Long ago, Hunting World used to sell canvas caps and hats manufactured by a traditional French hunting clothing company. I haven’t seen one on the market for many years so it was nice to find an Explora in very fine cotton gabardine show up on eBay last week. I nabbed it for mid-summer kayaking or hiking trips. The chin strap on this one is missing so I’m going to have to wildcraft a replacement.
More French stuff. Orcival, my go to brand for sturdy nautical tops, offered this interesting variation in linen. I found this example on one of the many Rakuten sites for overseas shoppers now listing vintage and used clothing.
I was thrilled to see that Private White V.C. is now offering a version of their Goodwood Racing Worksuit for women. I’m not wild about the body shaping princess panels that always seem to show up on heritage items offered for women (see Filson, Barbour and Belstaff). However, I love the idea of wearing this ensemble as a less dressy alternative to the summer linen suit.
Brady is now making of use of cork for their main line of fishing and game bags. Not sure how well cork would hold up to wintery bike commutes in Oregon but I’d love to give it a try. I wish we had made up a special Archival Musette model in this material.
I’m happy to see so many vintage Gokey handsewns popping up on eBay. My fave model at the moment. I love Quoddy and Rancourt but I have a soft spot for original Saint Paul made Gokey camp mocs, lace ups and ankle boots. If you are a sizing outlier like myself (men’s 6d), you can pick up some pretty unique models on the used market, preferably a pair with gro-cord soles:
eBay is the best place to find quality Hunting World items – we’re most fond of the Battue luggage series and our beloved deadstock khakis. I really enjoy browsing the random sampling of deadstock and used Hunting World artifacts on eBay…. here’s what showed up in the net during the last trawl:
As I type, our sewing contractors are working on our first run of Archival Clothing Field Bags. Just like last time, we’ll preface the introduction of a new product with a round-up of existing bags.
We’ve always loved Brady Bags, and this small trout bag has served Lesli faithfully for years. We like the heavy laminated duck, the fine quality webbing, and the convenient pocketing. The side-mounted shoulder strap also ensures a comfortable, close carry.
We really are Filson devotees, but we’ve found their Field Bag series to be challenging. This example has been used heavily by the Archival family for 15 years. Though it’s built like a truck from top notch materials, we’ve found a few drawbacks. Abundant use of heavy twill, bridle leather and brass mean that the bag is heavy and bulky, even when unpacked. We prefer webbing shoulder straps to leather, as web is softer and more comfortable (and negates the need for a separate strap pad). Attaching the straps on the back panel means that the bag tends to flop downwards rather than hug the user’s back. And a panel of extra fabric around the bag’s opening keeps rain out, but also makes it harder to load and unload your gear.
One of our favorite bags, this Hunting World Safari Today is comfortable and convenient (there are two pockets on the inside). Of course, it’s no longer available, and it doesn’t fit laptops or much more than a half-day’s worth of gear.
Though we love the hand-knotted fishing net on this old Chapman game bag, we had to admit that its utility is limited in daily use, as fingers get caught and small objects vanish instantly. We’ll keep this one around for hunting squirrels, but we left the net off of our own Field Bag.
So surrounded by examples, both material and visual, we set off to design a workhorse shoulder bag that would equally serve an urban professional or a dedicated fisherman. Our requirements:
– Unquestionably durable construction
– A strap configuration that provides for a comfortable carry
– Useful pocketing while keeping the layout as minimal as possible
– Plenty of room for laptops
– Protection from the elements
– No features or finish that compromise function or unduly raise price (i.e. abundant leather trim)
– As with all of our products, domestic materials and manufacture to the best of our ability.
Results to be announced soon!
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.
-Made in China (Surprised? Us too).
-Seven belt loops (earns top marks from Tom)
-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.
Tom Baxter, Explorer
To Have and Have Not (Hawks 1944)
Overstuffed safari jacket signals villainy
90s Filson catalog (discontinued poplin pants and shorts)
Matching Kalahari shorts and Safari dress
In Swiss gabardine
Absence of Malice
After several catch and release episodes, I finally ordered and removed the tags from a Filson Safari jacket for women. I’ve been a longtime admirer of the safari jacket. I’m a fan of its timeless design, warm weather wearability and cotton poplin fabric (the waxed cotton of August). If I could update the safari jacket styling, I might shorten the cut, remove the epaulets and delete the belt. For now, however, I’m wearing the belt buckled behind my back just to soften the Karen Blixen look by a few clicks. Wear test report to follow.
Billykirk waxed cotton field bag
Although I have no earthly need for another bag of any kind (messenger, musette or otherwise), I’m coveting this new field bag by Billykirk. In my mind, the BK bag fills the niche between my Frost River cartridge bag (flimsy) and Filson medium field bag (heavy on the shoulder for cycling). The Billykirk bag combines a waxed cotton main body w/soft leather side and back panels (resembling, through bag ancestry, this Orvis Battenkill field shoulder bag). It has the light (nearly foldable) weight of a musette with the more advanced pocketing of a traditional shoulder (or shell) bag. Although the leather paneling dresses up the bag, it makes it a bit luxe (for me) for daily use. However, I’ve heard that future iterations of the bag might be made in full waxed cotton. Trying to decide on color options: olive, tan or black?
I was chirped at by a Portland “concept store” for taking photos of the Billy Kirk bag–so I apologize for their hurry-up, spy shot quality (no privileged access for me).
For context, a few other field shoulder bag examples:
Frost River shell bag (poor shoulder strap design)
Filson tin cloth medium field bag (nice save for those plastic clasps)
Military field bag (austerity model)
Hunting World options
Hunting World Catalog 1968
Spanish leathe “Versatote” (on my Archival Finder list)
More English Fishing Bags (made by Brady
, no doubt)
Expedition Canvas Tentage
Kalahari Grill and Fish Locator Glasses
A few more shopping cart items from the catalog that brought you the Springbok hassok, chromed steel “supercube” furniture and genuine zebra luggage tags. Apart from the overabundance of African trophy skins (“obtained by licensed hunters and landowners”), the 1968 Hunting World catalog remains a terrific source for top quality British canvas and Spanish leather game & field bags. One can still locate British versions of thes bags in the catalog by way of Brady
(whose models retain the same names). However, I would add the Spanish-made leather “versatote” to my own archival finder last. Wondering if that same small, 5-man saddlemakers shop in the Spanish mountains is still open and available for custom orders.
Hunting World 1975 coming soon (elephant skin loafers and brass pocket pepper grinders!).
I could be wrong but I think Bob Lee, Safari outfitter and shoulder bag tycooon, may have passed away. Uncertainty about Mr. Lee’s age seems appropriate since he never aged in a thirty year span of appearances in his namesake catalog, Bob Lee’s Hunting World.
In every Hunting World catalog I own, Mr. Lee is shown dressed in beautifully tailored outdoor clothing (w/seasonal variations), riding a camel on a conservation expedition in the the Chinese Pamirs or shooting clay birds with the Duke of Valderano.
In some ways, HW seems to be a lost brand now that Bob is no longer around to curate and control the company’s product offerings.
From an early, HW catalog: “Mr Lee designs for function first, believing the aesthetics will follow. He tests his gear personally and also equips others who are going into the field, asking for their feedback. After all, if a bag can withstand rugged conditions in the field, it can easily cope with the rigors of Tokyo, New York or Paris.”
Last time I checked the Hunting World website, I was surprised by all the tacky shoulder bag offerings in styles and patterns with names like medallic tweed, mystical shade and encompass jacquard. Many of the core shoulder bags–the battue carry-all and Safari Today line–have disappeared from view.