The Digital Ramble | Geared Up

December 15, 2008


(Bauer Hockey)

The Digital Ramble explores aesthetic topics through materials found online.

The photographer Robbie Cooper’s wonderful pictures and video of kids playing video games got me thinking about athletics: the aesthetics of when people use equipment for play. There’s no shortage of gear being used online. The blog Be Sportier does a good job keeping tabs on new high-tech gear for athletes — sort of a highly refined market edit for the Gear Patrol set, coordinating their Y-3 sneakers with the proper vintage Dana Design bomb pack.


Backpacks from Mystery Ranch, believed to be designed for the U.S. Special Forces.

That’s worth a segue: for gear aficionados, Dana Design always made the best hiking backpacks this side of Montana, but the company was sold to K2 in 1996 and folded into Marmot in 2005, disappearing in the mix. The founder Dana Gleason went on to start Mystery Ranch, a Bozeman-based boutique pack maker, where now, according to company lore, they design backpacks for nearly every branch of U.S. Special Forces; that would explain all the military packs available.

I don’t know what “equipment” these ladies used to get so big, but Martin Schoeller’s portraits of female bodybuilders are gorgeous. From my point of view, the Nascar king Jimmy Johnson, all emblazoned with sponsor logos, looks crass in comparison.

To connect both gear manufacturing and inflated bodies, here’s a mesmerizing (at least to me) short film about 60 seconds in the life of a mold-injection machine.

The user forums of Catch Fence Photos are stocked with good-looking photos catching the glamour of people driving cars. The kart rally collections are my favorites; it’s easier for me to catch the fever knowing each car’s about the size of a lawnmower.


Cheryl Kelley’s work captures the aesthetic sexiness of fast cars.

The Texas painter Cheryl Kelley appreciates the aesthetics of beautiful cars. Her recent work gets the sex appeal right but also nails the grandeur of auto shows, where some of the world’s fastest objects sit still under lights.

Beauty need not be high-tech or cold to the touch. These seven Pendleton national park blankets, designed “since the early 1900s” (says Pendleton) to honor the parks, are art in their own right, or at least fodder for artists seeking new color palettes.



Most sports-equipment companies have elaborate, flashy Web sites; Nike appears to introduce a new one for every colorway (Example 1, Example 2). But I like Le Coq Sportif’s site the best: searching it, say, for “tennis,” offers a neat grid interface for related content, editable by media format.

For daily flash, though, when carrying a mountaineering backpack around the office feels over-the-top, there’s this Sneaker Freaker tutorial on varying ways to tie your shoes. Or a handy Japanese guide to folding your T-shirts for efficient storage. What good is your gear if you don’t take care of it?

Read previous columns of The Digital Ramble by Rosecrans Baldwin.

7 Responses to “The Digital Ramble | Geared Up”

  1. S said

    That blanket is a total rip-off of the Hudson’s Bay Company point blanket (the oldest retailer in the world) which has been produced for over 100 years.

  2. gerry said

    it’s true, the balnket design is completely stolen from Canada’s Hudson’s Bay Company….it’s older than Canada’s maple leaf flag (1967) and, to Canadians, it is as familiar as your stars and stripes…oh, nyt, sometimes you shock me

  3. Steph said

    I am appaulled that the blanket is not sourced to the Hudson Bay Company. I thought I was going mad when I re-read the article a couple of times to see if I had missed it. Shame on the designer…… for the real thing.

  4. Alex said

    Hilarious, I never thought I’d see Hockey Skates on this website. Agreed about that Pendleton blanket it’s basically the exact same motif as HBC’s.

  5. Hulbert said

    Wow! Total Rip-off. I assumed it was an HBC blanket until I read the article more closely.

    I wonder if a 200 year old copyright is still enforcible?

    For shame Pendleton! Why not knock off some Rollex watches while you’re at it!

  6. tony said

    it doesn’t look like hbc blanket at all. the stripes are a totally different size and scale to the overall fabric. the pendleton is better looking.

  7. roger said

    hbc blankets have ‘points’…small black lines that go next to the edge

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