Outfitted for Adventure: Vintage Hiking Gear

November 4, 2015
Laura HurleyIn July 2015, Becky Fullerton hit the White Mountains in an outfit inspired by vintage hiking gear from the early 1900s.

As soon as her 2014 hut-to-hut hike was over, Becky Fullerton began brainstorming her next White Mountain trek. For the 2015 centennial of AMC’s Lakes of the Clouds Hut, she wanted something different. Something special. And then she had it: She would hike in 1915 period garb, knickers and all.

As AMC’s archivist, Fullerton is well versed in the organization’s history. But what was it actually like to hike in the early 20th century? Turning to the resources that surround her in AMC’s Library & Archives, Fullerton paged through old photo albums, studied maps, and read guidebooks. Kathrene Pinkerton’s 1916 book, Woodcraft for Women, provided a particularly valuable glimpse into the challenges outdoorswomen of the period faced. “In few cities have [the woodswoman’s] needs been met with the same generosity that has characterized the attitude of sportsmen’s outfitters toward men campers,” Pinkerton wrote.

Fullerton slowly assembled a facsimile of a 1915 hiking outfit: wool knickerbockers and coat, white blouse, neckerchief, and boiled wool hat. With some modern allowances for safety—a waterproof jacket, a first-aid kit, and a headlamp, among other essentials—she set off on the Old Bridle Path in Franconia Notch, making her way to Madison Spring Hut over several days.

She traversed the White Mountains for one week, giving educational talks at the huts, pausing for the occasional photograph, and stopping to speak with curious hikers. Most common question: What did hikers eat in 1915? Answer: fruits and nuts, dried meats, canned sardines, cheese, and hot cocoa.

Images seen here appear courtesy of the AMC Library & Archives. Duplicates can be ordered for a fee. Funds support efforts to preserve the club’s historical collections. Call 617-391-6629, visit outdoors.org/library, or e-mail amclibrary@outdoors.org for details.


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Marc Chalufour

Marc Chalufour, a former senior editor of AMC Outdoors, contributes to the trail-running blog Running Wild.