Garuda     Byron's tent design and manufacturing company
Origins of Garuda                                                                     1990 - 1996

Living one's aspirations can become easy to take for granted.

I was lucky to grow up among the outdoors of the midwest. One of my
earliest childhood pursuits was backcountry misadventures. As a
budding gear-head, those missteps often included exploring a better
understanding of my equipment shortcomings. And a yearning to
explore elsewhere in the world.

The tent manufacturing business I started decades later in 1990,
Garuda Mountaineering, literally in a Seattle garage with little more
than an evolved interest and the fiscal means, became a realized
labor of love that enthralled me every day for nearly a decade. Dream
do come to be - when lucky, one gets several in a lifetime.

At the time, I knew Garuda was spawning something that I felt was as
cool as life could get – create a company to invent, build, and share
world-renowned mountaineering and backpacking tents with
people who shared the passion and experiences.  

Anyone is fortunate to find their very own uniquely quirky place in the
universe – for nearly a decade mine was amidst the architecture of
portable human shelters purposefully taken to the most serene or
adverse landscapes on the planet.

Every day in Garuda-land was a sublime, adventurous climb up the
learning curve – in pushing ever forward I made every mistake there
was to stumble over, and then came around to resolve best as
possible. Dozens upon dozens of specific skills were researched,
learned, and honed over the years.  Each day I went back among the
challenges and setbacks with the renewed enthusiasm and
resolution of a mission without alternatives - "
it" simply had to be
done, and I loved doing it.

Outlined in
my resume are the business aspects and successes of
Garuda. What brought the little success I enjoyed was propelled by
the pure elation fashioned from being the creator and builder of
Garuda. At the time, those days were often unbelievably hard, some
seemingly impossible. Yet every aspect of my own personal success
was fulfilled in the toil.  I share the hope with my children that they may
find enjoyment in an endeavor as much as I did in creating and
building Garuda. The pursuit was tremendously satisfying and
fulfilling - a complete life experience as a part of a richer life that can
include so many joys.

As I was so deeply influenced decades earlier, the work coming out of
Garuda formed a persistent influence on the outdoor equipment
design culture still present today. Though there were few specific
Garuda inventions (all that's new is old....) – the Velcro “foot” to prop
open vents, for example – Garuda's mark was the cumulative
refinements to integrating functional features as a holistic
architectural design. This included offering an
architecture that rejected the mythology of ‘free-standing’ principles (to
which I coined the phrase
Asymmetrical Structural Integrity (ASI) – so
catchy….), which incorporated in each model a true all-weather
ventilation system, tight patterning and thoughtful detailing, and the
top-rate materials for everything. Making such structural dependability
primary over all other trendy characteristicsis what made Garuda
enduring. Garuda pursued the credo that "shelter integrity is
everything” -- we never heard one story of a failed shelter but did hear
many accounts of our tent serving its purpose well.


Garuda was formally established August 1, 1990. I'd designed and
one-off tents & shelters since 1983 after I learned to sew (a
generous description at best…years more practice would ensue) by  
volunteering to do makeshift equipment repairs as the Asst. Manager
in a Ft. Collins Colorado mountain shop. About June of ’90 I believe is
when I committed the garage space to refining the tent designs (i.e.
make the same patterns twice!). The next year I 'moved up’ to an
indoor basement until I rented a Seattle factory space in Sep. of ‘92.

The original spark of inspiration to consolidate my designs and to
start Garuda to produce and market the tents came while I was
traveling by foot through the Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan in
the summer of 1989. While contemplating my initial plans to returning
home about four months later, I was enjoying a beautiful day near
Chitral atop Shandar Pass, where a thousand years of regional
history has played out on the 11,000 ft. route.

The name "Garuda" was selected partly for rational reasons intrinsic
to my own experiences and to the history of the character, but also
because the phonetic "ring of 'it" echoed my sense of what portable
architecture 'sounded like' in a design language – sometimes big
decisions are that simple. In the end, Garuda represents goodness
and sanctuary from all evils, terrestrial or otherwise.

The origin of the name is the Hindu religious character "Garuda", a
half-man, half-eagle (upper torso) figure who is Vishnu's main
transport.  Garuda represents "good karma & protector" and eats "evil"
as represented by snakes and vermin. In the Indonesian (Balinese)
arm of Hinduism, Garuda as "good & protectorate" is elevated more
so than in India.

