Archival Clothing - Made in USA

Archive for May, 2010

Archival Update: Rucksacks Available

May 24th, 2010


We’re happy to present our latest bag model: the Rucksack. Made in Springfield, Oregon, USA, from 22-ounce Waxwear waxed cotton twill, brass hardware, military-spec cotton webbing, and Horween Chromexcel leather. Practical and free of complications, we’re confident that our Rucksack will equal or exceed any other rucksack available in function, durability, comfort, and long-term value.


1 – Lightly padded back panel provides overall structure and protection from awkward cargo. Pack rides closely and load does not sag.
2 – Shoulder straps attach into side seam, curving straps around body for comfort.
3 – Twin outer bellows pockets are easy to access and are nicely sized for smaller personal items.
4 – Single Horween Chromexcel leather strap is light, durable, and convenient.
5 – Dimension is taller and narrower. Loads carry best in this configuration.
6 – Drawstring around top opening keeps load secure and further prevents bag flopping.
7 – Two inch wide webbing shoulder straps are perfectly comfortable for loads up to 25 or 30 pounds.
8 – Convenient locker loop.
9 – Double-layered bottom ensures a long life.
10 – Fully finished inside and out. Seams fully bound in our own waxed canvas bias tape. Stress points are bar-tacked or riveted. Snaps and rivets are reinforced with leather washers.

A limited number of our Rucksacks, in Ranger Tan or Black, are available immediately. The cost is $240 + $16 shipping (in the lower 48). Act quickly, as there are few bags remaining. Please email info@archivalclothing.com to reserve your bag, or to inquire about international shipping.




Shopping from the Past: Garment Tags

May 24th, 2010


I’ve been buying most of my clothes from thrift stores since high school. Part of my long-time obsession is simply recognizing familiar and discovering new garment tags. There’s a great story to be told with each one – whether they’re making a claim, stating their history, or just presenting information. It’s a great way to thrift, too, since you can capture the tag (in photographic form) and leave the garment behind, saving money and closet space. Ideal for austerity shoppers. Since 2004, I’ve been working on a flickr set; here are some highlights.





Rucksack Round-up

May 19th, 2010

Early next week, we’ll announce the release of our very own Archival Clothing Rucksack. Let’s take this opportunity to round up two historical examples to compare and contrast with our own. We designed our Rucksack as a synthesis of a classic canoe pack (in the Poirier/Duluth style) and the box-style Yucca pack used by the Boy Scouts. The general design and materials of these packs are wonderful, but there were a few key issues that we were eager to address in our version.


That’s me, with my Frost River Woodsman pack – a classic Duluth-style pack. Some problems are immediately apparent:
1 – Un-reinforced back panel – just a single layer of canvas. Bag lacks structure and flops when loaded. Cannot stand up on its own. Rigid items in pack dig into wearer’s back.
2 – Shoulder straps attach to back panel. Straps can’t bend around body, so dig into wearer’s back.
3 – Tump line buckles – unnecessary for daily use, dig into back.
4 – No hang loop – hard to carry pack with one hand or hang on a hook.
5 – Lack of useful and accessible pockets.
6 – Two roller buckles mean two actions every time user wants to open pack.
7 – Inside, the bag is unfinished – seams are left raw, so fabric edges unravel with time. Finish quality is functional, but crude.

Duluth packs were designed to be packed with a folded blanket to act as a padded back panel, and to spend most of their life in the bow of a canoe, not on a back. They’re wonderful for those purposes, but are challenging to use in a day-to-day setting.

That’s Lesli with her Filson Rucksack. It’s a beautiful object, but again, there are some limitations.
1 – Overall short and squat shape is awkward to load and is ungainly. Does not ride closely to back.
2 – Narrow shoulder straps dig into shoulders with even moderately heavy loads. Metal hardware on shoulder yoke digs into back. Unnecessary and abrasive.
3 – Redundant closure – a flap, two buckles, and a zipper – make for a lot of work to get in and out. Bag does not stay open for loading.
4 – Bellows pockets are useful, but not covered by the main flap. Even when snapped shut, rain can get in. Main straps interfere with loading smaller pockets.
5 – Unpadded back panel means many of the same problems listed above, though mitigated by use of heavy twill.
6 – Abundant use of heavy twill, bridle leather and brass mean that the bag is very heavy and bulky, even when unpacked.

Don’t get us wrong – the Filson rucksack is gorgeous, like most of their luggage (Passage Line not included). It’s just so overbuilt that we wondered if we could get the same level of durability while reducing bulk and weight and improving the fit.

At the end of the day, we had the goal of producing a pack that, during real-time use, would retain the gloriously boxy profile of the magazine shot.

