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Nature Coasting: Why Did This Outdoorsy Trend From the 1920s Ever Go Away?

In the 1920s and 30s, an outdoor recreation activity called “nature coasting” was popular in Mount Rainier National Park. It looks hilarious and fun, and we wish it’d come back in all its former glory.

Nature coasting is like sledding, but instead of using a sled, you just slide down on your backside while wearing waxed “tin pants.” And instead of sledding down a snowy hill, you slide down part of a glacier. You can slide by yourself for a solo thrill, or you can line up with some friends to form a tin-cloth-pants train of total bliss.

The National Park Service (NPS) says nature coasting was particularly popular at Mount Rainier National Park during the summer months. In 1920, these guided outings cost $2.50 per person, which included the special pants.

“Park concession guides led groups up to the Nisqually or Paradise Glaciers to go sliding, wearing special ‘tin pants’ made of heavy canvas that were waxed to make them more slippery and waterproof,” says NPS’s page dedicated to this nostalgic recreational activity.

Here’s a look at a group of patrons being led up Nisqually Glacier. Everyone appears to be in high spirits, despite the technical hike:

Mount Rainier National Park Archives Footage (NPS.gov)

Once groups of nature coasters reached Nisqually, the fun really began. Patrons took turns sliding down slopes one at a time, then all together. They slid around in their waxed trousers and crashed into each other, clearly having a great time.

Watch the shenanigans here:

Mount Rainier National Park Archives Footage (NPS.gov)

Doesn’t nature coasting look fun? This has all the makings of a great outdoor past time—hiking, spectacular views, camaraderie, and tin cloth pants.

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