Why Is This Outdoor Brand Getting Pegged as a Fashion Label?

Crusty rock climbers and snooty fashionistas agree on these backpacks, and that’s kind of a miracle.

Over the past year or so, thanks to exposure from fashion brands and publications like GQ, outdoor brands are making appearances in high fashion (rock climbing brands in particular). Socks and Chacos can be seen gracing the runway and heritage U.S.-made outdoor brands are being mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Balenciaga. One such brand is Epperson Mountaineering.

But don’t pigeonhole Epperson Mountaineering as a “fashion label.” Though GQ positioned it as such, the reality is quite different. Founded in Montana in 1973 by Mark Epperson — an ordinary crunchie, just like you and me! — Epperson began as, and remains, a boutique brand built upon customer loyalty, high-quality materials and artisan craftsmanship.

Epperson makes 15 different backpacks in its headquarters in Torrance, California; each is marked by a timeless aesthetic seen in similar pack brands like Madden Equipment and Topo Designs. They do away with the fancy technical frivolities in favor of what works, and what lasts: 1,000-denier Cordura nylon, Mil-Spec tubular webbing, Native American fabric patterns and more. GQ did call Epperson Mountaineering fashionable, and that’s absolutely true. Just don’t call it a fashion label; call it an original, crusty, American outdoor company.

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