DOUG HOSCHEK, FABRIC PURVEYOR, MAIN GUY BEHIND POLARFLEECE

 

Doug Hoschek has been in the gear industry for many decades, but not as the founder of a pioneering company, or an employee thereof. Rather, his role has been in the little-appreciated zone between fabric manufacturing and the companies who buy the fabric and sew up the gear. (picture credit: Amy Milshtein, 2017). Doug is holding Made in America wool that is processed to insulate the garment he is wearing called the Skymaster Camping quilt (its both a quilt and a poncho).

In the long sweep of the history of gear there was wool, and then gradually various synthetics crept in. Doug was involved in nearly all of it. Downhill ski clothing was a huge market for the synthetic insulations. After a bit more, a new synthetic from Norwegian fishermen was introduced. These rough-textured insulating sythetics named generically "pile" had some great qualities: durable, they held little water and outperformed the old brag of wool: "warm when wet." But they trapped body odors and just did not feel very good to the skin. The market was ripe for a better version, and Doug Hoschek was right there in about 1980 with a big American mill called Malden Mills in Massachusetts. The product was Polarfleece, now seen everwhere, all the way from technical mountain clothing to everyday soccer blankets! It's become so much a part of American life that nobody thinks about its invention. In 2011 Hoschek wrote a book about his history in the industry, named "Polar Pollution." Below is an excerpt.

Note: June 2020. Doug and partner Clyde Layman purchased the iconic Portland Woolen Mills in 1981. Doug still owns the trademark. He had a website about the Mills' history and his products, which went down but should be back up by Fall 2020. An associated brand name Doug owns/uses is "Wool o' the West"

Here we are inside Doug Hoschek's store in Bend, Oregon in late 2013. The chief brands being sold were Holubar, Rivendell, and Jerry Wigutow's brand Wiggy's. The store is no longer open.


The Current Status of the Man: Product ordering

Doug Hoschek lives in Central Oregon with his wife. He continues working on a small scale to turn-on America to the wonders of American-grown and processed merino wool. His line of wool-based camping quilts is exceptional and affordable. (mid-2020) For the time being, to learn more and purchase, please use Doug's email of: djhoschek@hotmail.com


GEAR ALERT: As of late 2018, I now have six history of gear books in total. Here's a page where those books are listed and with links to purchase them (Click). Also listed are four other books with outdoor themes. Also, at any time, you can contact me at: oldgear@oregonphotos.com


Please Note: All Material on this page, and in all my "History of Gear" webpages, is copyrighted, and no usage of my material is permitted unless explicit permission is granted by me, Bruce B. Johnson, owner of OregonPhotos.com. Material here is derived from interviews and time with Doug Hoschek. Editors: Please contact me at oldgear@Oregonphotos.com if you have interest in publishing....Others: if you were involved with one of the old-line, vintage gear companies and have a story to tell in these pages, please contact me soon. Sponsors: the History of Gear Project is soliciting a few quality sponsors to support its continued research and publication efforts.


 

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Main Page: Essays and pictures about the Pioneers of the Outdoor Gear Revolution, 1935-The Present, 45+ pages, six history of gear books published, and still ever-growing!

Trailwise, the Bay Area company outfitting the famed Colin Fletcher in the 1950s and 60s

Mr. Fletcher lived before the time of the modern Ultralight backpacking revolution of Ray Jardine

 

 

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Page last revised 06/24/2020