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.
While Gerry Cunningham lead the “warmth without the weight” down movement here in the states, the Moncler company followed suit on the other side of the Atlantic. The company founded in 1952 enlisted the help of famed explorer Lionel Terray to help with the design of its expedition weight jackets in early 1960s. The result is what you see here.
This particular coat was found with a coyote fur hood liner which was a later add. It had button holes around the edges for attachment to a NB-3 or similar military parka. Given the condition of the fur, which appeared to have been laundered, I decided to remove it and bring the jacket back to original. A solution of baking soda and water was applied to the heavily soiled areas around the collar cuffs and front and left to soak in the tub. You’ll see in the pictures the incredible amount of dirt that was released. The coat was then agitated by hand and rinsed thoroughly.
These coats contain a great deal of down giving them the loft needed to sustain the wearer in arctic conditions. The two rows of snaps allow for an adjustable fit in order to accommodate varying layers of clothing underneath. Zippers are not used as thy can be a hassle in arctic temperatures and a malfunction of one would be a pretty grim reality in the cold. The coat also does not have any pockets which could become filled with snow and create compromised areas for which the cold can make its way in. Candidly speaking, I rather enjoy having accessible pockets in my coat. See my post on the later REI Expedition Down Coat for comparison.