In these days of growing environmental concern and shrinking budgets, we can't all be constantly buying brand gear. There's a lot to be said for making do with the stuff we already own. To celebrate our loyalty to much-loved and trusty bits of old kit, we've asked a few people to nominate a personal favourite or two.
I have a Tenson fleece jacket that I've had for over 30 years. The zip is a bit dodgy but it's still warm and usable. Can't remember how much it cost but cheaper ones I've bought since don't last nearly as long.
But I feel compelled to say that Crocks are neither fashionable or stylish!
Still using my Paragonia DAS Parka as my belay jacket in the winter which I bought at Country ski and climb in Stevenage in 1997. It could use a new zip but it's still ace, if a little bulky.
A seam failed on my fifteen year old Patagonia Ascentionist jacket in the dryer while I was re-doing the dwr on it. Sent it off to the free repair service; it came back with the seam now sewn instead of glued, and hopefully good for another fifteen years. (Which might be more than can be said for me!)
I aslo still have an early 90s Mountain Equipment ultrafleece jacket, acquired at a bargain price in the old factory shop in Glossop, but that's very much retired from on the hill activities and relegated to outdoor diy duties.
I'm still using a Patagonia Capilene base layer I got for my first school trip to North Wales when I was 14 I think. It's gone pretty bobbly so that's 31 years... gets a bit stinky now but hey, would you expect anything else?
> I aslo still have an early 90s Mountain Equipment ultrafleece jacket, acquired at a bargain price in the old factory shop in Glossop...
Ah yes, I was going to mention ME Ultrafleece - I have one of their original yellow/grey pull-on fleeces (80s I reckon) and it's still as good as new. Passed on to my offspring when I could get into it anymore, but he can't get into it either now! It's waiting for grandson to grow a bit before he can have a go at trashing it.
I also still have (and use) Ultrafleece trousers, HH Lifa stuff and RH Tracksters that are probably not much newer.
> I'm still using a Patagonia Capilene base layer I got for my first school trip to North Wales when I was 14 I think.
Patagucci for a school trip!?!? My fancy-pants (and vest).
My first proper thermal was a classic Helly Hansen Lifa with stripey sleeves. I got it I think for Christmas 1991 or 92, so it's now 31 or 32 years old. I still regularly use it as my cycling baselayer for winter commutes - I think that generation of polypro is actually softer than modern Lifa and it still works great. So I guess I'm using it one day a week, probably November to March. So, actually, for days used - I probably should have written about that Lifa instead of the Patagonia Snap-T!
My Lifawear goes back to about the same time as yours, but my Helly pile pullover must be from the mid seventies - sometime after my first visit to Yosemite where I bought my Chouinard Creag Dubh rucksack (discounted because it was in the window and faded by the sun) which is still in use when I go to the climbing wall. Seams are split and buckles broken but perfectly usable at 47 years old...
Still wearing my ME Annapurna duvet bought in 1976. Other old clothes include a set of HH Lifa which I still wear from time to time & some Wild Country mittens with Gore tex outers & pile inners although they are almost modern - bought late1980s.
Gear wise I still use a Snowdon Mouldings 'curver' as a walking axe & the Salewa 'bendy' crampons bought at the same time (1975) get used from time to time when I need crampons on walking boots.
Thinking about it I still have some Faders superlite d shaped biners I use occasionally which I got when I was 13 at a shop in St Albans... seem to remember it's clipped to my peg hammer...
Looking forward to new gear that one can buy today for hopefully a long succession of tomorrows, I bought a Black Diamond Creek rucksack which I feel will probably last the rest of my climbing life.
I've got 2 Lowe Alpine DryFlo tops that have lasted a phenomenal amount of use - regularly used for walking, skiing, cycling and kayaking. Only evidence is a bit of loose stitching in the hem of the long sleeve one.
ME Ultrafleece jacket still lives in the car for emergencies, Snowline sleeping bag still in occasional winter use, just wish I could revive the DWR on a Drilite jacket properly.
Berghaus ACL top still somewhere in the gear pile.
My wife likes to tease me about how old some of my stuff is!
I have my Grandfather’s Dachstein Mitts and Yellow Karimatt, which are still going strong. I’ve no idea how old they are but he died this year at the age of 96. The mitts live in my bag during the winter, and I used the Karrimatt on the Eiger North Face last year, which i thought was pretty cool.
