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This winter’s best jeans

Eight new tools to help you make the most of your next backcountry foray

The latest batch of storm shells and insulated jackets ends the debate about performance vs. style

The season's best shoes and boots

Are there any outfitters that still manufacture their products in the USA? Do any produce items based on the principles of fair trade or with recycle or natural materials? I’m trying to find a good winter jacket with these pareters in mind, but it seems that it is not so common. Yoni New York, New York

When I’m hiking, I sweat, to put it delicately, with the regularity of Old Faithful and with the intensity of Niagara Falls. What do you recommend in the way of a wicking base layer and a lightweight breathable jacket for fall hiking? Or perhaps you know of a DVD I can watch of someone else hiking (sweat-free). Meir New York, New York

Hint: It's not the toboggan.

I'm looking for the perfect trail running jacket: soft shell to eliminate the noise of nylon, breathable so I don't overheat, and resistant to light rain and wind. I chasing a unicorn, or does such a beast exist? Blake Lexington, Kentucky

My husband and I are going to Peru for our 50th anniversary. We will be adventuring in the Amazon rainforest, and I’m wondering what kind of supportive footwear I can use on the wet, slick trails. Also, what rainwear would protect against torrential rain, yet not be too hot in the jungle? Judy Reeds Spring, Missouri

I looking for an expedition-weight cold-weather jacket for skiing, hiking, and all around wear. I tend to get cold easily. I would also like something with a lot of pockets, and is waterproof and windproof. Oh, and somewhat stylish. Can you suggest a few for me to choose from? Thank you! Joy Tacoma, Washington

If you are like me, when you arrive at your cpsite after a long hike, you want to switch out of your boots and put on something lighter. What shoes are out there that will work well around the cpsite? Something that will protect the toes, has enough sole so you can step on a rock with hobbling yourself, and doesn’t make for much extra weight. John New York, New York

My favorite jacket is nearing the end of its life, and I’d like to replace it with a similar do-anything version that’s comfortable in a range of temperatures. I’m looking for a highly breathable piece, and waterproofing isn’t that important. Andre San Francisco, California

I looking into purchasing my first soft shell jacket. I will be using it in the fall and winter here in Minnesota and for the occasional ski trip to Montana. What are your thoughts on custom-built soft shells and are they worth it? Eric Maple Grove, Minnesota

On a recent hiking trip, I developed a whopper of a hot spot on my heel. A friend lent me a pair of liner socks, and the rest of the journey was comfy. I’m sold! I’ve heard that the liner should be made of the se fabric as the outer socks. What’s your opinion on this? Brenda Shoreview, Minnesota

I just discovered your gearness and must say I like your logical mirth. Please enlighten me on Eagle Eyes sunglasses technology. Is its NASA-accepted light-filtering system really unmatched? Salim Loma Linda, California

History repeats itself—and we don't mind—with these seventies-inspired shades

I going trekking in Peru and Bolivia this July and would like to take a soft shell pant that combines around-town style, warmth for alpine hiking, and affordability. What recommendations do you have? Ron San Francisco, California

My dermatologist told me to stay out of the sun, not well received advice by a committed recreational athlete. Does anyone make a summer-weight, long-sleeved cycling jersey with UV protection? I need full coverage, because I tend sweat off sunscreen pretty quickly. Michael San Francisco, California

Mysteries of the mind-body connection: Why does Willie Nelson make me run faster than the White Stripes? And why do both sound so much better coming out of the Thump Pro? I don't have answers, but I do know that after several trail runs I fell shamelessly in love with…

I’m looking to replace my old REI 300 fleece jacket. It has served me well as a regular jacket around town and for hiking and snowshoeing. I’d like something similar, but that will better resist wind. Any suggestions? Kathy Olympia, Washington

Sustainability meets performance in these eco-friendly products

I'm searching for gloves and a hat for general use in the West Virginia mountains. I need a pair of durable, thin, wind- and water-resistant gloves with excellent grip. I would also like to have something to layer over them that would work well for serious snow. In the hat, I want the warmest hat in existence that can be easily rolled and placed in the pocket of whatever jacket I'm wearing. What’cha got for me? Carl Morgantown, West Virginia

Here come longer days and better weather. Make the most of the multisport season with the hottest new gear.

