In the not so distant past, outdoor clothing was worn exclusively by those with an affinity for nature. From mountaineering to backpacking, trekking to climbing or even skiing and snowboarding, outdoor brands served a purpose to deliver both function and comfort to the wearer, despite the activity. But as time has progressed, outdoor brands have seemingly found themselves to be wardrobe staples in the world of street fashion and even high fashion landscapes. In the early 2010s, the rise of the later coined "Gorpcore" trend saw functional staples such as puffer/down jackets, gilets and other outdoor apparel seemingly find their way into almost everyone's wardrobes, with brands like The North Face and Patagonia being some of the front runners.
While the likes of hiking boots and trail running sneakers have been found in casual wardrobes for years, both contemporary and high fashion houses are now looking beyond the realms of normality and deep into outerwear's core for inspiration. Just last year we saw Virgil Abloh dress his models in Arc'teryx rain jackets alongside his brand Off-White on the runway for their FW20 show. Alongside this, Gucci collaborated with The North Face for a collection of outerwear inspired high-fashion goods at the start of 2021. This just further illustrates outerwear's current reach and popularity in the streetwear and fashion worlds.
Furthermore, if Covid-19 taught us anything it's that people don't like to be trapped up inside. Since the pandemic started, more and more people around the world are donning their outdoor gear, grabbing their sleeping bags and heading for the hills. When you take all of this into consideration, it's easy to understand why the market for outdoor clothing is simply booming. Because of this, we've decided to round up some of the best outdoor clothing brands out there and give you the low down on what makes them special.
What makes a good outdoor clothing brand?
- Functionality - A good outdoor brand will be functional for a variety of purposes. For instance waterproofing, windproofing, heat insulation, and weight are all factors that should be taken into consideration. Many outerwear brands now opt to use cutting-edge technical materials and designs to gain to further enhance their garments.
- Durability - Due to the vast variety of terrain and obstacles in the wild, any good outdoor brand should be able to withstand some general wear and tear. A good outdoor brand's pieces will boast exceptional durability for years to come while only requiring minor repairs.
- Style - A good outdoor clothing brand must be stylish, because how else are you going to flex those scenic pictures on Instagram? As mentioned previously, outdoor brands have seemingly found their way onto the fashion spectrum with many combining style and function effortlessly.
- Sustainability - We all love the outdoors, so it's important we keep it that way! A good outdoor brand should be sustainable and aware of its impact on the environment. Many brands opt to use recycled material and as well as sustainable fabrics and eco-friendly production to not further harm the planet.
- Heritage - History plays a big part in both development and a brand's identity. A good outerwear brand will usually have years of experience behind it, with the knowledge and know-how to match.
Starting off our list is a brand which has been taking 2021 by storm, Arc'teryx. Originating in North Vancouver, Canada, Arc'teryx is a brand synonymous with outdoor clothing and especially technical outerwear. The brand is a fan-favourite of hikers, rock climbers and even techwear lovers due to the high-quality pieces it creates.
So what makes Arc'teryx one of the best outdoor clothing brands? From the founding of the company, creating quality clothing to tackle the great outdoors has been at its core. North Vancouver is a city at the foot of a great mountain so even the birthplace of this brand has been an inspiration for the company's success.
The ethos and values of Arc'teryx are also what makes it such an incredible brand. Everything they do is centred around their passion for the outdoors and for creating quality pieces which allow their customers to explore to their full potential. Arc'teryx is a brand which truly understands what its customers want and they deliver on this with everything they release.
Of course, Arc'teryx also made our list because of the products they create. You may have seen them on your Instagram feed worn by Travis Scott or their global ambassador Nicole McLaughlin. From base layers and accessories to fleece mid-layers and shell jackets, no matter what you need to tackle the outdoors Arc'teryx make it. Not only is every piece functional and high-performance, but they are also incredibly stylish.
The must-have pieces from this brand have got to be their waterproof rain jackets. Using technical materials such as Gore-tex, Arc'teryx create some of the best outer layers on the market. Be sure to check out the Arc'teryx Beta AR for an incredible jacket with a lot of versatility and some great technical features!
This won't come as a surprise to anybody, when you think of outdoor clothing brands Patagonia is one of the first which will come to mind. Founded by Yvon Chouinard in 1973, Patagonia started out as a bespoke mountain climbing gear store before expanding its offerings into outerwear and eventually even surf apparel.
So what makes Patagonia special? Well, not only are their garments both high-quality and durable but Patagonia in general in is very affordable making their clothing more accessible to a lower budget. Alongside this, Patagonia belongs to both the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and 1% For The Planet, making the brand eco-friendly. By rejecting fast-fashion standards and offering repair and reuse services, the California based brand has solidified itself as one of the key leaders in ethical clothing.
The brand has even gone as far as discouraging loyal customers from repeat-buying its products so they can further reduce the effect it has on the environment.
With the likes of Drake, Shia Lebeouf, Kendall Jenner and even Prince Harry all spotted wearing Patagonia on multiple occasions, it seems the California born brand has managed to tick some serious boxes in the style department.
