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Your Oldest Piece Of Gear?

Share your advice and personal experiences, post a gear review or ask any questions you may have pertaining to outdoor gear and equipment.
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Re: Your Oldest Piece Of Gear?

Postby quentinc » Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:05 pm

Because I am constantly breaking, tearing or losing things, I didn't think I had any piece of gear that was more than a few years old. But then I realized that for some reason I've been carrying the same orange plastic bear whistle for probably 25 years. I've used it precisely once, and almost permanently lost my hearing as a result. :)



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Re: Your Oldest Piece Of Gear?

Postby tim » Sun Feb 26, 2012 10:23 pm

A lot of my gear dates back to 1990-91 when I was in college and a group of us went on an expedition to NE Turkey. Most of its still good due to a lack of backpacking once I started work and then had young kids. The Whisperlite Intl is still my go to stove, I still use the large backpack (65L) and my 2 person tent is great for spring or fall conditions. I really do need to finally replace the down sleeping bag this year though.

It's interesting to compare high end gear from 20 years ago to what we use today - there have been quite decent reductions in weight, but it seems to me that has sometimes come at the cost of durability (e.g. Clothing and tents). Technology has also advanced much faster in some areas (stoves and thermarests come to mind) than others (down sleeping bags and backpacks from what I can see).

Which decade would you say brought the biggest leaps forward in technology for different pieces of equipment. I'd guess down bags were before backpacks were before stoves for example. Put another way, what equipment could you still use from the 90s, 80s, 70s or 60s without it impacting your trip too much in terms of weight and comfort?
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Re: Your Oldest Piece Of Gear?

Postby oldranger » Sun Feb 26, 2012 10:44 pm

Re: Most significant innovations since I started backpacking (late 50s).

1. Backpacks--much more to choose from and much more comfortable.

2. Sleeping Bags, my first down bag, bought with money I saved myself was my first warm bag, lighter than what I previously carried but was still over 5 lbs!

3. Late 60s ensolite pads--first closed cell pads before that I used nothing! (airmattresses were available but unreliable.

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Re: Your Oldest Piece Of Gear?

Postby tim » Sun Feb 26, 2012 11:04 pm

oldranger wrote:Re: Most significant innovations since I started backpacking (late 50s).
...2. Sleeping Bags, my first down bag, bought with money I saved myself was my first warm bag, lighter than what I previously carried but was still over 5 lbs!


How much of this is technology vs affordability? My impression was that Polar explorers 100 years ago had down sleeping bags. Granted they were presumably hand sown and cost a year's wages, but I'm not convinced the technology (as opposed to cost and availability of Chinese down and machine stitching) has fundamentally improved that much.

The cost question is also an interesting one. The decent tent I bought last summer cost half (in actual dollars) what my similar quality tent cost in 1991. On the other hand I think a new down sleeping bag will cost the same in actual dollars as it did 20 years ago. What's come down in actual dollars and what's gone up? Obviously most of these things have got far more affordable in real terms over the decades once inflation/earnings power is taken into account.
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Re: Your Oldest Piece Of Gear?

Postby oldranger » Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:28 am

Tim, that first bag in 62 was an Eddie Bauer bag and cost $54. Bauer made a lighter bag but there was something about it I did not like. In 69 I bought a pair of N. Face Unimog bags, I can't remember whether they were $90 apiece or $180 each but $180 is the amount I remember. These bags were about 4 lbs. In the mid 90s I bought a 20° Marmot bag on sale for around $200. Around 2004 bought a pair of REI Sub Kilos for about $150 each. In 2006 I finally got around to buying my WM Alpinlite for whatever and it weighs 1lb 15 oz.

A year or two ago I finally got rid of the Bauer bag even though it still had plenty of loft. My ex got one of the Unimogs. And NF did a free restoration of my remaining unimog (mostly replacing down in the two tubes closest to the head). It is pretty much just a backup bag now. The sub kilos are used primarily by my grandkids. I gave the marmot to my son who almost ruined it by using it while fighting fires. But a gentle washing and rinsing then time tumbling in the dryer with a tennis ball restored it's loft nicely.

New fabrics and high quality down has added to my comfort and lightened my load.

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Re: Your Oldest Piece Of Gear?

Postby freestone » Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:39 pm

The Eddie Bauer bag I still have is from 1967. It is a hooded mummy bag, zipper less with a drawstring closure. With today's ratings it would be good to 20 degrees. It was stuffed into a Kelty stuff sack then stapled to the bottom half of a Kelty backpack. There were no backpacking stores in Santa Barbara so we would make a yearly pilgrimage to their Gendale store and drool over the selection of gear and freeze dried food.
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Re: Your Oldest Piece Of Gear?

Postby tim » Mon Feb 27, 2012 7:24 pm

oldranger wrote:Tim, that first bag in 62 was an Eddie Bauer bag and cost $54. Bauer made a lighter bag but there was something about it I did not like. In 69 I bought a pair of N. Face Unimog bags, I can't remember whether they were $90 apiece or $180 each but $180 is the amount I remember. These bags were about 4 lbs. In the mid 90s I bought a 20° Marmot bag on sale for around $200. Around 2004 bought a pair of REI Sub Kilos for about $150 each. In 2006 I finally got around to buying my WM Alpinlite for whatever and it weighs 1lb 15 oz.


Interesting - it does sound like down bags have tended to increase in price whereas some other stuff appears to have stayed the same price or got much cheaper in the last 20 years (e.g. stoves, tents). I guess that methods of producing down haven't changed much (not many economies of scale there).
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Re: Your Oldest Piece Of Gear?

Postby Jimr » Wed Mar 21, 2012 12:37 pm

My oldest piece of gear is my red flannel shirt. I got it for x-mas when I was about 12 years old; 39 years ago. It's been on every backpacking trip I've ever been on.
What?!
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Re: Your Oldest Piece Of Gear?

Postby Timberline » Wed Mar 21, 2012 1:25 pm

Well, I still have my Sierra Club cup that I got back in 1962 for a week long trip up Pine Creek. Just wouldn't feel right in the backcountry without that hanging from my belt; it's almost a whole kitchen! :wink:
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Re: Your Oldest Piece Of Gear?

Postby rlown » Wed Mar 21, 2012 3:44 pm

All my '76 gear.. peak Coleman stove; the camptrails pack which i still own but dont use, and various other items.. my -20 bag is from that era. she's fine, but not cold enough lately to use.
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Your Oldest Piece Of Gear?

Postby jimqpublic » Thu Mar 22, 2012 7:21 am

SVEA 123. Given to me secondhand in the '80's. Probably circa 1960 or so.
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Re: Your Oldest Piece Of Gear?

Postby Heyworth » Fri Apr 13, 2012 2:11 pm

A Jansport "Brass Bed Series" sleeping bag--synthetic on the bottom and down on the top. Dates from the mid-1970s as far as I can figure out, but I picked it up at a yard sale in Chicago in about 1987.
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