A few weeks ago, I found a sealed copy of Backpacker Magazine's 1998 Gear Guide. I've held onto it for a while, relishing the moment when I could break open this time capsule of recent history. Today, I opened it and gave it a quick read. Aside from ads for old models of Honda Accord and Mazda trucks, things haven't changed much since 1998. Still, I found a handful of items worth sharing.
-URLs. Many listed in ads and stories include the "http://" prefix. I couldn't recall if all companies had Web sites in 1998, but apparently they did. The dot-com bust would happen a year or so later. Backpacker's Web site was www.bpbasecamp.com; this was the era of unnecessarily long and confusing URLs, back when ESPN was www.ESPNsportszone.com.
-Compasses. There are a lot of ads for them. While leafing through, I was wondering if GPS existed in anything resembling its current form. Then I did find a couple ads for Garmin and Magellan. But in case you want a 1998 compass, check into Suunto and Silva brands: they seem to have made a lot of them, and they look quite nice.
-Backpacks. There's a section where many of the new backpacks look like my 1997 Lowe Alpine Australis backpack.
-Brands. They haven't changed all that much. No Arc'teryx or Cloudveil, but a lot of Eureka.
-The KletterRest. Crazy Creek, the makers of the ubiquitous camp chairs, once made a chair that doubles as a backpack. There's an ad that says "The Chair that thinks it's a Backpack that thinks it's a Chair." A quick check online seems to indicate the KletterRest went the way of the great auk.
-PBS videotapes. The pre-DVD media was available for the show "Anyplace Wild."
In sum, 1998 was a simpler time. One in which a compass and a backpack/chair made a lot of sense. Doesn't sound too bad to me.