Real style never goes out of fashion

Old gear always comes up doesn’t it? We’re always slipping on a purple patch and landing on an arse covered with Karisma fleece.
Everything new is judged on it’s own merits, but also on past experience with stuff which of course “the don’t make it like that anymore”. And they don’t, they make it better, or different, or worse.
How much the gear ties in with personal memories of days gone past is a big part of it. I can put together outfits and summits frighteningly reliably going back at least to when I carried two woolly jumpers as insulation and emergency insulation.

Some stuff trancends the retro or the classic and strides into the legendary. The item below fits easily into the latter catagory. It’s a 60’s Karrimor Whillans Alpiniste, a lightweight wonder of canvas and leather. I’ll be covering it more in a wee while, including some inside info from the man that co-designed it and did some of the assembly.
One thing about some of this old gear, it was built to do a job, be simple, functional and unobtrusive. By default that makes it light. That’s still where we should be.

28 thoughts on “Real style never goes out of fashion

  1. Still got my first karrimor pack from the mid 70s. Straps a bit knackered but the bag could be pressed into use tomorrow. Wonder where my old Belstaff ventile anorak has gone – superbly windproof, but 0% water repellancy

  2. Ive still got one of my first proper waterproofs, its a berghaus 2 layer gtx one and it doesnt have anything fancy or any fancy linings or owt like that just plain and simple design, its nice and long so not suited for scrambling but great for low level walking!

  3. I still have (and occasionally use) a Karrimor Marathon tent. It did much alpine and UK backpacking before being superceded by the condensation free Phreerunner, but at 1500gm it’s still a good piece of kit, despite being old enough to be featured on the cover of the first issue of The Great Outdoors magazine!

  4. I can see myself now…

    a Belstaff neoprene cagoule, breeches, bright red socks, check lumberjack shirt, Karrimor rucsac, woollen mitts…

    were those the days?

  5. Now I’m getting worried…

    I still have somewhere a bobble hat, gaiters, berghaus top, Troll Omni trousers and similar boots…

    and I used to own long hair (I still have the beard).

    Did we all dress/look the same in the 80s and 90s!

  6. I wonder if in 20 years from now mountaineers will be posting pics of us peeps and having a good laugh at clothing trends.

    I have no pics of this stuff as I wouldve been just a bairn when billy connelly up there was climbing mountains in purple trousers with red socks.

    I suppose I’ll be able to look back and shake my head in mirth at haglofs neon zips

  7. Aye, give things a few years and we all look like fashion disasters and targets for ridicule.
    BTW, the Whillan’s Alpiniste was a great sack for it’s job in it’s day, but you never saw many of them up here. Great for alpine routes (wonder where it’s name came from) but too small in general for stuff up here, particularly in winter. The Tiso sack had that market cornered. Now that was a superb climbing/hillwalking sack with a full length bivi extension. My mate still has his and used it up until 3 years ago when it was replaced by a Crux 47 that I got him as an early retirement pressie. (his retirement, not the sack’s).
    Now the real Whillans masterpiece was his harness. Before that came along it was a case of tying on at the waist, so it might make modern guys cringe with fright, but it was a major development and used universally for years. That had real style and functionality.

  8. Yep
    I worked for the National Trust on a YTS(remember them)type scheme.

    They provided us with donkey jackets, steelies and plastic waterproofs.

    The money was shite, it was only for a year but I loved it. As you can see the view from the office wasn’t bad.

    The pic was taken in one of the quieter parts of Dovedale in the White Peak.

  9. The other photo is from my days as an erector. The crane broke down so off we went exploring the sea cliffs round Torquay in Devon.

    None of us were climbers but we enjoyed our afternoon off, playing on the sea cliffs of the optimistically called ‘English Riviera’.

    The cons seemed to work ok.

  10. I remember YTS very well, it looks like you got the best of it there.
    It’s funny this stuff, when I think of things I did from years ago, it seems like yesterday and I think I look the same as I do now. Then I look at the photos and I’m young, with hair and wacky fashions.
    I suppose if I did look exactly the same then that would be a reason to worry.

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