Gear makers these days know our struggles and are responding with apparel and accessories that can actually be seen with your coworkers and with your hiking buddies afterward.
Coffee, computers, and jeans seem to be staples for life today. Work, dinner, or traveling, jeans can carry you through it all. Except working out. However, with no stretch or moisture resistance, jeans aren’t usually the best choice for hiking or climbing. Boulder Denim is changing that.
Started by two climbers in Vancouver, Canada, Boulder Denim is putting high-performance denim on the map. The Extreme Diagonal Stretch (EDS) lets you do anything you could with other pants: hike, climb, even stretch or workout. Boulder makes the classic slim cut as well as an athletic cut for the guys with gym-sized legs. The 90-percent shape memory keeps them fitted after hard stretching and they’re treated to repel stains, sweat, and any other liquid, so a drink in your lap at lunch won’t be the end of your day.
Wearing the same shirt to dinner after a sweaty adventure is a dangerous proposition — there’s a reason for post-workout showers. I wouldn’t hesitate to do both in merino wool and San Fransisco-based ArchiTec launches a new “workbench” of merino clothing every season.
“Build cool shit and less of it” is one three mottos for ArchiTec. The brand focuses on building long-lasting clothing and reducing waste from each piece; fewer longer-lasting shirts means a happier environment and less laundry to do. The Tasman Tee can transition from work to a hike and then dinner. In fact, the 100-percent merino Tasman, with its classic colors and chest pocket, could do all three for days and still not offend co-workers. (There are three different colors, though, if you didn’t want it to be too obvious). The merino is wrapped around a nylon core for added strength.
Many watches these days have GPS capabilities, but as soon as the GPS is enabled, the battery life quickly disappears. However, with their latest multi-sport smartwatch, Suunto is cracking the code to longer battery life.
The Suunto 9 Baro is a running watch at its core, complete with GPS, heart rate monitor, and Bluetooth. Different battery modes give you 25, 50, or even 120 consecutive hours of GPS tracking. The watch learns your training and tracking preferences and gives you intelligent battery life alerts when you need them. The new FusedTrack algorithm also tracks your body movements to generate better GPS route even when the GPS is turned down.
However, with 80 different sport modes and a barometric altimeter, the Suunto 9 Baro isn’t just for running. The heart rate monitor can track 24 hours a day, through sleep and training. The accelerometer picks up steps and helps calculate calories. Sync all this with the phone apps for training insights and map-based planning tools.
Winter, shoulder season, and even summer can demand a lightweight but warm jacket for when you stop moving or the sun starts to dip. One of the 10 essentials for hiking is extra insulation just in case you’re out longer than you think. The Patagonia Micro Puff jacket packs down tiny but is extremely warm for its weight.
The 9.3-ounce Micro Puff folds into one of the hand pockets, compressing down to the size of a one-liter water bottle. The 65 grams of PlumaFill insulation isn’t bird down but acts like it. The synthetic fibers repel water and dry quickly but fluff up like down giving it huge warmth for the weight. Elastic cuffs and hem mean you don’t have to mess with toggles or elastics getting caught on a branch or drawer.
Hiking boots usually have a look that screams, “Look, hiking boots!” making it hard to discretely wear them to work. The GT Rally Mixed Media boots from Timberland combine the features of a hiking boot with some urban style.
The triple-layer SensorFlex comfort system acts like a suspension system over rough terrain. OrthoLite footbeds inside breathe and kill bacteria so your post-adventure dinner date can focus on you instead of the smell of your shoes. The combination of leather and a complimentary-color synthetic on the outside gives a retro feel and doesn’t look too bad either.
Our screen-abused eyes can always use a break and heading outside is the perfect opportunity to let them relax. If the sun is still high, the Helm 2 sunglasses from Spy will block all the harmful rays but let through all the happy ones. Spy’s “Happy lenses” block short-wave blue light but allow long-wave blue light through, which has been shown to increase the chemicals in your brain that make us happy.
The Helm 2 sunglasses are made from the virtually indestructible Grilamid material and the five-barrel hinges are super durable. Relatively flat polycarbonate ARC lenses easily last through dirt, branches, and being tossed into backpacks. The gold lens option fit with any occasion, but you could go with standard black polarized lenses for a classic look.
Some backpacks are good for hiking, some good for commuting or traveling, but if there was one that could easily do it all — and look good doing it — it would be the Peak Design Everyday backpack.
The large main compartment is accessible through the lid, held shut with the patent-pending MagLatch, or either zippered side. The latch attaches to one of four metal ladder lock points depending on how much you’ve got in the bag. Both sides zip completely open for easy access, especially when you’ve still got the bag slung over one shoulder.
Inside, the main compartment is divided into three with Peak Designs FlexFold dividers, letting you endlessly redesign how you want the storage to be organized. The dividers velcro to the front and back of the pack anywhere you need them. They also fold higher or lower in the space with some origami-like folds. A separator in the middle can flip up to divide a pocket in half as well. The Everyday Backpack is available in 20- or 30-liter sizes.