Get to know The Gear Bunker: Erik Meisner
Updated: Sep 2, 2019
First off, I want to welcome you to The Gear Bunker website. If you've been a follower of the site than you probably already know my name. Scott Witner and I own the site and provide the majority of the content for now. We figured it was time to tell you where we came from and why we do this.
My early years were spent traveling the US and Europe throughout my fathers 27 year military career. Most people would consider moving every 2-3 years a hindrance. For my brothers and I, it was an opportunity to experience and explore the various regions of the US as well as European culture. It also exposed me to the military culture. My early fascination with the military came full circle in my early 20's when I joined the Army. Attending Basic Training, AIT, Airborne School and the Ranger Indoctrination Program back to back, then being assigned to the 2nd Ranger Battalion. Which brought me back to the Pacific Northwest and Fort Lewis.
Having attended high school in the same area, it was like coming home. I had both my civilian friends and a new band of brothers from 2/75. The training cycle in the Ranger Regiment was relentless. Add all the deployments and it's a pretty tough lifestyle. But it made me who I am today. The leadership in Alpha Company was the best in the business. In fact, my first two squad leaders eventually graduated to the rank of Command Sargent Major and led 2/75 and 1st Special Forces Group. Battalion commanders like retired General Stanley McChrystal revolutionized the Ranger Regiment and led from the front. I learned a ton from these soldiers and to this day, were some of the best times of my life.
Aside from the high operational tempo, the Ranger Regiment in the 90's was tasked with fielding new weapons and gear. Partly because we had a knack for modifying existing gear to tailor it to our specific needs. And the fact that we used and abused the gear we were issued. This made us the Army's "in-house" gear review site. Companies would supply our soldiers with a new piece of kit hoping to get the nod and possibly land a government contract. Others would develop equipment with our help. Offering our advice on how to make their equipment better suited for a particular application.
After meeting my future wife while vacationing in Hawaii during block leave, the writing on the wall became clearer. I had taken notice of how tough the Ranger lifestyle was on family life and it wasn't something I was interested in testing with my new bride. So the difficult decision was made and I transitioned out of the military. We relocated to her home town in Northern Michigan where we started a family and a business. Our two sons are now in high school and college and I continue to operate a small construction company. Fortunately, the area we live in has a lot to offer outdoorsman. Shooting, camping, kayaking, SCUBA diving, golf, hiking, biking, skiing, Overlanding...you get the picture. All that and our love to travel allows me to test gear in various environments.
Four years ago, I was approached online by a fellow Ranger that was managing the Loadout Room. A veteran run website dedicated to reviewing tactical and outdoor gear. This sounded pretty interesting and I jumped at the chance to start writing. It was here that I met a Marine veteran and writer, Scott Witner. When he took over as editor of the Loadout Room, we started to explore how to expand the reach of the site. By attending several SHOT Shows and Outdoor Retailer conventions, we built a solid report with a long list of manufacturers and PR folks. Content improved and the site grew exponentially. Unfortunately, the Loadout Room started to change course and we decided to part ways.
After writing hundreds of articles over a four year period, a real void existed after leaving. I reached out to Scott and we hatched a plan to start our own gear review site. Maintaining the all Veteran theme of owners and writers, we were up and running in less than a month. The scary part? We're now paying for everything. Website design and hosting, email, logo design, domain, travel to trade shows, t-shirts, decals, business cards, shipping, etc. Until we figure out how to monetize the site and get traffic numbers up to a point where advertisers don't laugh in our face, we're out of pocket.
Producing written and video content on a daily basis isn't without sacrifice. Time away from family and events. Smashing the keys on our computers in the middle of the night or early mornings. Taking pictures and shooting video on location. Shipping new gear to our growing list of contributing writers. It all comes at a cost. Which is why we decided to start a Patreon account to help alleviate some of the financial burden. And allow us to continue to provide honest and thorough reviews on a wide variety of new gear. As we explore the Patreon angle and get that running, we want to thank you in advance for your support. The Gear Bunker is a labor of love and we want to continue to bring you the content you desire.
About the Author:
Erik Meisner served in Attack Company, 2nd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment as a rifle team leader with deployments to the Middle East, Central America and Asia. He's a licensed pilot, SCUBA diver and enjoys Alpine skiing, shooting, Overland camping, boating, sea kayaking, traveling and golf. Growing up in a military family, Erik had the pleasure to live and ski all over North America and Europe. Now residing in beautiful Northern Michigan with his wife and 2 sons they continue to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible.