This is HARD TO GET, a weekly newsletter about awesome stuff that’s (almost) impossible to find online.
The outdoors: Now more than ever, you gotta fux with 'em heavy. Maybe you're in NYC and it's a path behind Dog Beach in Prospect Park... maybe you're in Oakland, communing with Gaia at Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve... maybe you're in L.A. doing the damn thing in the San Gabriels... as long as you're six whole-ass feet away from everybody else, a nature walk will do wonders for you.
But if it's a scientific fact that a hike improves your health *and* your spirits by 33.3%, then it logically follows that getting off BIG OUTDOOR FITS will improve that hike by 200%. Which means the math is clear: You need some photogenic and functional hike-life accoutrements for optimal self-isolated trail stunting.
With that in mind, HARD TO GET is launching a new series devoted to rare vintage GORP jawns, and kicking it off today with a salute to the dopest outdoor-bagmaker of the early '90s: Mountainsmith ... a brand so cool that someone in Japan is trying to sell one of their zipper pulls for $77?
Not sure what they're thinking because you can get entire Mountainsmith bags on eBay for way less than that, but the point is that this person has an appropriately ridiculous degree of respect for the brand.
We first caught wind of Mountainsmith, founded and (for a while) made in Golden, Colorado, while navigating the hallways of our NYC public high-school circa 1995, when kids started pushing beyond then-ubiquitous North Face gear, on the hunt for rarer joints.
**LEGAL DISCLAIMER** Once the late '90s rolled around Mountainsmith's stuff started getting wacker and wacker; Hard to Get will not be liable if you cop a later-era Mountainsmith item and look dorky.
Take your cue from this cool guy with the great jawline and monumental head scarf: The most important detail when considering your own vintage Mountainsmith piece is the logo, a clear indicator of dopeness / wackness. The basic rule is that you want a stitched label featuring a small anvil next to a silhouette of the Rockies *and* a rounded font treatment:
If the anvil is big and embroidered, yuck, you want no part of it. The reasons for this are immediately obvious:
Be careful, though, because whoever owns the company these days recently did a "retro" logo that might fool you if you're not looking closely at its more-rectilinear font:
The most iconic Mountainsmith model is their "Day Pack," which is a good size for civilian non-expedition use and has a hideaway lumbar strap you can use or ignore, using it as a shoulder bag instead. The yellow bungees and zipper pulls are the perfect neon complement whether the color scheme is red, teal, purple or all black. There are a couple nice Day Packs currently online:
With teal trim, $40, on eBay here.
With red trim, $38, here.
Our personal favorite model, pictured here, is a slightly larger version of the Day Pack called the "Back Country Express," featuring an additional front compartment. These are much harder to come by, though one surfaced and sold on eBay in February for only $20 thanks to a seller who seriously undervalued his/her wares and thereby seriously played him/herself.
A beautiful and comparably rare sibling of the Back Country Express, the "Back Country Courier Small," *is* available on eBay, with red trim, for an asking price of $60 -- here.
Mountainsmith's vintage backpacks are great, too, and the compression straps on this one feature ... more anvils, baby.
-There's one of these in teal on eBay, $53, here.
-And another, also $53, on Etsy, here.
There's a time and a place for a slightly oversize fannypack, too, and Mountainsmith makes some excellent ones. We found a few of these in:
-Black with red trim, asking $50, here.
-Red with black trim, asking $23, here.
-Black with teal trim, asking $30, here.
-Black with teal trim, asking $39, here.
It can't be repeated enough: when you do venture outdoors, distance yourself from others by at least six feet. Have fun, be considerate, stay active, and stay healthy.
And if you want to go advanced level, there's a vintage Mountainsmith Dog Pack, asking just $34, here: load up your pooch with provisions and dog treats and let that beast drip beside you on the trails??