Within the History of Gear, the 1977 Marmot catalog showcases a big first in the Industry: FIRST GORETEX-COVERED DOWN SLEEPING BAGS. And, oh, were they beautiful and unique. Although I later came to own both the Pocket Gopher and the Gopher, they were just Plain Jane colors, not glorious creative works of art like the 1977 offerings.
Tom Boyce of Grand Junction and two college students from the University of California founded Marmot in 1974. One of the students was David Huntley. The other was ERIC REYNOLDS. . Marmot became another of the innovative Colorado companies. In fact, within about eight years of Marmot residing in the small, isolated Western Colorado town of Grand Junction, Frostline Kits moved there, too. The other major gear pioneers of the 50s, 60s and 70s like Holubar, Frostline, GERRY, Forrest, Lowe Alpine Systems, and Neptune Mountaineering all stayed in Eastern Colorado within striking distance of Denver. Shown below is the 1977 Marmot catalog.
Clint Eastwood is linked to the founding of Marmot. The story is that in 1972, Tom Boyce got the deal to provide climbing-related products for the well-known film starring Eastwood: The Eiger Sanction.
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. ...... 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.ingham.
The small company was in Grand Junction from 1974 until sometime around 1985. One of my work colleagues in Bend, Oregon had worked there as a sewer around 1980 and told me all about the company and inspired me to buy the company's wonderful Warm II Goretex down parka....In about 1985-86, the company's address on catalogs changed to Bellevue, Washington. I visited that store in the early 90s. But sadly that store announced its closing in March 2014. There was also a big Marmot store in Berkeley from 1976 until its closing in January of 2012. Marmot is now based in California, with parent company listed as Newell Brands.
In terms of being Made in America, Marmot as a manufacturer held on longer than many, but by the late 80s, my two Marmot sleeping bag tags admit that they were "filled in U.S.A." That means they were mainly sewn somewhere in Asia and then filled and sewn shut in America. Sad. Here those two bags are, named the Grouse and the Ground Hog, circa 1986
Remarkably different has been the business course of the small custom gearmaker Stephenson's Warmlite, which has survived, manufactured solely in America, and never changed its name or ownership in 50+ years of doing business! And as of 2018, Warmlite has MOVED TO FORT COLLINS, COLORADO.
I have now written six books about the History of Gear. The first was about Frostline Kits of Colorado. My second book in the History of Gear series tells the story the story of GERRY Mountain Sports, and is titled "GERRY, To Live in the Mountains." It was released May 20, 2008 and updated after the death of its founder in 2012. The third book in the series reveals the life and times of Roy and Alice Holubar, and is titled "Holubar Mountaineering Ltd." The writing of the Holubar book had lots of help from its ex-President Jim Kack, from Roy and Alice's daughter, and also from numerous other ex-Holubar staff. There is also a book about MSR and its early years under the often cantankerous Larry Penberthy. And most recently, a commemrative 110 page book about Warmlite and its founder Jack Stephenson, who passed away in 2017. His nude centerfold gear catalogs are now collector's items, especially his "Main" catalog of 1974.