With these slip-ons, dressing for summer is just like the season: effortless

I need a rain jacket that can take the abuse of going off-trail. Something that shrugs off thorns, branches, and trunks with nary a RIP to be heard. And it needs to be light to handle the 90-degree, 90-percent-humidity days we enjoy each summer here in Rocksylvania. Any ideas? John Lebanon, Pennsylvania

What color sunglass lens should I use for hiking? From sunrise to sunset, I want just one pair if that’s possible. I have tried to look this info up, but I want to get it right. Is polarized the way to go? I'm clueless. Jay Las Vegas, Nevada

I'm headed to the Bob Marshall Wilderness this July. We'll be riding horses in and out of the Bob, and from cp to cp. Any ideas on rain pants that could stand at least some time in the saddle without breaking down? Jeff arillo, Texas

Clean up your closet with fashionably sustainable clothes

Can you recommend a light soft shell with good water repellency for spring/summer hiking and biking? I take it from your past columns that Polartec Power Shield would be a bit warm. Also, should I look for one with a hood? Christopher Brooklyn, New York

Apparel makers embrace wicking coconut shells, beech-wood shirts, and other miracle materials

I’m looking to buy a new ski jacket and pants—something comfortable, warm, and not too bulky. I'm after something unique. Any suggestions? Everett Charlotte, North Carolina

You've mentioned Outdoor Research's Mutant Modular Mitt in the past as a nice compromise between mittens and gloves, but unfortunately OR stopped making them. Do you know of any other similar mitt/glove compromise? I've got a pair of OR shell mitts, but I'd really like the added dexterity. Daniel Halifax, Vermont

I'm heading to Alaska’s Brooks Range for a two-week backpacking trip in June. I'm trying to find, with no success so far, a Patagonia Micro Puff or Moonstone Lucid jacket. Any suggestions on a comparable jacket that may do similar (or better) service? Sue Atlanta, Georgia

Why do makers of technical fabrics discourage using fabric softener when drying? And I hear that you should line dry all running and hiking clothing. What’s the word? Brad Colorado

My husband and I are taking a cruise from Vancouver to Alaska in May and then driving from Jasper through Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, and the Colorado Rockies. Being Aussies from the subtropics, we would welcome your suggestions about what outerwear we’ll need and where to buy it in Vancouver. Margaret Brisbane, Australia

I can't find a pair of gloves suitable for winter hiking. They all seem to suffer from the same problem: In the presence of perspiration, the attached linings stick to my fingers as I pull the gloves off. This makes it difficult to re-align the fingers to get them back on. Is there an answer to this dilemma? Rick Littleton, New Hampshire

Shaun White, style icon? God help us. But thanks to the pinstriped snowboarder, wearing work shirts has never seemed so fashion forward.

In Outside‘s February, 2007 issue, writer Andrew Tilin reported on a new, sustainable outdoor apparel company, Nau (And Nau for Something Completely Different). The Portland, Oregon-based start-up launches their web sales this February, and will open four stores in the spring of 2007 in Boulder, Colorado, Portland, Oregon, Seattle,…

It's chic to buy organic groceries, but all-natural clothes? Consider this: It takes roughly one pound of fertilizer and pesticide to grow the conventional cotton required for one pair of jeans. Eco-smart designers have taken note, introducing up to 100 percent organic denim that simultaneously saves the environment and your shot at a first impression.

