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40 years of backpacking equipment

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Offline mule ears

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40 years of backpacking equipment
« on: June 22, 2010, 12:20:10 PM »
So it’s really hot here now (hotter than Big Bend for the next few days!), I’m bored, can’t go hiking until at least August and I haven’t had a pack on in 4 months. :pissed: So lets have some fun.

I realized the other day that next month will mark the 40th anniversary of my first backpacking trip without adults, I was 13!! It was on the Appalachian Trail in Vermont.



I won’t say which one is me.

I was also remembering Randell’s awesome thread on his “Go cabinet” and how stunned I was at his organization. So I thought I would take a walk back in time through my own equipment “museum” as my wife likes to call it. I don’t have every piece of equipment that I have ever owned but there is still a lot of it hanging around.



Back in the early 70’s when I lived in Houston I was fortunate enough to work for, what was at the time, the 10th largest backpacking store in the country, Wilderness Equipment. Quicksilver and other Houstonians may remember its stores in Westbury Square and Town and Country Village. This was at the heady early years of specialized equipment and Colin Fletcher’s influence on all things walking. The beginnings of The North Face, Sierra Designs, Jansport, Vasque, etc. Mostly small companies turning out great and innovative equipment, for the time.

Before that immersion it was the official Boy Scout catalog and R.E.I. (I became a member in 1970). It was also homemade or borrowed or Army surplus stuff as I was a kid with no money. That situation existed, really, until around the turn of the century when I began to have more time and money and I made the concerted effort towards light and ultralight equipment and pack weights.

So lets start with packs and see how that has evolved over time. The second picture is from 1973, camping at the Mule Ears overlook, after a late night arrival, before heading into the backcountry. You used to be able to do that kind of thing. It shows my first three packs in use as I was loaning two of them out for the trip, plus mine at the time.





-1.   Canvas Boy Scout Pack on aluminum frame ’69-‘71
0.   REI pack on Camp Trails frame ’71-‘73
1.   North Face Panel Loader Pack Bag on Kelty Frame ’73-’92, 80 oz., ~4500-5000 cu.in.
2.   Mountainsmith Elite 4000 Panel/Top Loader ’92-’02, 104 oz. total (116 before trimming), 5000-6000,cu.in.
3.   Mountainsmith Auspex Top Loader ’02-’05, 59.5 oz., 4200 cu.in.
4.   Six Moons Designs Starlight ’05-’10, 28 oz. w/stays, 4200 cu.in.
5.   Six Moons Designs Swift ’10-, 17 oz., 3500 cu.in.

They have all been to Big Bend except the last one, #2 is definitely my mountaindocdanny model. Now the side views:



Harness view:



Let's see your old/current packs and other backpacking history.




« Last Edit: June 23, 2010, 05:41:55 AM by mule ears »
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

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Offline MilesOfTexas

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Re: 40 years of backpacking equipment
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2010, 01:00:22 PM »
The images in the post, which are sourced from a wordpress account, won't work.  When I went to one of the image sources, I got the following error:


— 403: Access Denied —

This file requires authorization:

you must both be a user of this blog as well as be currently logged into wordpress.com


The image source I went to was: http://40yearsofwalking.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/1sthike.jpg
"I have an excellent profession, but I don't enjoy it near as much as I do when I am in the heart of the wilderness, surrounded by marvelous creations, and efforting to capture what I see and feel so I may share it with others."

-Me 09/12/2011

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Offline mule ears

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Re: 40 years of backpacking equipment
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2010, 01:36:51 PM »
Try again, they are showing up in the post on my computer?  Any one else having trouble seeing them?
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
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Offline TexasAggieHiker

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Re: 40 years of backpacking equipment
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2010, 01:50:26 PM »
I see nothing.

