The ‘70s were a golden age for mountaineering brands and a period where many companies opened up shop throughout the Western US. While it was a time of experimentation and growth, a few gear designs became industry standards. One great example is the teardrop backpack which featured two separate compartments to store gear: a lower zippered compartment (usually with a leather bottom) was ideal for heavy equipment, and a smaller zippered top compartment could be used for lighter-weight items like cameras.
Spartan in their simplicity, these bags were built by a variety of great mountaineering brands, from legends like Kelty and The North Face to lesser-known outfits like Class-5 and Wilderness Experience. Though these bags are now over 40 years old, they occasionally pop up on sites like Etsy and eBay at surprisingly affordable prices. If you’re lucky enough to pick one up, you’ll score a great American-made daypack that’s still perfect for short hikes and daily use around town.
Vintage L.L. Bean Daypack
Made in Maine, this ’70s daypack features a leather bottom and blue fabric upper. All zippers and hardware are intact and in working condition, and there is fading and wear visible on the fabric (which is expected considering this pack’s age).
Vintage Sierra Designs Daypack
This ’70s daypack was made when Sierra Designs was based in Berkeley, California. It has a thick leather bottom and unqiue U-shaped zippers, setting it apart from traditional straight-zip bottoms. The bag shows very light wear throughout and is a great value at this price point.
Vintage The North Face Daypack
This is one of the most iconic teardrop backpacks, and The North Face has recently released a reissue of the style. But, like many reissues, it doesn’t come close to the original. This bag has a roughout leather bottom, a red nylon body and YKK zippers.
Vintage Kelty Daypack
Made in Sun Valley, California, this bag is cut from blue Cordura and has leather lash tabs. It has padded shoulder straps and no noticable damage throughout.
Vintage Class-5 Daypack
Class-5 was a Bay Area mountaineering brand founded by a former head designer for The North Face. This ’70s daypack has a contrast Cordura bottom and leather lash tabs. Minimally worn, it features leather accents and a plastic buckle on the belt.
Vintage Gerry Daypack
Made in Denver, this daypack has a white leather bottom and a blue nylon body. It features metal hardware and leather accents and lash tabs. The leather and logo show years of use, but the bag itself is in excellent condition.
Vintage Wilderness Experience Daypack
Wilderness Experience is a now-defunct brand that was based in Chatsworth, California founded by three adventure-minded brothers (one of whom worked at Kelty). These bags are extrememly collectible and are prized for their meticulous details. This daypack has a roughout suede bottom, leather lash tabs and padded shoulder straps. It’s lightly worn, but in great vintage condition.