Gear geeks, rejoice: Bruce Johnson brings his History of Gear project to Boulder's Neptune Mountaineering tonight at 8 p.m. (Table Mesa Shopping Center, 633 South Broadway) for his Great Gear Pioneers of Boulder lecture, where a display of vintage gear from pioneering historic Colorado companies will stand in stark contrast with the high-tech tools of today that the shop carries, many of them also made by homegrown brands.
Books in Johnson's History of Gear series include Frostline of Colorado (the Boulder mail order company, founded by Dale Johnson in 1966, sold sew-it-yourself kits for making your own sleeping bags, backpacks, parkas, gaitors, and other outdoor gear), GERRY, To Live in the Mountains (WWII veteran Gerry Cunningham -- the man responsible for coining the camping code "Leave No Trace" and making the equipment to back it up -- moved his Gerry Mountaineering Equipment Company to Boulder in 1946 and manufactured his gear at a factory in Alamosa) and Holubar Mountaineering, Ltd (Alice and Roy Holubar set up shop in Boulder in 1947, and Johnson credits them with introducing the first Vibram-soled hiking boots in the U.S., pioneering nylon and down sleeping bag design, and introducing nylon-cotton blends in parkas and other outdoor gear.
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"The Boulder area was the very epicenter of the Gear Revolution that gave us modern lightweight gear for our adventures. Who invented the modern lightweight down sleeping bag? The humble cordlock? First widely-available Made in America Rock hammer? The baby backpack? Sew-It-Yourself kits? Who brought Vibram soles to America? It all happened right here. Bruce Johnson's presentation will focus on three of the earliest and most influential gear companies of our area: Holubar Mountaineering; GERRY Mountain Sports; and Frostline Kits. Gear from the early days will be discussed and examples on display to touch and feel. In addition, modern outerwear from the newly-reconstituted Holubar in Italy will be on display."