A Bible of the Sport and a true classic in the History of Gear

As the sport of backpacking grew exponentially in the 1960s, so too did the number of hikers and backpackers who began to push their limits and experiment with the more dangerous places that all the new gear could take them. In this context, Walt Wheelock's slim volume* became an instant hit and a true bible. My copy is dirty and a bit dog-eared from having been dragged into the wilderness and up peaks many times. (* about 6x9 inches, about 30 pages)

Walt Wheelock on the left, Royal Robbins on the right. La Siesta Press. Text on the left introducing the bowline knot says, "Often called the "King of Knots." My own belief about the skill of old-fashioned knot-typing is that it's an endangered species. It is often overlooked that a knowledge of the right time and place for a specific knot can be crucial in normal city-based life, not just on mountain cliffs. An example often encountered is the challenge of securely fastening a load to the top of ones car or van; using the wrong knot and/or the wrong kind of rope, can result in considerable frustration, or worse when the load comes apart at high speed on the freeway. Should schools all teach the trucker's knot as a required life skill along with checkbook balancing? Click here to see what Larry Penberthy had to say about safety and the proper climbing rope. (Holubar ropes)

BOOK ALERTS: MY FIRST BOOK IN A SERIES ABOUT THE HISTORY OF GEAR WAS ABOUT FROSTLINE KITS. PLEASE VISIT MY FROSTLINE PAGE FOR A LINK TO ORDER IT, IN EITHER SOFT-BOUND OR HARD BOUND EDITIONS... The second book was released May 20, 2008 and is titled, "GERRY, To Live in the Mountains" (click on GERRY link below). The third book of the series covers the story of Holubar and was recently honored as one of the year's best "Local History" books at Chautauqua in Boulder, Colorado.... All three books feature major contributions from their founders or their Presidents. Contact:

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 Material here is derived from interviews and/or correspondence with Hap Klopp, some from Duncan Dwelle, and some from George Marks, founder of nearby Sierra Designs. Material about North Face tents came from Mark Erickson. Much material also is derived from Bob Woodward's articles in Gear Trends Magazine, in particular Summer 2007. Finally, Wayne Gregory of Gregory Packs has contributed information about Doug Tomkins.... Editors: Please contact me if you have interest in publishing Contact: -- 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.



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

One of the North Face's Coups, the World's First Backpacking Geodesic Tent, 1975


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Page last revised 3/16/2023