From bike lane to corner office, these classy messenger bags carry the day

For decades, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard has preached the gospel of sustainable performance apparel, and his company has led the market with its use of recycled and organic fabrics. This fall, the company greens up footwear, too, rolling out an all-new line of shoes. The trail-, water-, and travel-inspired kicks…

I love the look of soft shell jackets instead of typical hard shells. But most soft shells I’ve seen are very thin with little or no insulation. Is there one that will keep me warm while I bounce around in Vermont? Eric Randolph, New Jersey

This one will really test your knowledge! I do a lot of sports in cold weather, and all the sports bras I've tried get wet and don’t dry. I've even spent the big bucks on Patagonia Capilene. Can you suggest a bra that provides minor support and dries readily? And, out of curiosity, if my Capilene underwear keeps dry, why doesn't my Capilene bra? Killaine Vancouver, BC

What's the best waterproof hiking pant for under $200? A full side zip would be nice and lightweight is ideal, but not at the cost of durability and waterproofing. I'm about five-feet, nine-inches, so hiking pants that aren't ridiculously long would also be helpful. Tim Rochester, New York

Win the seasonal game with the year's hottest gear

Which fabric—polypropylene, Capilene, or merino wool—works better for layering, considering warmth, weight, and price? Bill Spreckels, California

I need to replace my old Moonstone Activent wind shirt that I use for running. Can you direct me to another one, preferably a pullover? Dan St. Louis, Missouri

My hands are always freezing on the mountain when I go skiing (I think I have poor circulation). Do you have any recommendations on the warmest gloves for winter? Leigh Ann Kansas City, MO

I’m looking for a fleece-and-shell combo that can be worn separately or together when needed. I’ve looked at The North Face Denali fleece but unsure of a shell to go over it. Can you recommend a system that can be used for everything from hiking to skiing without breaking the bank? Ryan Lubbock, Texas

I do light hikes in the hot, humid, muddy Puerto Rican rainforest multiple times a year for work. My coworkers wear rubber wellies, and I usually buy essentially disposable boots (and throw them away after a week). I’m sick of wet feet, but most waterproof boots seem made for winter. Any advice? Heather Mountain View, California

What is a good, moderately priced three-season shell for a big, sweaty backpacker? I got soaked to the bone this weekend and need to upgrade. Also, is it safe to wash backpacking clothes in unfiltered water? John Athens, Georgia

Fall's new casual shoes are crossover artists: ready for a day in the woods or a night on the town

I just moved to New England from Scotland, where the lack of defined seasons and nearly constant chilly rain make three-season gear essential. Should I shop similarly here or aim for two entire get-ups, one for lightweight summer trekking and one for colder months? Callum Boston, Massachusetts

I have heard that clothes treated with Buzz Off work well for repelling ticks and other bugs in the U.S. I’m traveling to the African tropics in the wet season and curious if Buzz Off can repel malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Carmen Washington, D.C.

What raingear would you suggest for bike commuting in rainy Seattle? I need something that will keep me dry but not slow me down this winter. Martha Bainbridge Island, Washington

I’ve always made do with cotton briefs when hiking, but I’m tired of the chafe factor and that ensuing wide-legged walk. I’m planning a trip into Montana’s Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness and need your recommendation for irritation-free hiking (especially since the well-known brands go for $25 a pair). Suggestions? Brian Billings, Montana

With technology constantly improving outdoors gear, are sock makers following suit? Should I still use my old standard of wool socks against my feet, then an oversock, usually cotton (never had a blister)? Glenn Aquebogue, New York

I'm looking for sunglasses that will perform everywhere from snowy mountains to the open ocean. I've looked at three different pairs: the Zeal Optics Maestro, Julbo Nomad X4, and Native Nano 2. Could you please recommend a pair that would work best for me? Gina Gainesville, Florida

Layering gets smart with cutting-edge fabrics and designs that let you do more with less

I'm looking for a good all around soft shell alpine climbing pant; something I can wear alone in warmer weather and layer under in cooler weather. Any suggestions? Denise Albuquerque, New Mexico

As a college student in Boston, I spend a lot of time outside in the freezing, windy winters. Will the Patagonia R4 fleece jacket keep me warm around town and on the New England ski slopes? Or do you know of any cheaper, comparable fleeces? Jenny Boston, Massachusetts

I like to hike in Baja where the vegetation includes some of the nastiest plants I've ever met. Do you have a recommendation for the toughest pants to wear? Jon Pacifica, California

Backyard season is in full swing. Get in the game with our guide to classic warm-weather fun and sizzling new style.