Garuda's mission was to “design light, strong, dependable tents
through innovation and premium craftsmanship. GARUDA advanced
the benefits of traditional single-wall concepts by incorporating
effective ventilation and practical, convenient features as core
architectural elements in order to extend the tent's performance and
versatility in a wider range of conditions.  Each tent was built on one
premise -- our customer would depend on the one tent they were in ,
everything else was fluff.”

Garuda hired its first employee in Jan.. '93, Armie. Later came
Khankham, (MMW's employee name?), Kurt, and Mike on the Garuda
team. Before Garuda days drew to a close, ten original tent designs
were distributed world-wide, the outdoor industry was amidst great
change, and we'd had a helluva glorious ride.

Pictures from the latter days of Garuda (Seattle) are

The Sale

In December 1995 I sold Garuda to the parent company of K2 Skis,
Anthony Industries, and later resigned in Nov. 1996. The name
changed to Garuda, Inc.; after I left the subtitle 'by Dana Design' was
appended - but they did spend the money for a very
nice catalog of the
ten tents designed and built with the Seattle team through '96!

Draft of the introduction to the last catalog Garuda
(Seattle) would have produced in 1997

When Garuda™ started six years ago, I had one objective – produce
single-wall tents with more versatility than existing designs. From
using and building numerous tents by hand since 1983, I knew that
we could make high performance single-wall tents unlike anything on
the market.

For the wilderness traveler, single-wall designs can deliver maximum
performance with architectural simplicity, by eliminating a separate
rainfly, pole sleeves or clips, extra pole length, and other unnecessary
weight. By incorporating functional ventilation into the overall
architecture, Garuda tents have worked very well in many
environments since 1990. Asymmetrical designs have been proven to
deliver greater strength at lower weight and bulk, and withstand the
worst weather.  Garuda tents have earned an enviable reputation
among mountaineers and others who travel in extreme
environments:  brutal cold, harsh winds, huge snowfalls, torrential
rains.  Our tents have been put to the test in Alaska, the Andes, the
Alps, and the Arctic, and performed beautifully.

As more outdoor enthusiasts have had an opportunity to use Garuda
tents, and as we have added other models to our line, people have
realized that our tent designs adapt to many different climates and
uses. Growing numbers of backpackers, paddlers, and others have
found that our tents provide the stability, comfort, durability, and light
weight that they need in a shelter, for their backcountry travels well
below timberline and often quite close to home. We continue to
expand our line of tents to meet this demand for a broad range of
designs.  We are very excited to be offering several double-wall
designs for 1997.  Our new double-wall tents demonstrate the same
design elements which have set us apart from the crowd:  
asymmetrical architecture, structural vestibules, and integrated
effective ventilation through hooded vents and doors.

For the first six years of our company, our small crew made every tent
with pride in Seattle, Washington. We have moved this past year to the
Northern Rockies and are now established in our new shop in
Bozeman, Montana, joining our sister company, Dana Design.  Our
two companies share the desire to make the highest quality product
possible, with premium materials, sophisticated design, meticulous
craftsmanship, and attention to detail.  Our new location in Southwest
Montana is a perfect base for getting out in the mountains for “field-
testing”, but please call us if you have any questions about Garuda
tents; at least one of us will be in the office to answer the telephones
and help you in any way we can.

What sets GARUDA apart?
•   Asymmetrical architecture
•   Integrated, effective ventilation
•   Structural vestibules and three-point pitch
•   Meticulous craftsmanship and purpose-laden materials

Intro to the 1995 Catalog

When Garuda™ started in 1990, I had one objective – deliver the
benefits of single-wall design in more versatile shelters.

In the process of using and building numerous tents by hand since
1983, I knew that traditional single-wall concepts could be advanced
by incorporating functional ventilation and features as core
architectural elements. To extend beyond the minimalist, gimme-
basic-shelters of the past, Garuda selectively integrates the desirable
characteristics of single-wall construction with performance oriented
convenience features. Our models structurally incorporate vestibules,
storage, strategic vents, windows, and doors. By carefully coordinating
all these features, Garuda extends the performance and comfort of
single-wall designs to a wider range of climates.

The result is a line of meticulously crafted, lightweight tents designed
to balance versatility, efficiency, and sound dependability, with a
preference for usable ergonomics. From our waterproof/breathable
single-wall construction to refined architecture, Garuda utilizes the
most appropriate technologies and advanced materials to pioneer the
new alternative in tents. From the high camps of K2 and Everest to the
Olympic rain forest and Alaskan coast, over five years of field use
have proven the concepts, technology and tents.

