45 Years of Redefining Outdoor Gear Design

MSR innovation timeline

Professional inventor and lifelong mountaineer Larry Penberthy founded Mountain Safety Research with a single purpose: to improve the safety of climbing equipment. It was the 1960s, and the engineer from Seattle had become fiercely frustrated with climbing equipment that was far too often under-tested and overrated. Decades in the mountains had taught him that one’s survival and achievement in the backcountry called for a trust and reliance on gear. Uncompromising, opinionated, and sometimes controversial, Larry dedicated himself on a personal crusade to making the backcountry safer for mountain travelers.


Larry began by independently testing climbing equipment of the day, first under a committee of The Mountaineers, then on his own. To publish his findings, he started the Mountain Safety Research newsletter in 1969. Larry evaluated everything from stove fuels to the elongation of ropes, the holding power of pitons, the strength of ice axes, and many other important but generally neglected issues. Through the newsletters, readers also got a healthy dose of Larry’s own research on topics important climbers, like the correlation between dehydration and Acute Mountain Sickness. To support his volunteer efforts, Larry sold third-party products through the newsletters as well as new, innovative gear that he engineered and built under the MSR label.

climbing picks

As time went on, MSR began to manufacture and sell more of Larry’s own inventive, dependable and high-quality designs. Many iconic outdoor pieces stemmed from this time period, some of them revolutionary, forever changing the way people traveled through the mountains.

Our new online museum takes you on a journey back to MSR’s origins, and up through the four decades of innovations and ingenuity that helped redefine outdoor gear design.