Shop Eddie Bauer: Men Women Kids Outerwear Gear Sale
Ten Life and Near-Death Adventures of Eddie Bauer
Posted on October 19, 2015

Eddie Bauer, the shopkeeper, at his original Seneca Street store.

Our founder’s life and experiences sound like urban legends but reality is way more interesting. On his birthday we take a look back at the man behind our brand.

 

Eddie Bauer was first, last, and always an outdoorsman. The products he made, and the company he built, were grounded in the adventure-driven innovation that sprang from his personal experience in the wilderness backcountry of the Pacific Northwest.

His unconditional lifetime guarantee on everything he sold came from his understanding, as an outfitter, that “There can be no compromise of quality when lives depend on performance.” A life spent with adventure can inspire both myth and legend. Here are ten historical facts about Eddie’s life that help create a picture of the real man.

–By Colin Berg, Brand Historian, Images courtesy of Eddie Bauer archives

Eddie Bauer spent a lifetime of hours fishing and hunting in the Pacific Northwest.

1) Eddie was proud of the fact that he was born on Orcas Island, “In a cabin at the end of the wagon road, at the beginning of the trail up Mt. Constitution.” To him, it symbolized the rugged Pacific Northwest that inspired his life as an outdoorsman, and defined his career as an outfitter.

Eddie Bauer, the man, on the Campbell River in BC, ca 1924.

2) Eddie was in a near-fatal motorcycle crash in 1918, when he was broadsided by an oncoming car and thrown from his Excelsior bike. After months in the hospital, he registered for the draft during World War I. Still recovering from a compound fracture of his leg, he was disqualified for duty. Had he been healthy, he might never have returned from the war or been able to develop his groundbreaking products that themselves saved so many lives.

Eddie Bauer, the shopkeeper, encouraged his customers to learn from the best—his staff.

3) Eddie opened for business in February 1920. Seven months later, around Labor Day, he put up a sign that said “Eddie Bauer has gone hunting, back February 1.” It was a pattern he continued for years, either closing up his shop or turning over the keys to his trusted employees so that he could tend to the business that was behind his business—the outdoors.

“Blackie,” first Labrador retriever in Washington State.

4) After hearing of a young Canadian hunting dog that leapt off a ten-foot cliff into the surf to retrieve a bird and return it to his master’s hand, Eddie drove to Vancouver Island and paid the owner $65 for “Blackie.” It was 1930, and Blackie became the first Labrador retriever in Washington State.

Eddie’s “office” was an open field.

5) Eddie once won an argument—and a $25 bet—over whether it was possible to hit a 36-inch bull’s-eye from 600 yards. The group of friends went to the gun range where Eddie hit 21 bull’s-eyes in a row until it got too dark to shoot. End of discussion.

 

6) Eddie turned another brush with death into his groundbreaking, career-defining Skyliner Jacket, the first down jacket patented in America. The inspiration came after Eddie suffered hypothermia on a winter fishing trip. He then began a series of cutting-edge innovations in adventure outfitting that spanned more than 30 years.

Lt. John Geddes stands on his P-38 in his Bauer Down Parka.

7) Eddie’s down jackets and sleeping bags were so prized by the airmen stationed in Alaska during the World War II Aleutian Campaign that they were wagered in high-stakes poker games. When the U.S. Army Air Forces brass got wind of this, they asked Eddie to design a cold-weather flight suit for them. He built the B-9 Parka and A-8 Flight Pants, the U.S. military’s first down-insulated flight suit.

Sleeping bag spread from Eddie’s inaugural catalog, 1945.

8) Eddie was a firm believer in making his down products as warm as physically possible, and building them so they would last a lifetime. Built For Service You’ll Never Require was the slogan he used for his top-of-the-line sleeping bag in the 1940s. Together with its wool liner, it weighed 18 pounds and was temperature-rated to -60°F. You could camp on a glacier with it, but you’d need a dogsled to carry it.

Eddie introduces his Style 25 Down Undershirt, 1957.

Eddie introduces his Style 25 Down Undershirt, 1957.

9) During the time Eddie was making his warmest parkas for expeditions to K2, Mt. Everest, and the South Pole, he developed one of his lightest, most versatile, and most forward-thinking items, the 1957 Down Undershirt. From day one, it was a favorite among the mountaineers, and foreshadowed the ultralight layering systems of today. It has evolved into today’s MicroTherm Stormdown Jacket.

Christine, “Stine,” Bauer could match her husband Eddie shot for shot.

10) Eddie called his wife, Christine, “my wilderness companion.” She hunted and fished with him all over the Northwest, and was an eight-time Washington State Women’s Trapshooting Champion. She died on April 3, 1986, after a brief illness. Fifteen days later, with no previous illness, Eddie himself died. His last request of the hospital nurse was a cold Rainier beer.

