Editors’ Picks: Our Favorite Spring Gear
Longer days and higher temps mean it's time to break out the shoulder-season gear. Here are a few staff favorites.
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While the rest of the Rocky Mountains are still buried in snow (with more on the way), spring has arrived in the high desert of New Mexico. Trees are blooming, lettuce is growing, the winds are howling, allergies are kicking, and our skis are (mostly) in the closet. It’s not T-shirt weather yet, but we're excited to break out some warmer-weather kit. Here’s a list of the pieces the Outside staff has been wearing the most.
Allbirds Wool Runners ($95, pictured above)
Want to know the worst part about flying when you wear size 12 shoes? Trying to make room for all your clothes plus trainers and fashionable kicks in a duffel that’ll fit inside a tiny regional jet. Enter Allbirds, wool runners that have already changed my life when it comes to airplane travel. These pliable shoes pack to half the size of your normal joggers, but are insanely comfortable on pavement or the treadmill because they stretch to fit the exact contours of your feet. They also dress up well with jeans, and best of all the wool is naturally breathable and stink-free. But here’s my real endorsement: Allbirds sent us a pair for testing and I’ve since bought three more.—Scott Rosenfield, online editor
Nike Bandit Sunglasses ($145)
The return of spring means more hours of sunlight. And while I always welcome having more time to romp around outdoors without the need for artificial light—not to mention being able to enjoy the sunset through a frame other than my office window—more sun requires added UV protection for my eyes. That's why when daylight savings time hit, I pulled out Nike's new Bandit sunglasses (available this Friday). The boxy frames provide excellent coverage and Max Optics lenses boast impressive clarity. But the Bandits, as with the rest of the 2016 line, were built for running, and they have the athletic touches to prove it. The frames are featherweight but conform to your face for a snug fit, tiny holes vent heat and allow cool air to circulate to prevent fogging, and rubber channels at the temples help wick away sweat and reduce slip. It's all part of an unassumingly stylish package that excels while going fast on foot.—Will Egensteiner, assistant editor
Levi's Commuter 541 Athletic Fit Trousers ($90)
Unless you’re an ultrarunner, it’s damn hard for most athletic men to squeeze into a regular pair of skinny jeans. Levi’s knows this, which is why the San Francisco-based company has started making a 541 style that has a wider upper for your tree-trunk quads but tapered legs for a similar slimmed-down look. We particularly like the 541 Trousers, which are part of their bike-specific Commuter line. In addition to their dialed fit, these pants also feature flexible fabric for a broad range of motion, plus reflective hits when you cuff their hems. But don’t feel like you have to ride your bike to own a pair. They’re just as comfy for sitting at a desk or walking to lunch.—Bryan Rogala, video production manager
Patagonia Fitz Roy Bison Trucker Hat ($30)
Here at Outside we love hats. Editors’ offices are teeming with merino beanies, duckbills, UV-blocking fishing caps, even fedoras. But there’s one hat that’s the most popular by far—the Patagonia Fitz Roy Bison Trucker. A growing number of people on the staff—including myself—sport various versions of this cap on a regular basis. The graphics are creative but subtle and the craftsmanship is a lot better than your normal trucker lid. I’ve worn it in on dawn patrols and lunchtime runs, for afternoon meetings and even out to dinner (hey, it's New Mexico). And we’re not the only ones who love this piece. Try to buy one at your REI and you’ll see that they’re regularly sold out.—Wes Judd, assistant editor
United by Blue Juno Fleece Vest ($98)
I get cold easily, especially when the Outside heater is on the fritz (which happens frequently). So a cozy vest like this one from United by Blue is part of my year-round wardrobe. Despite its solid tech resume (a buttery smooth poly liner and recycled fleece shell), the Juno has more than a touch of style, with a playful oversize chest pocket and burnt-orange color contrasts. It's got a social conscience, too: UBB uses a portion of its revenue to organize water-cleanup efforts.—Axie Navas, senior editor
Search and State Hooded Riding Sweatshirt ($195)
Search and State’s new Hooded Riding Sweatshirt is a simple black hoody. And that’s why I like it. Purposely understated and obsessively clean, it’s meant for the bike but looks just as good at a lunch meeting. Built from a Japanese French terry (cotton), the piece is plush but also plenty rugged so it won’t wear out under backpack straps or tear if I catch an errant branch. Cotton doesn’t move moisture like wool, of course, but it’s totally fine for 20 minutes sprints. Inside, internal cable routing keeps my earbuds out of the way, and out front a two-sided zippered pouch holds my cell phone and other smaller items. One warning: the fit is extra trim to prevent fabric from flopping in the wind, so size up if you’re a tweener.—Jakob Schiller, associate editor
Outdoor Voices Ronde Bra ($55) Mockneck Crop ($60)
The era of neon workout gear is coming to close and you can thank Outdoor Voices (and their 27-year-old founder Tyler Haney) for helping spur this quiet revolution. Back in 2013, the New York-based company started making ultra-soft, retro cut, low-key activewear in a style decidedly different from the Under Armours and Nikes of the world and it’s quickly taken off. The Ronde bra and Mockneck crop are my current favorites. The Ronde has the look of a Marilyn Monroe-era bikini top, but offers enough support that I felt comfortable wearing it sport climbing. The soft jersey cotton Mockneck crop hits just above the belly-button, and comes in a print The New York Times dubbed “digital oreo.” I liked it for yoga or strength workouts, but also wore it out to the bar with a pair of jeans and received lots of compliments—though I was glad I’d worked on my abs first.—Meaghen Brown, associate editor
Tucker & Bloom Bison Leather Edition North to South Messenger Bag ($600)
Tucker & Bloom’s flagship North to South Messenger Bag ups the bike bag game in a big way. Instead of some form of nylon, this hauler is made from a supple but tough bison leather that definitely stands out in a crowded San Francisco bike lane. But it’s not just made to show off. Inside it’s big enough for your laptop plus a stack of vinyl and a trusty rain jacket. Thanks to the cycling-specific cross-body shearling strap, it will always stay put while you weave through morning traffic. Inside, Tucker & Bloom cleverly lined the bag with bright orange fabric, which adds a touch of style but also makes it easy to find your keys, even in low light.—Greg Thomas, associate editor
Taylor Stitch The Long Haul Jacket in Cone Mills '68 Selvage ($190)
My dad has a vest—well, had a vest—that’s traveled between all his kids. My sister grabbed it first when she lived in Chicago, and my brother stole it from her when he moved to Nashville. And then just before I moved to Santa Fe I claimed it as my own. The collar is fraying and the navy corduroy saddle has faded, but it keeps me warm while reminding me of him. I don't have kids yet, but I hope my Taylor Stitch The Long Haul Jacket has a similarly storied life when I do. Assembled in California from a vintage-patterned selvedge denim—milled in North Carolina—the piece is made to last. The 13.5-ounce deep indigo heritage fabric will wear in over time, custom copper buttons get their own unique patina, and even the leather patch at the neck will look good decades in.—Jon Gugala, editorial assistant