By Chase Anderson | February 13, 2023
Outdoor Product Design and Development 

Dick Tracy, Inventor of the Plastic Buckle | History of Gear

By Chase Anderson | February 13, 2023


Dick Tracy, a trailblazer in the outdoor industry, has revolutionized the world of gear with his invention of the plastic front release and side release buckles. His innovative ideas and relentless pursuit of excellence have made a lasting impact on the industry and have earned him a place among the greats in outdoor gear history.

Tracy's journey in the outdoor industry began at ITW Nexus, a leading plastics manufacturing company. He saw a need for a lighter, more durable alternative to the traditional metal fasteners and set out to fill that gap. With his passion for innovation and problem-solving, Tracy began experimenting with different materials and techniques to create the perfect buckle.

The result of his efforts was a line of plastic buckles that offered the strength and reliability of metal with the added benefits. This breakthrough in hardware technology would soon change the outdoor industry forever.

Jim Thomsen, gear pioneer and co-founder of Wilderness Experience, also shared his experiences working with Tracy. Thomsen recalls the state of the industry at the time, dominated by metal fasteners, and how Tracy's invention of the plastic buckle would help usher in a new era of innovation and change.

Today, ITW Nexus and Tracy's plastic buckles are synonymous with quality and durability, and are widely used by gear makers around the world. Tracy's legacy lives on, inspiring a new generation of gear makers to push the boundaries of what is possible and to continue to create innovative products that enhance the outdoor experience.

With his contributions to the outdoor industry, Dick Tracy will always be remembered as a visionary who paved the way for a new era of innovation in gear design and manufacturing.


Chase Anderson