Kelty Pack, proper outdoor gear

Inspired by the excellent Pica Post article on the four pocket parka we decided to delve into this era of the great American outdoors and one of the classic ‘DIY’ brands that emerged from this scene, Kelty. Back in 1952 like all the best businesses Dick Kelty started off his empire forming and welding the very first Kelty back-pack frames in his garage whilst wife Nena sewed the pack bags. Making clever use of wool carpeting for the shoulder straps padding and aircraft rivets for the metal pins. Though only making 29 back-packs in this year which they sold for $24 each, word soon got around and sales increased considerably over the next few years, forcing them to move premises to a converted barber-shop.

In 1963 came a pivotal moment for the brand when Kelty packs were used exclusively on the first American ascent of the West Ridge of Mt. Everest, more than standing up to the challenge. The label has continued in popularity ever since, having introduced day-packs, rain-covers, clothing, footwear and sleeping bags to the label over the years. Somewhat bizarrely they even did a range of Grateful Dead products in 1996 which must have gone down well with all those cool long-haired hikers that can still be found trekking around Yosemite with their Tioga packs to this day. Though still making innovative outdoor products nearly sixty years on, it’s their vintage pieces that really do it for us, well made kit that has stood the test of time and evokes a deeply practical, old-school charm that we really dig. Which also gives us the perfect excuse to feature these great photos from the Kelty archives, enjoy.

For more information on the brand:

To buy some Kelty Vintage gear:



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