Durango is gorpcore
Durango dirtbags rejoice – outdoor grunge is all the rage

Durango is gorpcore
Addyson Santese - 09/14/2023

Back in 1993, USA Today dubbed Durango “the worst-dressed city in America.” They weren’t necessarily wrong. If you were to put a local in a lineup with half a dozen people who’d just been rescued from a plane crash, forced to survive by rummaging through their luggage to find the least flattering, most functional gear possible, you’d be hard-pressed to pick out the local. The only tell would be that the local would probably ask if you were down to bag a quick peak after work and then grab a beer.

As is the case with most people in town, you’ve likely always thought of your clothes as a way to signify that you enjoy the outdoors, care about the environment at least 10% more than the average citizen and participate in no fewer than three extreme sports. You might have a puffer that’s riddled with campfire holes or worn your socks n’ chacs with pride, thinking to yourself, “now this is the ultimate middle finger to the fashion world.” And you would have been right. Until now.

After 30 years, Durangatang style has finally hit the world of high fashion. We’ve become gorpcore icons.

No, I didn’t just have a stroke. Gorpcore is unfortunately a real word, coined by the fashion industry to describe the current trend of hiking-inspired streetwear – aka outdoor clothing for people who hate the outdoors. The term is an acronym for the phrase “good ol’ raisins and peanuts” to describe trail mix, and my No. 1 piece of evidence that this trend is not actually for outdoor enthusiasts. I’ve never heard someone call trail mix gorp, and raisins and peanuts are arguably the worst parts of trail mix.

Luckily, the fashion world isn’t concerned with which parts of trail mix hikers prefer (chocolate, obviously) or the reality of using technical gear for anything remotely technical. All that matters is the aesthetic. 

Giant puffers, tacky vests and anything with Gore-Tex are all gorpcore “must-haves.” Teen Vogue described the trend as “hiker meets off-duty model,” but I’d liken it more to “Gaper Day at Purg meets that one finance bro from college that you hate.”

Another article notes that a core tenet of the trend is color: “the clothes tend to be rather colorful – unless they’re not.” Profound. It goes on to state that gorpcore items are often red, orange, purple and pink as a way to “harken back to the colors we find in the things that mesmerize us in nature.” Or, you know, maybe it’s because those bright colors are what keep us from getting shot during hunting season or help search and rescue find us when lost in the wilderness? Either way, you’re going to absolutely slayyy in that neon windbreaker. 

Right now your Instagram is probably a goldmine of gorpcore content. Don’t believe me? Just check out this description of the perfect gorpcore outfit: “try wearing a pair of baggy cargo pants with an oversized fleece vest – and don’t forget to accessorize with a reusable water bottle.” Yes, your Nalgene is an accessory. You’ve been accessorizing for years without even knowing it, you little fashionista.

For most of us, though, this trend isn’t new. It just has a new name and a wider target audience thanks to social media. The wealthy have been co-opting expensive technical gear for decades, wearing logos as status symbols (looking at you, Patagucci). After all, a huge part of the appeal is the escapism it provides – the idea that by purchasing a new jacket or top-of-the-line hiking boots, you’re that much closer to reconnecting with The Great Outdoors ... without having to spend any time outside or thinking about stewardship or any of that boring crap. Yuck.

For the perfect example of heinously expensive escapism, Google the $3,500 North Face Gucci-branded tent. Try to hold in the obscenities and the vomit, but buckle up because there’s more. Porsche makes its own rooftop tent for a cool $6,500. And for those who are really committed to the gorp aesthetic, simply cut out the middle man and pay $109,000 for the Louis Vuitton Monogram Tent. It’s barely big enough for two people and is described as the ultimate backyard camping experience! Emphasis on the backyard part.

Like these overpriced, underperforming tents, gorpcore clothing isn’t actually intended to be used. It’s a fashion statement. One that only holds value until it’s inevitably dethroned by the next micro trend and the pieces end up exactly where they were designed to go: in a landfill on top of last season’s cash cow fad.

If you really want to get on the gorp train, love your old clothes. Send your Chacos in to be repaired. Get a patch for your puffer jacket that’s puking out filling. Spray your snow pants with Scotchguard so they can last another season. Do what you can to buy your gear used, whether it’s from thrift stores, resale shops or online garage sales like Facebook Marketplace and Poshmark. And, most importantly, be sure to get outside and enjoy your gear.

Remember, you’re not gorpcore unless you live gorpcore. 

– Addyson Santese

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