The must have pieces from this brand have to be their retro inspired fleece-jackets. Both warm and windproof, these bonded sherpa fleeces are made from 100% polyester with 50% of that being recycled. Alongside this, these fleeces will keep you looking stylish all the way from the alpines down to sea level.
The North Face
Somewhat ironically, The North Face's story begins on a beach in San Francisco, California. Two hiking and mountaineering enthusiasts by the name of Douglas Tompkins and his wife Susie Tompkins Buell founded a small retail store specialising in mountaineering, backpacking and climbing gear. Since this point, The North Face has gone on to become one of the biggest clothing brands in both outerwear and streetwear due to its array of signature products.
One of the things that make The North Face so special is the technology found within their jackets. For instance, many of its pieces feature signature ThermoBall insulation technology, a technology designed to trap pockets of warm air throughout the jacket. Alongside this, their signature DryVent fabric is engineered to be both waterproof and windproof even in the harshest of weather conditions, all while remaining breathable and wicking away sweat.
If you're clued up on fashion there's a big chance you've seen the influence The North Face has over the industry. Often famed for their many and highly sought after collaborations with streetwear heavyweights Supreme, TNF has also collaborated with huge and established companies such as Vans, Brain Dead, Timberland and most recently Gucci.
All the way from their base layers and T-Shirts to their high-end collaborations, The North Face create some of the finest high-quality outerwear available on the market. If we had to narrow it down to one thing, it's tough to beat their down jackets. Models such as the retro-inspired Nuptse down jacket, the Steep Tech and the 1990 mountain jacket are some of the best readily available outerwear pieces available.
Starting out on the Alps back in 1947, Salomon began as a brand very much focused on skiing and creating gear and equipment for Italian skiers. Over the years they have gone on to create clothing and equipment for a number of other outdoor activities such as hiking and trail running.
If you're looking for some performance outerwear that can be worn on the mountains and ski slopes as well as on the streets then Salomon is definitely a brand to check out. Their outdoor gear makes use of excellent materials and technology such as Primaloft for their insulated jackets and they create clothing with a style that is hard to find elsewhere.
One of the main reasons Salomon made it onto our list of the best outdoor clothing brands is because of their S/Lab product line. This is the brand's more technical range which does not compromise on quality. If you want the best of the best from Salomon then this is it!
The one thing we would recommend from Salomon above all else is their footwear. Their selection of hiking boots, running shoes and winter boots is among the best. Our favourite has got to be the Salomon XT-6. This performance long-distance running shoe has gained a huge following online due to its unique aesthetic which fits perfectly into a streetwear wardrobe.
Born from the cold and wet plains of the North of England, Berghaus has been creating some of the best readily available outerwear on the market since 1966. Founded by climbers and mountaineers Peter Lockey and Gordon Davison, the brand was named Berghaus after the German translation "mountain house".
With over 65 years of experience under its belt, Berghaus has refined its blueprint to create of the finest outerwear essentials. From their signature waterproof rain jackets to their array of hiking and mountaineering gear, Berghaus create high-quality products built to last and survive in the wild. Berghaus' signature Hydroshell waterproofing is made up of 2.5 layers of coated fabric to ensure 100% waterproofing alongside quick transfer relief from any perspiration.
While Berghaus hasn't quite taken off in streetwear and high fashion circles quite so much, the brand still boasts stylish and subtle silhouettes ideal for those looking to create more subdued outdoor looks. Alongside this, the price point of the brand is very accessible making it one of the more affordable options on this list.
If we were to recommend one product from Berghaus it would likely be their GORE-TEX rain jackets. These pieces are guaranteed to keep you protected from the elements even in the heaviest of storms. As well as this, they're lightweight and breathable ready to keep you dry and stylish throughout wear.
Starting back all the way in 1938 as a family-owned hat distributor, Columbia has since quickly grown into one of the largest outdoor brands in the world with a wide and storied range of products.
Over the years Columbia has become known for its consistent effort when it comes to sustainability, making every effort to preserve natural resources and limit the impact on the communities they touch. Alongside this, the brand uses eco-friendly materials included recycled fabrics. The brand also plays host to a variety activity inspired clothing such as ski jackets, trail running gear, water bottles and much more.
Unlike many outdoor brands, Columbia makes clothing for all climates, from the high alpine peaks to the dry deserts. With each of these pieces comes a variety of techniques to help with waterproofing, cooling, warmth, sun reflection and much more. Through this technology, Columbia has quickly established itself as one of the leading companies when it comes to outdoor gear.
It's too hard to narrow it down to one singular product from Columbia as everything from their base layers to their down jackets are all made from exceptional materials to a high-quality standard. So if you're looking for an all-around brand you can put your trust in, look no further than Columbia.
Fjallraven hail from the small town of Örnsköldsvik in Sweden, a place known for its unique landscape where the sea meets the mountains and forest. At age 14 creator Ake Nordin, undertook some research to create a functional and comfortable backpack after being dissatisfied with the current models available. Eventually in 1960 he started Fjallraven and operated the business out of his family's basement until growth took it to new heights.
