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.
Older model N-B3 “Snorkle” parka . From what’s left of the black label, it appears to be made by Skyline. Originally used at Ellsworth AFB near Rapid City, SD.
It has wool lined pockets and a real fur snorkel hood (though patches of the fur are missing). Has reflective strips (see odd color strips on front and back) sewed on. Not sure if this was added at the base or later for civilian use. I’ve come across photos of other parkas with the same reflective addition, so I am assuming the was added on base to make ground crew more visible at night. Conmar zipper at main closure and on the sleeve pocket. This particular parka is in pretty rough shape and has some repairs.
The original 60/40 mountain parka by Sierra Designs. Constructed of the fabric famed for its day as the superior protector against the elements. In a time before Gore-Tex and other such membrane backed fabrics, this blend of Nylon and Cotton loomed with a tight weave was the number one choice of outdoor enthusiast against rain, snow and wind. Prior to its introduction in 1968 most parkas of this style were made of a Polyester and Cotton blend which was much more permeable to the elements. This particular example is an earlier version evident by the sparse labeling and lack of embossed buttons.
The parka is constructed of a Navy Blue shell made entirely of the 60/40 material. The classic construction includes two hip pockets with side entry and Velcro closed top entry. Two bellowed chest pockets also with Velcro closure. A single zip closed back pocket which opens up to the entire upper half of the jacket body. Closure consists of a large gauge YKK zipper with extended pull for ease of use while wearing gloves. Also a snap close-storm flap. Features an integrated hood with offset seams to prevent pooling around the neck and shoulders. Inside the khaki liner is made from 60/40 up top and through out the sleeves and hood to further guard against the elements where it matters most. Then a lighter nylon lighter around the lower allowing the jacket to slide easily over the hips. Nylon cord cinch runs through the hood with leather lace locks. Also a Nylon draw cord at the waist which most likely also had the leather locks at some point, but are now missing.
This Woolrich Parka features classic styling composed of materials and craftsman ship that was top of the line in its day. The shell is made of the famed blend 60/40 Cotton/Nylon material popularized by Sierra Designs in the early 70s. This material was most weather proof fabric of its time, before Gore-Tex. Linking is made of a poly cotton blend with Nylon sleeve liner. This ingenious design allows the wearer to slip the jacket on and off over wool shirts and the likes with no binding or bunching. One inside pocket and double breast and hip pockets. Elastic cuff closure, waist and hood draw cords with leather disc cord locks. Main closure comes via a heavy gauge YKK two-way zipper and logo embossed brass tone snaps. The 60/40 has a nice sheen and tends to make separate panels different shades of blue in different light. Not all 60/40 is created equal. Depending on the cotton and nylon fibers used the material can vary in thickness, stiffness and sheen. The Woolrich sheep logo of this time period was recently relaunched and dubbed the “White Collection”. The line is quite nice and does well to honor styles like these.
In short, Mountain Equipment Co-op was founded in Vancouver, BC circa 1971 by a group of individuals sick of crossing the border to shop at REI in Seattle. This malcontent for border crossings and a passion for quality outdoor goods has led to the MEC to become one of the largest co-ops of outdoorsmen in the world. The Co-op is still in operation today making gear for its user/owners with the same enthusiasm as they had 40 years ago.
The parka seen here from the early to mid 1970s is very similar to what one would have found at REI during the same time period. It is made of a 65/35 cotton/poly blend, in an ever popular color combination for the time. What excites me the most about this parka is the thought that went in to the lining. Both the lower half of the torso and sleeves are lined in a light nylon. This allows for much freer movement as friction between the parka and any under layer is greatly reduced. The alternating of Navy and Khaki is quite nice as well.
The parka appears to have been produced under contract by Winner Sportswear LTD of Vancouver. Using local and foreign manufactures to produce items is common amongst Co-ops. Here you can see a later parka contracted by REI from Korean manufacturer Natural Comfort.
This is a great parka from a rare Colorado company. First Lead exists today as an outdoor preparedness and training organization based out of Norwood Colorado, about 30 miles from Telluride. In talking with a spokesperson for First Lead I leaned the training outfit shares no direct relation to the outdoor gear company, but is cut from the same stock of friends and outdoor enthusiasts that started 1st Lead back in the 70s.
This piece is typical in many ways of other parka from this era by other Colorado companies like Holubar and Frostline. A shell constructed from a cotton blend (most likely 65/35 cotton/poly). Added weight and warmth from an inner layer of the same material. Standard parka trimmings like the yoked shoulder panel and multiple large pockets for storage. Beyond that, this parka has some major difference from its competitors. Maybe the most noticeable is the lack of a hood. It’s not that it got lost, there’s not even snaps or a zipper half to attach one too. The cut of this parka is lot shorter too, ending just below the waist as opposed to mid-thigh length. Another difference is the leather backed snaps. Not exactly sure of the purposes here, I am sure it added durability to the snaps, but it also adds weight. Peaks on the front of part of the shoulder yoke point a little more than others, and there is an absence of chest pockets. Maintains traditional accouterments like the back pocket (closed by a small talon zipper), waist cinch, and Velcro cuffs.
