One trend I’ve loved for a while is crossover lifestyle apparel. I mean stuff you can wear out climbing or hiking and then rock at the office or the bar without looking too teched-out. More companies have gear that is comfy to wear all day, with features taken from other sports (hello, the wide soft waistband of yoga pants!), that you can also wear for a quick hike after work or a lunchtime climbing session—I love it! Part of this is using more natural fibers in pants and tops—cotton and merino wool instead of polyester—which makes the clothes soft next to skin and comfortable to wear all day.
A few brands that are killing it are Rocky Mountain Trail and EMS. Both companies have clothes that are perfect for anybody who loves the outdoors, with fun colors and cool designs.
What are some of my favorite gear trends/products this year?
I’m a huge fan of technology and electronics. I do appreciate all the new options out there for keeping your gadgets going in the great outdoors. When you go outside, you should unplug from social media and the constant communication of today’s world, but that said, I use my phone as a camera and a music player all the time (maybe more than I should!).
There are tons of companies out there making products like lanterns, small rechargeable batteries, and even a tea kettle that provide enough energy so you can charge your phone, mp3 player, or other small electronics. Along with that, solar power is becoming a mainstay in the outdoor community. Set up your solar panels at basecamp or even on your pack. You’ll be harnessing power all day to use then at night. It’s amazing for people who want to be out for a few weeks at a time but still need to get work done!
This isn’t a brand new trend in the gear world. I’m a huge fan of companies that are making a significant effort to be more sustainable in their practices. Backcountry and REI have both created an audit system for their down sourcing to certify that the down-producing animals were treated humanely (no live-plucking or force-feeding). This allows consumers to know that the product they’re buying didn’t cause any harm to animals and that it was manufactured ethically.
I do some freelance photography on the side, and I’m obsessed with my Canon G16 camera. This point and shoot rival my big, bulky DSLR in features and quality of photos, but the best part is that it’s super-lightweight and fits in my pocket! I carry it up climbs and on long hikes because it barely weighs anything, and it’s proven durable after banging against the rock (and being dropped, whoops!) countless times. It shoots RAW, has the full manual mode, and a 5x optical zoom that is the best I’ve seen from a point and shoot!
The puffy season is my favorite, and since temps are quickly dropping, the Patagonia Nano Air Hoody is my must-have insulation piece that I can wear from work to climbing to grabbing dinner afterward, and I never have to take it off! It is soft and cozy to wear, with a stretchy, burly outer material that’s not as delicate as other puffies, and it doesn’t look so techy that I feel silly in a nice restaurant. Patagonia developed a proprietary new synthetic insulation (called FullRange) that’s designed to be warm and breathable at the same time, so wear it when you’re working hard, but then when you stop you won’t overheat. Plus, I love the women’s blue and teal colors!
What would you be your holiday “must have” and why?
Check out My Outdoor Alphabet; they ’re art prints made by a Bozeman, Montana, the artist using letters with subjects that are special to climbers, skiers, backpackers, and cyclists (think B stands for boot, T is for the tent). Super fun and cute for anyone who loves the outdoors. I bought several of them last year and gave them out to a lot of my friends who I was stumped on the purchase of a gift. They loved them so much!
Bronwen Jewelry active jewelry is my latest obsession which are made by a Bend, Oregon, artisan, Bronwen Lodato. They’re beautiful, simple necklaces, earrings, and bracelets that are designed to be worn all the time, whether you’re running, climbing, or even swimming. (Tagline is Sweat, Shower, Swim I think.) They have adamant cords so they won’t break easily. Many styles are low-profile so you can wear it all the time without worrying about it getting in the way.
Women’s climbing and hiking pants are sorts of hard to come by since we’re all such different shapes and sizes. My two hands-down favorites are the Mountain Hardwear Dynama Pant and Prana Kara Jean. The Dynama are a bit more techie, but they have a wide waistband (no zipper or button) that’s ridiculously soft, with an athletic fit that makes them appropriate to wear even to an important meeting.
