Like Retro Outdoor Gear? Look to Japan (and This Backpack)

As a whole, Japan has been more receptive to retro outdoor lifestyle gear.


Fact: Japanese gear companies appropriating vintage American outdoor designs is awesome, always. Okay, maybe that’s hyperbole, but it is undeniable that Japan has led the charge into the current trend of outdoor lifestyle gear — items that are characterized by aesthetics, simplicity and story over pure technical function — and unearthing and revitalizing retro silhouettes is a significant part of this.

Natal Design’s collaboration with Rivendell Mountain Works is an excellent example of this concept. Rivendell is lesser-known, even amongst hardcore outdoorsy types, but has been around since 1971. To this day the company prides itself on remaining super-small, which it says allows it to produce backpacks of the highest quality with an emphasis on durability and simplicity. It’s exactly the type of story that has proven itself again and again in Japan.

The collaboration backpack is the Jensen, which was the first product that Rivendell created. It’s a backpacking pack that uses a unique U-shaped design in its main compartment. Natal Design re-skinned the Jensen with two new prints — one camo and one with red, white and blue stripes — but the base design remains unchanged. Many of Natal Design’s other products follow the same direction: simple build, compelling design.

The rest of its wares are worth a look, and maybe even a trip to Japan.

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