Driving down an East Texas Highway in October 2021. I was headed to a show in West Monroe, Louisiana to introduce people to our American made line of Backpacks. I stopped for gas, and on the way out I saw a rack of small-town newspapers. The newspaper was the Palestine Herald. Above the fold there was picture of guy name John Mumby raising money for Gulf War Illness/Syndrome. To be honest my first thought was WOW an actual newspaper. I know actual printed newspapers are almost extinct.
I looked at the picture and saw he was wearing a ruck. The straps alone told me this was probably an old army ruck which has some of the worst straps you could endure under a pack. The old ALICE pack straps were one of the things a lot of Infantry men attempted to upgrade sooner rather than later. The ALICE pack straps were the worst. I remember thinking well good for him for taking some action. I walked out of the gas station and headed to my truck. I climbed in to drive away, with barely a lingering thought about that article. Just wondering why did I stop to look at that article. Weird, I thought to myself.
Then just like that fate stepped in and a black truck parked near by moved. Revealing John just about 50 feet away taking a break from his ruck drinking some water. I put my truck back in park and got out to go talk to him.
I introduced myself and we did the basic Veteran run down. If you are unfamiliar, it’s a quick short hand way to find out if we ever served at the same time or in adjacent units or the same unit. It is a quick way of getting a feel for someone’s service record and takes about 3 mins on average. I found out John had also been in the 82nd Airborne Division. I thought to myself, well what do you know a fellow paratrooper. John’s responses were typically and all the comments were on a pain scale or an irritation scale. Yeah, I know those pains, I know those irritations. It is why I wanted to make gear.
John told me he was raising money for Gulf War Illness awareness a problem still not qualified as disability by the Veteran Administration (don’t get me started on that Potomac two-step). I wanted to help but money was the thing we were hurting for in 2021. Like so many small businesses we had been hurt by the COVID lockdowns. I walked back to my truck. In the window was the navy blue Rockape pack. It had been the last thing I had squeezed into the truck. I honestly didn’t know why I had packed it at the time. But I knew then clear as day I knew. I grabbed the pack out of the back of my truck and walked back over to John and gave it to him. I told him about all my injuries from my time in service and how we had set out to create a better pack. A pack that’s comfortable, cut back on fatigue, and hopefully allowed you to go further, faster. We were and still are relentlessly pursuing the most functional and comfortable packs in the game.
Then a year later in 2022 John went clear across the state of Texas with the Rockape pack that I donated to him. I have included links to the articles and now that John, a man suffering from Gulf War Illness himself, has recovered he wants to let people know about the Rockape. So, stay tuned to our blog for a Rockape review from the guy who has put a Texas sized amount of miles in those straps.
Written by – Chris Vick Owner of Squatch Survival Gear
11 year Army Veteran – Disabled OEF and OIF Veteran