As a casual hiker, I can comfortably say I often feel uncomfortable in the outdoors gear available for women. Too much is cut too tight, or just a scaled down version of a men's piece. Or it comes in colors I would never wear in day-to-day life. I feel like a completely different person in a full exercise outfit from top to bottom, and while that's not necessarily a bad thing, it creates an underlying feeling of unease. And isn't among nature where we are supposed to feel most comfortable?
New York-based Hikerkind seeks to relieve this exact feeling for women on the trail. Combining backgrounds in the fashion industry and a shared love of hiking, co-founders Allison Levy and Chelsea Rizzo create consciously-made hiking apparel designed for comfortable, confident self-expression on and off the trail.
The duo launched Hikerkind with a handsome midlayer in June 2021, and followed it up with a matching pant in January 2022, laying the initial framework for a future line of apparel far from the aforementioned "hiker costume.”
With the release of their first full collection of minimalist, performance-driven apparel this month, Hikerkind has established itself as one of the most refreshing and relevant brands to emerge within the outdoors industry in recent years.
Hikerkind's SS22 collection was created to be “foundational,” offering essential pieces (in sizes XS-XL) from which women can build a complete, functional hiking "uniform."
The eight piece collection includes a base layer sports bra and matching shorts, a performance hiking dress, long sleeve button-down, lightweight shorts, hiking pants, and other accessories designed to be mixed and matched depending on the wearer's needs. All made in New York City with prices ranging from $78 - $188.
In true Hikerkind fashion, details have been carefully considered throughout the collection, like pockets large enough to accommodate a modern smartphone, and inspirations wide ranging.
The color palette directly draws on the landscape of America’s most famous long-distance hiking trails—the Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, and the Pacific Crest Trail, i.e. the triple crown of hiking—while the gender-subdued silhouettes find inspiration in the iconic, androgynous style of 1930’s queer travel writer and photographer Annemarie Schwarzenbach.
To test and photograph the new collection ahead of launch, Rizzo, Levy and company visited three unique regions representing each of the inspiring trails.
"At every location, we brought along a hiker who inspires us, Co-founder Chelsea Rizzo tells us. "We shot content and gear tested in treeless foothills, rocky canyons, sandstorm flatlands, cactus forests, muddy river beds, and on class three climbs. It was amazing to not only test my own gear in these conditions but also watch how other women were able to move and perform in it, too."
One shoot location that's especially near and dear to our own heart here at FM HQ, New York's expansive Adirondacks, delivered both a stunning backdrop for photos and moments to reflect. "Watching Allison slide down a steep section in the ADK on the hem of Dress 01 or seeing water droplets roll off the legs of (Maria Nuñez’s) Trousers 01 as she filtered water during a river crossing was really rewarding," Rizzo tells us. "There were so many moments during the three shoots where I thought, we really did it!"
Hikerkind's SS22 collection is an exciting re-interpretation of essential pieces for all levels of hikers. The collection prepares wearers for days both on and off the trail, but primarily to dress as themselves.