Our results to be announced soon…

Shopping from the past: Hunting World Trousers

May 11th, 2010



It’s not often that you get follow through on shopping from the past. Hunting World NYC closed its doors in 2008, and currently seems to sell only in duty-free airport shops in East Asia. However, if, like us, you’re still shopping from Hunting World and need a safari tuxedo, eBay seller cowboywest currently has a sizeable stock of NOS trousers and jackets. The seller, bless him, provides excellent measurements on the auction pages, and I ordered a pair of pants based on my shaky tape measure figures. The trousers are terrific – a nice mid-weight gabardine, quality details, hand-finished buttonholes, and not too baggy in the seat. Since we’re always stocking up on quality provisions for the apocalypse, I promptly ordered two more pair and a pair for Lesli – at $20 a pair, you really can’t lose.

-100% cotton
-Made in China (Surprised? Us too).
-Seven belt loops (earns top marks from Tom)
-Hand-finished buttonholes
-Frenched outer side seams, butted inner seam (for ease of tailoring)
-Allowance for taking in or letting out waistband
-Double front closure (helps fly to lay flat)
-Top-opening front pockets
-Sits just above waist
-Fitted in seat, straight leg
-1975 price: $85 ($330 adjusted for inflation!)
Buy It Now for $26 shipped from cowboywest.


Now we’re lobbying for other eBay sellers to continue this trend of offering dream products for reasonable buy-it-now prices. I’m hanging up a horseshoe in hopes of finding a few dead stock sweaters, in a wide range of colors and sizes, from Montgomery Ward c. 1947.

Archival Field Trip

May 8th, 2010








I’m wishing I had been invited along on this Ektachrome field trip from the 1940s. I’m assuming the event was scout sponsored w/a tree planting theme. I’m happy to see a screen surrogate for myself in the way of the lady in the green cardigan, screen left, in the fourth still (in my remake, she’d be redressed w/an all cotton bandanna around her neck). In packing for this trip, I’d supplement my stock collection of buffalo plaid shirts and knickers with a few provisions from Boy’s Life magazine and Catalogue Manufrance 1931.

Packsacks and pocket knives via Boy’s Life archive.

Equipement du Scout (via Pillpat)

The Pack Basket is Viable Baggage

May 7th, 2010


Nothing evokes the Adirondacks like a pack basket. They’re the original suspension pack – their rigidity makes load carrying much easier, and they keep fragile objects safe during a tough trek (bottles of wine, grocery store). I was introduced to the pack basket at the Dartmouth Organic Farm, where there’s a swale with a few dozen black ash that are reserved for local Native American basket weavers. A pack basket can be a bit unwieldy if it’s too big or poorly loaded, but when it’s done right, it’s a treat.

“The pack basket is peculiar to the Adirondacks being in evidence everywhere and for all purposes. Does the native mountaineer start for town to buy a little flour and sow belly? He takes his pack basket lovingly by the strap and saunters forth. Does the Missus want to go after berries for the summer camp table? She totes her little pack basket.” (Hunter-Trader-Trapper, Volume 42, 1921)

Japanese pack basket, from Onibaba (1964):

Modern equivalent found in China, from jimmiehomeschoolmom:

More modern pack basket use. Note beaver tail sticking out of basket. From drsethery.


Arsenal of pack baskets from Rock Scout.


Some options if you’d like to try a pack basket:

Budget option from LL Bean. Note single-head rivets, nylon webbing, and plywood base. But it’s made in Maine and only $80. Wonderful way to get a feel for the pack basket.

The expanded version: the Timber Cruiser by Frost River. A pack basket inside of a canoe pack.

A few sellers on Etsy have pack baskets available, although I’m considering a Medium Tall from The Basket Lady. Her site has excellent notes on maintenance and is one of the few that offers baskets with leather harnesses. Note quadruple riveting and Conway buckles.


But since a really top-notch pack basket can go for north of $200, why not make your own?


Archival Kerchiefs

May 7th, 2010

(hankies above are from the highly-endorsed DISCHARGE STYLE)

Handkerchief, bandanna, hankie, or kerchief. Whatever you call it, it’s essential. I keep one with me all the time, for nose-blowing, glasses cleaning, a rag for when your bicycle chain drops, tying things, bundling things, a headband, or, in the woods, as a sieve (try it – you can even drain rice). Lesli and I both won’t go on a cycling outing without at least two handkerchiefs. Keep one in your handlebar bag for all contingencies. Along with a good knife, a bandanna is an everyday necessity.

Try out your bandannas as neck wear:


Or as head gear:


Or as baggage:


Make sure to keep an eye on your hankie:


Shopping possibilities:



Archival Clothing is thinking about designing and producing a limited-edition hankie. If we keep the price low, would anyone be interested? They’d be made in the USA, of course, and available in a few colors.