Eddie Bauer in the History of Gear: page two of two

Picture: front cover of the 1967 Eddie Bauer catalog. The Bauer catalogs for many years featured full-color wildlife artwork by Dick Amundsen, among several others. The art went across to the back cover as well. Stunning. Beautiful, almost covers that you wanted to frame and I'm sure some people did frame them! In fact, company historian Colin Berg told me that in 1986 the company commissioned several different artists to paint portraits of endangered species for the catalog covers. These covers were sold from the catalog as limited edition prints, with $10 of the proceeds from each sale being donated to The Wilderness Society.


The 1967 Bauer catalog featured a full line of nowadays very un-politically correct parkas, hats, etc. These "Arctic" down-insulated parkas could be purchased with beaver pelts, wolf fur, and even Hair Seal.....The ruffs were made of Wolverine fur, which rolled forward to create true Eskimo-style breathing tunnels. Wolverine is still the World's best material for the purpose because of its uncanny ability to resist frost build-up in sub-zero conditions. However, wolverine fur is NO LONGER AVAILABLE-- it's far too endangered.



According to the Company historian Colin Berg, the company's first catalog was published in 1944.


BAUER DOWN SLEEPING BAGS: Eddie Bauer as a company was making down sleeping bags in the mid to late 1930s, and made many bags for the military during WW II.... Post-War, Bauer gradually incorporated design improvements such as lightweight 1.9 oz. ripstop nylon, improved internal baffles to control the down, nylon zippers, etc. --- Was Bauer as big an innovator in sleeping bags as Colorado's Holubar Mountaineering? Based on my studies, I think Holubar was always a step ahead, but not by much.

Shown to the left is an entirely sewn-through down bag that EB was selling in 1964. It was their "Snowline" model, intended for temps down to about 25-30 degrees. In my own personal history, a Snowline bag in this color was my VERY FIRST down sleeping bag, and I treasured it! The picture shows my first use of it, high on the slopes of 9200 ft. Mt. Thielson in Southern Oregon.

 

 

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THE SKYLINER DOWN JACKET:

The birth of Bauer's Seattle neighbor REI was two years in the future when Bauer created North America's first quilted down jacket, the Skyliner, in 1936, and later patented it in February 1940. Eddie was then 41 years old.

In the 1967 Catalog, there were some hard-to-believe claims about the low temperature capabilities of the hoodless, sewn-through Skyliner jacket!

And in the above catalog scan about the Antarctic expeditions, Company historian Colin Berg points out that those expeditions were actually in 1928, long before the birth of the Skyliner jacket. However, Joe Crosson did endorse the Skyliner once the jacket had become known.

2016, Good News! Eddie Bauer has introduced a heritage lineup, which consists of a number of its earliest, most classic garments. Here is a friend of mine in Bauer's re-creation of their original Skyliner jacket, first introduced in 1936.... The only changes to the orginal are higher loft down and the use of some of the modern miracle nylons. And the price is reasonable, too, unlike what I have seen in the heritage lines of certain other companies lately. (Janet Hughes models)

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See circa 1965 Bauer clothing in action in classy old camping picture! Click here or the label to the left.

 

 




 

KARA KORAM To a teenager in the Sixties, an EXPEDITION to the icy Himalayan realms of the KARA KORAM Range in Pakistan seemed like the ultimate adventure on the planet. Company historian Colin Berg wrote to me, "The first time he (Bauer) used ripstop nylon as an outerwear fabric was 1958, for the Kara Koram Parka he built for the American expedition that made the first ascent of Gasherbrum I in the Karakoram range of Pakistan. It's the only one of the World's 8000-meter peaks first summited by an American team."

In addition to the Kara Koram parkas, EB also made Kara Koram-branded down sleeping bags for many years. These bags represented the company's top-of-the-line models. In the 1967 catalog, they featured V-tube internal baffling to control the ample amounts of down. Compared to modern winter or expedition bags, the 1967 Kara Koram bags were fairly heavy and did not compress nearly as well as modern bags with lofty 800 fillpower down. In the 1967 catalog, the coldest-rated Kara Koram bag was described as good to 20 below zero. Clearly not warm enough for serious expedition work in the Himalayas, and too heavy as well, at well over five pounds.. In earlier times, however, Bauer often built more or less custom double bags for serious expeditioners, such as the main Kara Koram bag of the 1950s rated to -40F.

Those were the days when Eddie Bauer down gear truly was "Made in America."


Above: on the left, part of the Filson collection in the 1967 catalog. Filson was, and still is, one of the very oldest gear companies in the West, founded in 1897 to supply the gold rush 49-ers in Alaska, and later becoming a mainstay supplier of the Northwest's logging industry, featuring clothing of extraordinary durability under the harshest of conditions. Meanwhile, the 1967 Catalog carried much "gentleman" clothing from prestigous brands like Harris Tweed of the British Isles.


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.....Sponsors: if your outdoor company is interested in sponsoring this site, please contact me for details.


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

 

Frostline Kits, the original "sew-it-yourself" company

GERRY MOUNTAINEERING, begun in 1945

 

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Page last revised June 29, 2017