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How you look when you go backpacking...
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Ty Ty

Locale: SE US
How you look when you go backpacking... on 03/08/2012 09:57:16 MST Print View

Curious if others are conscious of how you look when you go backpacking?

I guess I ask this because I am kind of consciously making an effort to look more normal, out for a walk in the woods kinda look. I'm not sure why, I guess as I get into the whole backpacking light thing I don't want to look like I am making a summit assault on Everest.

Couple things I have done is I am eliminating stuff that hangs from my pack, I am cutting stuff off my pack that I don't need and add to the clutter, I would like to get some nylon pants that are more like regular pants (no zip off, cargo pockets, hammer loop, zippers, etc). All of this correlates with being/carrying less but at the same time I just want to look...less. Not just for others but for myself, for the pictures I am in that friends and family will see. I just don't want to look and feel like I am on some intense survival mission or that I am a walking advertisement for REI. In some ways I think this could help to convey to friends and family that I want to someday go backpacking with, that it does not have to be a survival mission, it is just walking.


Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
I look like Hell and don't care on 03/08/2012 10:15:19 MST Print View

If extra pockets on pants work better for you, then that is what you need. If I attach something to my pack to increase efficiency, then so be it. I own a god-awful looking orange R1 Hoody, because I saved $40 by buying it in that color than the more popular ones. Right now my hair is too long, as are my finger nails, and my beard is a scraggly mess. On a recent trip my wife pointed out that I had on blue shoes, green socks, red shorts, a blue windshirt and a black vest over it... very poor color coordination. I don't give a Rat's Arse.

Now, I will soon be traveling to a corporate meeting and will have a haircut, manicured nails, professionally cut beard, expensive suit perfectly coordinated with shirt and tie, and my laptop bag will look corporate. This is necessary if I want to keep my job and it does not bother me at all. Unfortunately, in my business, appearance counts and one must adhere to the standards if they wish to play in this arena. When conducting business I do care how I look.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
who cares? on 03/08/2012 10:25:35 MST Print View

unless yr the type that wants to pose for fbook photos ...

when i go climbing i often have holes somewhere in my clothing ...

fashion in the outdoors??? ... well only if yr trying to pick up young ski bunnies at groomed hills ;)

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
How you look when you go backpacking... on 03/08/2012 10:30:37 MST Print View



Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: How you look when you go backpacking... on 03/08/2012 10:34:30 MST Print View

are there trolls on this web site ?
this is the closest thing I've seen to a troll on BPL in along time.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Re: How you look when you go backpacking... on 03/08/2012 10:37:53 MST Print View

For me, it's function over form on the trail; I'm not trying to make a fashion statement. Any combination of clothing or colors is acceptable if it's appropriate for current conditions. If someone is upset seeing naked people, they can move on down the trail and let me soak/bathe in peace.....or they can strip off and join me.

When trying to hitch a ride or before arriving at a trail angel's home, it's a different story. I shave. I wash my hands and face, brush my hair, and attempt to deodorize the body a bit. I'll change into whatever passes for my cleanest dirty clothing.

In town, I'll find a motel or hostel, then on to a laundry and wash everything but my rain pant and jacket - gotta have SOMETHING on. I'll shower, shave, and shampoo while my clothes are trying to kill the washer. Once resembling human again, I'll pig out on the luxuries available before returning once again to my true hiker trash trail personna.


Yes, that's Reds Meadow Resort along the PCT/JMT. Good memory on your part.

Edited by wandering_bob on 03/08/2012 17:27:05 MST.

Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
blending in on 03/08/2012 10:44:33 MST Print View

i have to blend in completely with my environment. my trail name is Randall.

this post might be too obscure.

Edited by asciibaron on 03/08/2012 10:45:21 MST.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: How you look when you go backpacking... on 03/08/2012 10:54:05 MST Print View

"I would like to get some nylon pants that are more like regular pants (no zip off, cargo pockets, hammer loop, zippers, etc)"

Arcteryx Rampart pants fit that definition and what I wear for backpacking. Lightweight Nylon pants that are form fitting but easy to move in so they don't look baggy.

You can get them on sale sometime for < $70. A quick search on Google reveals some on sale here for $59 here

Jace Mullen
(climberslacker) - F

Locale: Your guess is as good as mine.
Ultralight Aesthetic on 03/08/2012 11:05:27 MST Print View

I believe that along with Ultralight backpacking comes a certain Aesthetic of simplicity. While his post may make it sound the opposite, no one I have hiked with has characterized this more then Nick.

His gear has reached a pinnacle of simplicity, and in that lies a certain beauty to me.

To answer your question, yes, I do try to keep the outside of my pack as simple as possible, and to do that I keep as much stuff from dangling outside my pack as possible. I also try to minimize the number of items in my pack, keeping it as simple as possible. I have yet to achieve the level of Nick, but I am happy with what I have.

"Make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler"
~Albert Einstein

John Doe
(jessearl) - F
Clothes make the man? on 03/08/2012 11:10:57 MST Print View

I understand where you are coming from to an extent, but at the same times, who cares?

I once hiked with a group of guys who wore so much camo a fellow hiker on the trail asked if we were all military. We weren't. We were just a group of guys hiking.

