Episode 23 Superior Wilderness Designs

Superior Wilderness Designs is a cottage company out of Michigan that builds ultralight backpacks for the Thru Hiking crowd.  Brandon McIntyre and Ashley Thick started SWD early in 2016 and promptly left to hike the Pacific Crest Trail with their handmade packs.  

I asked Brandon to come on the podcast to talk about his company, but what we ended up doing is having a far more in depth conversation.  We touch on his pack designs, how he got started and why, and what backpacking means to him.  I found Brandon to be a pleasure to talk to and immediately felt like I was in the presence of someone who loves what backpacking can do for people.

I really think you're going to enjoy this episode with Brandon.  He's laid back, passionate, and sincere about what he does at SWD.  If you're looking for a company to connect with on a personal level, SWD is where you should begin looking.  I personally learned a number of things from my chat with Brandon so I know you will too.



By Land,

Emory Ronald



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  • Introduction to Brandon and SWD
  • Superior Wilderness Designs - customized packs!
  • How Brandon got into backpacking
  • Brandon’s first backpacking trip
  • How and why Brandon started SWD
  • Brandon’s DIY gear creations and background with sewing
  • Lessons learned in pack design
  • Durability in a pack - what is needed and what is not 
  • The Thru Hiking pack design - where did this stem from?
  • How Brandon feels about being a part of someone’s backpacking story
  • SWD pack designs
  • Materials - Cuben versus X-Pac
  • When Cuben fiber makes sense and when it doesn’t 
  • X-Pac fabric explained
  • Weather proofing a pack
  • Pack liners versus pack covers
  • Stretch fabric versus netting for an outside pack pocket
  • What customers can expect from contacting SWD
  • The culture around Thru Hiking and how SWD is carrying on that culture
  • The future offerings from SWD
  • How to find SWD
  • Brandon’s advice to backpackers
  • Saved rounds:  The emotional connection to Thru Hiking and how the trail can change your life


  • www.swdbackpacks.com
Emory R. WangerComment