Your parents were probably a lot richer, relative to the rest of the world, than you are. This means things from 30 years ago – or longer – are often of staggeringly high quality, and incredibly worth having if you like that sort of thing. A few good buys.


  1. Leather
    Leather has fallen completely out of fashion. Old-old vintage leather, and we’re talking 1970s, is heavy. It’s thick, the surfaces rich and creamy. As manufacturing technology “improved” they started cutting leather much thinner, more clothes from a hide, but durability and quality really suffered. The good stuff is still available, for $1700 new, or $35 old. You’d need a specialist to tell you how to shop for leather jackets on eBay: I hit flea markets. In Europe, Hidesign bags are incredibly cheap on eBay, and just beautiful. Crumpler laptop bags, not leather, but super durable and great designs, are also typically ten or twenty pounds. Whole hides are less than $100, brilliantly dyed Italian leather as would be used for car upholstery, and I’ve chucked one over my couch to protect it, which will make my landlord very happy if I ever move.

  2. Smooth or polished cast iron pans
    See above for why they are great. They show up on eBay in America pretty regularly for a few dollars. Make sure it’s the smooth surface, not the modern “Lodge-style” rougher surface.

  3. Cotton
    Cotton outerwear, old, names like gaberdine and ventile. Ventile is still made, and is almost completely waterproof under most conditions. Surprisingly practical, this is what people did before goretex. Style questions are up to you. Military ripstop cotton is pretty amazingly comfy.

Military surplus
It goes in waves as armies sell things off. For six months there will be tons of Oakley goggles around, then it’ll be cooking gear. Clothing tends to be more perennial. Many good dealers.