Throwback Backpacks

No single product better encapsulates the everyday utility of outdoor gear better than a solid backpack. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or not, it’s one of those items that everyone has and uses regularly. The story of outdoor packs isn’t as old as you might think either.

Back in the late 1930s Gerry Outdoors produced the first zippered pack creating the first purpose-built outdoor pack for trekking. These canvas leather combination packs were certainly more useful than a burlap sack with shoulder straps but there was still much to be desired. It wasn’t until the late 1960s when Gerry (yup, same one as above) created the first lightweight nylon pack that was the catalyst for the backpack category to really explode. Following Gerry’s success, brands like JanSport, Osprey, Mountainsmith, Lowe Alpine and others would come to dominate the outdoor pack landscape. 

A large percentage of production during the 'Golden Age’ of backpacks in the 1980s and 90s was right here in the United States- with much of it in the Mountain West. Places like Cortez and Golden, Colorado were hot beds of innovation for brands like Osprey and Mountainsmith. Here at Out&Back, we have the pleasure of collecting a lot of these vintage pieces from front range locals who bought them, used them, and loved them first-hand. 

Things have changed since then, and most – if not all – of the major brands have long-since moved their production overseasbut the product that remains from those golden years is awesome today as it was when it was built. Check some of our vintage 'Made in the USA' favorites that we’ve collected over the past year.


1980s Mountainsmith Bugaboo

1980s Mountainsmith Bugaboo Pack1980s Mountainsmith Bugaboo Pack_Logo1980s Mountainsmith Bugaboo Pack_Hammers1980s Mountainsmith Bugaboo Front Detail

 SHOP NOW - Mountainsmith Bugaboo

1990s KELTY Backpacker
1990s KELTY Backpacker

1990s KELTY Backpacker Logo

1990s KELTY Backpacker Side
 SHOP NOW - KELTY Backpacker

1990s Osprey Amelia

 1990s Osprey Amelia1990s Osprey Amelia Logo 1990s Osprey Amelia Water Holder

 SHOP NOW - Osprey Amelia