One of the more important things that the disc golf sports needs are bags to hold your discs. Often companies that produce discs will produce their own line of bags as well. There are, however, a few companies that rely on just making their own bags for the sport of disc golf. One of the newer companies that is making a rise within the ranks of the bag world is Pound Disc Golf. A company that thrives from ingenuity and long-lasting material is becoming a household name within the sport. I got the chance to talk to the owner and creator of the company, Levi Buckingham, and learn his story. Give his story about Pound and about his journey a read down below and enjoy!
Before diving deep into the world of Pound Disc Golf I wanted to know about the man behind the company. With that, Levi found disc golf through his school friends and popularity. He told me “there was a course in Bozeman, MT. It was honestly just something to do after school and it got really popular really fast.” The sport seemed to grow around the school and people just eventually started to play out of curiosity. Levi was one of those few who began early on and caught the bug early. He also told me that “I also learned early on that its mellow but still a good workout for your body and it has been crazy that I have been playing for about 20 years.” He eventually took it as a workout and began to see the health benefits of the sport. From those beginning years he has continued to play and enjoy every minute of it.
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to inspiration. Whether it be an individual, group, or emotion, there is a reason why people play and continue to play disc golf. Levi has his own inspirations and they are all circled around the game itself. He said that “just getting out and throwing discs, I love watching discs fly and just going to go throw.” It is something within the sport of disc golf that just watching the discs fly can’t be described. Levi gains his inspirations through playing and watching the sport go on around him. He told me that “it is inspiring to watch professionals be on top of their game, just watching videos gets me hyped. Especially watching players pick apart your local course is nuts to me, makes me want to go throw those lines.” That is something that I have felt while watching videos too and I completely understand where he is coming from. Watching a pro throw lines you have never even thought of makes you just want to go throw that course, just to see if that line works for you. Levi is truly about the sport of disc golf and finds motivation and inspiration within the sport each and every time he throws a round.
The story of how Pound got built is a great story in itself and could be 3000 words in itself so this will be the basic idea of how it all began. Levi started off working for a company called Mystery Ranch out of Bozeman, MT. He told me “Dana revolutionized the backpack era and I grew up with his two sons. The two sons got involved during high school.” Levi decided to not get started right away with Mystery Ranch and wanted to finish high school first. Once he finished high school he said, “my brother and I got involved and we were both fans of disc golf. I did take a break from there to go to college but found my way back in 2008 where I continued to work at Mystery Ranch for 5 years eventually becoming a designer.” While designing bags for Mystery Ranch, he began to learn the tools of the trade. But, he found out a fascination for design and wanted to design a better bag. He told me that “back then the innova lunch box pack or the revolution bag were the only bags out at the time. So, with my goal in mind I decided to re-design a firefighters pack.” From that point on he began to tweak and mess with designs until he eventually came up with his first design for Pound.
With every new brand that comes out, there is always a curiosity of where the name and logo come from with the brand. With Pound, Levi explained that “the name come from my brothers and I’s initials and the first logo we made was okay but wasn’t great. We did a re-design of the logo with a local guy from Portland who developed the current logo.” Now, reading the word “Pound” you may not see where the initials come into play and I didn’t either. But, it is named after “lb” which is another way to say the word pound. It is also great to see that Levi is working with local talent to him to help develop something becoming very popular and growing a brand. The other part of the logo is the big horn sheep behind the letters. Levi told me that “the sheep came out of the roots being in MT. Showing the rugged pack maker background, something that would symbolize the background of the packs and myself.” The amount of thought and time put into the little details of each pack and even the logo is remarkable. Levi has put an immense amount of effort into the packs and it shows through with his logo and naming process.
Each pack for disc golfers suits a different need. There are similarities between packs but at the end of the day each one has their own quirks and changes. When asked about the differences, Levi had some very interesting points. He told me “there is a lot of nuance to it. At the end of the day, if you don’t care about it all and just want something cheap and don’t necessarily care then there are packs for you.” Which reads as a dig to other brands, but it is not. The model that Pound follows is not that of other companies and that is okay if you so choose for a different brand because of it. There is a method to the high price tag though, it makes sense. Levi told me that “with pound it is a lot more about the economic and environmental impact about it all. There is a lot of oil based product that goes into the pack. If you’re not making a pack to last, all that oil is going into the landfill.” Levi has shown that the details matter with Pound, and they are really trying to make an environmentally friendly pack. Obviously, no pack will stand the test of time. But making one to last longer than the rest is what Pound has to offer. The last thing Levi wanted to get across with this was “we source all through the USA beside a few parts. Our customer service is top notch and that means something to us.” It is no simple task to source within the USA and in doing so they are making a product to hang their hats on. As well as having a customer service reach that is second to none shows the amount of care they have for the product and fan base.
