Historic military style backpack

Guest post: “The Evolution of Hiking Gear” by Dustin Walker of Slick & Twisted Trails

Photo: Chris Peura

It’s become almost like an arms race.

Over the past few decades, outdoor gear companies have been competing to develop the lightest, toughest and most comfortable backpacking equipment on the market.

And it’s not just the established wilderness companies like REI or Patagonia either. Big consumer brands, such as Nike and even Lululemon, have joined the fray by making advanced clothing and gear for more casual outdoor explorers.

And as a result, there’s a virtual smorgasbord of tents, backpacks, jackets, boots and any other piece of equipment you can think of. Some hiking purists might even argue there’s too much gear flooding store shelves.

But it sure took a long time to get to this point.

The pioneers behind what’s considered to be ‘trekking gear’ today weren’t heading into the wilderness for fun. Back then, they went backpacking to either hunt or do battle.

It wasn’t until after World War Two that outdoor exploration really caught on as a recreational activity. And that’s when the steady development of better tents, boots and backpacks really began.

The infographic below (which originally appeared on the hiking blog Slick & Twisted Trails) was created as a tribute to the origins of today’s modern backpacking gear.

Sure, newer gear doesn’t always mean better gear. But compared to the equipment used by alpinists and trekkers before the 1950s, we all have it pretty good today.

The Evolution Of Trekking Gear

Dustin Walker runs Slick & Twisted Trails — a blog for hikers and backpackers who shun the beaten path. Check out his latest guide to backpacking gear & gadgets.

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