Mosquitoes love me, so I wasn’t sure how successful the ExOfficio BugsAway products would be. I took along their Baja shirt on a couple trips to Mexico and was pleasantly surprised. I came away with no bites on my upper body when I wore the shirt. I wish I’d had some BugsAway pants, as my legs and ankles weren’t so lucky. The Baja shirt also is an excellent sun shirt with quick-dry poly/cotton blend fabric and a UPF 30+ rating. The “adventure” design has been toned down to look more streamlined, but just as functional. The snaps are hidden down the front, and the back ventilation is along the sides, not across the back. This shirt served me well both on trails and in towns. The BugsAway quality lasts for 70 washings, leaving me over 65 more adventures with this shirt.
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If you worship in the cathedral of outdoors from atop your bike, here’s a line of t-shirts that evoke the spirit of your adoration.We love just about every one of their long- and short-sleeved shirts, made from machine-washable cotton elastine that’s soft to the touch. But our go-to fashionista tester was instantly drawn to the True Religion T, with its sly “10 Commandment of Spin” badge on the side, contrast colored stitching, and fine printing on the front, rear, and sleeve. But we also confess we’re still struggling with the seventh commandment: “Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s bike.”
As its name implies, the Teton Twill seems to have been culled from mind of Jackon Hole itself, which isn’t surprising since Mountain Khaki is based in that iconic Wyoming outdoor hotspot. But the shirt does naturally perform in almost any setting. The heavy, 4.8-ounce cotton twill has some serious heft and durability, but a proprietary wash has imbued the fabric with a buttery-soft touch and a slightly distressed look (likely matching your equally-worn shoes). Two chest drop pockets make it travel-friendly and the drop-tail hem lets you dress it up or let it all hang out. One tester has taken to wearing it whenever he flies (with a t-shirt underneath) because it adds just the right measure of warmth and style. It doesn’t flaunt a lot particularly graphic detailing, save from an embroidered logo on the back right shoulder and line of white fabric at the button hem, and for some that subdued sensibility is perfect.
One of the more successful events at Outdoor Retailer this August also ranks as one of the least noteworthy in terms of headline-grabbing, radical gear innovation. Sherpa Adventure Gear sold more than $5,000 worth of cotton t-shirts from their booth on the convention hall floor, and those proceeds are enough to fund three scholarships for full education through high school for children in the Khumbu Valley. This donation is part of the company’s new nonprofit charitable organization, the Paldorje Education Fund, which streamlines Sherpa Adventure Gear’s ability to channel its contributions toward the education of Sherpa children. Several of the six styles sold for this fund-raising effort (like the Chorten T, pictured above) are part of Sherpa Adventure’s existing line.
Of course that success doesn’t mean that Sherpa Adventure Gear is resting when it comes innovation. The new Asaar Jacket, part of the Khangri Alpine Series, will be released in spring 2013, aimed squarely at core mountaineers. The 2.5-layer soft shell is made of Pertex Shield for waterproof/breathable protection, with a streamlined fit and simple details like a single chest pocket (positioned to not interfere with a climbing harness), nominally elastic cuffs, and elasticized binding in the hood so that it fits snugly over a helmet to create a no-frills go-to high-altitude product. It’ll retail for $159.
The Imja Jacket ($125, pictured above), meanwhile, is part of the new Himal Training collection, which will include products that can be used for trail running, climbing, or cycling. The stretchy fabric and lower rear hem line provide both protection and maneuverability, while stretch-mesh panels under the arms let you keep cool while working out. Expect to also see innovative new apparel for alpine multisport as well as travel/trek-friendly products.
As literal lifers on the trade show circuit, we’re always pleasantly surprised when we see something truly amazing. 3M, a big company with 34 billion in sales and 84,000 employees, is never afraid to think big, which inevitably leads to ground-breaking innovation. While reflective material has long been a staple for safety gear (think reflector tabs on firemen’s uniforms, kid’s backpacks, and crossing guards) it’s not so common on everyday urban adventure apparel (save a few commuter-friendly items).
The new Scotchlite Reflective Yarn takes the dork factor out of the linear silver tape that adorns safety vests. Rather than long, rectangular stripes that deter from the fashionable aspect of a garment, the new yarn is woven into the fabric. During the day, a shirt is just a shirt, but at night, there’s 360 degrees of enhanced visibility—sort of a low-key, human glow-stick. The yarn utilizes retroreflection—basically smoke-and-mirrors magic that returns light directly back to its original source, a reaction that’s based on microscopic glass beads and prismatic technologies. When hit by a light like a headlight, streetlight, or flashlight, the yarn makes the apparel more visible during low-light conditions. It’s not the shirt you’d wear during a night of revelry when you want to blend into the dark, but for nighttime running, biking, hiking, or even climbing, it’s a great way to stay seen by fellow adventurers, crazed drivers, and potential rescue teams. And–most importantly—you look cool in nighttime photos.