Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Constant Inspiration - Hiking Gear

Hiking clothing and gear from the 60's and 70's have long been an inspiration for me. The whole DIY movement of which many interesting brands spurred, is a reference for me again and again. For me it didn't start with Patagonia or the North Face, but it started with vintage Fjällräven jackets and Norwegian anoraks called Fjellanorakken. They were all made of a strong, utilitarian fabric made of a cotton and polyester. This fabric would wear well and fade well, and if you added just a bit of wax, it would also be water repellent, which is essential for Scandinavian weather.

Fast forward some years and I start seeing pictures of Sierra Designs 60/40 parkas (again, thank you Ready4thehouse) and I start going into the history of American hiking gear, which is primarily done through Oregon Photos , which is a great source for inspiration and knowledge. After having saved many an eBay search looking for rare pieces from Sierra Designs, Great Pacific Iron Works, Wilderness Experience and tons of other brands, I decided, that I shouldn't be collecting (I had the same realization with vintage denim), as I can hardly afford the clothes, that I actually intend to wear. 

What I do however keep looking for are sewing kits from Frostline and Holubar because I want to make my own mountain parka at some point - so please don't outbid me, if some good ones show up. I really admire the DIY part of that hiking movement. The companies would keep costs down by selling kits to avid hikers, who would then assemble the kits themselves on their own sewing machines. I really like that idea, and I would love if some company would start making kits like that again, though I know it will never happen. 

Long story short, I just wanted to say that I'm thrilled to see, that the US-made 60/40 Sierra Design parkas are finally available outside of Japan. It took a long time for them to be released. I first read about the re-release on Secret Forts (who has gone to a new location), but it has since been spreading fast. I'll pull the trigger, once the Pendleton wool lined versions start showing up. But you shouldn't hold back on some Sierra Designs goodness - buy one here, here or here for instance.

Lastly I'm glad to see that a company like Rivendell Mountain Works, which I'll be writing about really soon, is getting some attention, as well as the likes of Danner and Topo Designs for example Now one can only hope more people will open their eyes to companies like Limmer and other hidden gems.

Stay tuned for more write ups on hiking gear or stuff inspired by that era.

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