Welcome to our newest series — From the Founders. This is where we hear directly from the founders of the brands we feature and sell on Garage Grown Gear. Topics will cover a wide range and draw directly from brand founders’ expertise and experiences.
To kick things off, we invited Greenbelly Meals founder Chris Cage to share more about his newest project, an incredibly cool (and free!) online pack building tool called Packfire. Set apart by its social component and pre-built gear database, there’s never been a better way to drill down on ounces. Read on to learn more.
What is Packfire? Who was it designed to be used by?
Packfire is a pack building tool. Think of it like a glorified spreadsheet template designed specifically to itemize and categorize a backpacking gear list. That is the core functionality. We also added a lot of other fun bells and whistles to that platform ... which I will talk about further down.
It was originally designed for ultralight long-distance hikers and backpackers who really like to nerd out on their gear lists — calculate weights by category (example: how much does my kitchen setup weigh?), budget pricing (example: how much is my upcoming thru-hike going to cost?), optimize base weight (example: where are the biggest opportunities for me to save pack weight?), use it as a packing checklist, etc.
It can be used by a lot of other outdoorsmen though — bicycle touring lists, packrafting lists, etc.
How does Packfire work?
It’s pretty simple. I’ll say there are three main pillars.
Build A Pack. Create your gear list (My Packs tab > Create A New Pack > Add Item).
Add all items for your next trip (or import via csv). You can drag and drop the items into different categories, customize the category colors, enter a custom trail (example: Appalachian Trail), enter trip details in an open form, tag your pack list (example: male, 1 person, summer).
Share your gear list. Toggle on “Pack Public” in the top right.
You can share the gear list as an independent landing page, print it as a pdf, embed it on your blog, and post the pack publicly on the platform for other hiker’s to see.
Explore other public packs (Explore tab).
You can view other pack lists on the platform. You can also filter and sort through them. For example, maybe you want to only see pack lists from the Pacific Crest Trail… or you want to see the most popular (liked) packs.
You can engage with other packs and pack owners. Upvote, comment on, etc. Or maybe you like some items in their pack and want to add them to your own pack (click “Add to My Gear” or “Add to Pack” next to the item)
Research gear in the database (Gear Database tab).
Sort, search and filter through thousands of curated backpacking gear items. For example, find the lightest one-person, non-freestanding tent on the market… and then add it to your list.
What makes Packfire different from other sites/programs?
There are a lot of great tools out there. Trust me, I’ve used many for my backpacking trips!
I Really wanted to add and, hopefully, improve on several things though. Namely...
Better User Experience. Keep the pack building side of things as clean as possible. Also provide a few more features — items that auto populate, the ability to duplicate lists and sort through your items easier, etc.
Explore Other Packs. As far as I know, there is no public repository of gear lists. This sounded like a really cool thing to have… and for other hiker’s to use.
Sort Through Gear. I love the idea of being able to sort through thousands of curated backpacking items from the internet in one place. Again, I do not know of any public database like this.
What motivated you to take on this project?
Honestly, I’ve never dealt with software before and it sounded like fun. I was familiar with some of the other pack building tools and wanted to take a stab at something different. We create a lot of free backpacking content and this tool seemed like a natural extension of that.
And just to note, this has been one of the most fun projects I’ve ever worked on!
Where do you see Packfire going in the future?
We are constantly updating this thing… and have more to do. I could geek out on lots of features we want to add. I know I want to build out the gear database more and continue to optimize the user experience.
Higher level though, the aim is for Packfire to be a place for hikers to create their gear lists, collaborate, and research gear.
Stay tuned. And, no, there will never be a paid membership : )
Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions, suggestions or feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org. Stoked!
Founder Greenbelly Meals