Here, we've provided a brief history of hiking technology with several notable changes in the outdoor equipment used for hikes over the past 40 years. We've also provided some information on other items that are key to hiking. Together, they should help you better understand the various changes that have taken place in our outdoor equipment over the years, and where you can find the best gear for your next hiking adventure.
By Corey Buhay
When chemist Emanuel Goldberg founded Nalgene in 1949, he had no idea that the water bottle would enter the outdoor hall of fame until he discovered that employees were secretly taking plastic-sealed water bottles from the lab to camp. Nalgene water bottles began to be sold in outdoor stores in 1972 with the addition of the iconic plastic carry handle. Before that, outdoor enthusiasts used Before that, outdoor enthusiasts were using aluminum water bottles that were prone to leaks. This classic water bottle had a profound impact on the outdoor industry, as did the side pockets of hiking bags designed to fit the Nalgene size.
Before the 1970s, when the overnight experience was tough for outdoorsmen, former Boeing engineers and outdoor enthusiasts Jim Lea and Neil Anderson invented the revolutionary self-inflating sleeping pad. Fifty years later, the open-air chamber sleeping pad is still revered by backpackers around the world.
Lekki Makalu (1974)
By Patrice La Vigne
Early Winters Gore-Tex Jacket (1976)
Petzl Zoom (1981)
Petzel created the world's first modern headlamp in 1973 with an underwear elastic band and a miner's lamp, it was a bulky, expensive military and industrial product that hikers had to carry in their mouths to light up the flashlight. 1981 saw Petzl improve on competing products to create the groundbreaking Zoom headlamp: lightweight, elastic headband, swivel zoom.
MSR WhisperLite (1984)
The Leatherman PST (Pocket Survival Tool), a multi-tool designed for backpackers, included full-size pliers and a variety of gadgets for outdoor travel that could cut moleskins, punch holes in belts, saw wood, prepare food, and repair stoves. The first year it bought 30,000 pieces, and now there are dozens of tool combinations designed for all kinds of outdoor activities.
CamelBak ThermoBak (1989)The founder of CamelBak put an IV bag in a stocking to drink from during a bike race, the prototype of the outdoor water bag. Backpackers at the time didn't think hydration was cool, and it wasn't until CamelBak sales manager Wemmer rode around on his motorcycle promoting the punk slogan "drink or die" and the '80s bodybuilding trend that drinking became popular and hikers began to embrace the idea of drinking with their hands-free. The entire outdoor water bag industry now has this ThermoBak water bag to thank.
Magellan NAV 1000 (1989)
The world's first handheld GPS for the general public, developed by a pilot, engineer, and Magellan founder Edward Fenton Tuck, who wanted a handheld device that could accurately navigate anywhere in the world, before that, hikers could only use paper maps and compasses to find their way. The GPS satellite model was not popular when it was developed, and it cost as much as $3,000, so it was not very useful at first and was later overtaken by rival Garmin. It is because of Tuck's bold dream that there is now lightweight outdoor navigation that ordinary people can have.