A16 History

Adventure 16 plaque, engraved with packs, boots and sleeping bags


Founder Andy Drollinger, pictured wearing a backpack in this vintage photograph

1962 - Back in the Day

Led by avid backpacker and inventor Andy Drollinger, a group of adventurous boys and their aerospace engineer dads gather in a garage in La Mesa, CA, to form Boy Scout Explorer Post 380, with ambitions to produce 16mm movies of their river and mountain adventures (hence our name, Adventure 16).

To raise money they started building cutting-edge backpacks that were designed to transfer the load to the hips--an innovative idea adapted by virtually all recreational backpack's manufactured today.

©Bruce Johnson, HistoryofGear.com



A16 backpackers on a mountain


Late 1960's

An A16 Backpacking Patch, which reads 'Custom Backpacking Outfitters'

The "back to nature" boom was in full swing and the tiny company that was Adventure 16 began expanding its line of innovative, top-quality gear that included the first down-filled sleeping bags with unprecedented loft-to-weight ratios and the first two-layer dome tents built specifically to meet the needs of backpackers.

Leave Only Footprints sticker



An Adventure 16 Half Dome Tent!


Early 1970's

Customer, inventor, and entrepreneur Mic Mead takes the helm, recapitalizing A16 and pioneers one of the most important contributions to the outdoor industry: a Lifetime Guarantee.

The original A16 logoA16 flourished under the leadership of Mic Mead and a small group of passionate backpackers and climbers.



People gather around the A16 store for the very first Backpacker Swap Meet

Backpacking and climbing enthusiasts gathered together outside of A16


Our first real retail store is opened in an old log house in El Cajon, CA.

Here's a photo of  gathering around the Adventure 16 cabin for our first Backpacker Swap Meet.



Vintage photo of the West Los Angeles A16 store, with 'Outdoor Camping Outfitters' marked on the front in large letters 1974

Charlie Rouch, the first of many female Adventure 16 store managers.

West Los Angeles store opens at a 5th of its current size. Charlie Rouch was the first of many female A16 store managers, she is pictured holding a rake in the photo to the left.



Vintage photograph of the Adventure 16 San Diego store


San Diego, Mission Valley store opens at half its current size.

Current President, John D. Mead with Mic Mead and David Mead.


Pictured on the right is the current A16 President, John D. Mead with Mic Mead and David Mead.



How the Adventure 16 store in Tarzana, Los Angeles looked in the '80s1980

A16 Cabin LogoTarzana store opens at half its current size, in the location that was formally occupied by LA's oldest mountain shop.







The Adventure 16 store which used to be the Eagle Creak Pack Factory store in Solana Beach, San Diego.


Adventure 16 logoSolana Beach store opens at 1/3rd its current size. It was originally the Eagle Creek Pack Factory store.





Adventure 16 employees with banner


The Company begins turning over ownership to the employees through an ESOP.










Adventure 16 'We Did It!' celebration image


Current Adventure 16 Shield LogoAdventure 16 officially becomes 90% employee-owned on March 10th, 2001.








Current Adventure 16 storefront in San Diego, California


Today A16 focuses on operating two unique Southern California mountain shops and an online store. We take pride in the caliber of our people and in carrying the highest quality and cutting edge products from the most respected manufacturers in the world. Our people's #1 job is to "Make Friends" with our Customers. We are also proud for being formally and nationally recognized as one of the best shops in the outdoor industry.