Wilderness Press 50, hiking fashion

Revisiting 50 Years of Hiking Fashion

It’s impossible to keep up with the fashion industry. What’s popular today will become old news tomorrow. This season’s trendy color triggers next season’s gag reflex.

It’s not quite the same story for the outdoors world, thankfully. Sure, color palettes change and materials become softer and lighter and less stinky, but, overall, we have some consistency to our wardrobes.

But just how much consistency is there? Are we wearing the same outfits as the original Wilderness Press employees did in 1967?

We poked around and found some old photos to admire. (Haha, that’s a lie—we definitely made fun of them.) Step back in time for this look at outdoor fashions, then and now.


Then—If you had a shirt in your closet, it was a hiking shirt. Flannel was in. Buttons were in.

Wilderness Press 50, hiking fashion

Now—Would you look at that? Flannel is still in. While you can’t argue the importance of a good wool shirt after a week in the backcountry, many hikers choose to stick with the tried-and-true favorite.

Wilderness Press 50, hiking fashion


Then—Knobby knees must have been a coveted body part 50 years ago. Or men wanted to add some color to their thighs. Or something. Just look at the length of these shorts.

Wilderness Press 50, hiking fashion

Now—Light. Breathable. Odor-block technology developed by tiny fairies in a mountain cave. Today’s shorts are so comfy, you may think they’re better than naked.

Wilderness Press 50, hiking fashion


Then—Ironically opposite of the showy shorts, hiking socks were made to hide the ankle and lower calf. We’d say it was for protection from plants and dirt and rocks, but really that look was considered cool back then.

Now—There is a sock for everyone’s preference. Socks with compression, socks with toes, socks with colorful prints. Yet tall athletic socks have made a comeback once again.

Wilderness Press 50, hiking fashion


Then—Hiking boots were built to withstand any amount of weight, dust, or water you threw at them. They were sturdy, they were reliable, and you sighed when you took them off by the campfire at the end of the day.

Wilderness Press 50, hiking fashion

Now—While hiking boots are still wildly popular (hello, beautiful Danner boots), low-profile hiking shoes or trail running sneakers are becoming the shoe of choice for thru-hikers.

Wilderness Press 50, hiking fashion


Then—Is it a straw hat? Fisherman hat? None of the above? As long as it was round and had a wide brim, it was a solid hiking hat.

Now—Trucker hats. Trucker hats, trucker hats, trucker hats. Sometimes buffs. But always trucker hats.

Wilderness Press 50, hiking fashion

Have some killer photos from back in the day? We’d love to see them! Share them with us on twitter.

Tanya Twerdowsky

I am a Jersey girl living in Alabama who loves to run far and eat lots.

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