During the winter months of 1982, Charlie Hackbarth and his Uncle Tant, a skilled harness maker and compulsive inventor, designed a pack saddle for Charlie’s first pack llama. In 1985, he launched a line of llama pack equipment called Mt. Sopris Llamas Unlimited, named after the mountain that dominates the view at our original location in Carbondale, Colorado. In 1998, when the town of Carbondale outgrew us, we moved to the small town of La Veta in the south-central mountains of Colorado, where the twin Spanish Peaks that tower over our office often remind us of Mount Sopris.
Our superior line of pack equipment and care products for llamas and alpacas established our name within the camelid community, but about ten years ago, owners of non-camelids began using our halters, leads and equipment with their goats, sheep, reindeer, yaks, and donkeys. In 2010, we officially expanded our line to include all smaller pack animals and livestock and renamed our company Sopris Unlimited.
Who we are:
Sopris Unlimited is a multi-generational business with close ties to the Amish. We believe our unique relationship, which has survived for over thirty years, is more viable today than ever. Our history with the Amish began in 1982 when Charlie Hackbarth's eighty-two-year-old Uncle Tant and his Amish friend Menno Hostetler, by Charlie's persuasion, became involved in designing a pack saddle for llamas.
Charlie Hackbarth has spent the last thirty-five years packing with llamas and building Mt. Sopris Llamas (now Sopris Unlimited) into a globally-known brand. A firm believer in the health benefits of hiking and the value of the pack animal in bringing people and their families back to nature, Charlie has also consistently contributed to the larger lama community through education and awareness efforts. After teaching llama management, training, and packing classes at the Colorado Mountain College in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, for several years, Charlie took his act on the road and spent fifteen years conducting training and packing clinics for llama organizations and private groups across the country. He founded the RMLA Pack Festival, a four-day family event where packers sharpen their skills and swap stories on the first trip of the season, and has served as a past president of Rocky Mountain Llama Association and on the pack committees of both the International Llama Association and RMLA. Charlie also served as advisor to Llamas Magazine and authored the column “Tales of the Trail” for that publication. In 2006, his daughter Alexa put these stories together in a book entitledTales of the Trail, which is currently available on our site. In recognition of the contributions he has made to the field of packing, Charlie was awarded the International Llama Association’s Pushmi-Pullyu Award in 1988 and the Llama Association of North America’s Humdinger Award in 2008.
Our quality-minded customers appreciate that nearly everything we sell is painstakingly handmade in the U.S. by the Gingerich/Wagler family. The multi-livestock use of our outstanding products has spread to every state in the US and to many foreign countries.
Our recipe for success:
The left foot of our business belongs to the Hackbarth/Metrick family. It attempts to keep pace with present technology without stepping on the values of the past. The right foot, the epitome of sustainability, belongs to the Amish family of Gingerich/Wagler. We respect our Amish friends and their beliefs. We appreciate their honesty, dependability, their attention to quality and the profound pride they take in their work. We admire their way of life and try our best not to disrupt it. They in turn welcome our friendship, our understanding, and a fair wage. We believe we are working toward the same goal: sustainable living.
Uncle Tant’s lessons about function and quality, about products that work well and endure, have stayed with Charlie over the last thirty-five years. They are evident in the design of every item in our line and are backed by our guarantee and outstanding service. Our fantastic customers, many of whom have been with us for decades, are a testament to our commitment to these principles of good design and good business.
Our products are backed by a fair and simple buyer/seller understanding: If you are not happy with a product because of our failure, we will gladly make it right at our expense, including all shipping charges. You have our word on it. If your product needs to be repaired or replaced because of excessive wear or neglect we will gladly accommodate at your expense (including all shipping charges). If you need help making a product decision or with aspects relating to product use, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-767-7479.
Online or phone orders are received in Colorado faxed to a local veterinarian clinic in Iowa and taken to be filled. Once completed, they are often delivered to the shipper on foot or by horse and buggy. Don’t panic: these orders go out in a very timely and organized manner. We just don’t do drones, so please plan ahead.
Praise For Our Packs
The panniers and rain fly have kept our gear secure and dry while hiking the back country. They also worked as a floatation device once by accident when the llama started to swim a beaver pond (not a recommended practice). The panniers just floated up with the sleeping bags still inside, and when the panniers were removed only one sleeping bag had gotten a little wet. That was also after hiking several miles in the rain. The leaky tent is another story. Do you make tents to go with the panniers?"
Dave Lockwood of Dreamstar Llamas
Jim and Sara Thomas, of Lake Chelan Llamas in Lake Chelan, Washington
Vince Koutnik, A-Team for Verizon Wireless
Pat Cothran, NC Adoption Coordinator of the Southeast Llama Rescue
Michelle Ing, DVM, in Granite Bay, California
Unfortunately, we have parted with a few over the year, not due to the product failing but because they were perfect for shipping animals across the country! These nice halters can be left on an animal in transit. We used professional shippers, and all have commented that it was easy to handle the sheep when transporting them to other parts of the country when they are wearing these halters! We even shipped a pair of sheep with a horse hauler, and he had to transfer the sheep out of the dog crates they were shipped in. He liked being able to reach into the crate, snap a lead on the handy ring, and have a safely contained animal with no worry of the halters slipping off the head like many sheep halters do! We have also used them on our fainting goats, many of which are naturally polled animals and virtually impossible to keep a halter on, but the design of the Sopris keeps the halter from sliding off the goat’s head. Thank you Sopris for providing a product that WORKS!"
Brian & Jennifer Tucker of Moose Mtn. Ranch in Bennett, CO
Melanie R Forde, of Llama Life II
Tom Macedo, of the Huerfano World in Walsenburg, Colorado