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Offline mule ears

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Re: 40 years of backpacking equipment
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2010, 02:06:50 PM »
Sorry folks, I have it fixed now.  Went back to the old fashioned way of inserting pictures. I am building a new site which I had uploaded the pictures to but it is still not available to the public but I thought the links would work. Guess not yet.
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

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Ray52

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Re: 40 years of backpacking equipment
« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2010, 05:14:35 PM »
I shopped in that store whenever I needed gear ME.  You may have sold me my Svea 123 stove.  Along with a Holubar -20 degree down bag, the stove is the only piece of equipment to survive dozens of moves and nearly 30 years without backpacking.  I actually purchased my first backpack in JC Penney and replaced it immediately after my first hike from Queen Wilhemina.

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Online SA Bill

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Re: 40 years of backpacking equipment
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2010, 07:40:11 PM »
Not quite 40 years but...here's my much younger self with a state of the art REI external frame pack...on the right...circa 1978. My buddy Ethan...on the left...had a similar pack but I can't remember the maker. I loved the REI because it had the 4 outside pockets on the side of the main pack envelope. Man, I could overload that pack!! My first really long pack trip (10 days) I started out with about 60 pounds on my back and at that time I only weighed about 125 pounds! No more of that!!  :eusa_snooty:

The other pic is of me (in a semi-Randellesque pose) up by Twin Lakes, IIRC, in the Weminuche Wilderness area of CO. That nice red down sweater I'm wearing was made from a kit! I bought the kit and with the help of my fiance (who became my wife 29 years ago), we sewed it together and loaded the down (provided as part of the kit) into the tubes we sewed as the body of the sweater. I also had a backpacking poncho that I sewed from a kit from the same company. I don't remember the name of the company, and the sweater is long gone, but my wife is still around!! :eusa_dance:
   Bill
« Last Edit: June 22, 2010, 07:51:55 PM by SA Bill »
Bill - In San Antonio

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Growing up is optional.

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Offline mule ears

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Re: 40 years of backpacking equipment
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2010, 07:57:10 PM »
I shopped in that store whenever I needed gear ME.  You may have sold me my Svea 123 stove.  Along with a Holubar -20 degree down bag, the stove is the only piece of equipment to survive dozens of moves and nearly 30 years without backpacking.  I actually purchased my first backpack in JC Penney and replaced it immediately after my first hike from Queen Wilhemina.

I might have sold you that Svea stove if it was between '72 and '75. Later I will post a stoves thru the years picture. Holubar that is a name I have not heard in some time.

Not quite 40 years but...here's my much younger self with a state of the art REI external frame pack...on the right...circa 1978. My buddy Ethan...on the left...had a similar pack but I can't remember the maker. I loved the REI because it had the 4 outside pockets on the side of the main pack envelope...

It looks just like mine, but in blue. I used to love all those exterior pockets too.

Quote
...That nice red down sweater I'm wearing was made from a kit! I bought the kit and with the help of my fiance (who became my wife 29 years ago), we sewed it together and loaded the down (provided as part of the kit) into the tubes we sewed as the body of the sweater. I also had a backpacking poncho that I sewed from a kit from the same company. I don't remember the name of the company but my wife is still around!! :eusa_dance:
   Bill[/color]

I have an old Cari-Kit down vest my sister sewed for me in the 70's that I still wear around the farm. You put the down in the tubes, in small capsules, that when you washed it they dissolved and then dispersed into the tubes.  Glad that your wife is still around too!
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
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Offline Al

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Re: 40 years of backpacking equipment
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2010, 09:40:25 PM »
Blow me away with a feather.  Like you, I started out with my Boy Scout external frame pack. Did a 10 day hike at Philmont in New Mexico with that pack.  I also used an external frame pack I made out of dowels and strapped my stuff on in my tarp.  At the time it was a pretty cool deal with the cross dowels steamed and bent to shape, but all things considered was pretty crude.  Used the Boy Scout pack in the Guadalupes up into the Bowl and realized the pack's limitations.  The next pack was a large Lowe purchased from Whole Earth Provision Company in Austin.  Once it wore out I replaced with a similar pack.  I have never been on the cutting edge and probably will never be.

