No matter where your outdoor passions take you, you need clothes that are going to last and do the job they are meant to do. Even if you're taking on some of the most intense outdoor projects or adventures, you don't need to sacrifice on style. Our outdoor essentials top picks are the clothes you need to get outdoors and do what you love.
The greatest thing about an outdoor shirt? The versatility. Outdoor shirts can be worn biking, around the campfire, climbing a mountain, simply having a backyard BBQ or a combination or all four. And that's just the beginning. It's easy to get excited for the summer season and its adventures when your clothes are functional, stylish, and get the job done.
There are three things you should consider when looking for the right outdoor top:
1) What kind of fabric is it made of?
Fabric is extremely important for ensuring overall comfort and durability. Some outdoor tops are going to need to be more durable than others depending on what activity you're doing. If you're going for a hike, a nice light cotton material would give you extra breathability you need, where as a tough nylon shirt might be better for a day out on the water fishing.
2) Does it have the features I need?
Every outdoor activity requires certain equipment or movements and your outdoor top shouldn't hinder any of that. Certain features will be better than others in certain situations - a utility chest pocket is going to be great for activities where you need small gear close at hand and moisture wicking technology will be more useful when you are doing a lot of movement and working up a sweat. Take the time to figure out what requirements you need your shirt to fulfill and how those extra features can aid you.
3) Can I layer it?
In any outdoor activity it is important to be able to layer your clothes especially due to changes in weather that generally can happen pretty quickly. It may also be a case where you need a few shirts like a base layer, a mid-layer and a sweater. Consider whether you will be battling changing weather conditions and what layers you are going to need.
Outdoor pants have several different responsibilities, they should keep you warm and dry when weather takes a turn for the worse and they should protect you from scratches and scrapes. Not only should your pants keep you protected, they should be comfortable enough to wear all day and give you the freedom to move whether you are climbing, squatting, or just walking. With so many different fabrics, details and features it's important to consider what type of pants are best for your chosen activity.
Consider the following points when picking your next pair of outdoor pants:
1) What activities are you performing?
Do you need shorts for additional movement, stretch for easier more comfortable movements, or perhaps fabric that repels insects? Consider what you are doing and some 'obstacles' that your clothing can help you overcome.
2) What kind of fit do you like/need?
Fit helps a lot with movement. If you are going to move around a lot throughout the day you may want something that isn't restrictive or super tight.
3) What features or details are most important to you? (Do you need zip-offs, multiple pockets, etc.)
If you are carrying multiple small items you may want additional pockets to ensure those items are close at hand. Or if weather has the potential to change during the day you may want to consider zip-off pants so you have the option between shorts and full length. All of these small details are important when choosing your ideal outdoor pant.
Not all jackets are created equal and your jacket should provide protection, be comfortable, and speak directly to your sense of adventure. Your jacket should be able to handle whatever you throw at it, whether it's on a hiking trail in the pouring rain or relaxing around the fire roasting marshmallows. From your days activities to your nights relaxation your jacket should seamlessly transition while keeping you warm, dry and comfortable.
So what jacket do you need? To answer your question you have to first consider the 3 w's - what, where, when.
1) What are you doing?
If you're going to be sitting around a campfire roasting marshmallows you may only need a light jacket with minimal features, but if you are going on a 3 day backpacking trip you're going to want something that is lightweight and offer protection from the elements, perhaps even offers a warmth element for cool nights. Knowing what you are doing is going to help you determine what you actually need.
2) Where are you going?
Taking a trip to the dessert and a trip to the rainforest are going to require a different set of skills, equipment and clothing. A jacket that is deal for a wet climate is not the jacket you want to bring with you to a warm dry climate. Not only should you consider where you are going but you should also do a deep dive into the temperatures you can expect to experience while you're there, you may even need more than one jacket.
3) When are you doing it (time of the year)?
Visiting Vancouver in the winter? You are going to need a really good rain jacket. Visiting Vancouver in the summer? You'll want a light jacket that helps ward off the crisp and cool ocean air after the sun sets. While your jacket should always seamlessly transition you from different climates and temperatures there are still various weather patterns you need to be aware of. Any jacket that is suitable for a Canadian summer, most likely isn't suitable for a Canadian winter.
The time of the year is arguably one of the most important things to consider when finding the perfect outdoor jacket, do you need UV protection, waterproof or water resistant outers, wind breaker, heat retaining, etc.
The shoes are arguably the most important part of any outdoor outfit and not all shoes are created equal. If your feet are comfortable you are more likely to fully enjoy your outdoor adventures.
Here are three important things you should look for when buying the right shoe:
1) Do they fit right?
Your shoes need to fit right in order to prevent injury. When trying on shoes you'll want to ensure they don't feel tight anywhere around your heels and that you have plenty of room to move your toes. Make sure the shoes don't feel snug because your feel may swell a bit especially on long walks or hot days.
2) What key features are important?
Like all the other outdoor clothing on our list the important features of your shoes will vary depending on the job they need to perform. One major aspect that you should always consider when looking for outdoor shoes is the quality and make of the soles, they should have good grip and be well built (Vibram is usually a good standard). Some activities will require more grip than others so if you are scrambling to a mountain peak consider something with more grip points, even ask an associate to give you a hand! Other features you may want to consider is if they are waterproof, hi-top vs low-top (to protect your ankles) or something that is easy to slip on and off.
3) Are they made of good material?
Your outdoor shoes shouldn't fall apart on you after only a few wears, they should last time and time again and be just as comfortable as the first time you put them on. Depending on what you're doing with your outdoor shoes is going to make a difference in the material that you're looking for. If you're doing long multi-day backpacking trips you may want a shoe that is made of leather and is a bit heavier so it can stand up to the long wear and tear, if you are doing short walks or hikes a more breathable shoe with mesh would be a great option to keep your feet cool.
Are you doing any activities where you will be around or crossing water? Consider getting something that is water proof so you can avoid wet feet. Lastly, the sole of the shoe should be well built and made of strong but flexible materials, again Vibram soles are a great option.
Getting outside and enjoying the outdoors in the right gear doesn't have to be difficult. Whether it's building a sitting around a campfire, hiking to the top of a mountain, or setting up a tent at your favourite campground, your clothes should be something you can rely on time and time again. So, next time you are looking to get that perfect outdoor outfit use these tips to help ensure you get something functional and stylish that does the job.