20 Questions: Goose Kearse, Misty Mountain Threadworks

13) BLISTER: How did Misty Mountain get involved with the military side of design?

Goose: Desire was the primary motivator. We wanted to look at opportunities where people needed load-bearing textiles that we weren’t capitalizing on. The military had bought some climbing harnesses in the past but they’d always found us, bought what they wanted, we made what they wanted and then sent it to them. All was good.

But I wanted to get more involved, and ask questions like, “What are you guys using, what do you need, what do you want?” Every user group has their priorities in a harness, and with the military, we didn’t know what that was.

14) BLISTER: Did you have a contact?

Goose: The first thing I did was talk to a friend of mine I went to high school with. Sally McCoy, the CEO of Camelback. She’s a real success story, a great woman. I called Sally and said we want to work with the military, and I asked her for a contact.

So she put me in touch with two of the key people in marketing and sales at Camelback’s military and tactical group. I worked with those guys and they gave me a few ideas, then I went to a few military trade shows and other industry meetings. I was able to meet people in the military who designed harnesses or people who used them. I learned about everything they needed for a special tactics mission.

I told them I knew they needed harness, we made harnesses and we’d love to work with them to help solve any problems they were having. It was a strategic decision to move in that direction. It’s been really positive and it’s helped us financially.

Plus, a lot of government purchases over a certain size, at least when they’re textiles, they have to be made in the U.S. out of U.S. componentry. So that was a no brainer.

15) BLISTER: Is Misty Mountain one of the main suppliers of military harnesses now?

Goose: I imagine we’re one of them. We just received a contract with the Army. They just sent out orders to us.

Misty Mountain, Blister Gear Review.
Misty Mountain’s Cadillac Tactical harness.

We’ve got four different mountain kits. One of them is a snow and ice mobility kit, and it doesn’t have any harnesses. The other three have harnesses, so we’re supplying those. That’s two different harnesses—a special forces harness called a Cadillac Tactical, which is more for the guys with a higher degree of training, Green Berets, Seals or Rangers, who have the ability to lead climb.

The other harness is a one-size-fits-most, desert color harness that can be used by just about anyone. These might be used in climbing situations, they might be used in rescue situations.

16-17) BLISTER: Why do you think climbing has a rich history of entrepreneurs? Is it unique to the sport in your opinion?

Goose: I joke among climber friends (and I’m in my early 50s, so I have friends who are a decade or two older than me and friends who are 17) that as climbers we’re pretty much all unemployable anyway.

I guess we’re like surfers—if it’s been raining a week and the sun finally comes out, you gotta go.

We’ve been in the rainforest pattern here in the North Carolina mountains for about a week or two, and the last few days have opened up a little bit, so we’ve been running out and getting on our bikes to get a few miles in before it closes up again.

I’m sure if we get another day or two of drying out we’ll be able to get up on some cracks.

We all enjoy what we do, and that’s a great thing. It binds us together and at the same time, makes it hard for us to work for somebody else.

It’s a lot of fun, and we enjoy it.

Plus, climbing helps things like self confidence, problem solving. There’s very little that gets thrown at Mike and I that I don’t figure we can handle during a quick chat over a cup of coffee. We’ve seen a lot of stuff over the past 25-30 years.

At the same time we’re still really very focused on what we want to do— making a harness that when you take it outside and put it on you say, “Wow, that’s the best harness I’ve ever worn.”

If you’re smiling and out climbing, I’m your friend.

1 comment on “20 Questions: Goose Kearse, Misty Mountain Threadworks”

  1. You have an impressive web site.
    Enjoyed reading the twenty questions.
    Wow and a military contract to boot,impressive.
    When I was employed with Goodyear Aerospace that’s all we had was military contracts.
    During desert storm we had the choice of working 7 days a week if we wanted to.
    Glad to see you are doing so well.

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