WORDS BY STEPHEN YU
What is Gorpcore?
It’s not quite as futuristic as techwear, but it’s not quite as non-descript normcore either. It’s something in between. Mix functional outerwear and utilitarian garments with a sprinkle of mountain chic, and hikercore is what you get. It’s more Japanese hiker than bird-watchers in anoraks. It’s Drake in Canada Goose, or ASAP Rocky in technical Prada jackets.
Check out Instagram accounts like @organiclab.zip or @114.index and you’ll begin to understand the trend. It’s street and sportswear with a camping-focused tinge. At one end it’s Birkenstocks and painter pants like old-school climbers, at the other end its Reebok Beatniks and cutting-edge technical trousers.
Whether it’s sustainability or the call of the wild that’s bringing you to this trend, these are the 11 essential pieces you need to nail that gorpcore/hikercore look.
Ever since Eddie Bauer first had the genius idea of stuffing a jacket with good feathers, a down jacket has become the outerwear of choice when you need something lightweight yet high-warmth. Perhaps overkill for city environments, still nothing beats the silhouette of a big puffer jacket, just ask Prada or Balenciaga who’ve made their own renditions in recent seasons. While maximum insulation is paramount, leave Canada Goose and Moncler for the masses –– getting gorpy is all about bringing that extraness, which is basically Stone Island’s MO. Garment-dyed an in-your-face orange that even Nigel Cabourn would be jealous of, and made from traceable down this padded jacket is both conspicuous and eco-conscious.
Shop this style: Stone Island Padded Zip-Up Down Jacket
There’s an old Norwegian saying that goes ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing’ and we’re tempted to say this is 100% right. A performance piece of outerwear is a staple of the hikercore wardrobe, think multiple layers of Gore-Tex waterproofing and windproofing alongside durable ripstop outers which means you’ll never be caught ill-prepared for inclement weather. Oh, and our number one tip? Size up –– you’ll need the room for your multiple layers of fleece, merino wool and thick knitwear, and it always looks better baggier too. Arc’Teryx is what Virgil Abloh wears snowboarding and Kanye wears shopping in London, this coupled with the fact that the Canadian brand are industry leaders in technical apparel means you’d be silly to consider anything else.
Shop this style: Arc’Teryx Beta Hooded Performance Jacket
From chunky North Face duffles that could survive going up Everest, to delicate Visvim bags that wouldn’t survive one day as a teenager's school bag, the backpack is a gorpcore essential. Whether you need 40-litres of volume for your sleeping bag and camping stove (Snow Peak of course) or just enough room for your laptop is another matter. We’re guessing it’s the latter, that’s why this little bag is our pick of the bunch –– it’s made by techwear royalty C.P. Company, features hardcore Cordura nylon webbing and thick plastic buckles, and its one strap design is perfect for switching between wearing on your back or front. Checking your map or reaching for your trail mix has never been easier.
Shop this style: C.P. Company Cross Body Lens Utility Backpack
The humble fleece may be your easiest entry point into the world of gorpcore, chances are if you’ve tried to stay on-trend in recent years then you already have at least one. If not, where better to start than the original and the best –– Patagonia. Much imitated but never bettered, Patagonia pretty much invented fleece with the introduction of their manmade Synchilla fabric as an alternative to wool that was both lightweight and remained warm when wet. While their pullover Snap-T is probably their most popular model, it’s the Retro-X that’s captured the hearts of hikercorers –– with their boxy shape, trademark collars and chest pockets there’s a big demand for vintage versions from Toronto to Tokyo. Adapted for present times, the modern-day versions aren’t so bad either. The fact that their fleece is made from recycled polyesters makes us feel even warmer inside too.
