Backpacking and Rock Climbing Equipment – Then and Now



Summary: The outdoor industry for Mountaineering, Rock climbing and more is always into a continuous process of evolution in terms of the gears used. How was the pioneer gear like in the yesteryears? How did people survive then and what did their back pack consist of?

Today, Individuals seek fabrics and clothing that will help them to stay warm and dry. Light weight backpacks with safety equipment is the most preferred choice of outdoor adventure enthusiasts. But how was it in the early years? Evolutionary changes have happened in every frame of life style and domains. This revolutionary change has also brought in a lot of change by way of the materials used then and now for rock climbing, backpacking and more.

Evolutionary Changes in the Gears


From the early days, it was believed that use of use of nails and hobnailed boots will make their life easy while rock climbing or walking over ice. They trusted nails over and above the crampons. However, gradually this belief began to change and people started using crampons which became more popular as it was extremely comforting while climbing the rock. During the early years, a 10 point crampon came into use and as time passed by the designs were improved to give more comfort and look.


Snow Shoes

It was more than 6000 years ago that wooden snow shoes came into existence. Adventurists who sought to climb the mountains and peaks with snowshoes were a great sight to watch. However, as time passed by, the wooden snow shoes were replaced by aluminum-framed snowshoes which were known to be light in weight and could be bent easily. Apparently, the designs kept changing with the modernized world.


Climbing Harnesses

The typical rope harnesses based on German climbing techniques were the ones used in the early years of 1920s. However, during the 60s these harnesses were replaced with designs based on parachute and military harness. In the 70s, leather harness was introduces which consisted of leg loops and waist belt and was considered as one of the safest equipment to be used while climbing.

Outdoor Clothing

In the early years, the clothing used for climbing comprised of 58% cotton and 42 percent of nylon. It was believed to be the best clothing even for the women climbers who wore skirts during 1870s. Gradually in the early 1900s these skirts were replaced with clothing which had hems. The climbing suit came into existence which had pockets to hold knives. Traditional woolen clothing and dressing up in layers then became a part of the backpacking gear in order to stay warm.


During the early years, the traditional way of backpacking was to use a bag with essential materials like match sticks, candles, torch etc. However, with the evolutionary changes, backpacking also received tremendous change with more number of pockets to hold the materials handy, space for water and also light in weight.