EARLY WINTERS---ANOTHER OF THE SEATTLE AREA PIONEERS (page three of three)

Please Note: All Material below, 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.

Author's Omnipotent No. 178

TENTS: THE OMNIPOTENT

There are those who remember EW's earliest tents with great admiration and fondness. The first to be introduced was in 1972, a radically-styled, expedition capable tent named the "Omnipotent."...For quite a long time, the Omni was THE basic product of Early Winters.... in 1976, came the Goretex "Light Dimension." tent, a smaller, single-wall tent designed for somewhat less harsh conditions. In the late 70s, some Goretex was added to the Omnipotent, I believe only in the front and back panels of the tent, where the front and rear doors were, which were single-wall and subject to condensation due to that fact....... The basic Omnipotent was a non-Goretex, double-wall tent designed by Mr. Nicolai, reputedly after the failure of his traditional A-frame tent nearly led to his death on Early Winters Spire in the North Cascades of Washington State...He was a poor young man then, but his innovative direct marketing through catalogs grew his small company quickly..

Notable Design Features and Specs of the Omnipotent tent.

1. Tunnel-hoop design. Seemingly much like the proven design which Warmlite tents had been using since their early prototypes in 1958 (see Warmlite pages).

2. Double-wall design with integrated rainfly (again, similar to the proven double wall designs of Warmlite)..... The Omnipotent's inner tent is actually not the "strong" part of the tent's skin, being more or less suspended off the outer, waterproof skin via a scrim of mosquito netting-like material. The Omnipotent in this way was an early forerunner of modern ultra-premium tents such as the Hilleberg line from Sweden.

3. Poles--- Innovative super-slim, super-light, super-strong pole system.These poles were shock-corded, hand-laid fiberglass (see image). The Omnipotent's use of mid-poles which were flexible and exteriorally-mounted in a sleeve was not new, in fact, the famed GERRY Himalayan Expedition tent of the early 1950s used such a design.

4. Needing only two tent stakes for mild conditions (14 stakes for the most extreme conditions on Earth!).

5. Rather easier to move to a different place around your campsite than is true with a traditional A-frame tent.

6. Fairly lightweight for the extreme strength compared to geodesics or traditional A-framed expedition tents..About 6 pounds with four lightweight stakes.

Other notes: the interior dimensions of the Omnipotent were slightly tight for two big climbers, especially in the headroom department, which was just enough for a 5' 8" man to sit up in the front of the tent (37-38 inches). The tent's taper also led to the rear end being another 8-9 inches shorter. There was a very well-designed and useful 11 sz. foot vestibule (optional). It zipped onto the front (bigger) end of the tent via a third zipper track up there (see picture, which is compliments of Michael Hughes, 2015).... To my mind, the vestibule was actually almost indispensable for true winter mountaineering for two men. My used Omnipotent came without one, and I'm thinking of designing and making one for it, probably will use Goretex, or maybe one of the new Syl-nylons popular with the Ultralight backpacking movement..... minor downsides of the Omnipotent include a bit of access hassle due to the multiple guylines obstructing the two doors (Note: at some point in the later 70s, the fabric pull-outs around the front door were reduced from four to three, which eased access)... Also, there's a bit of delicacy needed to insert and lock in the four poles into their sleeves at the top of the tent surface; and, conversely, removing them under cold, frozen conditions can require even more finesse (but please remember that this is true of virtually all tent designs, eg. under frozen conditions, both my Sierra Designs Tiros and North Face Oval Intention tents with the standard, shock-corded aluminum poles can be quite a hassle, with the joints perversely frozen together, and/or even frozen tightly into their nylon pole sleeves!)....


ALERT: HISTORY OF GEAR BOOKS--- MY FIRST HISTORY OF GEAR BOOK WAS ABOUT FROSTLINE KITS IS NOW AVAILABLE AGAIN... IT CONTAINS A GOOD DEAL OF ADDITIONAL INFORMATION AND NEW PHOTOGRAPHY. PLEASE VISIT MY FROSTLINE PAGE IF INTERESTED. NEAR THE TOP OF THAT PAGE YOU WILL SEE A "BANNER" THAT YOU CLICK ON TO GET TO MY PUBLISHER. NOTE: The second and third books in the series cover the stories of Holubar and GERRY, and are available. The GERRY book was published in May 2008 and is entitled "To Live in the Mountains." The Holubar book was published November 2009. All three books feature major contributions by their company Founders and/or Presidents. More recently, I've released books about the history of MSR in Seattle, and about Warmlite Equipment.


I would highly appreciate READER INPUT ABOUT the Early Winters tents, AND ALSO ANY STORIES ABOUT THE EARLY DAYS OF THE COMPANY. .CONTACT ME.


Please Note: All Material above, 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 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.

WWW.OREGONPHOTOS.COM

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

Rivendell Bombshelter Tent, circa 1974, still the strongest tent ever made?

North Face's ground-breaking Geodesic of 1975 was also super-strong

Bob Howe's prototype geodesic from the same era was also super-strong

External link to Sahalie, the modern descendant of classic Early Winters

 

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