browning Camping name. Then in 2012 the company introduced another brand, Cedar Ridge, which uses the same design techniques used to create the high quality ALPS Mountaineering gear, but at a more affordable, entry level price point. Most recently, ALPS Brands partnered with Delta Waterfowl to bring to market a brand new line of innovative, performance oriented waterfowl hunting gear and accessories, including a revolutionary patent pending layout blind.
“I started ALPS Mountaineering with the mission of providing more gear for more people,” said Dennis Brune, president and founder of ALPS Brands. “Our gear is consumer designed, which equates to high quality gear that you can expect to get a lifetime of use out of.” The biggest challenge Brune believes that the company has always faced is convincing the consumer that ALPS can deliver products with great designs, excellent quality and innovative features at the consumer friendly prices the products sell for. “Our mission has always been to design, manufacture and market outdoor gear that a consumer would expect to pay a lot more for than what’s printed on the price tag,” said Brune.
This consumer friendly approach doesn’t stop with ALPS’ pricing strategy. The company takes pride in its business processes from start to finish. From only sourcing the highest quality materials for all of its products, to backing those products up with the highest level of customer support, ALPS Brands fully stand behind the products they produce. ALPS Brands’ four core pillars of corporate philosophy can be defined as follows:
Performance Oriented Products with Consumer Designs – The Company firmly believes that their best designs come from consumer feedback and this has been a key factor in their success. They take the ideas they receive from the people actually using the gear in the field and use that feedback to constantly make their products even better. “We never expect our first design to be perfect,” said Zach Scheidegger, ALPS product design manager. “We know there are going to be things that our consumers will have suggestions on to make our products better and we truly value that consumer feedback.”
Tough Durable Construction – ALPS Brands use only the highest quality raw materials in their products and they only trust their designs to the best factories in the world. This philosophy of product construction allows the company to produce products that are backed with a lifetime guarantee against defects in materials and workmanship. “We send out products with people rafting the Grand Canyon, hiking the Appalachian Trail and hunting the rough and rugged backcountry of the American west to make sure our products perform in varied environments,” said Adam Brune, ALPS product design manager. “They’re not indestructible, they will see normal wear and tear, but we’re proud of the durability built into each of our products and believe they will hold up better than the competition.”
Consumer Friendly Pricing – ALPS Brands’ defining philosophy that great gear doesn’t have to be expensive, has been at the heart of what the company has stood for from the very beginning. “We believe a comfortable pack, chair, tent, sleeping bag or any other piece of outdoor recreational equipment doesn’t need to be expensive,” said Dennis Brune. “Value can be defined as getting what you pay for. We define value as getting more than you pay for.”
Outstanding Customer Service – The company staffs and trains their customer service team with knowledgeable and friendly folks that can quickly and easily help consumers with any questions they may have regarding products they may have already purchased or products they’re looking to purchase. If a problem arises with an ALPS product, the customer service team is always there to correct the problem, as the company firmly stands behind the quality of its gear.
These four core pillars make up ALPS Brands’ corporate philosophy and can be attributed to each and every brand and product under their umbrella. Most recently, in 2015, the company used this philosophy and the experience they’ve gained in the industry design and released their “Extreme” line of hunting packs as a sub-category of the ALPS OutdoorZ brand. When ALPS OutdoorZ designers began work on the Extreme line, they knew the packs had to be some of the highest quality products they had ever created. Because this line would be appealing to the western big game hunter, a category of hunter who arguably relies on his or her gear to perform more than any other, they knew that they had their work cut out for them. “We wanted to truly be able to say that we had the best packs on the market and to be able to back that claim up with facts, not just opinions,” said Zach Scheidegger, ALPS product design manager.
To ensure the Extreme line truly provided hunters with a premium pack option, ALPS OutdoorZ focused on every single feature over a multi-year research and design process. Designing and manufacturing a first-class pack takes time and the designers at ALPS took that time to make sure every detail was right. The Extreme line of packs has been tested, used and abused, modified and retested time and time again to bring consumers a pack that is not only reliable, durable and practical, but filled with innovative features that will make the hunt much more comfortable and enjoyable.
Because every hunting situation differs with a hunter’s style, environment, season and game animal, ALPS OutdoorZ designed multiple packs within the Extreme line to make sure hunters are prepared for whatever the hunt throws at them. Every pack in the Extreme line features durable 1680D nylon ballistic and robic nylon fabrics to ensure quality construction and superior performance, even in the harshest environments. Molded foam suspensions contour to the body to ensure a comfortable fit, meaning you can haul your gear in and your harvest out with ease. Lycra soft-edge shoulder straps are also found on each pack in the Extreme line to add even more comfort for those extra-long treks to and from the hunting spot.
The initial Extreme line product launch in 2015 featuring five pack models; the Crossfire X, Pursuit X, Traverse X, Commander X and the Commander X + Pack. Each pack was designed with a different hunting purpose in mind. The Crossfire X and Pursuit X are great day packs and can be used in a wide variety of hunting scenarios. The Traverse X is a larger day pack with meat hauling capabilities, perfect for getting into the backcountry. The Commander X and Commander X + Pack are internal frame packs that are great for when you’re hiking into basecamp and need a frame that you can haul your harvest out with.
In 2016 the company plans to launch the first expansion to the Extreme line, which will include five new items as well as improvements to the 2015 Extreme models. The Covert X, Bino Harness X, Big Bear X, Voyager X and Upland Game Vest X will all join the Extreme family of products this summer and will extend the Extreme line into several new product categories, including luggage, hunting vests and optics harnesses.
To learn more about ALPS Brands and to learn more about each of the brands within the company, visit www.alpsbrands.com. Head to your local Sportsman’s Warehouse to check out the latest Extreme packs and to check out the rest of the gear ALPS Brands has to offer.