History of Gear - The Backpacking Revolution: Table of Contents
Why does anyone care about this old gear anyway? -- Core values of this History of Gear Project
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 this website, I offer professional consultation about the history, values and current status of the great classic gear companies and their brands.
Also to note: I've also published five books in this area (click here).
Disclaimer: This Disclaimer applies to all the contents of my "History of Gear" site. The material on these pages represent only the reports of the correspondents and my own interpretation of those reports. In many cases "History of Gear" material is difficult to independently verify and that is a "given" in this type of research. It is important to keep in mind that the events, gear, and personages reported in the "History of Gear" lie far in the past, in some cases as much as 65 years in the past. It is common that even people who were within the same company so many years ago will remember/interpret happenings in quite different ways.
American Gear Pioneers 1935 to the Present
- Frostline Kits of Colorado, old gear repairs, raw sewing materials,and several famously classic labels
- Holubar Mountaineering, begun 1946-47
- GERRY, nominated by me as the original outdoor gear pioneer, begun 1945
- Rivendell Mountain Works and Jensen-type soft packs (five pages)
- Stephenson's Warmlite, since the late 1950s, a big Ultralight Pioneer
- Oregon-based Gear Pioneer Companies
- Kelty Packs
- A16 Packs and Gregory Packs
- Moss Tent Works
- Class Five
- Patagonia/Chouinard Equipment Early Labels
- REI Co-op
- Eddie Bauer
- Yak Works
- Mountainsmith, Hine-Snowbridge
- Pendleton and Filson
- Colin Fletcher, the Father of Modern Backpacking
- DownHome, custom down sleepings bags with a Big Head! (and other Oregon-based companies)
- MSR and Larry Penberthy (Mountain Safety Research of Seattle)
- Trailwise/The Ski Hut
- Sierra Designs (6 pages)
- The North Face
- Snowlion, and tent designer Bob Howe
- Early Winters of Seattle-- a pioneer with use of Goretex
- Alp Sport/Alpine Designs/Camp 7/Camp Seven/George Lamb
- The Geodesic Dome Tent including Bob Gillis and Shelter Systems
- >Prominent Names in the History of Gear and a bit about Marmots and Marmot Mountaineering
- >Alphabetized listings of 60+ gear pioneers
- A page about Really Old Gear pre-WW II, and many others are under development
Critical Technologies, Nice Hacks, Trips, and Misc
- FIRE, the original and greatest Innovation
- Invention of Nylon in 1935, the key to Outdoor Gear Innovation!
- History of the Sierra Cup
- The GI-can opener
- Ropes Knots and Slings for Climbers
- The Geodesic dome tent Story, including the key role of new technology tent poles in the revolution of tents
- The Delights of Snow-Camping and Geodesics (including NorthStar Tents and Wil Steger)
- Mazama Climbers Main Page
- Central Oregon Mountains and the Pacific Crest Trail
- A great book about the History of Gear from the British perspective
- The Buckminster Fuller Institute home page (dozens of pages of material related to geodesics)
Gear Lovers: if you were involved with one of the old-line, vintage gear companies and have a story to tell in these pages, please contact me soon!
Comment by Alan Tabor:
OutInUnder is a story-telling site. As such, its coverage of any particular individual, piece of gear, or company is necessarily hit and miss. At the other end of the spectrum, we have Bruce's History of Gear Project. No one has made a greater effort to be systematic than Bruce!
I approached Bruce about replicating his Table of Contents here because I thought there would be an excellent synergy. I was delighted when he agreed. When folks read about some company or gear pioneer and want to find out more, they should have an easy way to find it. By merging a copy of his Table of Contents into my 'meta-data' it will often show up as a Related Story in the left sidebar and, when someone clicks the link to see more stories about a particular topic, his Table of Contents will be there to point them out to a fuller treatment.
Bruce also has an extensive collection of wilderness photography and adventure coverage. You can access it via his Home Page, Oregon Photos. His Site Map is helpful to locate content about particular locations. Last, if you can't find someone or something you're interested in in the Table of Contents the you might give his Index a try.
OutInUnder does have some explicitly historical material as well, for example, scans of early Sierra Designs Catalogs and coverage of the big Sierra Designs labor dispute of 1984 and it's resolution. Also, we are steadily republishing Bob "Woody" Woodward Trailblazer Series.
Last, there's a bunch of historical content on Warren McLaren's site Compass: Charting the Evolution of Outdoor Gear.
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All Material in my "History of Gear" webpages, is copyrighted, and no usage of my material is permitted unless explicit permission is granted by me, Bruce B. Johnson, owner of OregonPhotos.com