The History of Gear: Warmlite

“Before the Ultralight Revolution there was Jack Stephenson”

PACK INNOVATOR— I have laid before me on the table a simple black and white photograph of a young Jack Stephenson wearing a shiny, unorthodox hip-carry frame pack in about 1957 (for historical context, 1957 is the year when a young climbing bum named Yvon Chouinard started selling climbing gear out of his beat-up old car in Yosemite).

TENT INNOVATOR— Near the 1957 pack photo, I have a Kodachrome slide dated 1961 that documents a definitely non-A-frame tent of Mr. Stephenson’s manufacture made of bright red lightweight nylon (see image). I have an even earlier picture of the Model 1, “Original Filmgap tent,” dated 1958…. Both the pack and the tent design were fully functioning and for sale many years before other companies brought these innovations to the camping public.

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6 thoughts on “The History of Gear: Warmlite

  1. Great memories! I visited Jack and his family in 1972 when he was still in Woodland Hills, about 2 miles from where I lived in those years. Very much impressed, but very limited personal resources. I still bought a 2 person tent from him, inaugurated in 1976 on Mt Washington. Many uses after that year, still have it! Unfortunately I cannot use it anymore because of my present disabilities…

    1. That’s awesome George! What memories you have for a lifetime and can’t think of a better way to inaugurate your tent then summiting Mt. Washington. Having been to the top of Mt Washington multiple times myself, what a fantastic memory is all I can think. Thank you for your post, we LOVE hearing from great folk like yourself. Happy Trails, Kim

  2. I look at amusement a the modern sleeping pads that are blown up with a stuff sack as if it is some recent invention. When I bought my Warmlite in the ’80s this was what was used. Also, the sleeping pad with the top attached cover was what Warmlite used too, and some are now pretending as if they invented it. They now call it a ‘quilt’ over the pad and attached with straps. They are still a little behind Warmlite.

    1. Thank you for your comment. Jack was an innovator of much backpacking gear. Glad you enjoy your sleeping bag. Happy Trails!

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