What are you going to wear? Sometimes it’s good to look at a few suggestions then add your own tweaks and ideas. That’s what these are for. GORPcore might be all the fashion rage, but this stuff was meant to be used. Your local mountains, forests and parks are teeming with trails and open air. Hiking trails help open your mind and challenge your body, and aiding in the effort is your wardrobe. Aim for functional, breathable garments that are durable enough to handle a rock scramble but comfortable for all-day wear in variable temperatures. Bonus points for sustainability, which we’re aiming for a bit in the picks below.
The Shirt: The North Face Wander Longsleeve Tee in Monterey Blue – $45. Hefty price for what looks at first glance to be a basic longsleeve tee, but the features tell a different tale. Breathable lightweight moisture-wicking fabric with UPF15 sun protection. Not extra-strength UPF but better than basic. Even better, made from 96% recycled polyester, 4% elastane. Conscious consumerism is becoming ever more important, and the push toward sustainability in apparel manufacturing is a welcomed development many of us want to support.
The Pants: Eddie Bauer Pro Guide Pant in Storm Blue/Grey – $60. The best bang-for-your buck hiking pant in the business. Plenty of pockets for ample storage without looking hyper-technical, this guide pant from the storied Eddie Bauer checks all the basic boxes for your hiking needs: UPF 50 for sun protection, water repellant/moisture wicking finish, sustainable materials, odor resistant, and stretchy. Also available in a slim fit for even more tapered style.
The Sunglasses: Sunski Seacliffs in Black – $55. Sunski makes the best shades under a Benjamin for your outdoor adventures. Polarized. UVA/B/400 Protection and above-average trail style make these a winner.
The Bug Spray: Sawyer Picaridin Bug and Tick Repellent – $8. Not all insect repellents are the same, and this is, by far, the most effective I’ve used. Routinely rated the best bug spray on the market, and for good reason. Picaridin is less harmful than DEET, while being quite effective without staining your clothing and gear. They even offer a version you can use to pre-treat your clothing for added defense against nasty insects – especially ticks.
The Drinking Vessel: Yeti Rambler 16 oz Stackable Pint in Aquifer Blue – $25. For a celebratory bevarage upon your return, or a coffee jumpstart before you head out. The splurge of the outfit. Nobody needs this. Yet everyone needs this. It will keep your hot coffee hot or your beer cold, and there’s hardly anything more enjoyable than a cold brew after a long hike or a hot coffee pre trail as the sun is coming up. Keep your hike sustainable and stay away from single use plastics bottles.
The Vest: Patagonia Classic Synchilla Vest in Black – $80. Gorpcore fellas! It’s all happening! This time of year, depending upon when you set out for the day, there might be a decent chill in the air. Opting for a fleece vest maintains your range of motion, lets your pits breathe, all while keeping your core warm. It also takes up less room in your pack when it’s time to shed the extra layer. Patagonia makes the best in the biz, and it was made for the woods long before it was co-opted by Wall Street worker bees.
The Backpack: Gregory Miwok 24 Daypack in Red – $120. A good daypack is lightweight and a large enough volume to store all your gear for roughly 10-12 hours on the trail. This pack from Gregory has a 24 liter capacity to provide enough space for your stuff, while maintaining low weight and ventilation to keep swamp-back at bay. The entire pack is built with durable ripstop nylon to withstand rock and snags on branches. I can attest to the durability – the pack in the header has been caught on countless branches, dragged across boulders, soaked in streams and still does the job well. A critical but often overlooked feature is a convenient space for storing a water bladder and a system to manage the tube to keep it from flailing about.
The Socks: Darn Tough Vermont Micro-Crew Light Hiking Socks – $20. Listen to Lt. Dan. Socks make a difference. Especially on the trail. When you’re scrambling up rocks, jumping (or falling into) streams, and generally on your feet all day, you need a pair of socks built to breathe, dry quickly and provide lasting comfort. Merino wool in a lighter weight for warm weather use. Micro-crew height prevents ankle chafing and greater coverage from bugs and plants. Made in the USA, just like the National Parks. Once you hike in a pair of these, you will never hike in anything else.
The Boots: Danner Mountain 600 in Saddle Tan Leather – $200. If you’re going for anything more than a stroll on flat terrain, your average athletic shoe won’t suffice. If you plan to spend a good amount of time on the trail over the next few months, investing in a proper pair of lightweight but still substantial hiking boots is worth the extra coin. These Danner boots provide ample ankle support & protection for most hikes, along with enough midsole cushioning to keep your “dogs” fresh. A Vibram outsole keeps you sure-footed on scrambles and the slippery sections. All this, wrapped in handsome leather built for miles and years of use. The color I’m wearing at the very top of the post is no longer in stock, but the pair linked here has an identical build, albeit in an arguably more stylish saddle tan color. Ships and returns are free, too. Also available in a rich brown durable waterproof suede for $20 less.
The Watch: Fitbit Charge 4 – $150. Hiking is more than just getting in touch with nature, it’s a great form of exercise. Steady-state cardio with some more difficult sections keeps you on the move, and a great way to track your progress is with an activity tracker. Smart watches are hideous, but the Fitbit Charge 4 is a subtle band that not only tracks your activity, but also functions as a watch. If you want to FULLY unplug, and activity tracking isn’t important to you, opt for something rugged and simple like the tried and true Casio G-Shock.
The Hat: Patagonia Baggies Brimmer Hat in Tan – $49. Anywhere but the outdoors, and this hat makes you look like a 90’s tourist dad. At camp, on a trail, or on the water, it’s a sun-beating lightweight vented hat with enough structure to stay up and free enough to stay out of mind. Moisture-wicking, and the brim floats on water. Neat. For a slightly cheaper but still very capable option, this hat from The North Face checks most of the boxes.
About the Author: Jason P. spends his days working in the creative marketing department of a big telecom company. He also does a bit of real estate investing on the side. He believes in curating a timeless, classic wardrobe with subtle modern touches for today. He and his wife love hiking with their dog and shopping at local small businesses and antique stores when they travel. Jason is a practitioner of muay thai and traditional boxing, and his favorite drink is a hoppy New England IPA.