When it comes to gear, I think most experienced hikers will agree:

Newer isn’t always better.

After all, no one really needs a solar-powered backpack or boots forged from the latest synthetic-leather polymers.

(although I admit, the former does sound kinda cool)

And yet, it seems we’ve entered an age of hyper-competition in the world of backpacking and trekking gear. Outdoor companies have been scrambling to out-develop each other for a couple decades now, pumping out shiny new products on a surprisingly regular basis.

Now, I’m certainly not complaining that there’s too much awesome gear to choose from. Not at all.

But amid this flurry of product development, I think it’s also important to reflect back on the humble roots of backpacking gear.

Just to keep things in perspective.

The infographic below (which originally appeared on the hiking blog Slick & Twisted Trails) is intended to pay tribute to the pioneers of trekking gear — while also giving a super-quick overview of how tents, boots and packs have changed over time.

For example, the ultralight backpacking movement that began in the 1990s has certainly influenced what type of products brands focus on today. Nimble trail-running shoes, in particular, really started to gain sales momentum about a decade ago.

But that’s not to say lighter is always better: every hiker has different tastes. And as long as you’re using gear that performs well, it doesn’t really matter how ‘evolved’ it is.

It just has to work for you.

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