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Our History

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.

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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, the Llama Association of North America’s Humdinger Award in 2008, and the Rocky Mountain Llama and Alpaca Association's 2010 Bobra Goldsmith Memorial Award.

Our Team

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Charlie Hackbarth

Hey folks, I’m still kicking and still have a job here at Sopris Unlimited in La Veta, CO. I leave the manufacturing and shipping to the Gingerich/Wagler family in Iowa and I look after our products, improve them when possible, and (most importantly) take care of our customers. If I can be of assistance in choosing a packer, choosing and using the gear that fits your needs, or in the training or use of your pack animal on the trail, please send me an email charlie@soprisunlimited.com or call 1-800-767-7479. If I can’t answer your questions, I’ll put you in touch with someone who can.

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Sandy Hackbarth

I owned an accounting firm while Charlie and I were raising our children, then became a public library director after our move to La Veta twenty-some years ago. Through all my adult life, however, the llamas we raised and packed and the business that grew from our obsession with getting out in the wilderness was the thread that brought joy to my life. While I will continue to oversee the financial end of Sopris Unlimited, I look forward to having a more active role in the family business. I am particularly looking forward to my first visit to the Gingerich/Wagler family farm this fall. I can be reached at sandy@soprisunlimited.com.

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Alexa Metrick

As the second-generation, I’ve put in quite a few miles on the trail with pack llamas and quite a few hours in the Sopris Unlimited booth at conferences. But the details of running the family business are hazy to me, so I contribute what I know (a handful of code) and help with the website. My mom, Sandy, has promised to teach me Quickbooks and bookkeeping this year, so I suppose that means I’m now a Sopris Unlimited intern. In the meantime, if anything on this website doesn’t work for you, please email me at alexa@soprisunlimited.com and I’ll do my best to fix it.

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Our Amish Partners

Sopris Unlimited has been a family business since its launch in 1982. In addition to the Colorado family (pictured above), we’d like to introduce you to our Iowa family, the Gingeriches and Waglers. This multi-generational family of Old Order Amish have been manufacturing our gear since the beginning. Few companies can boast of such a unique relationship: our partnership is collaborative and strengthened by true respect and friendship on both sides. We are very thankful to have such exceptional partners.

Testimonials for Sopris Unlimited

"I've been in the commercial llama trekking business for 20 years, and wouldn't even dream about using any other pack systems other than Sopris! Not only are they superior in efficiency, quality and professionalism, but they last forever with good care and look stunning, too! My clients often ask about the llama packs and I am proud to tell them that my llamas only wear the BEST. I'm a lifelong client and fan of Sopris!"

Sandy Sgrillo of The Wandering Llamas, LLC


"Dreamstar Llamas would like to thank you for the years of great use we have had with the Sopris Classic and Roughy saddles & pannier systems. The saddles & panniers required minimal maintenance and still are doing the job. The quick draw cinch & snaps of make it really easy to put the Sopris saddle on and take it off while the llama just stands there with no worries. The pannier stabilizer buckles are great keeping the load in place up and down the trail in combination with the chest and breeching straps attached to the saddle.
The panniers and rain fly have kept our gear secure and dry while hiking the back country. They also worked as a flotation 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?
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Dave Lockwood of Dreamstar Llamas


"Just wanted to let you know how much we appreciate your Sopris saddle. We have been using it often since the mid-1990’s with no repairs needed. We always put it on our strongest llama with the heaviest load. The Washington Trails Association had a couple of their 'carriers' and your saddle was easily adapted to carry them. We also have one [competitor's saddle], four [competitor's saddle], and one [competitor's saddle]. Yours is the strongest, while the others are good for specific uses."

Jim and Sara Thomas, of Lake Chelan Llamas in Lake Chelan, Washington


"Thank you very much for helping the employees of Verizon Wireless in our efforts to expand the capacity of our cell site near Bailey, CO during the Hi Meadow Fire. This greatly improved the communications of the emergency and news teams, and homeowners. As always, your pack equipment performed flawlessly to get our high-dollar test equipment & tools safely to the top of the mountain."

