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Old Gear Still Using

Dec 9, 2014
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Penacook, NH on a back road
I've been going through a bunch of old journal's/stories I managed to get on line before I lost all of my paper journals. I think this tale was back in the mid to late 90's when my paddling partner and I were still wetting our feet to canoe tripping.
By Scooter

A New England River...

The Suns First Light...

The sun breaking over the river woke me. It was early and snoring could be heard from my partner's tent. Peeling myself out of the sleeping bag and staggering out of my small tent I approached the remnants of last nights fire. Off to the side stood the grill, at attention, like a good soldier ready to do its duty. A slight whisper of smoke came from the fire pit. I grabbed a handful of twigs from the pile and added them to the coals and soon had a cowboy fire going. Perfect for my needs. The grill soon stood over the flames waiting.

Rooting through my wanigan I found what I was looking for. The Almighty Coffee Pot. Carefully adding water and java grinds I prepared the first taste of the day. The fire was at its peak and would only need occasional attention for the task of boiling. The Almighty would do the rest, procuring a nectar for me, which would bring me to my feet.

I settled back on my heels and watched the fire for a spell. My focus settled on the Almighty Coffee Pot. I have been canoe tripping/camping for many trips now, so many it's hard to attach a number. The trips are clear in my mind but the time frames aren't. I watch the aluminum container we call the Almighty. It has seen us through many times. It has its share of dents and dings. The top handle is slightly pushed in. Its bottom is scalded black with the remnants of countless morning fires like this one. The question came to me, slowly, like the suns rise. Where had I gotten this metal wonder? I sat there slowly feeding wood to the fire and tried to piece it together. The puzzle was missing too many parts. I could not remember where I had acquired this so important piece of my life. I decided through the cobwebs, that it really didn't matter.

The mute scream of a zipper from my partners tent broke my thoughts and I turned as he rousted himself from his cocoon. Stretching he approached the fire, then squatted next to me. The Almighty belched once, then twice and finally began bubbling its tune.

"Hail the Almighty Coffee Pot." said my partner, reached into the wanigan and pulled out the cups.

As we sat there watching the Pot perk away.

How many of you have a piece of gear you hate to leave behind on a trip or has retired for one reason or another? Must be a tale or two to tell!

I have the Kitchen Pack, got it in 1999. Been on most trips. Took a while for the leather shoulder straps to wear in. I would hate to see that go the dump.
I have nothing from the good old days that I take on trips now of any length. I'm 'starting' to get old and need to cut the weight. I still take too much so what I take needs to weigh less.

BUT if it's a weekend trip I have a great old friend I used to hump around the White Mtns of NH, a Coleman 520 stove that I've had since the late '70s.
I have one of sorts, but you'll probably laugh at it. It's one of those 1-cup Cuban coffee makers. I've had it for about 35 years. Used to take it with me everywhere, before I started using VIA packets. I still bring it when weight or bulk aren't as much of an issue. Still my preferred method for coffee production away from home - I have a bigger one that stays in the RV.

Oh - I've spent many many nights in a Timberline 2 knockoff I bought back in the early eighties. I most recently used it last year on a group trip, where one of the guys threatened tent mayhem if he saw me using it again. It's showing its age, and I really should retire it and replace it with something more modern.

This may be my oldest and most important that I still have....

I've had one of those aluminum nesting backpacker's cook kits since about '75. Part of my first own (as in - not borrowed) kit, along with the Sterno stove and Norlund hatchet, which I also still have. (The Sterno stove will soon be dedicated to the "galley" of my sailboat.) I have more modern backpacking appliances, but when I go where the fishing is good (and I will take the time), that old nesting cook kit still comes with me - because I haven't found anything else that works so well as a double boiler/steamer. I like my fish steamed, thank you, and cleanup with that method is a snap.
Peak 1 liquid fuel stove. First generation.. Needs a good home. Its freezing its butt out there.

And a Gerry down sleeping bag from the 60's
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Hmmm seams like I only have old stuff that I bring on trips or if it is not old in age it is old in style, Wanigan, campfire tent or wall tent, maine hunting boots, cold handle frying pan, traditional wooden paddles, spruce pole, Canvas pack(mine is not a Duluth but a Frost River), Wool pants on the fall trips... We wood to cook exclusively, so my fire box is something I wouldn't be able to leave behind... Ho and my old axe, it is so old I went through 4 handles and 2 heads!
like Kim, I still use my old mid 70's Coleman 505! I've got over a dozen stoves, but it is and always will be my cold weather go to!

