How many of you have wandered into a gift shop and purchased a souvenir that maybe, for at least most of you, has sat in a box somewhere, long forgotten?


I’m here to change that habit and give new life to these novelties-turned-afterthoughts. Its time to rise up and be proud of your nic-nacs, your cheap t-shirts, your fridge magnets or that stuffed moose plush you bought in Canada. Well, for me its patches…

I think I can thank my dear cousin Walter for starting me on patches. A few years ago, Walter criss-crossed the country on a photography project, picking up patches at various souvenir stands and gift shops along the way and pinning them all on a bulletin board back home.

I loved it!

My parents had purchased decals and patches for me as a child on a few of my early adventures, but it wasn’t until Walter’s inspiration led me to purchase my first patch at the San Juan National Historical Site in Puerto Rico (actually, I probably have to credit my girlfriend, Breeah, for picking up both that one and No. 2 – White Sands in New Mexico – and kickstarting the habit).

At first, I didn’t have any specific rules. I’d buy patches for parks I really enjoyed (or patches I deemed worthy). Nowadays, I almost always pick up a patch at the various national park sites I visit throughout the states and Canada. I’m not limited to just national park areas, though, as my collection includes other parks, trails, countries and notable locations. In other words, if they had a cool patch for sale and I saw it, I probably picked it up.

The only rules to this hobby are that the patch must be purchased at the site (or close to, and while on the same trip). I don’t order patches later to fill the collection, if I missed it, I’d theoretically have to go back and get one if I was so inclined. If there is no patch to be found, I’ll sometimes settle for a magnet, decal or coin. I do buy postcards on occasion, but I don’t consider them as substitutes in this particular collection.

With that, here’s the collection to this point…

2 thoughts on “Patches

  1. Cool collection. I have never been able to settle on one medium to horde so i have several going on. Magnets on the fridge, license plates on and in the garage, stickers on the tool cabinets, maps and flags in the office, concert posters and event flyers on the ceiling of the garage and artwork scattered throughout the living areas.
    Keep up the great blog always enjoying reading.
    I plan on picking up 5-7 new Nebraska counties this weekend on my way to a license plate collectors meet.

    • I have always been intrigued with plate collecting, Jeff. While I think I’ve spotted every North American plate (outside of maybe Am. Samoa and the N. Marianas) I don’t own many (sans a couple Montana ones and a Hawaiian plate). My greatest find in the wild was a Nunavut registered vehicle at a hotel in Ottawa. Had to be a government official methinks…

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