I’ve been hearing a lot about merino wool base layers, such as Icebreaker. What are your thoughts on this fabric? Is it a suitable alternative to synthetic fleece layers for a mountain climb such as Kilimanjaro? Iain Solihull, UK

I have worn Patagonia Silkweight underwear for years, but I’m still not sold on “evaporative cooling.” And this summer I’ll be backpacking in the Middle East, where temperatures are frequently 100-plus degrees in the shade. Can anything really keep my nether regions as cool as cotton? Michael Alexandria, Virginia

Just in time for the World Cup, Adidas is rolling out the world’s first modular soccer shoe. The F50 Tunit features interchangeable uppers (in the company’s proprietary ClimaCool and ClimaWarm fabrics, synthetic leather, and full-grain leather), footbed chassis, and spikes for maximum traction on hard, soft, or turf fields. Single-upper…

With thin weaves and ultrafine fibers, merino beats the summer heat

I going climbing this summer in Switzerland and looking to shed a few pounds off my gear. My idea is to dump all my fleeces (except maybe a vest) and heavy-duty shells in exchange for a soft shell. I’d like to find one with a hood that actually moves well with the head and allows for a helmet, too. What would be a suitable soft shell for Alpine mountaineering and rock climbing that is warm enough to not need fleeces, and waterproof enough to handle a Southeast Asian monsoon? Matthew Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

I looking for a rainproof jacket, light enough to wear during south Florida's humid, rainy summers, and still be able to use it as outerwear for a spring Yosemite trip. I was considering the Patagonia Ready Mix. Is that too heavy? Any other ideas? Jorge Mii, Florida

I looking for some tough raingear for summer trekking through the Canadian wilderness, where I'll be portaging gear and experiencing sudden changes in weather. My priorities are something that's durable, light, and that will keep me dry and windproof. I normally go for top-of-the-line brand nes, but not in this case. It's just got to last and get the job done. John Beckley, West Virginia

Shield your eyes with the season's coolest shades and be primed for action anytime, anywhere

Whether you and your posse are catching the train out of Santa Fe or heading into the Australian outback this spring, you owe it to yourself�and your fellow passengers�to ride with style

YOU KNOW HOW SOME STARS get all the attention, when it’s really the supporting characters who carry the show? In the quest for better health, strength, and vitality, calcium is one nutrient that’s been hogging the spotlight, but the fact is, vitamin D does most of calcium’s heavy lifting. Vitamin…

I have recently heard talk about a new insulation from NASA, called Aeroloft or Spaceloft. It supposedly weighs less than air and three millimeters of it can keep you warm down to 50 below. Burton apparently used it in a jacket called the Ronin Katana. Do you know anything about this material? Will it be possible to make expedition-worthy sleeping bags that weigh eight ounces? John Atascadero, California

I totally confused by the number, types, prices, and brands of performance T-shirts. I simply want a shirt that is comfortable in warm-hot weather and will stay comfortable when I sweat. Can you help? David Tpa, Florida

What type of jacket would you suggest as an all-season shell for somewhere like North Carolina? I would like to buy one that could be used in the winter as a shell for skiing but that is not too hot to wear in a summer downpour. Art Chapel Hill, North Carolina

An extremely cool makeover brings high performance and style to the latest generation of fleece

I'm after a down jacket or sweater that could replace a fleece jacket in my pack, hopefully adding lots of warmth for only a few ounces extra. I'd hope it would keep me warm by itself to about 45 degrees, and be a layer after that. I don't want it to be too warm or heavy—California isn't usually very cold. I was looking at the EMS Super Sweater, for exple. Any thoughts? Jonathan Thousand Oaks, CA