Bennett 'Jolly' Fisher first dreamt up the Triple Crown Button Down sun shirt while thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.
After a foot injury forced him off trail the year prior, Jolly was at it again in 2018. It was then he quickly noted that almost all thru-hikers, including himself, wore either a sun hoodie or a full button-down shirt. Both options were typically found in lackluster, monochrome colors, too.
On trail, Jolly met a hiker wearing his mother’s half-button and hooded gardening shirt, and Jolly thought, “Hold up, why isn’t this taking over the trails?!”
Why not incorporate the protection of the hood with the ventilation of a button-down? And, in true thru-hiker fashion, why not ditch the neutrals and use patterned fabrics as unique, fun and colorful as the person wearing it?
Jolly couldn’t get the idea out of this head. “I thought about it the rest of the thru-hike,” he laughed.
Jolly, who embodies every iota of his trail name, added, “I just love a good button-down. My sister makes fun of me because in all my videos from the trail, you can tell how hot it is from the number of buttons that are undone.”
Jolly loves the “ventilating versatility” lent by button-downs. But, with a full beard and long hair, he found the hoods on traditional sun shirts to be uncomfortable and constricting.
“I knew I wanted a hair hole; that was a big thing for me,” Jolly said.
A “hair hole” is as simple as it sounds – a slit in the hood for a ponytail, rather than being stuffed in the hood.
After successfully making it to the Canadian border, Jolly traded hiking for homework, and enrolled in Utah State University’s Outdoor Product Development program.
Before Jolly Gear was the real deal, though, it was a school project. When an assignment called for two sewn button-down shirts, Jolly finally had his chance to reinvent the perfect trail shirt.
After 70 hours behind the sewing machine, the Triple Crown Button Down came to life.
And, after running out of one fabric color, Jolly was forced to use a different color fabric for the hood and sleeves of his shirt, which remains one of the brand’s signature features today.
Clad in a button-down made of comfortable, moisture-wicking fabric “that didn’t feel like wearing a tent”, including thumb holes, two discrete chest pockets, and an adjustable hood with a hair hole, Jolly knew he was on to something.
With a brand name, clever logo, and a functional, though rudimentary, product in hand, Jolly completed his senior project, earning the title of Product Designer by degree.
After tirelessly looking for a manufacturer in 2020, Jolly finally found one who was able to replicate his vision for the Triple Crown Button Down.
“I was pretty much crying in my living room,” Jolly said of receiving the prototype in the mail. “How did they sew up my exact shirt, perfectly?!”
The only element missing was the vibrant fabric.
Scrolling Instagram looking for designers who had that Jolly Gear vibe, Jolly stumbled on the Boston-based Dan Pecci Company. Dan may not have known much about “hiker trash thrift store fashion”, but he shared Jolly’s stoke.
“The first time I saw one of Dan Pecci’s prints, I knew that this was the style I was looking for,” Jolly said.
Their first collaboration was the Casa de Luna; it was bright, fun, and paid respects to the most unique hostel on the PCT. “I didn’t change a thing about it,” Jolly said of Dan’s work. “It was perfect.”
The first batch of Casa De Lunas met Jolly at a Helena, Montana post office while he was SOBO-ing the Continental Divide Trail the following year.
Unfortunately, a broken foot (his left one this time) forced Jolly off the CDT a respectable 1,200 miles in. Even still, three of his tramily members completed their thru-hikes donned in first-run Jolly Gear button-down shirts.
His unplanned, early homecoming encouraged Jolly to place another order, launch a website and make Jolly Gear official.
What followed were more collaborations with Dan, as well as an exclusive limited-edition Triple Crown Button Down 'Moon Rise' print only available at Garage Grown Gear, which was designed by Teton Valley, Idaho artist Abby Broughton.
In building a brand, Jolly felt nothing but support from family, friends, and strangers, alike. “Everyone wants to help you,” Jolly said of the small business community. “They know how you feel and want to help.”
He likens it to someone who has a hot, roaring, and welcoming campfire and you’re standing there with wet socks. “Other brands have offered this huge campfire for me,” Jolly laughed.
Jolly packing boxes of his thru-hiking sun shirt, the Triple Crown Button Down — in the exclusive GGG Moon Rise pattern! Anybody else notice he's literally in a garage?!?!
He’d be remiss to forget giving a nod to girlfriend Ema, who’s a fellow hiker, Jolly Gear model, and the CSO (Chief Supporting Officer). “She is my solid ground in this new experience,” Jolly said.
Suffice it to say, Jolly Gear is on their way to changing the landscape of thru-hiking apparel.
“Thru-hiking changed my life. I’ve never had such strong relationships with anyone, going from stranger to friend so quickly,” Jolly said. “If you ever lose faith in humanity, go on a thru-hike. The amount of kindness you receive, the openness, the transparency, it’s like nothing else.”
Hiking in a Jolly Gear Triple Crown Button Down is like nothing else, too. Jolly warns you’ll likely get some cat calls and heaps of compliments. “It’s hard to have a bad day in this shirt.”