Overhill Bicycle Touring Handlebar Bag

At first take, it may seem like a bit of a stretch to lump bicycle bags in with backpacking. These days the two industries operate in their own lanes, with their own big-name brands. But at their core, both outdoor sports of self-sufficiency and adventure, they are more or less the same. Bike touring and “Pass Hunting” as it was known in Japan, rose in popularity with backpacking in the 1970s. Some suppliers saw the opportunity and produced packs for both endeavors. A good example is the Kirtland Tour Paks which were produced by Hine Snowbridge out of Boulder, Colorado.


I am not at all sure if there’s any direct relation to a backpack maker with this Overhill brand bag, but it seems to be a rare label, so I thought I’d shares some photos. The bag is a heavier cordura fabric with some foam inserted for structure. Well thought out pocket placement with the inclusion of an additional water bottle holder or stash pocket.


The tradition of quality handmade bicycle packing gear continues on in brands like Oveja Negra right here in Salida, Colorado, Revelate Designs of Anchorage, Alaska.

Early 1980s The North Face Gore-Tex Anorak Parka

An age of innovation is evident in this beautifully functional anorak parka. First let’s talk about the fabric choice. While Gore-Tex had been around for over a decade by 1980, commercial use didn’t really begin until 1976. So at the time of this parkas’ manufacture, the breathable, waterproof fabric was still new to consumers and just beginning to overtake old standards like rip-stop nylon, 60/40 and other poly cotton blends as go-to shell materials. The early version of Gore-Tex used here is much thicker than what we know today, and actually has a weight closer to 60/40. The white label found in the hood, an early commercial example (earlier versions were white on black), has what I believe to be a month and year of manufacture on the back side. I have never fully authenticated this theory, but after years of looking at these labels and comparing to catalogs and other resources, it seems to line up. The markings seen on this label are IV/82, or April, 1982. The practice of this dating on the backside of labels also appears to continue in the early black version of the Gore-Tex Label.

This parka featured fully taped seams inside. While most of the glue holding these in place has broken down and the loose strips removed, some remain as evidence of TNF’s commitment to building an advance take on an old design and getting the most out of this revolutionary fabric. The design intentionally avoids seams at the shoulders to further improve the overall waterproof effectiveness.

The closures on this parka get an upgrade in the form of the custom TNF zipper pulls. While The North Face embossed snaps had been around for probably a decade at this point, the proprietary zipper pulls are a new add. If we look at the back of the zipper head, we can see that the zipper is Manufactured by YKK. My guess is that custom zipper pulls offered YKK a great way to expand their business, attract customers and gain the dominance over the industry they have today. Prior to this time, there seemed to be a handful of zipper makers used in outdoor gear such as Talon and Coats and Clark or C&C. I am a little surprised the Fastex cord locks at the hood and waist drawstring are not The North Face labeled, but those were not too far off from this time period.

Maybe one of the biggest differences a vintage TNF fan will notice is the label update. Up to now there have been a few minor variations of the brown logo on white background, but now we’re looking at a white logo on navy background. This parka features only one small sleeve logo I think in an effort to preserve the integrity of the Gore-Tex being used. The Gore-Tex label is carefully tucked away in a seam of the hood drawstring. A material tag inside the jacket is maybe for a reason, brown print on a white tag. Not long after this piece was made The North Face would introduce the Extreme series, which continued this trend of innovative designs and construction for outdoor sports.

DeFrance Packs – Fort Collins, Colorado

One of the more rare packs I’ve found hailing from just up the road, Fort Collins, Co. This early 90s DeFrance pack is technical for its time, but based on sound pack design. The plastic wing hip flairs remind me of an early Gerry model with a removable rigid foil (I think there’s a post buried somewhere in the archive).

Great use of vibrant colors indicative of the early 1990s. Yellow compression straps almost encompass the main body

for a secure gear fit. I can imagine the popularity with those looking for lightweight loads and secure, fast paced travel up trails and extreme terrains, perhaps even climbing or skiing. The top becomes a waist pack for satellite journeys. The top detaches to become its own oversized waist pack. I’m unsure if this pack may have had a removable rigid spine, as found there was none.

Second to last pic is from the April 91 Backpacker Buyer’s Guide issue detailing DeFrance offerings. I believe this is the Trixter model.

The last pic is from a waist pack I found of the same name, but hailing from Sedona, Az. The Sedona examples I’ve come across utilize more muted fabric colors and appear to be overall less technical. Not sure the relationship, but I believe it to be a pre or prior iteration by the same maker.

