Gay hiking

Hikerkind Founders Guide: Essential Hiking Gear, Backpacks, Boots, and Everything You’ll Need

From left to right: Allison Levy and Chelsea Rizzo | DESIGN BY CHINEME ELOBUIKE FOR THRILLIST

From left to right: Allison Levy and Chelsea Rizzo | DESIGN BY CHINEME ELOBUIKE FOR THRILLIST

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Hiking is one of those outdoor activities that has catapulted into popularity during the pandemic. The trails became a favorite place for people who desperately needed to get out and breathe some fresh air while practicing social distancing. For Allison Levy and Chelsea Rizzo, hiking was already part of their lives, but they seized this moment as an opportunity to combine their love for the outdoors with their background in fashion. The result? Hikerkind, a hiking apparel brand focused on cutting-edge technical gear rooted in sustainability.

This “real midlife baby, as Rizzo calls it, was born out of their shared frustration at not being able to find high-quality outdoor gear that matched their style. “It just didn’t make sense to us, because we wanted to be like ourselves where we felt most like ourselves,” says Levy. “We set out to create gear that not only works the way it’s supposed to on the trails, but also conforms to your body and is aesthetically streamlined and classic.” They launched with a centerpiece – the Midlayer_01 sweater – and three accessories, including a water bottle, an organic cotton bandana and a scrunchie made from scrap fabric.

Ensuring their offerings were sustainable was also a top priority. Their pieces are made with all recycled materials or natural fibers, including Polartec Power Air, which is a recycled polyester. “Not only is it recycled poly, but it also has these little pillows [with] microfibers trapped inside for your warmth, but it doesn’t shed as much on the trail, so you don’t leave as much microfiber behind, or when you put it in the wash it doesn’t go in the ocean “says Levy.


Levy came up with the name Hikerkind while listening to Barack Obama’s latest audiobook and was perked up when she heard him talk about humanity. She immediately wrote “Hikerkind?” down on a piece of paper, and the word pasted. “We love that it tells you exactly who we are because we’re so focused on hikers,” she says. “We’re also really trying to open doors, create community for everyone, and create gear for everyone.” That’s why, alongside their clothing brand, they’ve created a community of female hikers by hosting bi-monthly hikes on trails just outside of New York City.

We spoke with designers and avid hikers about how they achieve style and function with their pieces, what they consider ideal hiking gear, and what you should always take with you on your hiking trips. hiking and camping.

Thrillist: Tell us about your pieces and how you manage to combine style and functionality?
Allison Levy: We see style as function. Not only do we think about the different elements of its operation [while] on the track, but its appearance is part of this function. Whether it’s a seam in a certain place, because it’s going to make you raise your arm higher on the mountain, it’s there, but it also stylistically adds the shape of the silhouette.

Chelsea Rizzo: I think a good example is [how] we chose to make a three button placket [on our Midlayer_01], because we liked the look of it, but in terms of functionality, it works just as well, if not better than a zipper. It is also track repairable or consumer repairable. Most can’t replace their own zipper, but you can certainly sew on a button.

What does an ideal hiking outfit look like for you from head to toe?
Rice: Super important to have a layering system, so no matter where or when you hike, the mountains are completely unpredictable. We always wear a base layer, like a shirt or top, and then a midlayer (like Midlayer_01) which is your insulating layer. When it gets a little chilly, as you gain elevation, you turn it on. When you come back down, you take it off. Then it gets super cold at camp at night or on top of a peak or peak. You want your outer layer, so this can be your puffer or shell. Then basically, same kind of idea. You have your base layer, so it can be shorts or pants. [Also], when I hike I bring full rain gear as I have been caught in rain storms before. I’m just really cold and I get really angry when I’m cold. Then, of course, a good pair of socks and a good pair of shoes. It can be a boot or a trail runner. Finally, sun protection, so like a hat, a bandana or a beanie if it’s cold.

Sampling: [Also, our] Nalgene, the Water Bottle_01, because we love that it screws onto your backpack. You don’t have to constantly try to get back into your bag.

What are your favorite outdoor gear brands to buy?
Rice: We’re obsessed with this Bronx company called Allmansright. It’s a couple that designed and built all of his gear. It is an ultra-light backpack or hiking gear. They have this amazing eco-friendly shoulder strap. It’s really beautiful, and it’s really well suited for both men and women. That’s why we love it.

Sampling: We like too [Darn Tough’s] ethos. They have a lifetime warranty, so if your Darn Tough socks have holes in them, you send them back, they send you a new pair. You buy a sock, you buy a pair for life.

Rice: Then we both wear trail runners when we hike, we wear Altra trail runners, which we like because they have this wide sole, so it’s really good for anyone who spends a lot of time on hiking on the trail.

Sampling: I wear the Lone Peaks and Chelsea wear the Timps. Also, things that we bring on the trails, like our sunscreen or our insect repellent, like we have this brand, Kinfield, which is also a small brand based in New York.

Rice: Their Golden Hour insect repellent, it really works. It is so good. It smells, I think it’s mostly lemongrass, so it smells like lemongrass, so it’s not like a chemical smell on your body after a long day of hiking.


What items should always be on our packing list when planning a hiking or camping trip?
Rice: Take your “big three”, which are your shelter, your backpack and your sleeping system. Your sleeping system may include your cushion and bag. Then you’re going to take, we like to call your used items, clothes that you’re going to wear during the day. Sunscreen, shoes, extra layers, your watch,… Then you’ll need your headlamps to make sure you’re visible on site. You will also need to have your water filtration system, we both use Sawyers. If you are car camping, a good tip of course is to bring plenty of water with you. I have a five gallon Stanley that I refill. So I know it’s my own water for all the time I’m here. I wash my pots with it. I fill my water bottles.

Sampling: This is another thing. Kitchen set. Make sure you have fuel, make sure you have cooking, eating, utensils.

Rice: Another very important thing [to consider] is trash. You need your trash bag, and that’s something that’s often overlooked, because you absolutely have to leave no trace. It also matters when you go to the bathroom. When we have our toiletry bag, we have everything we need to go to the toilet, our trowel, and our pee wipe, TP, or wipes. Also, if you’re using a card on your phone, make sure you have your external battery charger and cord. [Also, a] first aid kit.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

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