Mountain Gear was founded in 1983 by Paul Fish and Karn Nielsen. At its inception, the company was a manufacturer specializing in handmade backpacks. Over time, the focus of the company shifted from manufacturing to retail and grew to include a nationwide catalogue.
The company first mailed a catalog in 1993 and developed its first website in 1995. In 2001, Mountain Gear acquired MountainWoman.com, one of the first women’s-specific outdoor websites, and in 2003 Shoreline Mountain Products, a web-based retailer that specialized in rock climbing. MountainWoman.com has been updated and rolled into the Devi Outdoor catalog and DeviOutdoor.com website. Shoreline was discontinued as an independent website and catalog a few years after the acquisition. From 2002 to 2006, Mountain Gear was listed by Success Magazine as one of America’s 100 fastest-growing catalog businesses. The company moved into a renovated, 112,000-square-foot (10,400 m2), environmentally sustainable distribution center and corporate headquarters in 2006.