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Keeping it Rugged: Our 88 Years in the Outdoors

By Taylor Gibson, Archive Intern

Posted in 2018

Carhartt is known for creating tough workwear that reflects our hardworking customers. Since many of our customers work hard in both the workplace and the great outdoors, we wanted to create clothing that’s durable for both environments. The outdoor gear that we offer today comes from years of experimentation to find what is best for our customer.

Outdoor gear was first introduced by Carhartt in 1930 under the names “Super Dux” and “Super Fab.” These clothing lines consisted of coats, vests, pants, shirts, lace-up leggings, hats, socks, game bags, and boots. Super Dux was created with hunters in mind and produced to be waterproof to keep them dry while out in the wilderness. This phase in Carhartt hunting gear ended in 1932, mainly because at the time, only upscale hunters were buying custom clothing for their outdoor endeavors.

enlarge image Super Dux Coat, 1930
Super Dux Coat, 1930

The hunting line was reintroduced in 1957 and was still under the Super Dux name. This time, the selection was limited compared to before – only a vinyl-lined hunting bag was offered. It wasn’t until 1960 that the line was expanded by adding a hunting coat and pants. This era in the hunting line was in production until 1964.

enlarge image Super Dux ad, 1959
Super Dux ad, 1959

In 1971, Carhartt brought hunting back once again, offering a wider selection than during the previous period. This iteration of Super Dux offered heavy-weight and medium-weight options for different weather conditions and vests with attached game bags. We even offered a medium-weight coat and pants for boys so younger consumers could tackle the outdoors as well.

enlarge image Hunting Coat, 1973
Hunting Coat, 1973

During this era, our outdoor gear became more versatile than ever before and was when we first introduced camouflage garments. Before this period, Carhartt had only one color for hunters to choose from, which was our classic brown duck. While looking through the archives, I discovered an ad that embodied Carhartt’s inspiration to add a new color. It reads, “... for the benefit of our customers who like to hunt in camouflage, we’ve added a second color.” Carhartt is famous for the brown duck fabric many of our products still have today. The introduction of a new color was for those who wanted durable, hardworking clothing with colors and patterns that benefitted their activities in the outdoors.

enlarge image Original Carhartt camouflage pattern, 1972
Original Carhartt camouflage pattern, 1972

Since the very first line of outdoor gear was introduced by Carhartt, it had been called Super Dux. When 1983 came around and the hunting line returned, Super Dux was no longer being used. This hunting line had the largest range of products to date, featuring overalls, coats, a vest with game bag, coveralls, and hoods. Most originally came in two colors – brown duck and camouflage. Then, in 1987, a new color was added to the mix – blaze (or hunter) orange.

enlarge image Blaze Orange Hunting Vest, 1994
Blaze Orange Hunting Vest, 1994

The outdoor line has had its ups and downs through its 88 years at Carhartt. In recent years, we saw that people again wanted clothing that would be durable enough to take what the outdoors can throw at them. In 2015, the line made a comeback under the name Rugged Outdoors. This fall, we’re making hunting gear in collaboration with the number one camouflage in the country, Mossy Oak. This time around, we’ve expanded the line to include more than just hunting attire. Our new line of fishing gear was created with the challenges of the outdoors in mind. Technologies like Rain Defender® and Storm Defender® are specifically designed to help keep you dry in all weather conditions. Bringing back the outdoor line was an easy decision for us. It represents the tradition of hard work that the men and women who wear Carhartt embody both while on the job site and enjoying the outdoors in their downtime.

enlarge image Present-day Rugged Outdoors products
Present-day Rugged Outdoors products

Products referenced in the article
Carhartt Men's Mossy Oak/Break-Up Country Gauntlet Camo Glove - front Carhartt Men's Mossy Oak/Break-Up Country Gauntlet Camo Glove - back Quickview
Carhartt Men's Mossy Oak Magnet Camo Glove - front Carhartt Men's Mossy Oak Magnet Camo Glove - back Quickview
Carhartt Men's Realtree Xtra Buckfield Pants - front Carhartt Men's Realtree Xtra Buckfield Pants - back Quickview
Buckfield Pants

$71.99 $119.99


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