When Greg 'Flutter' Lambert chose the name Saunter Packs for his handcrafted, ultralight backpack business, it was a passive reminder to savor the miles while out on trail.
“It almost seems counter intuitive, as a lot of ultralight backpackers are trying to get those big miles in,” he explained. As a thru-hiker himself, he too succumbed to the hastiness of getting to that next mile marker, or that next town stop.
“But the whole reason we’re outside is so we can enjoy it. From time to time, we should stop and saunter through and enjoy our time out there,” Greg said. “It’s a way of reminding myself to slow down a bit.”
Greg is a born and bred Alaskan Aleut. He spent his youth in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley enjoying the outdoor pursuits Alaska offers. Without a doubt, his days spent rafting, hiking, camping and snowboarding greatly influenced his love for the outdoors.
But it was after he moved to Portland, Oregon, just 45 minutes from the Pacific Crest Trail, that Greg really got into long-distance backpacking.
While circumnavigating Mount Hood on Oregon’s 40-mile Timberline Trail with gear that was a bit too ultralight, Greg realized he needed to reevaluate his kit. “It was kinda miserable at times,” Greg laughed of his featherweight gear.
While on the Timberline Trail, Greg ran into a hiker who, thanks to the internet, he recognized as a DIY pack maker. They got to talking about gear, as hikers do. Soon after, Greg found himself the new owner of a handmade backpack, which he went on to use for the entire length of his SOBO PCT thru-hike in 2018.
The backpack worked well, but with modifications, Greg thought it could work even better.
“When you’re out on the PCT, you’re in your own head a lot. I liked to think about how things work and how things come together.”
After completing his thru-hike, Greg asked this pack maker if he’d make him a new pack with his modified specifications. Instead of saying yes, the pack maker invited Greg over. “And that was my first introduction into making my own gear!”
“It’s still very DIY and I learn with every pack I make,” he said of going public and launching Saunter Packs in 2020. “If I haven’t done it, it’s simply because I haven’t attempted it yet. I’m extremely open to trying new things,” Greg said.
Greg was once approached to create a pack with lash points for skis and boots for a hiker who wanted to ski his way through Colorado. “I’ve never done this before,” Greg remembered thinking, “but let’s see how it holds!”
Earlier this year, Greg, his wife (also a thru-hiker) and infant son relocated to southern California to be closer to family.
It’s here in the Coachella Valley where Saunter Packs resides. Greg utilizes a former home office as his sewing room…which is also the nursery, he laughed. “Sometimes I just have to go outside with a foldable table to cut fabric!”
Due to the tight quarters, Saunter Packs isn’t taking custom orders at this time, but instead producing its top selling 16-ounce, 35L Amble pack for brands like GGG.
Greg admits going from a pastime to a profession has changed things. “Once you put a monetary value on a hobby, it is completely different. It’s no longer a hobby, it’s a job. But the overall interest I’ve received and the fact that people are reaching out to me makes me feel like I’m doing something right.”
“Being able to talk to other DIYers helps guide me through it, too. It’s such a great community. There are so many other fields out there that seem so cutthroat. But everyone is so supportive and uplifting and we’re always sharing stuff.”
As a Native Alaskan, Greg is a strong proponent of inclusivity in the outdoors. “I am Aleut, but I don’t look it, so I know I’ve had extra privileges. I’m always trying to connect more people to the outdoors.”
“I love communicating with other hikers and hearing about all the adventures that everyone is planning,” Greg said. “I love knowing something I made is going to be out in some of these places that I hope to get to one day, too.”
Still curious how Greg earned his trail moniker “Flutter”?
It was during a night hike on the PCT near Idyllwild. With headlamps illuminated, Greg had his first ever encounter with the cockchafer. “I had never seen them before in my life,” he laughed of the insects, also known as Maybugs. “And they just kept flying into my face!”
“They have these fans as eye lashes and they’re just terrifying when their wings are open!”
As you might imagine, Greg put on quite the entertaining display as he swatted them from his face, and that night, affectionately became known as Flutter.