The Kara Jean is a slim-fitting jean that has so much stretch you won’t feel like you’re wearing jeans. I pretty much only wear these two pants from fall to spring. The Dynama if I need more protection from elements, the Kara when I’m just getting outside for a few hours, running around town or at work the rest of the day.
Climbers always want climbing gear! New climbing shoes, ropes, harnesses, crash pads, helmets. A lot of it is very specific to what climbing someone does. If you’re not a climber it can be challenging to figure out what exactly is the right product. Climbers are getting into lifestyle-oriented products that enhance the outdoor experience. People likes outdoor speakers ( EcoXGear speakers are burly and exceptional), solar kits, packable camping chairs (check out Alite or Helinox), and water bottles that keep your drink hot or cold for a full day ( Hydro Flasks are amazing! ). Our readers love functional gear that looks cool, too. Companies like Topo Designs and Fjallraven are doing a great job at creating gear that has good performance but looks stylish and modern.
Petzl Tikka RXP: Reactive lighting that changes based on how much brightness you need. Look down at a map; the beam diminishes so the reflecting light doesn’t blind you, then look back up at the trail and the beam gets brighter so you can see farther. Brilliant technology, not sure I can go back to a regular headlamp now!
Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed: A down sleeping bag that lets you move around, sleep on your side, and toss and turn all night without restriction. Plus, it feels like an actual bed. Because, instead of a typical mummy design, it’s got an opening in the front with a big blanket that you then pull up and tuck in around you. Once again, I’ll never go back to a regular sleeping bag!
Salewa Capsico Insulated: Climbers are constantly changing in and out of climbing shoes. These light hikers are burly enough to get you to the crag but have some unique features that make them easy to slide on and off. Tighten them down for the hike in, then fold down the back and move the rubber strap to the front and you have an easy on-easy off clog. Plus, these are insulated with micro-fleece, so they’re super comfy for cold conditions, and they make great around camp shoes.
Goal Zero Solar Kits With Inverter: There are a variety of combinations for charging a variety of electronics. My favorite is the Sherpa 50, with the large battery pack, Nomad 13 panels, and inverter so you can plug your laptop right into the battery. Charge your phone, laptop, tablet, mp3 player, or even your electric toothbrush!
What is my holiday shopping routine?
I’m hot and cold when it comes to holiday shopping. Sometimes I’ll get gifts three months early, and sometimes I’m the one at the store at midnight on Christmas Eve hoping I can find something great! That said, giving gifts is one of my greatest joys, so I do take it pretty seriously. I try to shop in stores as much as possible, but online shopping is so convenient! I read tons of online reviews from consumers on the manufacturer’s sites, as well as trusted sources to figure out how good the gear is.
What holiday shopping tips do I have for you to get the best gear picks?
For readers to get the best gear picks, shop as early as possible! Especially when it comes to must-have products like rock shoes and climbing/camping gear, some companies will sell out of popular items shortly after they become available (which is usually early fall). I also love sites like GearTrade.com and Backcountry. GearTrade has tons of used gear and apparel, and depending on what it is; you can get semi-new stuff for super cheap. Backcountry has brand-new gear and apparel for a variety of outdoor sports from yoga to kayaking at bargain-basement prices. But they’re very limited for sizes and colors, so you’ve got to act fast. Become a member and get on their mailing list so you can know what will be available in the coming weeks.
I’m lucky to live in one of the most beautiful states that have more than a lifetime of climbing, and outdoor adventure. California is where it’s at! I also get to travel regularly to some of the most beautiful places and mountain ranges on Earth. I’m always seeing new places, meeting new people, and adventuring. I also love Instagram for a daily dose of photography and outdoor inspiration; seeing what other people are out there doing gets me psyched to go out there and do cool stuff myself! Plus, working for Maggwire means, I get to write about, talk about, look at pictures of, and think about camping, not to mention to go out hiking or climbing all day and call it work!