Vince Koutnik, A-Team for Verizon Wireless


"I used the Mt. Sopris System on my 1,000 mile hike from California to Canada. Using the Sopris System, my llamas were able to carry 80 pounds and travel an average of fifteen miles per day. After 114 days on the trail, my llamas had no sings of bruising, chafing, or of having saddle sores. I was able to adjust the saddles to meet the changing trail conditions, and was never concerned as to whether the equipment would last. As a matter of fact, after 1,000 miles of daily use the system looks almost new. The Mt. Sopris System was an integral part of what is believed to be a record setting trip."

Peter Illyn


"As the North Carolina Adoption Coordinator for the Southeast Llama Rescue, when I place llamas in their foster or adoptive homes I send them with a new halter and lead. While there are many wonderful halters available (and I own several of them), I send each adopted llama to their new home with a Sopris halter. Your design means that the new owners don't have to spend several minutes adjusting various buckles trying to achieve a proper fit only to find the noseband buckle in the way of the lead ring or have the halter 'fall away' just at the moment it should be slipping easily over the nose. Being able to correctly fit a halter on their llama gives new owners who have little haltering experience a feeling of confidence, and I rest easier knowing that the llamas will be properly haltered. "

Pat Cothran, NC Adoption Coordinator of the Southeast Llama Rescue


"Charlie, we met at the 2006 GALA Conference and I told you about the problem of finding halters to fit one of my llamas. You suggested trying your halter and I’ve been using the one you sent in a variety of situations (packing, training, and driving) and my big roman nose boy is comfortable and able to take training treats in all situations. Thank you for making this style of halter. I like it so much I will be ordering more for my other llamas. I think your pack systems are wonderful, as well--I have three: a lumbar day/training, a full size lumbar, and Sopris pack saddle system. I love them. Thanks again."

Diane Pinell-Baker


"The halters from Mt. Sopris are the best alpaca halters that I have ever used. Not only are they well-made, but the way the straps criss-cross under the jaw make this an ideal fit for adult alpacas of different sizes. My work involves both medical treatment and maintenance of alpacas and llamas. It is so important to have a simple, well-made and nice-looking halter that works. I don't have time to adjust a halter every time I use it or have the room to hang each alpaca's halter in a special place with a name tag specifically meant for him/her. I just want to grab a halter and run and do what I have to do. My clients especially like the cria halters. When crias come in for transfusions, medical treatment or just routine blood draws, the cria halters help us to restrain the animal in a safe way. Thank you, Charlie, for your fantastic halters and your excellent customer service."

Michelle Ing, DVM, in Granite Bay, California


"We received our first Sopris halters at Estes Park Wool and Fiber Festival in 2008, and they have become indispensable when dealing with our Jacob sheep! We often use the Sopris halters at home as they are easy to handle, even for novices! We had a neighbor feeding for us while we were out of town, and they had to give a sheep shots, and they had no trouble figuring out how to put on and use a Sopris halter! In the show ring, the Sopris halters are handy on our big four-horn rams, as we don’t have to stretch out a rope halter to fit over the horns; they slide right on. They are also handy for use with sheep, and come in sizes small enough to fit small lambs--and again, they STAY ON those little lamb heads without rubbing the eyes. The halters look nice and professional, they fit properly, and they are easy to slide off and on. When you’re showing a number of animals, the ease of haltering is a big deal, allowing us to get to and from the show ring without worrying about an animal slipping out of a halter, and allowing us to get them in and out of the halters without a fuss.
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!
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Brian & Jennifer Tucker of Moose Mtn. Ranch in Bennett, CO


"The author of Tales of the Trail] delivers on the promise of the subtitle. This is indeed 'an entertaining and educational guide to using llamas in the back country.' Hackbarth has a lot of neat writing tricks. Don’t be fooled by the 'aw shucks' jokes. This guy can write. Thanks to good editing and good writing, this book goes down like a smooth single-malt. Even though his packing treks rarely prove to be easy, Hackbarth makes the writing look easy. So whether you’re a llama lover or an adventure freak, sit back and let a master take you on a memorable journey."

Melanie R Forde, of Llama Life II


"Through Tales of the Trail, Hackbarth offers the reader laughs, adventure and drama while at the same time providing much practical information for anyone who might be interested in trekking with llamas. A recommended read for those who venture into the backcountry as well as for those who never will."

Tom Macedo, of the Huerfano World in Walsenburg, Colorado