What happens when you are in the outdoor industry for nearly 30 years, specifically in the climbing scene? Well, you make bikepacking gear of course. It’s a bit more complicated than that, but John Campbell of Alpine Luddites has done it. John is a 43 year old outdoor enthusiast. He has been recreating outside since he was a kid and has been designing and selling outdoor equipment for a number of brands and companies, including Alpine Luddities, for nearly 30 years. Alpine Luddites John grew up backpacking in New England between Vermont and Connecticut. He was always into being outside, so much so that before he even graduated high school he had two climbing expeditions under his belt and had skied across Alaska. John fell in love with climbing “it’s kinda taken over my life since high school,” he said while showing me a photo of him climbing in his store off the main drag in Ouray. He moved to Chamonix, France to climb full time in 1987 – he was 18. In between then and now, he has lived in a number of locations and has attempted over 20 climbs of 20,000 foot mountains or higher. Alpine Luddites Fort Collins, Bozeman, the Andes, New Zealand and now Ouray, Colorado. He first visited Ouray in 1992 when he took a mountaineering course, ever since then he was in love with the climbing culture in the town. 11 months ago he and his family decided to make it home. Ouray sits in a steep and narrow valley in the northern portion of the San Juan mountains. The population is around 1,000 full time residents. It’s on the northern edge of the the “Million Dollar Highway,” which brings you south to Silverton, and eventually down to Durango. It’s a great location to test his product and recreate, but an even better location to live a happy lifestyle. Alpine Luddites John built his first backpack in 1988 out of a need for more of an Alpine Climbing style pack rather than a Appalachian Trail/Pacific Crest Trail backpack, John also just wanted to make his own stuff as he was studying art and design, and has that thinking-out-of-the-box-mentality. Now, John spends a lot of time building ultra light climbing packs as well as retro climbing bags. He builds bags custom for folks that are in need of hauling heavy climbing gear around. About two years ago, he started building bikepacking bags as he was starting to prepare for a run at the Tour Divide. John raced about 1000 miles before his knee gave out, but he is eager to go back, and eager to explore his now home state of Colorado by way of bike. Alpine Luddites John has been making bags this spring for a hand full of folks. Tour Dividers, people getting into bikepacking, the Durango Cyclery, and friends. While I was visiting his store front off 6th ave, an accomplished climber with a British accent walked in. “Hey, John. I need one of those things for my bike” – he was pointing at a custom frame that John made for a Salsa Muckluk. Custom frame bags are his most popular and while he enjoys to make them, he prefers building saddle bags. John has a unique perspective on bikepacking bags and his fabric. He says he builds his bags with the thought of racing. He mentions that alpine climbing and bikepacking have a lot similarities, “has to be really durable and has to be really light.” He wants to maintain durability. That’s why he prefers not to use Dimension polyant fabrics as much as Dyneema, but knows there is a time and place for both fabrics. Alpine Luddites-01529 More recently John has developed a different style of saddle bag. One where he has developed a unique saddle rail attachment point using velcro and metal buckles replacing squeeze buckles. If you are looking for something custom, john will work with you on that. He charges $45/hour and can pretty much create anything you need. John and I chatted for about an hour and a half. He is a really genuine guy that has a lot of knowledge of the outdoor industry and sewing in general. He spouted off more names than anyone I know, and mentioned a bunch of his mentors. John is proud of building custom gear in the United States but he is more passionate to just be apart of the outdoor industry.  

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  1. PLEASE GIVE ME A CALL 717-254-0468

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