King-Seeley Thermos Co. Pop Tent – Designed by Bill Moss ~ Early 1960s.

I haven’t yet found a lot to support this other than similar tents listed as such, but should the internet turn out to be telling the truth, this here is an early Bill Moss designed tent. I see this tent at the crossroads of traditional and modern camping. That intersection being the use of old school materials such as heavy canvas and vinyl, with modern construction of slim, adjoining poles creating a freestanding structure.

Construction of the tent includes interlocking six fiberglass poles, the top piece fixed into a mount, that when compressed, bows the poles outward into grommets at the bottom creating a freestanding dome tent. A large bolt at the top along with the internal locking lever, provide the stable tension and a means of adjusting it ever so slightly.

It’s easy to see early flashes of Moss’s legendary design in the construction and maybe the beginnings of a signature red color in the pole sleeves.

Back Country, Buena Park California Tear Drop Back Pack

Rare label I don’t have too much information on. After scanning old Backpacker Magazine issues I can say that Back Country was like many of its contemporaries a store that both created it’s own products and sold other company’s as well.  Earliest mention I’ve found of the shop is a 1976 ad for Woolrich with Back Country of Buena Park, as a retailer. I suspect they go back a little further than that though.

The pack itself is similar to the designs of others. It does have a few differences that I am a fan of. For one the leather seems to be of exceptional quality. It’s thick, yet still soft and malleable. I suppose this may have some to do with its previous owners treatment, but I have seen enough to know it was good quality leather to begin with.  Secondly the use of nylon on the lower straps and waist belt. where as Alpine Designs would have used leather throughout the strap,  Back Country save a tiny bit of weight and ads a little style of their own by carrying over the orange nylon to these elements.

Sierra Designs Superflash 2 man 4 season tent

Good example of this somewhat iconic tent. Not free-standing but keeps itself up when staked at the corners. Very sturdy when rain fly is pulled over the top. Fly comes all the way to the ground. Guy lines provided added steadiness in any weather situation. Great shape. Allows two occupants to sit fully upright with plenty of room to spare over head. Tabs in the corners of the ceiling lead me to believe a gear hammock was available for inside. Not a ton of space for gear with tow occupants and only enough vestibule for the rain fly for boots, and other odds and ends not needed inside.

1950s Lee Riders Half Selvedge Jeans

Vintage 1950s Lee Riders Half Selvedge Denim Jeans

Great 1950s Lee Riders. Half Selvedge denim construction with a Scovill Gripper Zipper zip. This particular pair of jeans measured about 28×28, but had been taken in at the waist and down the outer seams of both legs to construct a slimmer fit. The indigo was still dark,  a desirable trait for jeans of this age.  See my other Lee Riders post for an example of a slightly later pair.

The North Face Brown Label Bivy Sack

Vintage The North Face Brown Label Bivy Sack

Unique early TNF Bivy Sack. Simple construction of one ply rip stop nylon in blue and green. Grommets at the corners for staking down. Not entirely sure if this was the complete unit or if there would have been a tarp or tube tent covering. Good for a layer of wind proofing and would keep your bag clean as is though.

Measures 92″ overall. 76″ foot to neck and 39″ wide.

Gerry Rucksack with Fiberglass Back Board

This is an early Gerry rucksack. As I’ve probably mentioned in other posts, the earliest outdoor gear was simply repurposed military surplus and this bag shares many characteristics.  Beyond the olive drab nylon the bag resembles very much a European military pack. Specifically one from a company called Bergans of Norway , which was made of more traditional materials, canvas and leather.

Though the design itself may not have been revolutionary or visionary the removable lightweight back panel is.  I believe the panel to be made of fiberglass, but may just be something similar. The removable panel replaces metal support systems used on earlier packs. The updated support system with the use of lightweight nylon saved this traditional design many extra pounds.

 

1950s Civilian N-1 Jacket

Vintage Civilian USN N-1 Deck Jacket

Example of a civilian model jacket design based on the N-1. The N-1, to a lesser extent of then the Air Force A-2, MA-1 and N3-B became somewhat legendary for being a well-serving, functional jacket. The problem is one had to enlist and end up in certain positions to receive one. Post WWII patterns and probably sometimes even surplus were converted for civilian use. Today you still see similar jackets being produced by everyone from Schott to Abercrombie and Fitch.

The Jacket seen here has a very similar cut and fabric composition as a Navy issue N-1. Unfortunately the liner is made up of a blended pile and not what would have been alpaca. Still the rugged cut and warmth make these civilian versions a great option for someone who wants the style at a fraction of the price for an original.