ElevenSkys: The Story
Life as a Thru-Hiker
I’ve always loved the outdoors. After my first thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail in 2016, I set out on a life of long-distance adventure. Year after year, whether it was the Appalachian Trail with its notoriously wet climate, or the Continental Divide Trail with extreme heat, extreme snow, and overall extreme terrain, I saw the importance of simple, durable gear that stands up to the demands of thru-hiking. Over time, I dialed in my pack to precisely meet my needs - a lightweight, storm-proof shelter, a brand of breathable, comfortable shoes, a set of baselayers for those frigid, high-altitude nights. Only one thing eluded me: the perfect pair of hiking shorts.
Eventually I became fed up with rips, tears, inferior fabric, non-adjustable waistbands, and most of all CHAFE. Mountaineering pants took forever to dry, while lightweight running shorts fell apart at the first bushwhack. After hearing similar complaints in camp over cold-soaked ramen, I realized there was a problem with how this industry was run.
Finding the Best Hiking Shorts
I kept hiking, and kept hearing the same story. I just accepted that this was how things worked - going through multiple pairs of shorts each season, none of them great. If they didn’t disintegrate in the thorny brush along the Gila River, they chafed my legs raw in the deserts of Southern California. Each time they wore out, I would start the cycle all over again, consigning the worn-out pair to the landfill after only a few weeks of use. Every new season brought apparel that was “new and improved”: ultralight, water resistant, SPF-rated, bug-proof, even grizzly-proof. (Ok, that last one’s a joke.) As soon as I found a product I loved, the company would roll out an “upgrade” and I’d have to go looking again. Ultimately, I was always disappointed. There had to be a better way. I wanted simplicity, I wanted durability, and I wanted to be sustainable. With that in mind, I set out on my quest for the perfect pair.
As the hiking season of 2019 approached, I began to make my preparations. I scrolled through the page after page in search of something that would hold up. Nope, still finding those sun-proof, bug-proof, grizzly-proof shorts. I’d had enough - if the industry wasn’t going to change, I’d have to make that change myself. Then, completely by chance, I stumbled across a small company in Montana that was exactly what I was looking for.
There was no advertising. No false promises. No “new and improved” yearly models. No frills, attachments, or wasted material. There was no selling involved. It was pure and simple. If you like these shorts, buy them. This small company gave me the best hiking season I’ve ever had. I spent months outdoors in all types of weather and terrain: glissading down snowy slopes in Montana, sweating through 110°F heat waves in Alabama, and navigating miles of knee-deep snow and treacherous scree on the PNT. From being soaked to the bone in the Olympic Rainforest, to the coarse sands of the Arizona Desert, to the bogs and moraines of Wisconsin, these shorts never failed. Not once in all my travels did the integrity of the fabric degrade. I still own that first pair today, and even still use them on smaller runs and hikes.
There was only one problem - the creator of these miracle hiking shorts was about to retire. Knowing my holy grail was about to disappear, I saw my opportunity and took it. After studying the process and the company itself, I decided to purchase the patterns for the hiking shorts and go into business. I had a tried-and-true product that was ready to be put into production and the experience to back it up. Now I get to share them with you, the person who just wants something that works. They might not be grizzly-proof, but they’re the best pair of hiking shorts you’ll ever own. Simple as that.
All of our gear was designed to push further, go harder, explore more. Without worry of durability or strength, and keeping extra gear off your back, our gear that was built with simplicity and durability in mind went hand in hand with creating a product that was also ultralight. Only the necessities!
Thru Hiking Gear
Our gear was built by a thru-hiker for thru-hikers and all outdoorspeople. By testing and finding what worked for us over 16,000+ miles of hiking in all terrains and all qualities of gear, we are proud to be able to offer quality gear that will continue to grow with you!
We could not find any hiking shorts that were good, great, or the best. So, we made the best hiking shorts available! Built out of necessity, we were fed up with experiencing gear that would tear, rip and wear down very quickly. We have pushed our gear to the limit and never have had any loss in intergrity!
Based off of a pattern and design that has proven itself over 30+ years, we have not only the right to bring these hiking shorts to you, but all the experience that goes with it. Created by combining the older generation love of the outdoors with the new generation, our gear was born.
Quality from Testing
Year after year. Mile after mile. Mountain after mountain. River after river. No matter where or when, we continue to push our gear to the limits, to make sure we create the best gear to hold up in any environment. Over 4,000+ miles on our first pair of hiking shorts and they still have no rips, tears, or malfunctions. Only a product that lasts and we will always make sure continues to last!
THE BIG 3
Every piece of gear we make is created with strength in mind. The fabric itself is built to withstand the most rugged and extreme environments. Tested and proven. The stitching is interlocked and double stitched at every seam with high strength thread to create quality that is never lost.
This goes hand in hand with our first goal. By creating a product that will not fail, will not need replacement, and stands up to any and all adventures, we create a product that we are proud to say will last the test of time. Less consumption = less carbon footprint. The only footprints left are the ones you leave in the sand, dirt, or snow!
Simple. What a word, yet most companies do not seem to understand this. No frills, no attachments, no extras. Simply a piece of gear that you'll use year after year, that changes with you instead of changing for you.