I’m In My Gorpcore Era. Here’s How I Achieve The Look & Lifestyle

I vividly remember my first trip to a national park. I was 23 visiting the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park for the first time. For the occasion, I bought clothes that I felt looked the part: A fleece vest, a pair of Adidas Terrex hiking boots (my first pair of hiking boots!), and flannels. While comfortable, my wardrobe didn’t reflect me. It was more of an unimaginative take. Think, outdoors cosplay. On that same trip, I had an epiphany. As I hiked a popular trail in Zion, I was met with curious stares, as though they were surprised that I was there. This confused me because my K’iche’ Maya ancestors are literally native to the Americas. But, by design, the outdoors is often seen as a space for white people
That experience marked a clear shift for me: If they were going to stare, then I was going to give them a reason to. From then on any outdoor gear felt uniquely me. I confidently took up space, physically and figuratively. I let functional outdoor pieces become an expression and extension of my bright aura whether I’m on a hike or running errands. My gorpcore essence (outdoor rec pieces worn as streetwear) has been fostered by my love of spending time outdoors
I first went hiking while visiting my aunt in Los Angeles. She took my brother and me on a small hike to the Griffith Observatory and the rest is, as they say, history. The feeling of being awestruck at the top of the observatory, looking out at the mountains and city of Los Angeles, would blaze the trail for me to return to that exact spot 15 years later with a crew of Black and brown women and allies to take up space and reconnect with Mother Nature. That 2017 event was the first meetup for an idea called Hike Clerb. Fast forward to today, Hike Clerb is a national nonprofit that has taken more than 2,200 people of color out on the trails. 

"My gorpcore essence (outdoor rec pieces worn as streetwear) has been fostered by my love of spending time outdoors." 

Evelynn Escobar
Like most kids from the suburbs, I grew up playing outside. The woods were our playground, and I didn’t think twice about it. It wasn’t until I got older that I began to see how society amplifies the myth that people of color and nature are separate. This unnatural separation made me realize how we were being othered in a space that also birthed us. Being a Black and Indigenous Latina who spent time in nature in a predominantly white space in Northern Virginia, I understood what it was like to be othered. Going outside and changing into my play clothes was my routine, but there were levels to recreating that I didn’t fully come to understand until adulthood. 
Gorp is reportedly a backronym for “good ol' raisins and peanuts,” aka trail mix, but it also alludes to an outdoorsy lifestyle. Spending more time in nature, before the term “gorpcore” came into existence, I found myself wearing versatile pieces that could take me from a hike to a hangout with friends. I have always been a cozy girl — subconsciously influenced by my grandmother’s fondness for oversized and comfortable clothing, the foundation was there. 

"Society amplifies the myth that people of color and nature are separate. This unnatural separation made me realize how we were being othered in a space that also birthed us."

Now, my style is bright, functional, gender fluid and comfort-forward. Through all my style evolutions, comfort remains king. Whether it was the bandanas, my love of vests, cargos, fleeces, and zip-offs (shout-out to Limited Too!), I’ve always been a bit crunchy and sporty. I have been dressing like I was ready to pitch a tent before I even knew how to properly pitch a tent.  
Heavily streetwear influenced with lots of colors and sazón, gorpcore makes me feel comfortable and prepared. Here’s how I achieve the look.

Take Up Space. 

Take up space, literally and figuratively. The wider the pants, the better. The bigger the sweater, the better. Taking up space is a way of being. Too often society reinforces assimilation and playing it small, but whether it’s oversized and baggy clothes or carrying a sense of belonging, I am bringing my full self into every environment I set foot in. 

Invest In Your Boots.

The shoes have to be on point. When I first started hiking, I would use old running shoes. It wasn’t until I got my first pair of hiking shoes that I realized yes, you really do need them. Now, you can find me in my hiking shoes and boots on and off the trail. If there’s anything worth splurging on, it’s always the shoes.
There are literally so many brands to choose from when it comes to boots but you’ll most likely catch me in Merrell, Keen, Salomon, Vans, or North Face hiking boots.

Upcycle Your 'Fit.

Make old things new again. Upcycling can be as simple as dying an old piece a new color or as complex as DIYing a hydration bra to wear on your next hike. You don’t have to be an expert to get started. I have basic sewing skills and made this hydration bra with Nicole McLaughlin at a workshop she hosted with Camelbak and High Snobiety. Don’t know where to begin? Try signing up for a workshop in your area or follow YouTube or TikTok tutorials to give your old items a new use.   

Make It functional.

The less I have to carry with my hands, the better. I love getting creative with all the pockets, straps, and clips a piece has. Layering is also key. When in doubt, throw on a layer because versatility is key. We love a vest and other lightweight convertible pieces that you can wear in different ways throughout the day through the heat or cold. 
You can finish a look off with a bandana — tell me you were a ‘90s baby without telling me you were a ‘90s baby. From keeping flyaways down to protecting you from dust and dirt, for me, a bandana is the cherry on top of a complete outdoorsy fit. 

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