I also climbed the Nose of El Cap with a pair of Petzl Jumars and A5 Aiders, which date from the 90s and are still going strong.
A Silva type 4 compass from 1977 is probably my oldest most used bit of kit. I do have a map of Lakes from the 60s, which used to be my father’s. Oldest clothing regularly in use (in winter) is a down jacket from 1996.
I bought a Saunders Triton secondhand in 2008; not sure how old it was at the time but it was far from new. I don't think the bathtub groundsheet is fully waterproof anymore but I kept it going by using a cheap waterproof tarp as a footprint. I also replaced the elastic loops and gave the fly a reproofing spray last year. I should probably replace the elastic in the poles too. It just about fits me, husband, the dog and all our stuff for 2.5kg and is really easy to set up. We use it whenever the three of us go camping together, several times a year.
It came very close to getting lost this spring while I was dashing through St Pancras for my train as it doesn't have anything to thread rucksack straps to and wriggled free due to the slippery fabric of its stuffsack. A woman chased me down and gave it back to me and I was so grateful. I would have been absolutely gutted if I'd lost it. It now gets strapped on extra, extra tight with the drawcord clipped to something.
These are all in irregular use from 1981/2 onwards:
Caravan 4/5 seasons down bag - hot!
Karrimor Atlas sac - occasional use. Guaranteed for life!
Miscellaneous crabs and wires, Sticht Plate - group buy from Field and Trek, via school pottery teacher. I met his son-in-law recently and had a good chat.
Rigid WC friends - mid/late 80s
Weird boiled wool balaclava helmet thing. Went well with the Dachstein's that finally went through in their second life
Patagonia fleece zipped jumper - first trip to states 1992 - made from recycled soda bottles then, so reckon that's earned it's carbon footprint
Rab Kinder smock, we all had them - 1993?
My first proper pair of boots were some karrimor model, bought in the early 90s, when i could finally afford them on sale. My 24 year old son is still using them and wore them hiking in Les Calanques this weekend. They were passed onto him as he could not find any others which were as comfortable. So the boots are over 25 years old and still in use.
> Karrimats are still as comfortable as they ever were.
> he he.
And poking sharp things into your back for hours is still as fun.
My contribution to the thread is my Stitch plate (none of those new fangled springs please). Rock solid after 40 years
That’s a great tale about your grandads Karrimat and mitts
I still use my helly double pile field jacket from 1987, snug but probably better.
2 short sleeved helly Lifa tops from then too. Good job they stretch.
ME Ultrafleece jacket, hooded in pink and blue.
Currently relaxing post Moel Famau in some 30 year old ronnies and a Lowe alpine Aleutian fleece and hat from 1993.
Occasionally take my Ultimate Peapod tent out , 1984 I think, in dry weather. Love that tent.
> And poking sharp things into your back for hours is still as fun.
Who was it earlier this year that noted that they had seen references to Ukrainian troops hiding from the thermal cameras on Russian drones by putting their folded sleeping mats over their heads? I can't remember the exact spelling but they referred to these camping mattresses as something like "careemats"! Anyway, it maybe that you can use Karrimats successfully to keep some sharp things from being poked in your back, head, or indeed anywhere else!
JCM - was it you possibly who had seen the story?
loved this article.
i have a Salewa Lhotse 4 season down bag (still very warm) & a yellow Karrimat (retired). Got both for Xmas 1982 (ish). Also got a ME thermofleece balaclava, Dachstein mitts from early/ mid 80’s
slightly younger is my Rab kinder down pullover- been used in all weathers, for DIY and was commandeered by the dog for a short period. Still going strong and is the perfect winter climbing wall coat. Well, perfect for looking like a trad dirtbag climber anyway!
Still in use:
Karrimor rucsac from early-70s; Silva compass - mid 70s; from the 80s: Karrimat, Dachstein mitts, wool socks, wooly balaclava, Coleman stove, HH pile jacket, ME fleece and polyprop undies, Karrimor Alpiniste rucsac, MOACs and hexes, DMM deadman, Shunt, Mountain Technology axes...
And that's it... Everything* bought since has been pre-loved and saved me a bundle.
*Ropes, krabs, harnesses, helmets - new. Though I still use my Troll harness and blue fibreglass Joe Brown helmet. Wearing that sucker - you know that there's a helmet on your head !
