Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Hiker’s Dress Code

1) Don’t dress like an REI or LLBean model. If you look “put together” you might as well wear sign saying, “I don’t belong here.” If you want to fit in, scrounge for your clothing, the geekier the better. This came surprisingly easy to me. Even on my first trip I probably fooled a couple of people on the trail into thinking I was a real hiker. I wore bright white long underwear with teal surfer shorts, a purple striped lycra tanktop and my light blue gardening visor. The one with little watering cans, trowels and hoes.

2) Display your ingenuity. Always tie things to the outside of your pack. (Unless you are day hiking – then you should carry only a mini-pack or if you’re really hip – a fanny pack). Tying things to the outside of your pack communicates ruggedness and resourcefulness, traits esteemed in the hiking community. What to tie on the outside of your pack? Sleeping pads, sandals, wet laundry, tortilla chips, a harmonica or a cello will do. Do not under any circumstances tie raw meat to the outside of your bag. It attracts wild animals and will potentially offend the real hikers (many of which are vegehoovians).

3) Don’t be afraid to be obsessive. Practice defensive dressing. Don’t become a casualty of, chafe, bugs, poisonous plants or weather. Choose your least favorite pest or pests and fight back. I dress in white, head to toe, so I can see the ticks before they git me. As payment to the gods of poison ivy, I refrain from wearing shorts even in the hottest weather. In case I should perspire, I make sure my clothes fit in such a way that my delicate self won’t chafe. And finally, I layer up. The more layers you wear the more layers you can take off (as strategic poker players know) and the more layers you can put back on.

4) Dress right or die. Everyone knows that cotton kills. When it’s colder up there than you think and a squirrel eats your compass and you discover your cell phone battery just died and the trail you’re on isn’t as well blazed as you’d hoped and it’s getting dark, you should not be wearing cotton. Worse than the hypothermia is the humiliation.

Have fun frolicking in the woods, but never forget, in the forest or the field, it’s always fashion first.

[Note: I will be posting an Advanced Tips On Hiking Fashion someday (discussing racing stripes and mosquito wear at the very least). Do you have any woodsy wardrobe wonders to share? Any tips or questions on advanced and begging techniques are welcome.]


  1. damn squirrels, they get you every time... um, this made me laugh 'til I cried. (and probably snorted, as well. :)


  2. Yipeee, mission accomplished and extra bonus points for snorts!!!

  3. Please tell me you are loving this, because I am so lovin' reading it. I always did love that light-blue gardening visor with the hoes and trowels on it.

  4. Yes, I'm lovin' it! But boy am I glad I didn't set out to do a daily blog forever. Once a week will be just perfect. This kick-off week is giving me a greater appreciation of that.

  5. Too funny, you all make me laugh! And triple snort!

  6. Annie, request permission to repost this on our, the blog to our new activities site,, for the Hiking activity. With credit and linkback. Would that be all right?

    Mac McCarthy, Editor