Cover for Warmlite: Still Controversial
Now available to purchase in PDF! The History of Gear: Stephenson’s Warmlite: Still Controversial After All These Years by Bruce B Johnson, M.A.

Our philosophy has never changed— Innovation based on solid science and lightweight modern materials.

Stephenson’s Warmlite® has been in business since 1957 providing high quality, lightweight camping, backpacking, and mountaineering equipment. We have long been an industry leader and innovator.

List of key ultralight innovations introduced by Warmlite®:

Leader in use of ultralight 700-800 fill power Down. Jack Stephenson (Our Founder) worked hard on perfecting Down sleeping bags between 1955-1957, after a miserable trip to Rocky Mountain National Park with his new wife in 1955 had been saved by a personal visit to Alice and Roy Holubar and purchased one of Holubar’s Down bags. After these few years of development work, Stephenson’s fluffy wonder bags covered with ultra-light nylon were introduced to the public in 1958, chiefly in Dick Kelty’s store in Glendale, California

Warmlite® was a real Leader in use of ultralight nylon materials derived from the sailing industry to replace heavy cotton and polyester cotton materials then in use in all tents, packs and clothing. Since 1956, we have used 1.1 oz. rip-stop nylon for our bags and clothing, eschewing the heavier 1.9oz. which became the standard when Eddie Bauer began using it during this same time period.

Leader in the use of a variety of exotic aerospace-derived materials for super-light, super-strong packs, sleeping bags and tents— products which still rival or surpass the lightest or the most modern ultralight gear.

Leader in the use and modern application of Vapor Barriers in outdoor clothing and sleeping bags. We  experimented with various vapor barrier materials, finally perfecting a “warm fuzzy” material that went a long way toward making the vapor barrier more comfortable to the wearer.

Creator of a new tent design which has become one of three major new tent designs of the Twenty-first Century. The Warmlite® design (the Elliptical Arc) threw out the heavy A-frame tents design used everywhere during the first half of the Twenty-first Century, replacing it with an extremely strong, lightweight, 4-season, hoop design constructed with high-tech materials and requiring only 3-4 tent stakes even in severe weather. After 40 years, Warmlite® tents are still lighter/stronger than nearly anything else available!

Creator of the D.A.M.  We created the Down-filled Air-Mattress (DAM) filled with ultra high quality down, held in place by baffled channels. Our 20oz. creation was inflated by use of a large pump-sack/carry-sack (or a Microburst), which keeps damaging moisture from breath out of the DAM’s interior. We had experimented with prototypes as early as 1958, but it was not officially added to the Warmlite® product line until 1973-74. In recent years, the new Ultralight backpacking movement has encouraged a new interest in this product.

*Adapted with permission from Bruce Johnson’s The History of Gear Project. The History of Gear Project has been detailing the histories of great, classic gear companies like Warmlite® since 1996.

You can now get the full History of Gear: Warmlite book as a PDF download from our store! Find out more about Warmlite’s history here.