About Us

Our Founders
Light Hiking Gear is a retail outlet for backpacking, hiking and camping gear. 
In late-2016, Rich and Genie Murphy opened our North American operations, located on Whidbey Island, WA, serving customers worldwide.  Originally founded as "Aarn-USA", we updated our company's name in late-2022 to "Light Hiking Gear".


Rich and Genie snowshoeing


 Our Aarn Balance Pack Designers

Over 40 years ago and fueled by a passion to create the best load carrying systems the world has known, Aarn Tate and his partner, Devi Benson, began designing outdoor products.  Aarn Design exists to create equipment that works harmoniously with the human body, allowing for deeper connections between body, spirit and nature. 

We are devoted users of these brilliant products! Designed for both women and men, they are packable, light, and allow you to carry loads in the most scientifically balanced and body- comfortable way possible.  We are passionate about exploring the outdoors, and we want to help you on your journey, with daypacks and body packs for this express purpose.

Aarn Tate

I develop designs from core bio-mechanical principles gleaned over many years of thinking, using, creating, producing and marketing outdoor equipment. My design skills are self taught.

Idea—pattern making—prototype manufacture—testing—refinement—marketing material.

This is my trade. I have done these steps for many years. As a freelance designer, I had been unable to get an outside company to licence my Balance Pack designs in their completeness. This is because the designs were so fundamentally different that they made the current pack offerings of any company obsolete. No company could take the risk of such a big step forward and embrace a load carrying system which looked fundamentally different, even if it was far superior.

When I returned to NZ with my partner Devi, we set up a company to the design and manufacture products under our own label, incorporating and integrating all the biomechanical core principles that I had worked on for many years.

In February 2002, we were a finalist in the DuPont Brand New Award for my ultra-lite Natural Balance Pack was a free booth at the ISPO trade show in Munich. Our presence at the show, especially in the prestigious Brand New Award Hall, launched the brand and attracted several distributors for Europe.

The transition from a simple freelance design business to a successful international brand involving product development, manufacturing, marketing and distribution has been challenging.

Without the wonderful support, enthusiasm and organising skills of my partner, Devi, it would not have been possible.

Our equipment is designed in Aotearoa-New Zealand using the wild and beautiful Southern Alps as our play and testing ground.