Al

P.S. The dowels were lashed together with dental floss and then varnished together.  It did not fail but technology "advanced".  Looking back it was truly a light weight backpack.  Only the frame and shoulder straps were added what was being carried.  The pack was my tarp/tent.  It was later that I learned the advantage of a hip belt as advised by my hiking buds.  Well advised additional weight.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2010, 11:54:50 PM by Al »

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Offline TheWildWestGuy

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Re: 40 years of backpacking equipment
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2010, 09:55:44 PM »
I cant wait to see the "stoves through the years" pictures as I just recently retired my Optimus 1-2-3 white gas stove after over 30 years of service.  That stove outlasted several vehicles, jobs, moves, and life events and now has a place of honor in my living room display case and "show me shelf".   It was antiquated decades ago, hard to light since it needed priming with liquid fuel, heavy, clunky, not fuel efficient, and almost impossible to keep lit in a hard wind but many nights were spent in the backcountry with only the hiss of the stove to break the silence.  Sometimes I used to let it burn just to hear the hiss and break the deafening silence common in the backcountry of Big Bend.   TWWG

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Offline dkerr24

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Re: 40 years of backpacking equipment
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2010, 11:03:29 PM »
I bet the 'kit jacket' was a 'Frostline' kit.  My mom bought me one of those in the mid 70's.  I remember it came pre-cut and came with numbered tubes of down to fill the jacket once the shell was sewn together.  My mom even modded the jacket and added red and white stripes down the sleeves which gave it quite the patriotic look for 1976's Bicentennial.

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Offline Al

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Re: 40 years of backpacking equipment
« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2010, 11:08:51 PM »
I bet the 'kit jacket' was a 'Frostline' kit.  My mom bought me one of those in the mid 70's.  I remember it came pre-cut and came with numbered tubes of down to fill the jacket once the shell was sewn together.  My mom even modded the jacket and added red and white stripes down the sleeves which gave it quite the patriotic look for 1976's Bicentennial.

dkerr, I hope you know this post requires a picture!

Al aka homero!

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Offline dkerr24

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Re: 40 years of backpacking equipment
« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2010, 11:14:16 PM »
Let me dig around my closet tomorrow and see if I still have that jacket.  I don't think I threw it out, as I knew there was a lot of hours of labor my mom put into that down jacket.  I'm sure it won't fit me!

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Ray52

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Re: 40 years of backpacking equipment
« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2010, 11:18:13 PM »
Here's the stove I purchased at your store around 1974. I bought the sleeping bag mail order from Holubar. Holubar also sold a lot of items in kit form, but I bought this bag complete for winter hiking in the Smokies and still use it occasionally. I haven't had a fire in the stove in 20+ years but like TWWG's, it was pretty noisy and not the easiest thing to start.


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Offline mule ears

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Re: 40 years of backpacking equipment
« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2010, 05:58:09 AM »
... I also used an external frame pack I made out of dowels and strapped my stuff on in my tarp.  At the time it was a pretty cool deal with the cross dowels steamed and bent to shape, but all things considered was pretty crude.  ...I have never been on the cutting edge and probably will never be.

Al

P.S. The dowels were lashed together with dental floss and then varnished together.  It did not fail but technology "advanced".  Looking back it was truly a light weight backpack.  Only the frame and shoulder straps were added what was being carried.  The pack was my tarp/tent.  It was later that I learned the advantage of a hip belt as advised by my hiking buds.  Well advised additional weight.

I don't know Al, that is pretty cutting edge sounding to me, and quite a piece of workmanship. Sounds a lot like todays LuxuryLite frames (from Texas) and Gearskin packs.

I also used once or twice some Army surplus aluminum frames with non padded straps and once a wooden pack board (ugh!)
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
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