Sierra Club Cup and Poster

Sierra Cup Circa 1966

The "Sierra Cup" has been in use within the Sierra Club for a very long time; some sources say since 1905. However, other sources say it was predated by the Appalachian Mountain Cup (AMC), see picture showing an AMC cup contributed by Scott K. The case for AMC first is supported by a quote attributed to David Brower, the Sierra Club's first Executive Director. In his 1990 autobiography he wrote, "The Sierra Club imitated the Appalachian Club's cup, but that is a secret."

I have seen an early picture showing Ansel Adams wearing his Sierra cup on his belt pre WW II.The earliest and most collectible design of the Sierra Cup was stamped "Sierra Club of California," was made of tin, and has become quite rare. See picture below, compliments of Alexander at Acme General Store.

Pre-World War Two cups were stamped of tin plate, but after WW II they were changed to stainless steel. The Sierra Club librarian stated, "There have also been a few special limited editions stamped for special events or awards." Nowadays, the Sierra Club no longer supplies this cup to mountaineering stores. Image compliments Elizabeth P.

A Bay Area researcher by the name of Lincoln sent me this scan of a 1967 Sierra Club poster, and reminded me of the very major role that the classic gear companies played in the rise of the modern environmental movement. The chief underlying dynamic lay in their selling of great volumes of wonderful, comfortable gear in which to go backpacking and climbing. They truly popularized "enjoying the great outdoors," and vast numbers of Americans who were not hunters or fishermen took to outdoor pursuits as diverse as long-distance bicycling, kayaking and ice climbing-- for all of which they needed and wanted the very best modern gear.Sometimes the role of the companies would be even more direct-- In the Bay Area, often the major companies such as Trailwise, Ski Hut, North Face and Sierra Designs, and/or their employees/managers would be part of sponsoring or otherwise supporting such events as this big environmental conference at the San Francisco Hilton Hotel.



Related note: during the past few decades there has also been a proliferation of imitation cups made by a large variety of outdoor companies. Some of the older ones from classic gear companies are collectible in their own right. Also of interest in the History of Gear is that such "branding" was not limited to Sierra Cups, as evidenced by the image at page bottom, which involves The North Face, and again Holubar Mountaineering.

Please Note: All Material in 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 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,

HISTORY OF GEAR BOOK SERIES--- as of April 2022, there are now ten books available, five specifically about the History of Gear. Most are also available as inexpensive PDF downloads. For details, click here please.


Main Page: Essays and pictures about the Pioneers of the Outdoor Gear Revolution, 1935-The Present-- 45+ pages, six books written, and still-expanding



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Page last revised 04/22/2022