Reading a Guardian piece this morning about nostalgia for binmen in the UK. Do outdoors folk also manifest nostalgia for the days when harder, tougher, better ?
> My DMM Mambas from 1993 were drawing admiring looks at Horseshoe last Saturday.
Have you reslung yours? I don't use mine super regularly but if I think I'm going to need lots of sport quickdraws I take them. Some youngsters have been a bit suspicious of the hand knotted slings! 😀
>. Some youngsters have been a bit suspicious of the hand knotted slings! 😀
Do you actually use those Toby?
I think, perhaps irrationally, that I’d be suspicious of using your tie-offs for sport climbing.
You could send them to the States to get them reslung properly. It wouldn’t be very expensive, but would be a bit of faff.
MOAC on rope, hexes on rope (mountain scrambling days)
Berghaus Cyclops ROC Bergen (rucksack)
Lifa tops would be in use, but both have shrunk? where I've become a little more "muscular" (especially round the waist) with age
Nut key, so far... not lost it or snapped the end of while gardening ice/choss/turf out of cracks or aggressive nut removal, it's 30 years old.
Markil stormy cooker, although to be fair only, mine is now only 1 bit left (the main windshield body) and is recycled in a Heath Robinson homemade stove setup with remote gas and preheat tube so can invert cylinder
I have used them, not all the time, but when I have - no problems at all. Full strength tape, plenty of tail length. All the knots bounce weighted tight. Absolutely no loosening in them.
For me it’s got to be the Victorinox penknife that I got once I’d passed my Knife & Axe badge in Scouts, circa 1989. It’s still going strong, despite now being a plague pit of bacteria from every variety of cheese and chorizo, and gets used at least a couple of times a week. The tweezers are still there, but the toothpick disappeared within about a week of ownership.
Sat here wearing my ME Snowline duvet bought from Tanky's in 1975, zip gone but all press studs still in place. Saving me from putting on the heating. I think it cost £40 which seemed a fortune at the time. Still have a Redline pit from the same era but that hasn't been out of the cupboard in years.
1) Paramo Cascada trousers from the 1990s. The full-length zip broke on a back-packing trip in the Fisherfield wilderness (top tip: always carry a few safety pins), but later repaired by Paramo who also added a bib and braces. Walk, ski and sleep - they are great as winter camping PJs.
2) 1980s Mountain Technology ice axe, forged in the fires of Mt Doom, Glencoe. Literally indestructible.
I am still occasionally using my 19mid 80's Buffalo sleeping bag. I brought it directly from Hamish at some outdoor event at Yeovilton when I was 14. its a bit snug these days but still works great
I still regularly wear a Mammut cagoule (do we still use that word?) I bought on first arriving in Switzerland in 1992. I also often use a bunch of gear I bought in 2000, especially a Marmot windshirt and Citadel tent, on which the tapes are just beginning to go after use every year.
I'd probably still be wearing various boots I have bought, including a pair of Nepal Extremes, if I wasn't so terrible at getting them in the right size. I gave the Extremes away on here, and there is the pair of super heavy but bloodied Scarpas that preceded them in my attic. Free to anyone who wants them. I left a pair of also bloodied Salomons in a hotel room in Ax, ditching them for Birkenstocks for the next day, so great was the pain.
I bought a purple Karrimor Alpinisite, rope, Whillans harness, EBs and a couple of crabs from Pindisports in Bristol (it was in the opening credits of Eddie Shoestring) in 1980. Only the crabs are actually still in use. The harness is up in the attic and I would love to know what I did with the EBs. I think I am wearing them, the harness and the crab in one of my profile pics.
30+ years back I bought a Keela jacket (sort of softshell) and a Mountain Equipment rucksack from stalls at the Climbing Show, before it got lumped in to the much bigger Outdoors Show. Both are still going strong. The jacket has some superficial pilling, not bad considering it's been used for everything from dog walking to thrutching up grit by use of full body friction. The sack lost a chest strap around ten years ago so I phoned the UK importer to see where I could source a replacement. The nice lady there apologised and said ME we're no longer making rucksacks (this being well before the launch of the current range), but whispered me a secret that resulted in me getting not one but two straps in the post, free gratis. Every so often I think out loud to people about replacing the sack, then have to endure the 'ey up, thought you were getting a new sack' eyerolls when I inevitably turn up at the crag again with the old one, even more faded than the last time