Bruce B. Johnson M.A., Photographer, Outdoor Writer and Consultant
My History of Gear books are a perfect fusion of the loves of my Life. I get to indulge in the craft of writing. I get to meet the founders and key people of many of the great classic gear companies. I use my camera creatively for all sorts of photography from scenic to portraiture to macro, assembling the images necessary to record the histories of the companies and document the colorful, innovative gear they created. Then I indulge another love, working on computers, emailing back and forth, using PhotoShop, film and document scanners, and finally, bookmaking software to create the book itself.
How did I arrive here, the author of five books and a website about the history of outdoor gear? It's obvious how I gained my "cred" as an outdoors person -- those many years of backpacking, mastering special equipment, mountain-climbing and trip-leading. A boyhood of voracious reading set the groundwork for a degree in English and a love of writing. A self-taught photographer, I've won several local and regional photography contests. I had all the necessary kindling for my website and gear books but still lacked that elusive spark of inspiration.
That came in 1994, when I hatched the idea of writing an article for Backpacker magazine about the very avant-garde gear of the notorious Jack Stephenson. I contacted Stephenson, and was soon deluged with a generous outpouring of priceless original source materials. Even more, his encouragement of me was a turning point. Backpacker never published the story, Stephenson was too far out the mainstream for them, but I was launched as a writer and soon was launching my History of Gear website.
Below are Martin Zemetis, formerly of Mountain Hardware and now owner of Slingfin Tents; me in the middle, and Alan Tabor on the right. Alan runs a history project like mine from the Bay Area.