I care more about comfort and usefulness of my clothes than I do about fashion. On the other hand, I do tend to wear more natural or neutral colors when hiking. I don't wear bright colors on the trail or on my gear. It ruins the wilderness some how.

Chris S
(csteutterman) - F

Locale: Tahoe
Re: Ultralight Aesthetic on 03/08/2012 11:12:13 MST Print View

I do appreciate a svelte looking pack

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: How you look when you go backpacking... on 03/08/2012 11:15:08 MST Print View

Not really, though I have a preference for UV resistant tops, and rugged pants. If needed, I can switch to street clothes at the end of a hike before hitting the restaurant. For multi-day hikes away from home, I usually reward myself with a night in the nearest city anyways .. or at least a dip in the nearest hot spring, so I'm changing jnto swim trunks and Tevas, regardless. I'm not driving hours smelling up my vehicle. Figure those thru-hiking the Alps or the UK where wild camping is discouraged (and spending each night in a refugio or inn is encouraged) may need to worry about it more. Might be a form of stealth in those areas. In the US, nah.

Ty Ty

Locale: SE US
look on 03/08/2012 11:23:31 MST Print View

I don't know why this would seem like a trolling post. I think it's something interesting to discuss. There is a thread in Gear where a dozen people have weighed in on how sleeping socks should fit (which is fine) but if we can talk about that I think this is a valid thing to discuss.

I would venture to guess with all the detailed discussion of all the expensive brand name clothes that the majority of people on this site are somewhat interested in how they look or appear when heading out.

I think how you look usually plays into how you feel. So maybe if you dress like you are on a survival expedition does that possibly make you feel more like you are on one? The more I do this the more I want to feel like I am walking, enjoying the sights and sounds of nature. I want to purposefully try to leave my stresses behind both the work stuff but also my stressing about having a backup to the just-in-case to the backup plan. That is part of being a light backpacker so why wear the uniform of the backpacker that is packing all of their fears?

Am I making any sense here? Maybe not, I feel like I am.

Karple T

Locale: Mid-Alantic
"How you look when you go backpacking..." on 03/08/2012 11:31:27 MST Print View

Better that I used to ...

big pack

Ty Ty

Locale: SE US
look cont... on 03/08/2012 11:37:11 MST Print View

Thom - you are a good example, you look very normal and comfortable. You look like you are out for a walk or a jog. The look on your face, your body language, and your shelter says 'I am out walking, enjoying myself, relaxed.' If I was a non backpacker and I saw that picture I might think 'wow look how comfortable he looks, normal, casual, looks like fun'.

Also that guy Lint in that Oregon video here ( is a good example. If he set his backpack down you would have no idea he was even out sleeping in the woods.

The two examples above are in contrast or on the opposite end of the spectrum of a mental image of a traditional backpacker with a 50+ lb pack, sleeping bag, pad, whistle, compass, watch, towel, and other gear strapped onto the outside of their pack. He is wearing heavy duty mountaineering boots, heavy wool socks and/or gore-tex knee high gators, zip off pants, leg pockets bulging with maps, GPS, etc. Fixed blade knife on hip, bandanna on head for river of sweat pouring down face, boonie hat hanging off kneck strap, trekking poles, possibly a backup GPS clipped by carabeaner to shoulder strap.

Those are the two opposite ends of the spectrum. Imagine what people think when they see the traditional guy. Wow that looks like hard work, that looks expensive, that looks awful. When they see Thom or Lint's trip pictures they probably think wow that dosent look so hard, that does not look too expensive.

I guess I have lowered my pack weight but for the most part I probably carry the look of the traditional guy that is assaulting rather than walking. I am just saying as I buy things, a shirt here, a pair of pants there, I am going to buy stuff that is toned down, less pockets, less zippers, normal colors, less IN YOUR FACE backpacking clothes and just go for a more...I am out walking casually through the woods...look.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: look on 03/08/2012 11:40:09 MST Print View

sorry ty ty
it just never really occurred to me that people were actually serious about how they looked in the wilderness.
I'm more from the "Nick" side of the fence.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: look on 03/08/2012 11:56:10 MST Print View

Ya, don't really care either. Function over form when backpacking. But here's an idea of what I wear.

Whachoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?

Just a little further...

Ty Ty

Locale: SE US
Re: Re: look on 03/08/2012 12:01:16 MST Print View

Art - No apology necessary I am not offended. Sorry if I sound overly intense sometimes, my wife accuses me of being an intense person.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: look on 03/08/2012 12:03:03 MST Print View

It's a valid topic Ty. I completely agree that there is something beautiful about simplicity. Obviously not everyone buys into the simple approach and insist on carrying as much comfort as possible (whatever that means to them). A person carrying a 50lb pack with stuff dangling everywhere doesn't seem relaxed or simple to me.

This discussion reminds me of a time when I lived in a remote area. I was always disgusted how often I would see people's houses looking trashed out with junk in the yard etc.. No reason being poor means you need to look disorganized. Have some pride in your appearance. I carry that same attitude in when I am out. Having less should make that all the easier to accomplish.

Ty Ty

Locale: SE US
Re: Re: Re: look on 03/08/2012 12:03:47 MST Print View

Travis - you look pretty normal too, well not in the second picture but in the first one you do at least :)

Maybe this is just a light backpacker versus traditional backpacker thing. Light backpackers just look more 'out for a stroll'.