Stories / September 2019

The Ultimate Great Outdoors Edit

Fancy yourself a bit of an outdoorsy type? These are the essential pieces you’ll want to invest in to ensure you look the part…

Many of us would like to believe that - if stranded on a desert island with a pen-knife and a bit of rope - we would survive. Why? Not quite sure. Most likely it is a biological phenomenon, from when we had to hunt our own food and travel for miles to get water. It could also be due to the sense of freedom and adrenaline granted by disappearing into the woods or hills for a few days – from thrusting off the tie and going ‘a bit Walden’. Whatever you like: camping, hiking, fishing, or more, they help us find peace-of-mind in our noisy modern world.   

Sadly, this is no environment for a three-piece suit and calf-skin loafers. Although, it so happens that vintage photographs of explorers (from Ranulph Fiennes to Ernest Shackleton) do not reveal unkempt, poorly-dressed men, but dashing and heroic figures; men who knew the appropriate fabrics, colours, and styles for their particular trip. Men we want to look like. As more of us are edging away from the nylon and polyester-based camping gear that has pretty much defined outdoor attire since the 1980s, we’re rediscovering just how effective those natural fibres are; how durable leather boots can be over their synthetic counterparts – or how Shetland wool keeps you truly warm and dry. Thankfully, classic outdoor gear is back on trend (not that it ever needed to be). But if you’re looking for an excuse to update your rough-and-ready wardrobe, here is a selection of items that will elevate you from happy camper to hero.

The Hat

The smallest things make the biggest difference. Take the humble hat, for instance. In its various forms, hats are used to warm your head, protect it from dangerous rays of sunlight and mop sweat. German-based Heimat make top-tier deck wool hats – the same used by fisherman and Naval soldiers throughout history. Thanks to the natural fibres, they actually mould around the shape of your head, keeping it optimally warm. If your activity requires protection from the sun, find a cap that can be easily folded into your bag. Rowing Blazers’ 100% USA-made retro-caps showcase historical motifs – ideal for rummaging around ruins; and Albion’s cycling caps ensure that if you’re on two-wheels - instead of two-feet - you can shade your eyes from dangerous UV-rays and keep them firmly on the finish line. 

The Sweater

With the right fabrics, a quality sweater keeps your body temperature in check and makes your outdoor escapades comfortable and safe. The natural fibres should mould into your body shape – initially feeling tighter and then loosening with further wear. It doesn’t hurt that the very best examples are still influenced by those tried-and-tested for a hundred years – like the roll-neck sweater (a favourite of seamen and alpine adventurers); the Aran knit (popularised by man’s man Steve McQueen); and zipped-up pullovers - ideal for running or hiking. Whether you prefer classic or technical, get the right sweatshirt and you’re on the right track. 

The Hiking Boots

Something unusual happened last winter (and is carrying into this season). Men, by no means close to an appropriate peak or piste, began wearing updated versions of the classic hiking boot. Why? Well, one gaze at how handsome and masculine hiking boots are, and it’s likely you’ll throw your synthetic trotters in the bin. Matthew Cookson’s boots are so well-crafted and comfortable as to be elevated to a piece of outdoor art. They are incredibly durable, made to withstand years of hard use, and thanks to the fact you can pair them with selvedge denim at home, worth the money, too. Grenson and Cheaney have made some nice examples: the former being more contemporary and the latter taking up to 28 days to complete, modelled on more vintage designs. Whichever style you pick, keep it as close to the original shape as possible, and always in leather.  

The Jacket

No self-respecting man need demean themselves by bringing with them one of those polyester puffer things from the high street that keeps you neither warm nor comfortable. If your activity suggests colder climes, consider taking a lined and hooded coat, like one of the exemplary and well-made parkas by Shackleton or Edmund Hillary, or a padded down-jacket. Less extreme? A work shirt or ‘shacket’ should suffice on your next autumn sojourn into the hills – lumberjack axe not included. 

Going somewhere warm, the outerwear of choice seems to be the field jacket. Protecting your skin with layers is a vital and often misunderstood way of preventing sun-damage, but the correct fibres, like linen or light cotton, circulate the heat around your body, keeping you cooler for longer. Thankfully, the safari style is dashing, on-trend, and easy to pair with your new hiking boots. 

The Accessories

You’re only as good as your tools; and sometimes that means a sturdy bag, an eclectic watch, and a pair of UV-protecting sunglasses. Of course, you can go cheap and plastic, but it mostly shows in the accessories; and many of us would rather avoid snapped sunglasses and ripped rucksacks. Thedi Leathers produce bags made to withstand the elements. This military-style backpack is crafted with adjustable shoulder straps and numerous compartments to fit all of your hiking essentials; it looks as tough as it feels. If you’re quite serious, you can opt for one of Oakley’s infamous Radar EV Path Sports Glasses, but for any other outdoor activity, a smart pair of hard-wearing Pascal Mathieu shades will do the trick – beloved by skiers for their high UV-protection. 

The Timepiece

Well, would you look at the time? That’s all for this Outdoor edit. And talking of the time, you could do considerably worse than strapping an Omega Speedmaster around your wrist: the first watch worn on the moon – and we can’t imagine many of our readers will be reaching those extremes (at least, not yet). 

 

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