George Lamb: Alp Sport and Camp 7

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George Lamb, outdoor industry pioneer[This story follows Leroy and Alice Holubar:  Holubar.
And all about Camp 7 here.]

As the Holubars were winding down ownership of their business, another member of the group of Boulder outdoor pioneers of the ‘50s and ‘60s, designer and sewing ace George Lamb, was ramping up yet another new outdoor gear and apparel venture.

Lamb’s interest in design and manufacturing dated back to childhood when he made a pair of holsters for his new cap pistols. In the process of turning out his first product, he ruined his mother’s sewing machine but gained valuable experience.

From shooting cap pistols, Lamb progressed to dreaming about climbing, but there weren’t many climbing opportunities for a kid living in Indiana. That changed when his parents died and he went to live with an uncle in Oklahoma and attended summer school at the University of Colorado.

Eventually, he enrolled at the University in 1951. “After three or four years of rock climbing in Colorado. “ he noted in an interview 15 years ago, “I got more interested in mountaineering. There wasn’t any good gear available unless you waited months to get it from overseas, so I started building my own. That’s how the first Eiger pack came into being.”

Upon graduating from the university, he joined the Army’s Mountain Training Command (MTC), which replaced the 10th Mountain Division after the war. “1 skied, climbed, instructed.... It was terrific,’’ he told us.


Terrific, but the fun was cut short by a skiing accident that saw him reassigned first to run the craft shop at Fort Carson, Colorado, and then to the bigger MTC craft shop at Camp Hale, Colorado. At Camp Hale, Lamb used the large craft shop indus­trial sewing machine to make packs for the Holubars.

Discharged from the Army, he supervised the sewing line at  Gerry, but soon became discontent and went back to school on the Gl Bill. In his spare time, he started Alp Sport.

“Alp Sport started in 1960, and when I graduated in 1964, I faced the choice of finding a job or making Alp Sport grow. So I gave myself $75 a week and opened an Alp Sport shop,” he said.

Alp Sport’s unique products, like the Normal parka, the first down-filled ski parka with no stitches in the smooth outer shell, were immediate successes.

The Normal parka’s success got the attention of Massachusetts-based Alps Sportswear, who asked Lamb to change his company name. He did. Alpine Designs became his apparel label, and Alp Sport remained as his hardgoods label. 

After selling his company in 1969 to General Recreation, Lamb stayed on as a consultant but eventually left to form yet another company, Camp 7, in July 1971.

Camp 7 had a mete­oric  rise,  netting $4 million in sales in its first year in business. Over half of the sales were to the Japanese market, but when that market suddenly dried up,  it  left  Lamb in debt and forced him to close the company down.

Looking back at that time, Lamb noted in 1991 that he still saw a lot of people wearing Alp Sport and Camp 7 down jackets. “We produced great products designed to last a lifetime.”

 

 

This Story is part of a Series...

[This story follows Leroy and Alice Holubar:  Holubar.And all about Camp 7 here.] As the Holubars... Read Story
I've been getting comments from Camp 7 customers (still using the gear decades after purchase) and... Read Story

Comments

John Glueck (not verified)
I have the Camp7 Pioneer
I have the Camp7 Pioneer sleeping bag form the 70's, it is light but "kept" me somewhat warm in 10 deg at Bryce Canyon UT last weekend. Washed it after many years, it still has good loft and looks new. Would not trade the bag or memories for anything. Good product!
Jennifer Hume (not verified)
I got my first Camp 7 jacket
I got my first Camp 7 jacket and sleeping bag to go on a school camping trip to the New Jersey Pine Barrens in 6th grade. I’m now 56 and still have the red down sleeping bag and just washed it last week. It has kept me warm for almost 5 decades! Today I ordered the same burnt orange jacket I had in middle school from EBay! I’m so thrilled and can’t wait for it to arrive. It was my favorite jacket of all time- so warm, so comfy, so durable! Thanks Mr. Lamb!
Scott Deming (not verified)
I got a Camp 7 sleeping bag
I got a Camp 7 sleeping bag for a high school graduation present in 1973. I still use it but have bought a lighter weight bag for summer camping because my Camp 7 bag is too warm. When I moved from Connecticut to Boulder in 1974, I worked at Camp7 as an inspector for a summer.
Skip Critell (not verified)
Sold Camp 7 in the 70's in
Sold Camp 7 in the 70's in Boise, Idaho. Sold more jackets & sleeping bags than I can remember. Still using my 20 below purple sleeping bag 50 years later. Best quality of any on the market then & now. Wish they could reopen......
Jim (not verified)
I still have my Camp 7 down
I still have my Camp 7 down vest that I bought back in the 70's and wear it quite often during the winter. Best one I've ever had. They sure don't make them like they used to. Today's use about half the amount of down it seems and aren't nearly as warm..
Terrence Bidwell (not verified)
I still have my blue Camp 7
I still have my blue Camp 7 jacket and Camp 7 down mummy bag that I bought when I lived in Durango, CO. Excellent gear. I think I will start wearing the blue jacket again after reading the other comments.
Terrence Bidwell (not verified)
I still have my blue Camp 7
I still have my blue Camp 7 jacket and Camp 7 down mummy bag that I bought when I lived in Durango, CO. Excellent gear. I think I will start wearing the blue jacket again after reading the other comments.
mmG (not verified)
I came upon a sturdy, well
I came upon a sturdy, well made, green sleeping bag at the Salvation Army two days ago with the curious brand name "Camp 7". I'd never heard of it. Looked it up later on and saw this site; I knew I had to go back for it! It is filled with polar guard rather than down, a 20x85 mummy bag. Cost $6.50 (half-price day). Part of a tag remains with the word "Shenandoah", and I'm wondering if that is the style name for the bag. Does anyone know what kind of temperatures this bag is rated for? (It's in the 90s right now, so not a good time to test it out!) Is there anything I should know about caring for it or use? Thanks!
Peter (not verified)
Still have my blue Camp 7
Still have my blue Camp 7 vest that I bought in 1973 after leaving the service. It works as well as the day I bought it and is so much better than the cheap stuff made in China that you buy today.
Les Grace (not verified)
With sadness my friend George
With sadness my friend George Lamb passed away in Boulder Colorado on December 23 2022 at 88 years young.

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Story Copyright
03/20/18