For outdoor gear I favor Campmor's bargain-basement approach (with reduced special-purchase items on display in a lovable little newsprint booklet) or the big catalog from REI, a cooperative (with members sharing profits) founded in 1938 by a Seattle mountaineer in search of a better ice ax. And I was awfully interested to learn recently that there soon will be a catalog of furnishings and knickknacks from hotels in the Ian Schrager chain, such as the Mondrian in L.A. and the Delano in Miami's South Beach.
But my favorite catalogs are from travel bookstores such as Distant Lands in Pasadena (soon to come out with its own travel gear catalog), with its useful system for rating guidebook series such as Fodor's and Frommer's. The catalogs (or inventory lists) for the California Map & Travel Center in Santa Monica and Traveler's Bookcase near the Beverly Center are on the Internet. And the Literate Traveller isn't really a bookstore at all, since it sells its intelligent and tasteful collection of travel books, maps and videos by catalog only; a recent compilation, "Around the World in 80 Mysteries," cataloged whodunits set all over the world. Best of all, once your mail order arrives, you can get back on the couch and curl up with a travel book.