It was New Year’s Day and Austin Becker was returning to the south rim of the Grand Canyon after spending the night at Phantom Ranch, when he found himself surrounded by tourists examining his t-shirt.
It’s not quite as strange as it sounds. The t-shirt, which Austin designed, featured a map with the most popular Grand Canyon trails.
In addition to his Grand Canyon t-shirt, Austin has also designed t-shirts featuring maps of Yosemite National Park, Zion National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Summit of Everest and the Appalachian Trail. His designs include popular landmarks, mileage and notable peaks and rivers. They are not so detailed they are meant to guide your trip.
“It’s a conversation piece,” Austin said.
Austin started Trail Map Tees in December 2015 from his home in Salt Lake City as a side business to his job as a project manager with a translation company.
The made in the USA, fine jersey cotton t-shirts feature maps of some of Austin’s favorite places to hike, as well as trails he has yet to visit. They are so soft they are comfortable on and off the trail, he said.
Growing up in Idaho, Austin hiked and watched television shows about trekking expeditions with rapt attention. He’d find the places he learned about on maps and globes and try to imagine what it was like to be there.
Maps were an escape for Austin, a portal to daydreams about the places he’d like to go and vehicle to travel back in time to his favorite trips.
Austin’s visited all but the Appalachian Trail and Mount Everest, but they’re on his bucket list. Creating these maps gave him a taste of the adventure.
“It’s a cool way to bring the experience to you,” Austin said.
He plans to next release a t-shirt with the Pacific Crest Trail, another place he dreams of visiting someday. In the meantime, he’ll have the map.
“Maps take you there,” he said. “You can live vicariously through a map.”