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Book Examines ‘Outdoors Urbanite’

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In the fast paced business of outdoor product design, the focus on technological advancements that create a physical barrier between us and the elements often overshadows the need for creating an emotional connection to the outdoors in the finished design.

A new wave of back-to-nature products provides a fresh look at what it means to be an outdoor brand. Focusing on the user’s emotional experience instead of the physical one, these new outdoor purveyors cater to a developing segment in the market: the outdoors urbanite.

Enter the new outdoor creatives. “The Outsiders, The New Outdoor Creativity,” is a beautiful 275 page, image-driven hardback book, just out from publisher and design shop Gestalten, where it’s available for $60.

The book captures a moment in the evolving history of the outdoor industry.

“In previous times, a true outdoor lifestyle was a choice few made. Not everyone has the resolve to climb a towering mountain to reach the summit in the upper limits of our atmosphere or turn their back completely on civilization, seeking permanent solitude and isolation deep in the wild. But now this lifestyle reaches more and more people who depart from places like Portland, Berlin, or Osaka to step into nature,” reads a passage in the book.

In a time where more than 80% of the U.S. population lives in urban areas, an increasing percentage is turning to the outdoors for therapy as a push-back against the frustrations and complexities of modern life. This developing segment has an expectation for good design in all their purchases.

With interviews and photos of outdoor veterans such as Patagonia’s Vincent Stanley; current industry darlings like Poler’s Benji Wagner; and contemporary adventurers including Arved Fuchs, “The Outsiders” acts as a look-book for this pivotal moment where function finally meets form in the world of outdoor design.

Divided into six sections (hiking, surfing, cycling, on the road, snow, and water), The Outsiders shows both old and new; documenting the resurgence of popularity in heritage brands like Filson and Pendleton; showcasing the enduring popularity of contemporary brands like Patagonia and Leatherman; and highlighting exciting new up-and-comers like Poler and Oru Kayaks.

The products range from new “must haves” to “who would ever spend so much for that?” but every page is beautiful and full of inspiration for all types of people to get outdoors. —Jeff Kish

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