At Garuda we have developed our own construction techniques to sew
each tent in our Seattle shop from American-made textiles. We don’t
“farm out” any of our manufacturing to independent subcontractors or
home sewers. We perform each and every step of assembly under
one roof, insuring the precision, care and quality control our
customers have depended on in the field. Feel free to call with your
tent questions - we will have the answers.

Intro to the 1993 Catalog

From waterproof/breathable single-wall construction to refined,
functional architecture, GARUDA utilizes the most appropriate
technologies and advanced materials to pioneer a new alternative in

The result is a line of meticulously crafted, lightweight tents designed
to balance versatility, efficiency, and durability with a preference for
practical features and usable ergonomics.

The GARUDA advantage begins with our exclusive ByroTex canopy
material, a three-layer waterproof/breathable fabric developed
specifically for GARUDA. Years of textile research and field testing of
prototypes focused our requirements for the canopy's characteristics:
deliver the benefits of single-wall technology - breathability,
lightweight, compact packing, and ease of setup - in functional and
versatile tents with a priority on ventilation and comfort in a wide range
of climates.

Because ventilation is the key to in a versatile tent design, careful
attention has been given to maximize flow-through air patterns in
each tent, with low rear vents that draw in cool, drier air, and peak
vents that provide a natural escape for warmer air, removing moisture
generated in the interior before it may condense on the canopy. All
vents are generously hooded for protection against the elements, yet
are designed to maximize exterior visibility in all but the worst weather.
Magazine Reviews Appreciated Most

About Garuda

“Seattle-based Garuda Mountaineering is
bringing about a resurgence in single-wall
tents.  Ventilation, wind-resistance, and interior
space are all superior...Like the rest of Garuda’s
designs, the Atman is light, compact, easily
pitched and tough—features we get excited
about while getting pounded on windy, 13,000
foot passes.”
BACKPACKER on the Atman,
(Apr. ’94, Editor’s Choice issue)

“With a staff of three, Garuda is one of the
smaller companies on the outdoor scene, but
the efficiency and strength of their single-wall
tents has generated an industry-wide move
back to single-layer canopies. Garuda is
debuting three new double-wall designs for
1996. Our testers and editors have used
Garudas in locales from Utah, to Colorado, to
New Hampshire, and most recently on an 18-
day trek in northwest Canada.  In every case we’
ve found them to be compact, lightweight, and
BACKPACKER Gear Guide, (Mar. ‘96)

“Seattle-based Garuda Mountaineering has
long been known for making the lightest
possible extreme-weather tents...Most suppliers
are following Garuda’s lead and rushing to
develop single-wall tents for next season.”
Men’s Journal on the Kaja (Sept. ‘95)

About the tents

“For really wicked winter conditions and where
weight is more of a concern than interior room,
the Garuda Kaja, the lightest, easiest to pitch,
and most robust shelter, is champ.”
CLIMBING’s Duane Raleigh on the Kaja,
(Mar. ‘95)

"...the Kaja is the best single-walled tent I’ve
found for all-around alpine climbing and
CLIMBING’s Michael Kennedy on the Kaja, (Oct.

“For a lightweight bombproof shelter for the
strongest winds in the world, I’d take a Kaja!”
Tony Lewis, Expedition Leader, on the Kaja,
Razor’s Edge Expedition - Everest 1994

“We found Garuda tents to be of excellent
quality, and the Kaja was by far the best light-
mountain tent that I have ever used.  The third
pole gave it a significant amount of extra
strength that didn’t cost much in weight but was
excellent defense against severe winds. The
vestibule was also indispensable for big
mountain use  This tent is by far the best choice
for a light alpine ascent of any peak, from the
Sierra to 8000m giants. Steve Untch and I both
agreed that we would give this tent the highest
David Bridges,  1994 American K2 Expedition

“Although this was the smallest tent of the
bunch, it was our favorite in winter conditions.  
The Kaja was noticeably quieter in windy
conditions ... the steep walls shed snow very
well ... easiest to set up… ventilation is more
than adequate...”
COULOIR on the Kaja, (Apr. ‘95)

“Built in the bombproof tradition of Garuda tents,
the Trikaya is a Spartan performance machine
in fabric.  Like a Ferrari, its trim aerodynamic
profile means business.  As a single-wall, three
person tent, you would be hard pressed to find
any tent stronger and  lighter than this. ... If you
are breathing, it should come as no surprise,
attention to detail is what Garuda is famous for.”
COULOIR on the Trikaya, (Feb. ‘96)

