In 1928, Ballard’s Don Ibsen nailed tennis shoes to planks of wood with wide tips, then flagged down boaters on Lake Washington to try out his homemade water skis. He soon earned recognition as one of the sport’s founders.
In 1972, three former Boeing engineers—two of whom had been ejected in the company’s infamous mass layoffs—replaced closed-cell foam sleeping pads with a self-inflating air mattress that insulated a camper from the cold ground. They dubbed the product Therm-a-Rest.
Trapper Nelson Packboard
The sealskin packboard of a Native guide in Alaska inspired Lloyd Nelson to develop a frame pack that redistributed weight on the shoulders for an easier carry. Though he struggled to market it in the 1920s, the Bremerton shipyard worker’s design formed the basis of modern backpacking gear.
Vashon Island’s Bill Kirschner created a new way to slice through snow in his veterinary equipment manufacturing shop in the early 1960s, even as a similar version was being developed in Europe. Kirschner founded K2, perfected a wet wrap technique for manufacturing, and tested his designs at Crystal Mountain.
Pained at the discarded toilet paper she saw on a Cascade hike, Everett’s Anastasia Allison upgraded the reusable pee cloth in 2018 with anti-microbial silver thread, a waterproof side festooned with locally produced patterns, and a snap closure to attach to backpacks.
Filson’s precursor to the modern shacket, patented in 1914, owes its longtime popularity to serious outdoorspeople—from Gold Rush hopefuls to members of the U.S. Forest Service to timber cruisers who gave the signature shirt its name.
There’s a truly wild story behind this Eddie Bauer creation.