Here, in 2017, Kathleen and I are still using the nesting pot set from our backpacking days in the late '70s. Also still use the Coleman Peak 1, with simmer lever (circa 1978) that replaced my Svea 123.


Everything fits neatly in our white kitchen bucket, that also includes old skillet from 1990 with folding handle, tea cups, plates, hot pot holder, cutlery, salt and pepper shakers. We will almost certainly be sticking with this system until the very end. See no reason to change.
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My canoe is a wood canvas Chestnut Chum from the 50's-70's, all the records where lost so it's impossible to pin down it's age. My ash beavertail paddles came from a girls camp in Maine, I assume they are Porters from Maine. I use a cold handle frying pan from who knows when but it's a very old . My Duluth Packs are pretty old, my Day Pack is from the early 80's and has been restored twice by the folks in Duluth, Mn., my #3 pack is just as old. My Snow and Nealley Hudsons Bay ax is from the original company and pretty old. My Schmidt pack saw is from the original Wilfong Woodworks out of Stow, Maine. I use a couple of vintage aluminum bowls for my meals.


I've had one of those aluminum nesting backpacker's cook kits since about '75.

Same here... the pots are black and dented all over with an aura of hard and rough use about them. I don't fry much and the frying pan that forms the lid looks newer.

There's an old Slik aluminum tripod going back to about '70 that still works great. It's been dropped several times and the tubular aluminum legs haven't dented which would make them unusable since the telescoping sections wouldn't be able to slide out.. It's heavy and clunky... a cheaper and lighter tripod dented easily and became useless after only several years.

PS.... I still have a bottle of official Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources standard-issue 1974 bug repellant used by field crews working in the bush... half-full and not evaporating away. Labelled DECA and not good for skin unless you wanted a leathery face. OFF was better and we went with that. Good for a reminder of the old days, still smells the same.
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I'm still using a Northface down bag from about 70', a nesting cookset from late 70's, a small hand forged axe from the mid 80's. Most of my gear was purchased in 91' and 92' when I moved to Alaska. This includes my Duluth Packs, pac saw, grill, cups and plates and more. The only things that I have upgraded are my tent (campfire tent 97') and sleeping pads and stove.

The good thing about liking and using traditional gear is that once you acquire it you are set and aren't always looking for the latest and greatest new thing.

I have enough old gear to cross the continent, but unfortunately barely enough time to cross the county.
Thank you for this thread.
I feel much better now. I'm hanging out with the right crowd.

I frequent a number of canoeing-camping-outdoor websites and I stare at the discussions over latest need-to-have gear and I wonder what I'm missing...

Woods pack, Chestnut canoes and Kettlewell paddles. Eureka tent as a wedding gift in 1991, much of my camping gear dates from decade before that.
(Only new kit is a Salus paddling PFD...)

heck, if it was food enough for Bill Mason...

Sweeper, I have a 3 burner Coleman stove that my parents bought before I was born! Needs a lot of TLC at this point in time but there 0 rust on it! That will be a good winter project!
I think the oldest pieces in my kit date to the early 70's. A stainless steel Sierra cup and a small wooden cribbage board. I still carry both today. I still have my original sterno stove, but haven't carried it in 30 years.

I'm just a kid and have only been tripping seriously for the last 5 years or so. Needless to say, most of my gear is younger than I am, but I still take pleasure in knowing that my Kelty pack was originally purchased by my older brother when he was in college for a summer he spent traveling Europe, and in the knowledge learned in researching all of the other pieces of my relatively modern kit.

I have a folding wooden cribbage board, about the size of a deck of cards and free from ornamentation that was given to me from the estate of a neighbor I had known my entire life. It goes in a dry bag along with a deck of cards and is only ever left at home if I'm going solo. Several times already I've busted it out in company that had memories to share of the neighborhood gunsmith and cribbage guru, whose board it was for many years before his son gifted it to me.

Earlier this year (har har) I refinished a 3 piece set of mid-century Wagner cast iron skillets and have been busy building up the seasoning this week by cooking everything I can on them. Just yesterday I took the #5 out with me on the ice for the first time to prepare a breakfast of bacon and bannock over my barely-broken-in Jetboil stove. I have never packed cast iron before but I am afraid that I will end that tradition this summer. If all goes poorly I might be in the market for a cold handled version next fall.

Instead of getting to look at my gear and recalling memories from it, I look at certain pieces of gear that I have developed a fondness for and hope that they will pass the test of time and someday have many stories to tell. If anything, this causes me to be a little kinder to my gear than usual.