Gear Junkie Fashion Week, part I

High style in the great outdoors used to entail a flannel shirt and some stout leather boots. Now you’re as likely to see The North Face on the back of an urban “explorer” attempting to flag a cab in Manhattan as on the summit of K2.

The industry caught on to this a few years back, offering “lifestyle” lines that look the part of an outdoors good, though stress style more than performance. The last two months I’ve been testing a few such items, shirts, pants, shorts and shells that look good first, and perform second.

These are a few favorites. . .

Topo Ranch Men’s Topo T-Shirt
With cotton soft as butter and a conversation piece Gopher-With-Angel-Wings graphic, this shirt has worked its way to become one of my favorite Ts. The graphic is a one-color screen print. The shirt is a plain as jane T, though comfy as can be. Topo is a Spanish slang word for gopher. The company gave him wings to “signify the rebirth of The Ranch in Southern California, circa
2004.” ($36,


Topo Ranch Cattleman Trousers
Topo Ranch calls these pants an “updated, lightweight version of what our cowboy forefathers wore to manage their herds.” Made of 8.5-oz. cotton canvas, these tough pants have a leather patch sewed into the back ankle cuff to protect from wear and tear. For flair there’s a custom metal button featuring the first words that a Donner Party survivor uttered when her rescuers finally arrived: “Are you men from California or do you come from Heaven?” ($110,


Men’s Twill weekender Short
These undeniably cool shorts come from a new entry in the outdoors space: Nau. The Portland, Ore., based clothing co. makes its Twill weekender Shorts with a stretch-woven mix of organic cotton and spandex, providing good looks, a soft hand, and some eco benefits to boot. Belt loops straddle the spine in back and all seams veer away from bony points for comfort under a pack. The rise is slightly low, there’s a button fly, and the back pockets zip shut. Colors and flavors include Chocolate, Olive, Oyster, Carbon. ($74,


Carhartt Cordura Front Work Dungaree
These pants are stitched with 12-ounce, 100% cotton sandstone duck, but on front is a Cordura full chap panel with a water-resistant coating to keep you clean and dry. Cordura is also employed on the kick panels at the bottom of the leg openings, and on the back pockets. The fit provides a full seat and thigh and a comfortable fit slightly below the natural waist. There’s little stretch, but the loose fit makes these pants potentially usable on hikes, while biking, or for moderate climbing. ($60,

Carhartt Cordura Front Work DungareeW.jpg

Blurr Redpoint Shirt
This top is 98% organic cotton and sharp-looking. Fit is comfortable and casual, as is the look. But button it up and you can pass muster in a semi-formal setting. A dash of Spandex gives it some stretch. ($60,


Go Here For Part II of This Story:

Posted by Jack O - 10/01/2007 12:18 PM

Yesterday my wife and I stopped by REI to peruse some clothing and because of her experience she has completely sworn off prana. Her absolute fav pair of pants was just this cotton pair that they stopped making about 2 years ago. Now, they brought it back, but with some flowery stitching all over the leg. In addition, there’s now a huge “tramp stamp” on the ass of the pant. That was her final straw for prana :)

In addition, I felt like 90% of the clothing that REI carries ages me by about 20 years. I thought the days of sperry topsiders and boring flannel was over, but it hits me every time I go to REI. Their selection sucks.

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