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In view of the vast number of products now on offer from Mountain Safety Research - MSR for short - it's hard to believe: MSR began in 1969 as a mere newsletter distributor! Founder Larry Penberthy - a US alpinist, inventor and engineer - gave safety tips for alpinists in it.
Penberthy soon began testing various items of equipment for their suitability - for example, fuel for outdoor stoves, climbing ropes, rock climbing hooks, the strength of ice axes and a whole host of other hitherto neglected safety-related aspects.
Call for donations for the next step
Over time, the project took on a larger and larger scope. Penberthy decided to use his newsletter also as a platform for selling equipment for (high) alpine use.
Finally, newsletter recipients were asked to donate $3 to cover printing and shipping costs, and in the first newsletter that followed, MSR ended up offering an ice axe repair kit, firn anchors, a belay device, climbing ropes, gloves for cold weather use, carabiners, webbing slings, and a snow saw. Penberthy also provided newsletter recipients with detailed instructions on how to build igloos.
From newsletter distributor to gear manufacturer
During this time, some groundbreaking MSR products were developed, such as the Model 9 Stove, the Thunderbird ice axe, the Coyote snow anchor and the MSR climbing helmet. Other products attracted less attention, such as ice screws that used coffee grinder cranks, bicycle helmets, lithium batteries for headlamps and the MSR Mountain tent.
Although some of these products did not sell like hot cakes, they represented great leaps in innovation at the time they were developed. MSR began distributing other manufacturers' alpine equipment - including crampons, carabiners, mountain clothing and climbing ropes.
Comprehensive worry-free kit for climbers
The aim was always to provide climbers with the most comprehensive information and the best possible equipment for their passion. If it didn't exist yet, Penberthy simply made it himself!
Over time, the MSR newsletter developed more and more into a sales tool for mountaineering equipment. Larry Penberthy still developed many products himself - also in response to challenges and areas of application that opened up for him from his own climbing and alpine tours.
MSR: following in the footsteps of founder Larry Penberthy
Today, MSR is still following in the footsteps of its founder. The dedication with which Penberthy developed high-quality products that scored points with excellent performance, reliability and - last but not least - outstanding safety in the backcountry is both a drive and a commandment for the company. Whether it is the development of tents, camping stoves, water purifiers or other outdoor equipment.
Groundbreaking MSR products and their year of development
- 1972 - Thunderbird Ice Axe
- 1982 - MSR Whisperlite Stove
- 1987 - Coyote Firnanker
- 1990 - WaterWorks Water Filter
- 1996 - Denali Snowshoes
- 2001 - Relaunch MSR Tents, Pocketrocket Stove
- 2007 - Reactor System Stovesr
- 2011 - MSR launches the Carbon Reflex 2, the first tent with carbon poles.