From legendary pack maker Mystery Ranch comes the Backbone Series: intended to serve as an educational resource about the challenges faced by those who choose a career, seasonal or permanent, in wildland fire management.

This is at once a campaign to educate, to fundraise and to award scholarships for these individuals, and to sell packs kitted in fire textiles and feature sets that support these scholarships.

Founded in 2000, Mystery Ranch is committed to building the finest load carriage equipment in the world. A product-driven company from the beginning, Mystery Ranch designs packs with the best materials available and the most durable construction methods that exist. It was founded by legendary pack designer Dana Gleason and is still based in Bozeman, Montana — where headquarters consists of about 100 employees; and all of the design, prototyping and manufacturing of Berry Compliant backpacks are made in that facility.

Mystery Ranch wildland fire fighter

The intent of this unique campaign is to educate and inform the public about why people pursue this wild ride, what makes the job so fulfilling, and where the challenges lie for those who have chosen this profession.

“We will lead from the front to educate the public about the Forestry Technicians, Supervisory Forestry Technicians, Firefighters and Wildland Firefighters that put their lives, families and well-being on the line,” the brand said in a statement. “Mystery Ranch would like to assist in educating the public on the individuals that are wearing our packs on the line and serving the American public. We’d like to highlight the individuals working as Forestry Technicians and Supervisory Forestry Technicians, both present and past.”

This year-long campaign will concentrate on four topics focusing on the differentiation between their roles and each persons’ dedication/commitment to their role:

// 1039 Seasonal Forestry Technicians and their roles, duties, experiences, and commitment to fire.

// Permanent Seasonal and Permanent Year-around Forestry Technicians and Supervisory Forestry Technicians and their roles, duties, experiences, and commitment to fire.

// Women in Fire and their roles, duties, experiences, and commitment to fire.

// Veterans in Fire and their past experiences and outlook on fire.

In light of a changing climate and this past year’s wildland fire events, they believe public needs education, and Mystery Ranch’s fire program manager Lucas Mayfield dreamed up this initiative and the scholarships that will be granted to the Backbone Series contributors.

Wildland firefighters sacrifice a lot and often they don’t get a lot of support from the federal agencies in an extremely dangerous profession. It’s challenging, dangerous work in the fire season, not to mention during a pandemic, and they are often trying to better themselves in the off season through education to secure permanent appointments in fire or college or med school — all the while maintaining their skills and the ongoing fitness demands of the job. The brand created the Backbone Series and Scholarship to help these men and women during their off-season for this reason. Fire Classes, medical training, and college education are not inexpensive and take time away from family and other work. Countless men and women who work for Federal Land Management Agencies seek to better themselves in the off-season to compete for permanent appointments in fire management, whereas some individuals use fire as a means to an end in the pursuit of greater life goals and objectives.

Mystery Ranch WILDFIRE COLLECTION product image

Funding for the scholarships will be supported through the sale of two limited edition lifestyle packs, URBAN ASSAULT 21 and the 3-WAY BRIEFCASE, which will become available online in early 2021. Built in the “wildfire black” colorway with the same zippers, 500D CORDURA fabric, and detailed pops of orange. Mystery Ranch says 10% of proceeds from these unique packs will fund the scholarship — and winning contributors will receive a $1,000 scholarship to support their education and life after firefighting. Winners will be selected anonymously throughout the duration of the campaign.

To qualify for the MYSTERY RANCH Backbone Scholarship, you must be a U.S. or Canadian Wildland Fire employee, retiree, or spouse of a current or retired Wildland Fire employee and a profile contributor for the Backbone Series. Learn more about the contributors and the Backbone Series scholarship here.

The pack maker also just announced its support for Forever Is Now premiering this week at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival. The feature film showcases Zion National Park and its stewards as they have never been seen before. Forever Is Now and the online festival runs Nov. 20-29, 2020 with tickets available to a worldwide audience.

–Lifestyle images by Robert LeBlanc.