In 1980, Ron Gregg, a physicist and dedicated mountaineer, found himself on Alaska's Denali in a perilous situation. His climbing partner had suffered extreme frostbite due in part to poorly designed gaiters. Snow had been pushed between gaiter and boot, worsening an already nasty situation. After his friend was airlifted to safety and the expedition over, Ron reacted by searching for a solution to keep this situation from happening in the future. The result was a functional, insulated gaiter, the X-Gaiter, which held snug and was versatile enough to fit a variety of boots. From this original inspiration and its resultant innovation, Outdoor Research was born the following year.
Through the first decade, OR's growth was fueled to a great degree by developments in handwear, headwear, and gaiters. In 1984, OR Modular Mitts again revolutionized standards in the outdoor industry. With Velcro-attached Moonlite Pile liners, Gore-Tex shells, and "idiot cords" to keep them from blowing away, the mitts allowed for greater versatility and protection than any other mitts at the time by providing options for varying conditions. On multi-day trips a climber could dry the liner at night and start each day with a dry mitt. The Seattle Sombrero was introduced in the mid-80's. Over the years it has become the best selling Gore-Tex hat of all time and one of our cornerstone products, setting the standard for rain hats and outdoor hats.