Can’t wait to find more gear from 1st Lead to see what other kind of things they were doing different so many years ago!
Banana Equipment is among my favorite of all the early Colorado labels. Banana’s slogan was “products with a peel” and they were one of the first companies to put Gore-Tex fabric to proper use. This simple pullover is a single light weight water/wind barrier when your out in the elements. 1/4 zip YKK zipper closure with banana embossed snaps. Great two-piece design hood with peak and underlying draw cord for a nice,functional closure. Velcro close kangaroo pouch pocket with overlaying storm flap. Velcro cinch cuffs, and bottom draw cord round out this pieces simple structure. Back of Gore-Tex label marked IV-79, it would make perfect sense for jacket to be from 1979. Seam sealant is still visible on the unlined fabric, common on early Gore-Tex goods
Banana Equipment was founded in Estes Park, Colorado in 1972 and the brand was later sold in 1980. Labels changed slightly over the years. At one time they bear the location Boulder, Colorado and later versions don’t contain a city at all. Recently the label has been resurrected and a new line of day packs are available. Find the new Banana Equipment at www.bananaequipment.com.
This vintage Class-5 parka done in rust features classic styling comprised of materials and craftsman ship that was top of the line in its day. It has clean lines that were innovative for the time.
Cotton blend throughout, most likely 65/35 polyester cotton or similar (no materials tag). Double layer lined in khaki through out. 3 piece hood nylon draw cord. Two-way heavy gauge YKK sleeping bag zipper and snap front closure. Drawstring waist cinch and two snap adjustable cuff. Two top and side entry hip pockets. Left breast zippered pocket. Also, one zippered back pocket.
Class-5 the self-proclaimed Standard of The World was is California-based outdoor gear company founded in the early 70s by Justus Bauschinger a designer for Trailwise and The North Face. The company was known for their innovative designs and marketing.
This North Face Gore-Tex anorak style parka represents technical innovations for the company in the early/mid 80s. Traditional 60/40 cotton blend materials are bypassed in lieu of the emerging weatherproof fabric known as Gore-Tex. Advancements in materials have pushed design by allowing the parka to remain weather proofed with more seams backed with waterproofing (note the seams mid sleeve). The growth of the brand from the “Brown Label” garments is also evident in the use of branded hardware. The embossed buttons (used on later “Brown Label” pieces) label screened cord locks and emblemized zipper pulls attached to TALON loop zippers. This piece is also clearly designed for a woman as evident in the contoured waist.
1/2 zip with zip and snap closure. Innovative two-piece hood with peak and elastic draw closure ran through a nylon sock for optimal, form-fitting tightening. Nylon lined front zip kangaroo pocket with pass-through velcro closed hand pockets. Elastic cord cinch at bottom.
This piece is in very nice shape. Almost no signs of wear with no holes or stains. All stitching is in nice shape and the Gore-Tex fabric backing is in great shape. Color is pretty much dead-on Navy Blue. Refer to the picture of the back of the parka for truest representation of the color.
neck seam to cuff: 27″
across at slimest: 17″
across at bottom: 19″
top of zip to hem: 25.5
This Parka is currently available on the BCV eBay store
This Altra Kits of Boulder Colorado mountain parka is your quintessential parka and very comparable to other parkas of this era by companies like Class 5, The North Face, Holubar, Gerry and others. Good weight to the parka due to the double layer throughout. Red 60/40 poly cotton shell with a slightly lighter cotton blend interior in Tan. Two-way TALON heavy gauge loop tooth zipper in black. Velcro closure on the storm flap, hip pockets and breast pockets and inner pocket. Nylon draw cord cinch at waist and hood and at the waist.
This parka is in nice condition for its age. Clean fabric that shows little signs of heavy wear. Some light staining on the back of the right sleeve and around the wrists. No holes or snags. Washed and ready to wear.
Altra was one of the last to jump on the outdoor kit bus behind frostline and holubar. This gear was sold as sew-at-home packages during the 70s and 80s and allowed people to construct high quality gear at a fraction of the price (if the purchaser was or knew a capable sewer of course). This piece in particular is extremely well sewn. Nice straight stitches, no breaks, they followed the pattern to the T.
23″ pit to pit
22.5″ pit to cuff
30 inches neck seam to cuff
29.5″ top of zipper to hem