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Outdoor Retailer: Clothing highlights from head to toe

Judging by the quantity and variety of technical apparel shown at Outdoor Retailer last week, no outdoorsperson should complain that he or she can't find something appropriate to wear for their favorite backcountry activity.

Here are a few clothing highlights, from head to toe, culled from the masses of wool, down, softshell, and other fabrics on display. (Though we're not suggesting you wear all of these pieces at once.)


Dave Simpson showed us Outdoor Research's Transcendent Beanie in both its stuffed and ready-to-don states. The Transcendent Beanie is cushy 650-plus-fill down in an ultralight ripstop shell. It stuffs into its own integrated pocket, packing down to 4 by 2 inches. $40.

(It's only fair to note that this isn't the first down beanie on the market. Black Rock Gear's been selling a 1-ounce, 900-fill Down Beanie for several years.)


Patagonia is expanding its ultralight down insulation. Last year the brand announced the 5.9-ounce Ultralight Down Shirt as "the lightest piece of insulation ever made." For fall 2011, it's adding an Ultralight Down Jacket (8.5 oz men's, 7.8 oz women's, $279) and an Ultralight Down Hoody (10 oz men's, 9.3 oz women's, $299), both with 800-fill power goose down.

Patagonia says the 10-denier ripstop nylon is their lightest weight fabric ever for down garments and is twice as strong and half the weight of fabrics it uses in other down insulation.

Patagonia's also adding the Hi-Loft Down Sweater, an 800-fill-power jacket made with a 100 percent recycled polyester shell (13.8 oz men's, 12.7 oz women's, $229).


Just as ubiquitous as those insulated down sweaters were baselayers in every form and weight. Rab introduced a new baselayer line made from merino and Cocona (MeCo). Patagonia redesigned its wool baselayers with 80 percent chlorine-free merino wool and 20 percent recycled polyester. Smartwool (above) modified its fits and silhouettes to be more flattering, following an extensive fit study. And, moving outward, Ibex will offer Nomad mid-layers and hybrid jackets and pants with Schoeller Climawool for nordic skiing and winter running.


Sierra Designs made a move to join glove stalwarts like Outdoor Research and Black Diamond, introducing its own line of gloves. Offerings include the waterproof/breathable Enforcer ($109, above) and the softshell polyester/leather Transporter for spring skiing and ice climbing ($79).


Isis introduced the Valkryie, a softshell skirt. Before you dismiss this piece as pure fashion, Isis is selling the Valkryie under its outdoor Adventure line (not its lifestyle one) and says the skirt has "full-on technical fabric and features" and "it's all girl, all over the mountain." ($79.99)

Also for the ladies, Mountain Mama introduced the Jasper Snow Pant, a maternity ski or winter hiking pant for comfort in the snow before, during, and after pregnancy ($150).


Salomon's Fellcross runner was designed by elite fell (cross-country mountain and hill running) athletes. The shoe is very light (9.3 oz / 263 g) and very low profile, with aggressive traction for racing in tough conditions. "This is the most minimal shoe we'll make," said Hilary Hutcheson for Salomon. "It's low profile and fast." ($160)

Five Ten has created a new super sticky Stealth rubber, the M16. The M16 is the result of two development projects: building a better rubber for prosthetic sport devices for the Wounded Warrior Project, and for a climbing scene in the newest Mission Impossible movie starring Tom Cruise, in which he climbs a Dubai skyscraper (don't try this at home, even if the M16 will stick to glass).


There are some very interesting pieces, thanks for the article.  My wife will like the more tailored smartwool pieces, she likes layers which hug her body tighter as she feels they keep her warmer.  What was Patagonia's motive for adding polyester to the wool fabric?  I can't imagine a down filled hat as I'd sweat it up much too fast.  I guess it would be fine for in camp use and certainly light enough for that purpose.

Thanks, Alan.

Jess Clayton of Patagonia said there's a misconception that 100% wool is best, but Patagonia claims that adding the polyester makes the garment more durable, better fitting, and able to withstand more washing, without shrinking. "It makes it way better" is a direct quote from Jess.

Here's Patagonia's 2011 product info:

Merino wool baselayers return for Fall 2011 and are more durable, more
environmentally friendly and better performing than ever. The new merino is a blend of 80% merino wool and 20% recycled polyester, spun as an intimate blended yarn in which the merino and polyester fibers are combined uniformly.

This blend gives the fabric a very high tear strength, doesnʼt pill, and is slowwashed to allow for the user to wash and dry the garment without shrinkage.

Additionally, this blend creates an optimized moisture management system to keep the user dry. All merino fabrics are bluesign® approved, chlorine-free and come from a traceable group of sustainable farmers in Australia.

I wanted to point out, jokingly, that I had just bought the current (not quite way better) version for my husband for Christmas.

I wouldn't be surprised if a bit of poy makes a better garment.  For example Smartwool socks are only about 65% wool.  Maybe I'll need to replace a couple of layers by them.


Did you happen to visit the Woolpower booth (I assume they were there)?  If yes, what were your thoughts?

I've read positive reviews of their products but have yet to try them.  I hope to pick up a piece for next season.  This is another mostly wool garment, but not 100% wool.  From the web descriptions I get the impression the garments have a terry loop interior similar to a smartwool sock.

Woolpower is excellent IMO, I am lucky to live just a few miles away from a distributor - Gransfors Bruks US. in Summerville SC.

Very comfortable, and great seam work.

That skirt leaves speechless. I'm not sure I like the idea or dismmiss it as useless. I can surely imagine my girlfriend in it, (the part I like) But can only imagine her swearing when she crosses high branchs. (the part I find useless). In any case I now want down a wool beanie.

Gronsfors makes the most beautiful, finely crafted, practical wood working tools available. Show me quality and I am sold.

I am thinking of adding a Gronsfors hatchet to the 2011 x-mas list. I don't need one, but the tools are an example of art and function coming together.

I've been lusting after their Scandanavian Forest Axe for a while now, planning to sear Biltmore markings into the handle and stain the snot out of it...and walk around with a 26" axe on my belt. Wanna know how many board-feet are in that tree? No problem. Want it down now? No problem...but it might take a minute or two...

Apparently The North Face is also introducing an insulated hat, this one synthetic. The Animagi Hat is filled with PrimaLoft Eco to keep "runners going in
the worst conditions."

As much as I'm intrigued by the insulated hats for some winter uses, I can't imagine running in one, even in winter. I typically wear just a thin wool or poly beanie for that.


Some day I would like to read a review about hiking apparel and have someone mention that they make their clothing in odd sizes. It would be even  better if this person was referencing pants. Do you have any idea how hard it is find pants with a 33-34" waist and 36" inseam?


Random griping aside those mountain running shoes look pretty slick.

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