BOISE, Idaho - You'd never know it at first glance, but Idaho resident Glen Eberle changed the world, or at least, a portion of it. Eberle is the founder and namesake of Boise-based Eberlestock, a company that designs, manufactures and sells a range of sporting gear for hunters and outdoor enthusiasts. They've been based in Boise since the modern version of the company took shape back in 2003. Their signature product? Hunting packs with a unique rifle-carrying scabbard, a concept that was revolutionary when Eberle first invented it years ago. "These things didn't exist until we did it," he recalls.
The now-patented pack allow hunters to store their rifle on their back, keeping their hands free and clear. "So you walk around with your hands free all the time and use them for glassing or what not," says Eberle. "But when you need your rifle or want it, you just pull it out of the pack."
The pack also expands to be able to hold 100 pounds or more of game, something important to this Idaho sportsman. "I was an elk hunter so I wanted a backpack that could expand," he says.
The whole idea of the rifle-carrying pack was hatched during Eberle's time as an Olympic biathlete back in the 1980s, a sport combining skiing with shooting. The stocks used in the sport at the time were a bit cumbersome, so Eberle completely redesigned them to be lighter, yet more rugged, and that's how Eberlestock was born and got its name - as a gun stock company - but it continued to evolve. Eberle recalls, "Going through the forest with my rifle as my brush guard, I figured there's got to be a better way to carry this thing...Having done biathlon I knew that having a rifle on your back is a better way to move."
Eberlestock's pack has now changed the way sportsmen hunt, and even better, has made the pastime safer. "You picture a string of people walking through the forest, nobody's rifles are in hand or pointing at anybody," says Eberle.
But it's not just hunters who have taken notice of the innovative pack. The U.S. military now provides Eberlestock's rifle-concealing packs to their Special Forces units to protect snipers in combat, a fact that makes Eberle - a former military pilot - feel humbled and proud. "We made a pack that carries the weapon better but also has just a cover for it, so for a period of time, the snipers stopped getting shot," Eberle told 6 On Your Side. He recalls too, "I had a guy from the Special Forces group call me up and say, 'I gotta tell you, I can shoot any gun I want, I can wear any pair of boots I want, but this pack is the best thing to come our way in 30 years.'...It's just an honor to be part of it, to be doing something that matters."
And while Eberlestock's packs and gear may be sold and used across the globe, Eberle says Boise remains the perfect place for his company to call home.Says Eberle, "It's just inspiring to be in a place where you have reasons to make something else, the next cool thing."
If you want to check out Eberlestock's gear and packs for yourself, stop by their brand-new retail space located at 2980 West Main Street in Boise. You can also find their full inventory - and more on the company's rich history - by visiting their website here.