Behind every great brand there's usually a great story. This is the tale of our humble beginnings, and how we built Badlands into the hunting juggernaut it is today: a company based on the pursuit of unconditional dedication to performance and quality.
You might not believe it, but we weren’t always a hunting gear company. Growing up in Utah, our first love was the mountains, and we were going to make the packs that everyone would carry into them. So, let's part the mists of time, and travel all the way back to the year 1992....
We started Badlands with big ideas and very little money. If we’d known how hard those first few years would be, there might never have been a Badlands. Luckily, our desire to see our ideas come to life eliminated any chance of cognitive reasoning. We weren’t that good at math either, because the realities of starting a company with $2,500 never occurred to us.
So, armed with two sewing machines, a fabric cutter and the giddiness of a bunch of school girls, we slapped down a deposit on a 10’X20’ storage shed in the sketchiest part of town, and got to work. Now, $2,500 doesn’t get you state of the art equipment. We had presses consisting of 2x4s and old car jacks to squish and manipulate foam into ergonomic shapes. Vacuum forming devices and modified ovens for molding plastics (and cooking lunch) were all rigged and set up. To this day we’re not sure if we were running on adrenalin or the fumes from the ovens.
The next six months were some of the most innovative and creative times we’d ever experienced. Concepts were developed that changed the way packs were made and used, and we started setting standards that altered the industry and shaped our future competition. Many of the features you take for granted on hunting packs today carry the DNA of what Badlands developed back at the “Tinder Box” (the name we affectionately called our “plant,” or shed….whatever).
After the first year, we managed to upgrade from the storage shed to an old furniture warehouse. Along the way we also acquired 20 not-so-new sewing machines, 12 foam presses (some even made of metal and hydraulics), a fabric cutter, and 20 mouths to feed.
Here’s where fate stepped in. We smelled spray paint wafting through the warehouse, and went to investigate the source. What we found changed everything: one of our trusted team members was spray painting his pack in a menagerie of earth-tone colors. “Look,” he said (with a tone that was slightly complimentary and condescending at the same time), “after using the equipment we make here, it just seemed stupid to go hunting with the crap you have to buy at the store.” LIGHT BULB. After showing us all of the modifications he had made to his pack, along with the obvious color change, it was safe to say nobody would sleep a single minute that night.
Once again, fate turned her gaze our direction. We’d just returned from pleading for leniency with our banker, and waiting for us was a guy many in the industry now know: Web Adams. Web explained he was a hunting rep, and he’d heard that we made some “pretty cool stuff.” We’d gotten used to disappointment, so we half-heartedly demonstrated our wares. But this time, something different happened. Web responded by saying “Quality cost money, and this is the best stuff I have ever seen.” He took some samples to show to some people he knew, and returned a few days later with exactly what we (and our banker) had been looking for: ORDERS. Honest to God orders from real customers who wanted Badlands hunting packs, with the promise of more to come. Life. Was. Good.
From there we couldn’t move fast enough. We crafted a make-shift tradeshow booth and hit the road. Our first stop: the inaugural Archery Trade Association Show, also known as “The ATA.” If our memory serves us adequately, it was at the Kansas State Fairgrounds in a building used for some sort cattle storage.
It was here we met another significant player in our history, David Westmoreland. He told us that he worked for a sales rep agency called Hudalla and Associates, that he was going on a hunting trip and asked if we might have a pack that would work for him. By the second day of the show, word was starting to spread about this little company called Badlands with incredible products. The rest of the show was a whirlwind of telling our story and writing paper. It seemed a lot like heaven.
Fast Forward to Today
Today, Badlands is the flagship of the WC Bradley family of businesses, and hunters from coast to coast rely on our gear, and our Unconditional Lifetime Warranty. Oh yeah, since day one, we've covered every product we make, for life. Nobody stands behind their gear the way we do.
Any regrets? Not a one. We've always done what we love to do, exactly how we want to do it. We created a brand known for innovation and that’s well-respected for its quality and integrity. And we've had a lot of fun. What’s to regret? Most importantly, we've made tons of friends along the way. And if you’re reading this, you’re one of them.
More about Badlands
BADLANDS FILM FESTIVAL
We knew the 10th year of our annual Badlands Film Festival would be special. Here's a huge thanks to all the filmmakers who participated.
UNLIMITED LIFETIME WARRANTY
Nobody else offers anything even close to Badlands' famous warranty. If it has our name or red bull skull on it, it's covered. For life.
Badlands' Pro Staff are the real deal. They're ambassadors to our customers, and they put our gear through the wringer, so we can make it even better. See what it takes to join the team.