How the gear has changed from nearly 40 years ago and how many favourites have gone. I asked yesterday if folk could name some of the gear in the photo above.
Dachstein Mitts still loved, by many.
The finger-less mitts, Helly Lloyd and Hanson jackets, MacInnes Peck ice axe, hairy balaclava, Karrimor canvas rucksacs with no padding or waist belt, Karrimor gaiters,Dolomite boots, Helly Hansen fleeces/ and sallopettes (what a break through on that walk they were) Woolen jumpers and patches on the Breeks taken from sling leather protectors! Hairy breeches when wet were so rough they gave you a rash on your thighs and legs and froze like armour in winter. The hairy breeks. Underneath we had long johns RAF issue, huge always size Large. I wore pajamas underneath in winter as everything was so big. A headband was usually home made and with the hairy balaclava that at times itched the head like mad.
The kit I was issued with joined the RAF Mountain Rescue Team in 1972 was to me an eye opener . To me it was an Alladins cave of gear and we were fitted from head to foot but it was all so big for a 5 foot 4 midget. We ended up buying most of our gear over the years bit by bit and I hate to think how much we have spent over the years. The boots were the famous Curlies a simple leather book that froze in winter. They were quickly changed for bought boots especially in winter for others like Hawkins and various foreign makes.
Curlies were incredible and what I wore for several years. Above is the Curlies boot a really light and comfortable boot in summer but very cold in winter. I wore an extra 2 sizes in winter with 3 pairs of socks. I still have cold feet thinking about them. They were wonderful for big long walking days, like the Mamores, Fannichs ridges, so comfortable and light. Crampons were heated and bent to the boots for winter in workshops and we climbed in them, things like Tower Ridge, Red Gully and various other climbs. We used them to rock climb as well and you were not allowed rock boots until you climbed at least very difficult climbs in Curlies! After two winters I bought my own boots well worth the cost and also a lot of my own gear, from jackets, crampons and clothing, I spent a lot of my wages on this great sport. Yet I kept my Curlies and did my first traverse of Scotland in May 1976 wearing them, they were soaked most days like us and the cold feet in the morning still gives me the shivers. No decent insoles and the odd nail came through but on a good summers day they were a grand pair of boots and I wore many pairs out.
We wore smocks that were made from Canvas and had not changed from the early days and we modified our gear with our pals from Safety equipment and they had map pockets added and simple things like canvas crampon bags were made as were early gaiters.
We had a bit of spare gear as we were out most weekends but regularly went out on call – outs after a day on the hill with wet gear all night. We were issued with an aircrew shirts that was useless when wet so many bought the tartan shirt that was the thing at the time as were nylon breeches.
The rest of the kit was basic the Yellow Cagoule was so big and never kept the rain out but it was light! just been told by that RAF MR Legend Ray Sefton the Laird of Aviemore that the yellow cagoule was developed by the civil servants for the RAF. It was designed to fit over your rucksack as a hood? I was never told that and if the wind caught it it filled up like a balloon and off you went. It was designed by a Service Defence Agency who did such things, there were far better jackets on the market but this was 1960 -70’s. There we go a bit more to the gear tale. As was the Pixie smock a relic from Scott’s travels in Arctic a very thin canvas top with a huge hood that fitted over a helmet. I still have one I loved that piece of kit!
We also had Ventile jackets which were heavy but very effective at the time, with good pockets for maps and bits and pieces. The aircrew socks were huge as well about 2 sizes too big and caused big problems when wet. The dye ran out into other clothes, great days and the aircrew shirt that froze on you was also part of the layering system.
Rucksacks changed and many came on the scene, like the Willians and the small Karrimor nylon one that is in the photo above.
Do you have many favourites ?
Tomorrow climbing gear and equipment.
The Scottish Mountain Heritage Collection has all the gear and a great web site have a look and maybe donate to them?