In April 1971, University of California Santa Cruz students Eric Reynolds and Dave Huntley were in Alaska’s Juneau Icefield on a school Glaciology project. It was there on a glacier that the idea of a Marmot Club began. The name ‘Marmot’ refers to a group of highly social, large ground squirrels that live in mountainous areas.
Throughout that summer and over the next two years, Eric and Dave also began making prototypes of down products in their dorm room. Their first products were a down vest, a sweater and a parka and, later, three down sleeping bags. The warmest bag, the PIKA (now known as the CWM) was rated at -45 degrees F.
In the winter of 1973, Eric did an ascent of the Grand Teton in Wyoming with Tom Boyce of Grand Junction, Colorado. The following spring, Eric and Dave joined Tom in Grand Junction where they rented a 100 year old stone building near downtown and opened a rental and retail shop under the name of Marmot Mountain Works. They taught cross-country skiing in the winter to get by. Thus, in the spring of 1974, Marmot the company was born.
In 1976, another meeting would change the future of Marmot outdoor clothing and camping gear when Eric met Joe Tanner of W.L. Gore & Associates. Eric was one of the first in the U.S. to see a new concept in outdoor performance fabrication called Gore-Tex. He was intrigued, and within a couple weeks had sewn prototype sleeping bags using the new Gore-Tex fabric for field testing. He and Dave proceeded to spend seven nights in a commercial frozen meat locker comparing bags with and without the Gore-Tex fabric as well as testing the bags under fire sprinklers. They liked what they saw and immediately changed everything in the line to Gore-Tex fabrications. Today, Marmot is the oldest customer of W.L. Gore in the world outdoor market.
Marmot outdoor clothing and camping gear has grown quite a bit since their humble beginnings in 1974, but one thing has never changed; their commitment to designing the highest quality performance products.