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.
Late 1960s early 70s model Gerry Vagabond Pack. This is the pack that help solidified Gerry’s role in the outdoor sports manufacturing industry. The design was applied to frame packs and became an icon and a signature style. Whether you’re a fan or not of the horizontal pockets comes down to personal preference I suppose. While allowing for maximum compartmentalized storage and organization the pockets were somewhat limiting of the objects that could fit within.
This pack is an earlier model as denoted by the Gerry Boulder, Colorado logo, Coats & Clark zippers and the very interesting straps. These are unlike any other’s I’ve seen. Nylon straps with a foam pad. The pads are coated like that of a floatation device and adjustable on the strap to provide a good comfort level. The “wish bone” style pack support is removable and is secured by three snap anchor points.
This model pack was one of several featured in issue five of Backpacker Magazine (1974) and received good marks.
Gerry “Lightweight Camping Equipment” label era parka. This lightweight nylon shell features a double layer upper extending through the hood, halfway down the sleeves and to the waist. Also features waist and hood nylon draw cords. Double chest pockets. Clarks Coats zipper. Estimated late 60s early 70s manufacture date.
Neat little late 70s early 80s Gerry day pack. Single main top zip compartment with leather pull-stays. Front zip bellowed compartment. Single contrasting blue seat belt webbing shoulder strap with gold nylon lower strap. Perfect for packing in your overnight bag for a day trip.
11″ wide at bottom
7.5″ wide at top
Early to mid 70s Gerry leather bottom backpack. Two compartments, stacked in the so-called “tear drop” fashion. Sturdy strap construction with thick padded shoulder straps and large D ring /leather top attachment. This model could be considered transitional from the earlier era of felt padded and leather straps. Front lashing with original nylon strap for holding poles or axes. Waist strap features the innovative Gerry two-pronged buckle.
Early Gerry external frame pack. This pack bears the Gerry Boulder, Colorado label and denotes production prior to the company being purchased by Outdoor Sports Corporation. This pack exhibits many of the common traits that came to dominate external frame pack construction in the 1970s up through the 1980s, but has its differences. The white leather bottom for instance is a great touch and common for construction of day packs which are often sat on the ground, but the added weight of the leather and lack of need for a toughened bottom would mean it was a feature not built to last. Secondly the one main compartment could make getting to what you needed on the trail difficult if packed incorrectly. This one large compartment construction would soon give way to more compartmentalized construction. (Gerry’s later Vagabond pack would take compartmentalized to whole new levels). The primitive waist strap is also an area later designs would improve upon. Though this bag does feature the patented buckle design it bolts directly to the frame and does not form a full padded belt. This is before the notion of “shoulder the load with your hips”
Beyond its shortcomings the pack is still beautifully designed and constructed. There are four canister style side pockets with leather pull tabs (missing on one). The bag is constructed of 100% nylon which was probably still somewhat exotic in its time. Padded shoulder straps. There’s also a pretty ingenious handle built into the frame.
The label is marked ‘Second’ meaning they found there was something wrong enough with it to not be sold as new, or possibly it was a prototype model later sold as a second. A small tag above the label has it sized a medium. Definitely a cool bag for any collection or use for its intended purpose.