About Garuda design

“The ventilation of this tent is so good that it was
downright uncanny.  Whether it was 20 degrees
or 80 degrees, I was comfortable.  And
condensation was simply not a consideration in
this tent: there never was any.  I could live in the
Kusala.  It is roomy and well constructed.  I give
it an A+!” (from a 65 day tour)
Adventure Cyclist on the Kusala, (Jan. ‘96)

“Ventilation is this tent’s strongest suit... An
elaborate venting system kept condensation at
bay, leaving our testers warm and dry during a
stormy night ... the Trikaya is a complex, high-
tech, high-performance unit ….”
BACKPACKER on the Trikaya, (Oct. ‘95)

"The best words to describe the Kusala are
bombproof and efficiency....I came away (from a
winter storm on Mt. Rainier) impressed by the
Kusala’s efficient design, bombproof resistance
to the elements, logical use of interior space,
taut aerodynamic skin and truly light weight.”
COULOIR on the Kusala, (Oct. ‘94)

"The workmanship and detailing on the Kusala
are impeccable; demonstrating that a great deal
of thought has gone into this model...this is one
of the nicest tents reviewed."
Rock & Ice on the Kusala, (Aug. ‘93)

“The Emeishan is handsomely made, with
thoughtful and practical touches such as dual-
size pockets in the corners to keep doodads
sorted. ... Although it’s expensive, the Emeishan
is best regarded as a lifetime investment.  It’s a
no-compromise tent for the serious adventurer.”
Outside on the Emeishan (Mar. ‘95)

“Long known for its monstrously strong and
thoughtfully engineered single-wall tents,
Garuda has taken the leap into the double-wall
market. Their new four-season Sahti generously
holds three people plus equipment. It weighs 9
pounds, 2 ounces--impressive considering its
tough materials, bombproof five-pole design,
and roomy vestibule.”
Outside Online on the Sahti, Jason Lathrop
(Aug. ’96)

“As of today, the Jalan Jalan is still my favorite
tent, period.”
The Lightweight Backpacker,
Charles Lindsey, 03/02/97

    "His tents were among the
    most beautiful ever made...."

    Outside Online ‘Gear Guy’,
    Douglas Gantenbein, April 2007

    A Garuda tent! They came out, what, 10
    or 12 years ago? I got to know the
    founder of the company, Byron Shutz,
    fairly well. He got an offer to sell his
    company to Dana Designs, of the
    famous Terraplane pack, back when it
    was owned by Dana Gleason. He was
    going to go along as part of the deal, but
    at the last minute backed out. Dana tried
    to make the tents go, but without Byron’s
    influence they sort of petered out. So too
    did Dana Designs; it’s now part of
    Marmot, which is in turn part of K2 Sports.

    I hope Byron still is in the industry
    somewhere. His tents were among the
    most beautiful ever made, with subtle,
    autumnal color schemes of golden-
    yellow and maroon; sleek lines that
    always reminded me of some sort of
    sea creature just emerging from the
    deep; and evocative names such as
    Jalan Jalan or Kamet. Alas, they were
    rather insanely expensive, using one of
    the high-cost waterproof-breathable
    fabrics that back then seemed to be the
    only solution to creating useful single-
    wall tents. And by modern standards,
    they weren’t even all that light. I bought
    one of Byron’s one-person models—the
    Jalan Jalan—just before he sold the
    company, for sentimental reasons. I still
    have it, and it weighs a good four
Garuda Dealer Workbook Feb 1997  - 5.3 MB download; most complete description on archicture, engineering, materials for single- and double-wall tents.
Garuda shop circa 1994
Dealer Workbook '97
for Feb 1997  Outdoor
Retailer convention (
MB download
). Offers the
most complete
description on the
engineering, and
materials for the single-
and double-wall tent
Catalog not yet scanned and posted - tbd
Garuda Catalog 1997-8 Color - 3.6 MB download
Garuda Catalog 1995-96; 2-Color - 2.1 MB download
Garuda Catalog 1995-96; 2-Color - 2.1 MB download
Garuda People       Tent CAD Drawings        Photos '93-96        Early Photos
Garuda People       Tent CAD Drawings        Photos '93-96        Early Photos
Garuda Catalog 1997-8 Color - 3.6 MB download