Having all of these things be considered while designing a bag is no simple task. There are many things that Levi has to think about when taking in consideration an idea. He told me that “I start with a sketch imagine what it looks like. From my drawings I immediately start making patterns with a software called Optitex, a lot of backpack makers use it as well.” The process starts small, often with just a simple idea or inspiration that comes to Levi. Using these software’s helps ease the process that is the task of designing a pack. From there he told me “I make the 2D patterns and then I will build prototypes, test them, then make changes from my testing.” In those early stages it is key to really stress the pack design and put it through many uses and tests. Levi goes through a lot of rounds to see how the pack holds up before considering to make it a production line bag. One of the more interesting things he told me was “it takes about 7-15 prototypes to get a final design that is ready for production.” That is months of work and is clearly shown through the quality of the product, but, the amount of work that goes into just one design is way more than I had originally thought and shows the difficulties of pack making.
Through all the designing of packs, he still finds himself playing a lot of disc golf and is no surprise since he has been playing for 20 years. When it comes to his favorite disc he told me “my favorite forehand disc is the XCal. It was super popular when it came out it has to be my favorite forehand disc.” The XCal is a very popular disc and comes as no surprise when it comes to being one of his favorite discs for a specific shot. However, he told me that “if I had to pick just one disc it would have to be my sidewinder, you can use them for flex shots, rollers, and any and every shot.” The sidewinder is one of the more versatile discs in the innova disc lineup, it has also grown a lot in popularity for people who grew up playing in the mountains like Levi. He explained that “they call the sidewinder is the mountain destroyer, everybody has sidewinders and they use them in all situations.” They call it the mountain destroyer because with the drastic elevation change a normal destroyer just doesn’t act the same and so the sidewinder is the go to for high elevation play. Favorite courses are hard to choose and Levi living in Portland gives him the opportunity to play so many great NW courses. When asked about his favorite course he gave a very profound first response. He told me “I don’t think I have played my favorite course yet. But, I do love Milo and Blue Lake a lot.” To explain, there are so many great courses he has yet to play that he feels as though he hasn’t played his “favorite” just yet. When talking about Blue Lake and Milo he said, “They are complete opposite courses which is so awesome. Blue Lake is a thinking man’s course and all about shot placement, whereas milo is more about having to hit specific lines off of the tee.” Having variety in your courses is key for Levi and being surround by variety is what he enjoys. He couldn’t pick just one course, but I can see why with so many around him.
2019 has begun with full force and showing to be an interesting year for sure. For Levi 2019 will bring out a new pack called the Carlton to the lineup of Pound Disc Golf packs. He explained that “we are just finishing the design for the Carlton, we released it only for custom and one off versions, and we really wanted to bring in a lower price point for people.” The Carlton will be a smaller pack comparted to the octothorpe or octohauls. This will make it a better option for those who don’t carry a ton of discs and want a cheaper option. He went on to explain “we are actively working on a re-design for people and making it cheaper for the community. We are hopefully going to make it full scale in February and the spring and having it be able to be bought by then.” It may not seem like a lot going for 2019 but the process for building a bag is immense and showing that having a new bag for the New Year is great for Pound and the fans of the brand.
Usually when it comes to advice I think it is great to know about disc golf specific advice. But with Levi I wanted to know what advice he had for building a brand within disc golf and in general. He told me that “there is no such thing as a self-made man. It is important to remember that you know very little and is okay to ask for help.” Showing some form of lack of knowledge on something will happen when building a brand for yourself and it is a daunting idea to not ask for help. But Levi wants let you know that it is okay to not know everything and building a brand takes a team. He went on to say that “pick people that will help build a lifetime friendship and relationship with, thinking of these relationships for long term growth.” Thinking big picture is difficult but is a key within building your own brand. But not only that, Levi has shown that you have to have a lifelong ideal not just for the one off event or product. He said, “big Jerm and Sexton and them all have been so helpful and believed in us. That stuff just has to happen organically.” You can’t force a friendship and without friendships he wouldn’t be where he is today. So, build lifelong relationships and you will be just fine.
While talking to Levi there is so much to learn about him and Pound. He is very knowledgeable about his product and will talk about Pound for as long as you will let him which is great. When seeing about what else he had to say he did have some great parting words. He wanted to say that “I think the most important thing people need to know is that our packs are so expensive because we support US jobs and working within the US. We also spend our money on our ambassadors not on our ads because we want to support and help them and build our brand together.”
I would like to thank Levi for taking the time out of his day to talk to me and let me ask him these questions. If you would like to know more about Pound Disc Golf you can find them on Instagram @pounddiscgolf. You can also find them on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/pounddiscgolf/. Also, you can find them at https://pounddiscgolf.com/. Hope you enjoyed and be on the lookout for more coming soon!
Picture credit to Levi Buckingham and Pound Disc Golf Packs