Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Shopping from the past: Rivendell Mountain Works

Limited numbers of daypacks for sale at Goose Barnacle

Jensen pack and Bombshelter tent in use on Mount Shasta.

Rivendell Mountain Works was founded in the late 1960s to produce the revolutionary Jensen Pack. Up until the Jensen, most big-capacity backpacks were, essentially, bags attached to packboards - often very lightweight aluminum packboards, but packboards nonetheless. Tired of the wobbly, unbalanced carry of the external frame pack, Don Jensen designed a backpack that allowed the load inside to become the pack's support without using a frame, stays, rigid sheets, or anything. The packs became instant classics and spawned endless imitations, most of them poor, some of them excellent.


I remember seeing beat-up old Rivendells on the trails and crags in Oregon back in the day... always liked the little barbell lash points.

Original Backpacker Magazine gear guide entry

Unfortunately, Don Jensen died young and his company did, too - in 1981, Rivendell folded. For a whole lot more history, read here.

There's a fellow in Washington, Eric Hardee, who's sewing top-notch reproductions, with a few tweaks, although I haven't been able to get in touch with him despite phone calls and emails, and I've heard the same from others. I wanted to pick up a Jensen for this summer's backpacking, good thing I stumbled across my Kletterwerks. Year-old interview with Hardee here. Word on the street is that J. Crew might have asked to buy a bunch, and Heritage Research did a collaboration... weird world out there.


Of course the old BOB-list folks know, but Rivendell Bicycle Works got their name from Rivendell Mountain Works. Birds of a feather. See Bob's recent post.

Archival Clothing friend Alan has kindly allowed us to use some of his incredible image archive.

Chorus line of beauties!




Don't bother mailing it, it sadly didn't work when we tried.

We too love the Minox...


7 comments:

corkgrips said...

maybe he's got his hands full working on packs for j. crew though i know he's employed at least one sewer to help him out..

The Ginz said...

Archival daypack? Orange, please.

Pete said...

FWIW, Goose Barnacle is sold out :(

Ed O'Mahony said...

Tom,
There is a movie link on the caughtbytheriver.net blog, that I am sure you might like. Shot in the 1940's Yorkshire England on a 16mm cam on Kodakchrome Climbing,cloth's, gear,cooking the lot.
Worth a look, bet there is an Archival Clothing something to come from it!
Love the blog.
Best,
Ed.

Tom Bonamici said...

Ed, I'd love to see that movie! Can you post a specific link, caughtbytheriver seems to be broken...

thanks,

Tom

Randy Bone said...

http://www.yfaonline.com/film/sheffield-climbers

Tom Bonamici said...

Randy, thanks for the link! Brilliant film - super fun. Post coming soon about it.