Humans have hiked and paddled and climbed for centuries, but specialized outdoor-recreation gear is a relatively new invention. Advertisements in Appalachia, AMC’s member-publication-turned-journal, mirror the evolution of this industry across the decades.
Clothing and equipment ads started appearing in Appalachia in the 1930s, as interest in skiing spread. Early ads featured fur-trimmed snowsuits and parkas, and in 1936, Idaho’s Sun Valley Resort was the first ski area to pitch its charms via paid placement.
Ads all but vanished from the journal during World War II and the decade that followed. Then came the backpacking boom. Hiking and camping suddenly were big business, and in the 1960s a wave of new products, from boots to sleeping bags, filled each issue’s expanding advertising section.
Even in an increasingly crowded market, many of those early advertisers—manufacturers and retailers alike—remain in business a half-century later.