Before Pond’s Edge started churning out ultralight backpacking bags, pouches and stuff sacks, the cottage brand made custom, hand-built knives. As a tree service climber, Troy Pond found himself without work in the winter months. “We’re in the middle of Wisconsin and we have six months of winter…if you’re lucky!” he laughed.
“I needed something to do to keep me from going insane, so I started an Etsy shop!” he said, of founding Pond’s Edge. “But knife laws were a pain in the butt to follow and differed state to state. Then there’s the whole world of liability.”
Troy had years of experience sewing his own outdoor gear, and just for fun, he posted a bunch of nylon pouches and stuff sacks on his Etsy site, as well. Much to his chagrin, they started selling, and fast! He laughed, “I can’t sell a knife, but I can sell a bag!”
“So I made the lemonade!”
Like many outdoor gear makers, Troy has been romping around the woods since before he was able to walk. “Camping was a huge part of my life,” he said. “And so was backpacking, but I absolutely hated it.”
“Backpacks and gear were so heavy in the 80’s, to outfit a kid was near impossible!”
Growing up around the innumerable lakes in Northern Wisconsin, Troy fell in love with kayaking at a young age. At 17 and in need of a kayak skirt, Troy remembers ripping up an old tent and sewing one himself. “It turned out pretty well,” he laughed. “I wish I still had it, I’d love to look it over now.”
Eventually, a popular big box outdoor store opened up in Troy’s neck of the woods. “But everything would fall apart the first time you used it,” he said of their gear selection. "So, in my early 20s, I started buying it, cutting it apart, and sewing it back together.”
In time, backpacking came knocking once again. Troy was taken by the idea of exploring Lake Superior’s Isle Royal National Park. “But the only way to see it was by backpacking!” Troy laughed. “I was a kayaker through and through, and the thought of strapping everything to my back was absolutely insane in my book!”
Thanks to YouTube, Troy researched how to make his pack as light as possible. “Everything kept evolving from there,” he laughed. “One piece of gear led to another piece.”
“I was building exactly what I wanted,” he said. “And the next thing I know I’m making backpacks for my family and friends to go with me!”
He continued to sew gear with nylon, but eventually bit the bullet and sprung for some Dyneema Composite Fabric. Wanting to sew himself an ultralight tent, he figured the most economical way was to purchase an entire roll of Dyneema.
“I would get this ‘free’ tent and sell some bags in the process,” he said.
Starting a lightweight cottage backpacking brand out of his kitchen had its share of growing pains. “Next thing I know I’m adding a shelf to store stuff; then taking over half the living room!”
When that became problematic, with his four children also contending for the space, he moved everything to his old converted school bus out back. “Which was absolutely fabulous, but Northern Wisconsin gets cold!”
When the long johns and heavy boots were no longer cutting it, he moved back indoors.
Currently, Troy and Pond’s Edge reside in his Grandpa’s old farmhouse in North Central Wisconsin. Abandoned for more than a decade, Troy enjoys fixing up the house in between being a Dad and running Pond’s Edge.
“I love the freedom and flexibility of being able to make the products I want to make from the comfort of home,” Troy said. “Being a Dad is my number one job, and this gives me the freedom to do that.”
One of Troy’s teenage daughters shares his love of crafting and often helps out with the business. And, the Pond’s Edge team wouldn’t be complete without shop dog Serenity, who never leaves Troy’s sight.
What makes Pond’s Edge stand out? Troy is hesitant, but humbly said, “Me!”
One of Troy’s favorite aspects of his tree service work is the customer interaction. “They have a need for something, and you’re there to take their problem away,” he explained. “That’s the approach I take to making custom gear. You have a heavy pack? Then I want to help you lighten it.”