Bruce B Johnson's History of Gear Project

History of Gear - The Backpacking Revolution: Table of Contents

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Why does anyone care about this old gear anyway? -- Core values of this History of Gear Project

    Sierra Cup circa 1966This 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

    Critical Technologies, Nice Hacks, Trips, and Misc

    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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    Alan Wenker (not verified)
    Hi, I love your website. I
    Hi, I love your website. I've helped Bruce Johnson with his site with photos and catalog scans. I have a question, Warren McLaren's site seems to have vanished. I also have some photos and catalog scans on his site. Do you know what happened to his site? It would be a shame to see it go away. Best regards, Alan
    Jim Klazek (not verified)
    Try this.......outdoorinov8
    Try compass
    admin's picture
    Joined: 02/22/12
    Hi Jim,
    Hi Jim, The compass site is a good one. Note I link to it in a few places including the bottom menu's External Links section in the far lower right.
    Sky Woods (not verified)
    Just read your site
    Just read your site describing your backpack collection. Beyond impressive. I have a Mountain Master Sierra Nevada model. I need to sell it or ship it back east. Do you know what it is worth or the cheapest way to ship it. Thanks. email:
    Steve (not verified)
    Great pages Thanks for
    Great pages Thanks for sharing such amazing info
    Bruce Johnson MA (not verified)
    Alan, I love what you and I
    Alan, I love what you and I put together here! One thing to improve: it's probably best to not direct folks to my Site Map-- it's never maintained and is hopelessly out of date. Best to use the Search Engine provided on my main hx of gear (index) page! -- Bruce
    Sam Wirzba (not verified)
    I was so thrilled to discover
    I was so thrilled to discover your website and to start exploring your many excellent web pages. I started acquiring quality backpacking gear in the mid 1970s and sent away for many company gear catalogues. I actually pulled out my remaining catalogues (this pile has been culled twice in the past) and went through them. That was a wonderful experience. I will be visiting your website often to recall those wonderful days and learn more. Much appreciate what you are doing Bruce.

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