~Done the Old Way, by Hand~

History of Gear: Rivendell /Jensen, pg. 4 of 5, The New Rivendell workshop 2006

RMW is the shorthand used by company insiders

What's that strange wheeled tool? A former RMW Elf exclaimed, "Wow! A most memorable tool that I spent many hours guiding around the masonite templates that helped create the Bombshelter.. I can still smell the acrid fumes of melting nylon that wafted along the path. If you rolled it along too quickly, the cloth wasn't cut all the way through. If you dallied too long, the heat would concentrate at one point and melt beyond the proper outline. It was a tricky and slow way to cut out a tent, but it was the best way to achieve the melted, sealed-edge philosophy that was an integral part of the Bombshelter's unique design." -- received from "Former Elf," Tim Shropshire, the manager of Rivendell tent production circa 1975.... Shown in this image from Eric Hardee's shop is the original Rivendell hot cutting tool. This is the same tool shown in the early 70's Rivendell catalog behind it! This seeming antique does a great job for Eric in creating strong, ravel-free seams in his custom Jensen packs. So what if it looks like some strange pizza-cutter!---

Tolkein mythology, Elves, Eagles and more: Just as in J.R.R. Tolkien's "Hobbit" and "Lord of the Rings" books about Middle Earth, company founder Larry Horton had "Elves" working in his workshop, and even a "First Annual Elf Roundup," held in 1975 at his farmhouse, complete with a "Billy Beer" that Bilbo Baggins of the Shire would have been proud to drink. My personal view is that the company embodied a sense of something magical and wonderful, high in the mountains, an escape from the awful world of the early 1970s with its Vietnam, its social unrest and a treacherous impeached President.

Cover of early 70s classic Rivendell catalog featuring Lord of the Rings bird hero Gwaihir Windlord, as seen in THE HOBBIT movie released in December 2012. In my possession is an original RMW poster depicting the Windlord, just like the catalog cover below, but much larger.. Note the stylized Elvish script. It's all part of the deep mythology adopted from the books and made part of the Rivendell company's origin story.

In the foothills of the Washington Cascades in modern times packmaker Eric Hardee (see image near page bottom) has become an Elf of the highest order, perhaps even the Elrond of his own Rivendell Mountain Works Kingdom. And down in Seattle is Rivendell's owner, flamekeeper Don Wittenberger, suitably graced with an elven name. See page bottom for Don's picture and Elfen name.

In Eric's shop sits this classic old sewing machine from the original Rivendell shop in Victor, Idaho is still stitching up a storm. If one looks carefully, they note that this machine is equipped with specialized modifications that allow it to sew the unique, barbell-shaped leather attachment points onto Jensen packs. It is for sure that "the other" Larry (Elf Larry Peterson) used this very machine in the sewing of the largest of the Jensen packs, the Dr. Expando.

The good news for modern hikers is that Eric Hardee is producing original Rivendell/Jensen packs on a custom-order basis. Click here for more information.

 

Click here for a look at Don Jensen.


Below is a picture sent to me by Tim Shropshire, taken in the late 1980s. He tells me that he was inspired by Colin Fletcher to take a "Walk Through Time" in the Grand Canyon. Tim was even equipped with a Fletcher-inspired wooden hiking staff, which he still has to this day.

 

GEAR ALERT: Rivendell/Jensen packs are still available on a custom basis (see page bottom).

 

...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 -- Contact: oldgear@Oregonphotos.com

Get an authentic Jensen Pack!

High in the misty Cascade mountains of Washington, the dream of Rivendell has lived on for many years. Eric Hardee and Don Wittenberger have been "Keepers of the Flame." Eric has had legal use (via company owner Don Wittenberger) of the authentic Rivendell pack patterns and has been sewing/selling custom Jensen/Rivendell packs via word of mouth advertising for many years.... Eric can sew up a gorgeous original Jensen or Giant Jensen for you--- Contact him! He is a true lover of this pack. His email is ewak3@juno.com. Tell him that you heard about him from Bruce at OregonPhotos.com. ... Eric has a fine Rivendell pack website, see Eric's own Rivendell website.

Page Five-- the Rivendell Hot Tamale Mitten and a discussion of the science of warm hands

 

Back to Bruce's Rivendell Main Page


History of Gear Main Page: Essays and pictures about the Pioneers of the Outdoor Gear Revolution, 1935-The Present, five books published, over 45 pages of website material, and still-growing!

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Last Revision 11/28/2021


Don Wittenberger and a giant "Muskie."

Don's Elfen name is "Fisher." He calls Seattle his home.


 

Links to some of my mountain adventure stories:

"Mountain Night on the Skyline Trail"

"Old Trail"

"Dark Lake of My Dreams"