Family Brand of the Year

Home on the range: Stio's Jackalope pom-pom makes its East Coast debut. Photo: Katie Arnold

It might seem a little presumptuous to declare Stio the outdoor brand of 2013 only a week in, but I have no qualms nominating the new mountain-lifestyle clothing company for the honors. Launched in Jackson, Wyoming, in September by the design duo that started Cloudveil, Stio came out of the gates with some serious adventure cred. Not to mention some cool products for the whole family.  

Like most startups in their first season, Stio’s line for men, women, and kids isn’t exhaustive—but that’s a good thing. At least for kids, more choices aren’t always better. So far for little ones, there’s a windproof jacket, a couple of super cute T-shirts, a hoody, and a hat. But who needs five variations of technical fleece when one stellar one will do the trick? Less time shopping equals more time skiing.

Seeking petroglyphs, partial to serious windchill. Photo: Katie Arnold

My girl has been wearing and loving the Seeker Jacket since October in almost every kind of weather. OK, almost every kind of New Mexico weather: cold fall days camping along the river, frigid winter hikes, snowy afternoons sledding in wet snow. Pretty much everything but rain. Made from Polartec Wind Pro fleecy fabric that’s thick and toasty, with a soft, smooth hand, it’s cozy to wear and bomber enough to keep wind and cold at bay. The fitted hood snugs down over a hat or helmet, stretchy wrist cuffs prevent snow from packing in, and the jazzy little shoulder pocket is perfect for stashing lip balm or a miniature Piglet figurine.

Blown away at La Cieneguilla Petroglyph Site, Santa Fe. Photo: Elizabeth Sullivan

The Seeker’s fit is generous. Pippa’s on the tall side, but her size 4 is boxy, with sleeves that come past the wrist. Back in the fall, with only a sweater underneath, it looked a little baggy, but now that winter’s here, the extra room is perfect for layering. Plus, she’s growing like a weed. Last week, while we were scrambling around looking for 500-year-old petroglyphs just south of Santa Fe on a brilliant, bitter 20-degree day, the Seeker seemed destined to be defeated by a blasting north wind that made it feel more like zero. I’d forgotten to stash her lightweight down jacket in my pack, but once she started moving, the whining stopped and she finished the day warmer than all of us.

With kids' gear—especially apparel—it can be tough to tell if the stuff actually works, but if they wear it constantly and without complaint, that's usually a pretty good sign. The Jackalope beanie gets raves everywhere Pippa wears it. Which is everywhere. This is your classic old-school pom-pom hat, only without the itchy inside. A fleece-lined band cuddles little ears and the fit—also ample—ensures that the whole noggin stays warm. Plus, the sassy pink jackalope makes a very Western impression, particularly in preppy suburban Connecticut, where she debuted it last week during Christmas vaction. Bonus: It's big enough for me to wear in a pinch. Even the hip babysitter wants one.

On mountain, or off: The skinny, go-anywhere Dulcet. Photo: Courtesy of Stio

For grown-ups, the Stio line is technical enough for the mountains but stylish enough you can tear off trails just in time for after school pickup. (Guilty.) On the covet list: the skinny fit, soft shell Dulcet pants and the mid-thigh Millward jacket. Guys will dig the thick Browser cordy pants and the collared poly-wool Basis Shirt—perfect for layering while riding the lifts.

Daddy's got a brand new shirt. Photo: Courtesy of Stio

I can't wait to see what else Stio has up its sleeve for 2013. 

Stio Kids' Seeker Jacket, $70. Jackalope Beanie, $25. See more at

—Katie Arnold

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