Backpacker’s Pantry, and its parent company American Outdoor Products (AOP), is a family owned and operated freeze-dried food manufacturer, proudly based out of Boulder, Colorado. This website, the future success of the entire company, and everything we give back through conservation efforts, is dedicated to, and an extension of, the late Rodney Smith and his vision.
Rodney Smith was President of AOP from 1998 to 2019. AOP's predecessor, DriLite Foods, was started in 1951, and one of the first backcountry food brands in the country. In 1971, Rodney’s father, Ronald (Ron) Smith, purchased the California company, and by 1978, was running the business under it’s now familiar name: Backpacker’s Pantry. As the company grew and outgrew its California roots, we moved the operation to Boulder, Colorado in 1992. It was here that Rodney Smith took the reins as President of AOP.
As President, Rodney’s deep commitment to environmental sustainability and high-quality ingredients was always the cornerstone of his business philosophy. He passionately supported the Conservation Alliance, Leave No Trace, OIA, 1% for the Planet, Access Fund, Cal-Wood, SOIL, Blazing Wisdom Institute and countless other organizations. He strived to build American Outdoor Products to be an outdoor industry leader of renewable energy and innovative agriculture realms with the simple goal of making the world a better place.
On January 1, 2020, at the age of 57, Rodney lost his life due to a catastrophic ski accident. He was an avid outdoorsman, expert skier, weekend fly fisherman, hiker, camper, disc golfer, climber and the best father, husband, and company President we could have asked for. He left us all too soon, but spent his final days doing what he enjoyed the most, appreciating the outdoors and all it has to offer.
Though devastated by the sudden loss of his son, Ronald Smith returned to help guide the company and family upward and onward. One of his first actions was appointing Soraya Smith, Rodney’s wife of 27 years, and Recipe Development Chef for Backpacker’s Pantry, as President of American Outdoor Products. The Smith family legacy continues, as the board of directors now also includes Rodney and Soraya’s sons, Aidan and Talvin.
Rodney’s vision is alive and well here at American Outdoor Products. We remain deeply committed to creating memorable meals, responsibly made, and will never stop giving back to the community we love, the places we adventure, and the planet we must protect. Moving forward, all we can do is support and add to Rodney’s legacy, through sourcing the highest quality ingredients, appreciating and protecting the outdoors and working to push the boundaries of social and environmental justice.
Rodney signed off every email with a quote from the late John F. Kennedy: “The supreme reality of our time is the vulnerability of our planet.”
A FIRM FOUNDATION
American Outdoor Products has been owned and operated by the Smith family since 1971. From our humble start as a backpacking food company, and with a father and son leadership team, our company expanded to include not only Backpacker’s Pantry but Astronaut Foods, Colorado Spice Blending Co., and Chef Soraya. But let’s start from the very beginning.
In 1951, an ill-fated trip involving heavy canned foods, a long mountain trek and a group of increasingly demoralized Girl Scouts forever altered the course of what was thought possible in outdoor dining. The troop leader of that trip went home more inspired than disheartened, and was motivated to create a lighter, manageable, just add water, option for outdoor adventure. And she succeeded in that mission. Fast-forward twenty years, when this small outdoor company was purchased by Ronald Smith. With the help of a small but dedicated team, Ronald transformed the Girl Scouts' inspired idea into one of the world’s foremost producers of freeze-dried meals.
Backpacker's Pantry was now an independent, privately-held, family-owned and operated company. Later, Ronald Smith’s son, Rodney, joined the company and took over ownership. Since Rodney’s passing, his wife Soraya, who served as the in-house product development chef, has also taken on the role of President. Working with her team of enthusiastic staff to bring the company to full potential, as a powerful force in the outdoor industry as well as renewable energy and innovative agriculture realms.
While keeping true to our roots, Backpacker's Pantry's parent company, American Outdoor Products, has now come to include five different, but equally bold brands that continue to promote adventure and foster good health. Backpacker's Pantry, Astronaut Foods, Colorado Spice Blending Company and Chef Soraya each encapsulate a different aspect of our ever-expanding vision.
Used worldwide by backpackers, sailors, extreme athletes, explorers, the military, hunters, campers, vegans, and for emergency preparedness, Backpacker’s Pantry brings inspired cuisine to the furthest reaches of our planet, while doing everything it can to protect it.
HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
Always seeking improvement, Backpacker’s Pantry continues to push the envelope. Our deep commitment to environmental sustainability and high quality ingredients is a way of life that demands constant evolution, exploration and adaptation. In a prime position to influence farming practices we are pushing the regenerative farming movement at its most crucial juncture. Partnering with The Conservation Alliance, and 1% for the Planet we continue to uphold the values that have defined the company from the outset: Making the world a better place.