Eddie and Stine Bauer relax after a day hunting, circa 1928.

View the heritage-inspired products based on Eddie Bauer’s original design legacy, including the 1936 Original Model Down Jacket,  at eddiebauer.com with a focused heritage collection

 

 

Author: - Monday, October 19th, 2015
TAGGED:

  1. David R Bell

    Love the stories–great work thank you

  2. Tonya Hardy

    Thank You, for sharing these stories about Eddie and his wife. Been a Eddie Bauer customer for 25 years. My husband and I are all about outdoor adventures. We love all our down products from pillows to coats. I do wish you would come back with women’s goretex lace up boots. They are the best bird hunting boots ever. Your products are worth every penny.

  3. pepe fernandez-rua

    Best regards from Madrid (Spain). The first time I enter a store Eddie Bauer was in San Francisco some years ago. I bought several things that caught my attention. As a journalist I have traveled frequently to the States and I have always tried to go to cities where there was a store Eddie Bauer. Congratulations spread these historic photos of Mr. Bauer, for which I have always had a great admiration. Pepe

  4. WOODSTOVE

    Would be nice to see a vintage product line

  5. Jim

    Thanks for sharing this. Ditto on seeing a vintage product line.

  6. Pearl Menashe

    I was a loyal and dedicated employee of Eddie Bauer for 37 years. I started working at the headquarters in Seattle on Airport way then we moved to Redmond, WA. It was like night and day I loved it. Eddie Bauer’s quality and service has always been outstanding and can’t be beat. I wish I would have kept a journal if I knew I was going to be there that long, but everyday in the beginning of my career I thought I was going to get fired. It must have a self esteem thing. I now have a pet sitting business because I love animals and Eddie Bauer Happy birthday Eddie Bauer

  7. Eddie Bauer Social

    Hey Woodstove & Jim. We’ve got a number of products that are either updated versions of Eddie’s original designs, or were inspired by them. While it doesn’t comprise all of the updated items, our ShortShop line is heavily influenced by these classic pieces. More: http://www.eddiebauer.com/browse/sport-shop/_/N-277n?tab=sport-shop&cm_sp=topnav-_-SportShop-_-main&previousPage=GNAV

  8. Eddie Bauer Social

    Thanks, Tonya!

  9. Hal M

    Thank you for these great stories. My first experience with the absolutely legendary, stellar Eddie Bauer products came when I was visiting Seattle in the early 1070’s, and walked into the store to have a little fun about a goose down sweater I owned. After wearing it just about all winter for three seasons, one of the side seams was starting to separate a little. I jokingly said it looks like they just don’t make them like they used to – and to my complete astonishment, the manager told me to bring it in and they would give me a new one. I told him I was joking – and he told me he wasn’t!

  10. Sarza

    The chill is in the air here in Michigan and I’m thinking of a warmer winter coat for the approaching season. After reading the excerpts from your Founder’s adventurous life stories, I’m headed for my local Eddie Bauer store to help celebrate his birthday!

  11. Restituto Loran, Jr.

    Awesome write-up. It is nice to know that the person who started it all was a practitioner of his products. I believe he would really like the First Ascent products including the new shoe lines. Happy Birthday to all Eddie Bauer staff members…hell of a great tradition you are continuing.

  12. Suzanne

    Thank you for sharing the stories. I have been shopping at Eddie Bauer stores for YEARS. I love their clothes and shoes/ boots …well just everything because of the great quality. I spend way too much money at Eddie stores but I know that the product will last a long time. The manager at the store in Castleton, IN is my favorite. I love her. She knows my name, my style and I enjoy talking with her.

  13. William White

    1st picture airbrushed out a stockpile of trophies that EB used to assert his authority as the best hunter and fisher of the Pacific Northwest. I’m not sure what the company is ashamed of?

  14. Robert Beebe

    My wife and I picked up an Eddie Bauer Sleeping Bag at a flea market in Princeton, WI about 35 to 40 years ago. We used to use it when we went camping because it was big enough for the two of us. It was packed away when we moved about 30 years ago and just unpacked today as we started cleaning out things we’ve had for years. We decided we need to downsize and we’re not sure what to do with it. Is there a value on this item? It’s the down bag rated to -60, with the slogan on the carry bag that reads:”Built for Service You’ll Never Require.” They were right when they said, “You could camp on a glacier with it, but you’ll need a dogsled to carry it.” This is not a backpacking type bag! We would be interested in a value, and any more history concerning this type “Sleeping Robe” as printed on the carry bag. Thank you.

  15. BestRandal

    I see you don’t monetize your site, don’t waste your traffic, you can earn extra cash
    every month because you’ve got hi quality content. If you want to know how to make extra
    bucks, search for: Ercannou’s essential tools best adsense alternative


Write A Comment

Sorry, no posts matched your criteria.