The History of Gear Project Presents:

The Backpacking Revolution

This presentation by "The History of Gear Project" is under continuous development. Already well over 45 of the classic American outdoor gear pioneers and their innovations are discussed and illustrated. Listed on this page are many Works in Progress about vintage backpacking and climbing. In addition to the website, I've also published five books about the classic companies and their founders (click here).

American Gear Pioneers 1935 to the Present

Click Here to Visit the Main HISTORY OF GEAR SITE

Last Revision August 20, 2014

Why Does Anyone Care About Old Gear?

From: J. K. in Oregon
To: Bruce Johnson

Subject: Why does anyone care about the old gear?

".... Why does anyone care about the old gear? I'll put in my two bits worth--the old backpacking gear from the 50s, 60s & 70s represented an era of freedom for a lot of people--a freedom to get out and explore anywhere from the woods behind your house and to the highest mountain ranges, a freedom to expand one's inner mind to unlimited boundaries and a chance to get back to the beauty this world has to offer. The old gear also represents an era of innovation, a willingness of companies to strike out and try different designs and materials in pursuit of the perfect product--be it a backpack, sleeping bag, tent or clothing. These companies each had an ethic that is hard to find in gear today--to make the highest quality backpacking gear of that era and for all time. Who can not love the loft one found in a Trailwise Slimline chevron-baffled down sleeping bag, the quality and durability of a Kelty Tioga external framepack, the versatility of a Sierra Designs 60/40 Parka and the sweeping lines of a North Face Oval InTention tent? Holubar, Gerry, Ski Hut, Trailwise, Rivendell, Class 5, Camp 7, Alpenlite, Hine/Snowbridge, Schonhofen, Maran, Snow Lion, Caribou, Adventure 16, Stephenson's Warmlite, Early Winters, Alpine Designs, Bishop, Paul Petzoldt, Sunbird, Universal, Great Pacific Iron Works, Bugaboo Mountaineering, Forrest Mountaineering, MEI, Synergy, Alpine Style, Wilderness Experience, early Lowe, JanSport, Gregory, Cannondale, Camp Trails, EMS (Eastern Mountain Sports), REI, Eureka, the early MountainSmith, Bristlecone Mountaineering, and others I've forgotten--all these companies turned out gear that truly has been unsurpassed in its functionality, its appeal, its originality and its excellence. Sure, nostalgia is part of this vintage gear appreciation--the memories of trips past--but one needs a historical record of a time when quality was truly quality, and of those pioneers who sewed up the gear that started a revolution in backpacking, mountaineering and spinoff pursuits that continue to this day. We owe the 'gear pioneers' the recognition and apprecation they deserve by preserving and restoring the equipment they created for our enjoyment! "... (Image at page top featuring one man's climbing and backpacking gear collection is compliments of contributor Dan D.... The Image below is author's circa 1974 Early Winters Omnipotent tent, one of the most storm-worthy tents ever created)


History of Gear BOOK ALERTS: My first book was "Frostline Kits of Colorado" (click). The second book in the series was released May 2008 and is titled, "GERRY, To Live in the Mountains" (click). The third book is "Holubar Mountaineering Ltd." (click). It was recently honored as one of the year's best "Local History" books at Chautauqua in Boulder, Colorado and has recently also been put out as an Apple e-Book.... All three books feature major contributions from their founders or their Presidents. Currently I have just finished a fourth book, which is about the early history of Mountain Safety Research (MSR), and I'm hard at work on a book about that most notorious of the early gear companies, Stephenson's Warmlite. You may order from my Publisher, or directly from me. I am a verified PayPal seller.

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Contact me at oldgear@OregonPhotos.com

the north face, gerry, holubar, frostline kits, alp sport, gregory packs, kelty packs, rivendell mountain works, the ski hut, rei coop, a16, rainier designs, all that she wants, moss tents, ems, eastern mountain sports, rei coop seattle, feathered friends, bibler tents, marmot mountain works, wiggys grand junction, wiggys oregon, msr, mountain safety research, cascade designs thermarest, seal line, platypus bags, snowlion, eddie bauer, pendleton, early winters of seattle, ripstop nylon, boulder, colorado, bend, oregon