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The cult of technical outdoor garments is not a new phenomenon, but it’s recently descending upon us in a profound way. Alex Honnold is a rockstar, Gucci just dropped a collaboration with The North Face, Arcteryx is a household name, and sneaker heads have embraced Salomon as one of their own. Gorpcore – the technical-outerwear-turned-streetwear trend – is bigger than any gore-tex head or nylon nerd could have ever imagined.
On weekends rock climbing, hiking, and mountain biking in New Paltz, NY, my pops taught me the importance of buying quality, functional garments over fashionable, poorly constructed items: Arcteryx, Gramicci, Prana, Mountain Hardwear were the name of the game. I’m thrilled that my childhood’s practicality has somehow formed into one of today’s biggest fashion trends. If you’re looking to get your Gorp on, meet the brands I’ve rigorously tested and recommend for you.
Gramicci is a climber’s climbing brand. Founded by 18-year-old climber Mike Graham back in the 70s, Gramicci still holds cult status among alpinists from California to Japan today. The brand has gone through crisis and ownership changes, but it’s stayed relevant thanks to an intense focus on its quality and function roots.
The Gramicci Pants ($88) are a wardrobe staple with a classic fit, integrated nylon belt, and a hint of stretch so you can hang off a rock wall by your heel. I also love Gramicci’s Inner Down Vest ($85) this season. Overall, it’s a great brand for casual outdoor style and functionality.
Few words are needed here: The brand has perfected camping gear, basics, and lifestyle goods for the wilderness escapist with tendencies toward magical realism. Like most outdoor products that are made in Japan, Snowpeak items ooze substanaity.
The brand’s products are simple and made to last — a rarity in this world of planned obsolescence. Choose an outdoor grill and roast some marshmallows as you imagine hiking the misty hills of Hokkaido. I also highly recommend the Ti-600 mugs ($59.95) and Car Camping Coffee Set ($179.95). The Titanium French Press ($55.95) is also a nice industrial tool that looks sleek in the kitchen and brings a creature-comfort to the trails.
If you’re not familiar with the fossil logo, welcome friend. Your inclement weather needs will forever be met, and the house of Arcteryx will always love you unconditionally (for a price). Arcteryx is the professional’s standard. If you haven’t seen The Alpinist on Netflix, queue it up and you’ll get to see Marc Andre Leclerc dangling off icicles with the tip of his ice ax dripping in Arcteryx head to toe. For a more real world take, just peek outside in lower Manhattan or Williamsburg on a rainy day and you’ll see Gore-Tex shells and 3M Arcteryx logos everywhere.
Quality cannot be understated here. I bring my Atom LT ($259) with me everywhere I go regardless of the weather. This single piece has covered my ass through breezy nights in Brooklyn, winter barbecues in Vermont, and 5:00 AM starts in the South African summer bush. The damn thing just adjusts to whatever temperature your body wants – it feels like alien tech. The brand’s Beta AR softshell pants ($499) are also a huge hit – I use them for hiking, skiing, touring, and walking through Greenpoint.
A lot of up-and-coming premium outdoors brands are trying to do what Arcteryx has for years, but extremely few hold up as well over time: Arcteryx equipment always gives me at least 5 years of wear and tear – in many cases 10+.
This brand has been a staple in outdoor/trail running for years, but lately I've spotted the technical silhouettes in more urban environments. Sleek designs, utilitarian build, and comfort define the brand.
I have like 3 pairs of XT-6s ($190) that I have beat to a pulp and thrown in the washing machine for an extra life. I love Salomon because it’s such an outdoors euro nerd brand – in the very best way. Just look at those bright colors and running aesthetics. My XT-6s are my running, hiking, and travel shoes. The nylon cord lacing system allows them to slip on like a pair of vans but then tighten to a near boot-like fit so the variability of comfort and utility is unmatched if you’re active and on the road constantly.
Buy It For Life
Whether it’s an emphasis on utility, conscious consumerism, or a knee-jerk reaction to the consequences of climate change, our environment seems to be inspiring one of today’s hottest trends. Whatever the reason, I dig it. Dress like you’re going outside – maybe it will inspire you to go on an adventure.
Feeling inspired? Check out these honorable-mention-worthy brands, too:
Mountain Hardwear: Performance apparel designed using the highest quality materials and technology to empower outdoor enthusiasts to live boldly.
Outdoor Research: Founded by nuclear physicist Ron Gregg who originally created the X-Gaiter™ after a pair of failed gaiters ended a ski and climb adventure. Outdoor Research, as its name implies, is still rooted in problem solving.
Fjallraven: Based in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden the brand is focused on making nature more accessible. Fjallraven has extensive offerings for men and women, plus bags and gear for just about any adventure.