Shop this style: Patagonia Short Fleece Bomber Jacket
A good vest is an invaluable layering piece in the hikercore aficionado’s arsenal. In the summer, make yours lightweight with multiple storage options to prevent unsightly bulging pockets in your Patagonia Baggies shorts. As the weather changes, a padded down vest is a lightweight trans-seasonal piece that’s ideal as an outer layer for those unexpectedly warm autumn days, or a cosy mid-layer when the mercury drops. Whether you’re channelling a Japanese fly fisherman or unleashing your inner commando, there’s an array of tactical vests or padded gilets for whatever the situation demands. We like this one from Nemen though, there’s lots of room for your personal effects and the luxury nylon construction makes it look more stylish and less park ranger.
Shop this style: Nemen XLT Guard Vest
You’ve gone to all the trouble of layering yourself with the most shit-hot functional apparel technologies and innovations known to man, so why let your fit down by having the garment that’s closest to your skin be any old rag. Swap your cotton t-shirt for a merino base layer –– the fabric is more lightweight, breathable and better at moisture wicking –– you’ll be thanking us when you transition from sub-zero outdoor temperatures to baking hot indoor central heating and the sweats hit. This one from Veilance –– Arc’teryx’s premiere technical apparel range designed for urban environments –– ticks all the right boxes
Shop this style: Veilance Long-Sleeve T-Shirt
Put down the shotter bag and reach for a hip pack or waist bag. Though similar in theory, in practice these bags are completely different. One is designed for carrying your mobile phone and wallet in the city, the other is made for trekking through the wilderness. Okay, we’ll admit they mostly look the same, except for this slick shoulder bag. Made by And Wander (which was founded by former Issey Miyake designers so you know it’s good), the straps of this bag are made from bungee cord and attach using carabiners, and its made from super lightweight material that’s stronger than steel. Basically, this bag is the kind of thing Bear Grylls could use to rappel down a ravine or fashion into a raft, and that’s cool.
Shop this style: And Wander Dyneema Shoulder Bag
Technical trousers are made for moving in. What does this mean in terms of design? Typically they’ll be generously cut and constructed from technical stretch fabrics to facilitate movement. Other times, they’re made slim but made with articulated panels cut ergonomically to fit the human body like those at Stone Island or Veilance. Either way, they’ll always come with some form of utilitarian detailing whether that’s zip-off panels, multiple pockets or water repellent finishes. Tapered and pleated, these cargos definitely bear the unmistakable touch of former Nike ACG designer and techwear gawd Errolson Hugh of Acronym making them a must-have.
Shop this style: Nike ACG Cargo Trousers
Hikercore is not about living out your most geeky LARPing fantasies by cosplaying as Hillary Edmund with heritage techwear gear. A pair of chunky heavy leather Danner hiking boots is hardly at the forefront of technology, which is what the trend is all about. Instead, opt for a pair of Hoka One One boots, they mix the comfort and agility of a sneaker with the stability and protection of a boot. Lightweight yet still packed with trail-ready functionalities like a Gore-Tex inner boot and grippy Vibram outsole, I know what I’d rather be lugging up K2 (or more realistically backpacking around Asia).
Shop this style: Hoka One One Kaha GTX Hiking Boots
Trail Running Sneakers
The great outdoors eats limited-edition sneakers for breakfast. Don’t believe us? Take your most treasured Travis Scott Nike’s for a spin round your closest cliff path and let us know how you get on. Luckily, Salomon strikes the perfect balance between fashion and functionality with their S/Lab line –– each silhouette is rugged enough for the trails yet still so aesthetically pleasing that the likes of Palace skateboards and Boris Bidjan Saberi are lining up to do collaborations with the French footwear brand. This fire colourway of the XT4 reminds us of the now sold-out ‘The Broken Arm’ collaboration and we love how easy they are to lace-up or slip out of.
Shop this style: Salomon S/Lab XT4 Adv Low Top Sneakers
Make cold hands a thing of the past, these mittens are made from a plush and extra-warm fleece and best of all they can convert into fingerless gloves –– no more missed calls or taking off gloves to text. Made by Snow Peak who are basically Japan’s answer to Patagonia or The North Face so you know you’re in good hands (yes, pun intended).
Shop this style: Snow Peak Boa Thermal Fleece Mittens