Hiking matters #99: Korea is shopping paradise for hikers

JEJU ISLAND, SOUTH KOREA – Hiking is really a way of life for Koreans, with literally millions of hikers. There are hiking clubs, but people tend to just climb up with their family and friends and have a great time on the mountains. Fashion, which is also an important value for Koreans, has likewise joined the people up the mountains and there is a dizzying variety of hiking gear to choose from. I was overwhelmed with the almost infinite choices of colors and designs.
And there are, amazingly, dozens of brands too, some of which are homegrown Korean brands. Although the clothing brands have not really reached the Philippines (at least not yet), Kovea is also a Korean brand for camping equipment. There are brands like Mountia, Zebra, TrekSta etc, which competes with numerous foreign brands, which include the familiar The North Face and Columbia; but there are also K2, Jack Wolfskin, Eider, Lafuma, Berghaus, and so many others. Even Fila has created an entire line of outdoor clothing called Fila Sport.
This competition, plus the big market, can make for spectacularly cheap prices for dri-fit long sleeves, trekking pants, and even shoes. Since many of these brands actually have Gore-Tex, shopping for gear in Seoul and elsewhere in Korea is actually another good reason for hikers to come and visit. There is an entire street of outdoor gear in Seoul in one of the sidestreets of the Namdeumun Market, and here in Jeju island there are almost a dozen outdoor boutiques in the commercial center!
Personally I managed to buy some clothing from Mountia and Zebra, both of which are Korean brands. Aside from the trails which are quite spectacular, especially during autumn, the outdoor shopping in Korea is another reason for me to go back! More outdoor shop pictures from Jeju Island:

Hiking matters #98: Korea in the clouds
Hiking matters #99: Korea, shopping paradise for hikers
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