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.”