Known for their robust and durable product, Fjallraven continually seek to develop product that is built to last, all while producing it in a sustainable and eco-friendly manner. The use of recycled and organic material is a common trait found in the Sweden-based brand's items as it aim to stay in harmony with the environment.
With nature being a constant source of inspiration for Fjallraven, this extends to the brand's material choices also. The use of merino wool, cotton and responsibly sourced down are some of the brand's key fabrics, but when needed the brand will also opt to use synthetic materials to provide a solution to the sustainability challenge.
The most popular Fjallraven product is the Kanken backpack, a product developed in 1978 to help school kids in Sweden with their posture. This lightweight and versatile backpack has stuck around to become a staple piece for many when it comes to exploring the great outdoors.
No list of the best outdoor clothing brands would be complete without mentioning Nike's outdoor range, All Conditions Gear. Nike are constantly at the forefront of pushing boundaries in sportswear and activewear and it's no different when it comes to the great outdoors. As the name might suggest, Nike ACG was founded out of desire to create clothing to tackle all conditions which someone might face in the great outdoors.
Starting out as Nike Hiking before Nike ACG, the Swoosh brand looked to create footwear and clothing to outfit the growing outdoor craze which was happening in the 80s. Starting out creating hiking boots adapted from the brands running shoes, Nike ACG would soon be creating every piece of outdoor clothing you could every possibly need. Ski Jackets? Check. Packable softshell jackets? Check. Fleece hoodies? Of course!
So what makes Nike ACG one of the best outdoor clothing brands? Aside from it's diverse range or products and rich history within the community, one of the main reasons its on this list is because of its approach to design. Nike ACG aren't afraid to use a bit of colour and get creative with their designs and we are definitely here for it. This approach extends to the way they present their clothing. If you've never seen a Nike ACG I recommend you open up a new tab and check them out, you won't regret it.
It's pretty much impossible to narrow down Nike ACG to just one product to check out. A favourite of ours here at The Sole Supplier is the Convertible Cargo Trousers. These are perfect for taking on a camping trip and are the ideal choice for when the weather can't make up its mind.
and Wander is a Japanese fashion brand with a deep dedication and appreciation for the great outdoors. Started by Keita Ikeuchi and Mihoko Mori after the pair worked for fashion giant Issey Miyake, and Wander blends high fashion with the aesthetic of an outdoor clothing brand. The result is something truly unique and special.
Just because this brand is deeply entrenched within the fashion world does not mean that they compromise on outdoor performance in any way. From and Wander expect some of the best outerwear pieces on the market, making use of Polartec, Primaloft, Gore-Tex and other premium technologies.
Although coming with a heavy price tag, these pieces are built for life. In terms of design, durability and wearability you really can't go wrong! What you get is uncompromising quality and a piece of clothing ready to tackle the harsh conditions of urban and natural living.
and Wander also give back to their outdoor communities which is one of the reasons we had to include them on this list. The and Wander Hiking Club provides activities to get people more in touch with their surroundings as well as providing workshops on conservation, sustainability and safety.
A must-cop piece from and Wander has got to be a rain jacket, the design of these is where the brand thrives. The cut and shape of their jackets is very unique as they take inspiration from Japanese fashion which uses much different silhouettes. Expect a fit and form totally different to what you're used to!
Another Japanese outdoor clothing brand, nanamica focuses on practicality, form and function. Formerly working as a designer for outdoor brand Helly Hansen, nanamica’s founder Eiichiro Homma started the company with fellow designer Takashi Imaki who had prior worked for Champion. The inspiration for this new brand came from a desire to live an adventurous and fulfilling life which is why the name of the company means “house of the seven seas”.
Through their designs, nanamica aim to create elevated wardrobe basics which blend utility and performance, fashion and function. Their design aesthetic is simple and yet gives off effortless cool. You won’t find nanamica jumping in on any trends or creating hyped pieces, but you will find pieces of clothing which will fit into your wardrobe and last your whole life.
In a lot of their clothing nanamica use special materials to elevate quality and performance. In their t-shirts for example nanamica make use of a special Loopwheel Jersey using a machine that is over half a century old! The result is a material that is incredibly cool whilst also being soft to the touch and exceptionally durable.
nanamica also specialise in a Photoelectron Down, an incredibly high-performance insulator for jackets which is made by kneading ceramics into the feathers used in their down. The result is the brand’s most insulating down filling which also helps wick moisture and keep clothing dry.
It’s harder to choose one item to suggest from nanamica as the brand offers such a variety of great products. A personal favourite has to be their utility shirts and work shirts. They work as great layering pieces and come in so many different styles. You can layer them under your coat in winter or style them on their own with a simple t-shirt on a cool summer night.
Gramicci is a climbing heritage and lifestyle brand. It was started by a true pioneer of the climbing scene, Mike Graham, and was founded out of the need for better clothing for tackling those tough ascents.
If you're into rock climbing, bouldering, mountaineering or any related activities then Gramicci is definitely one to check out if you haven't already. They create some excellent climbing gear and their clothing is designed with utility in mind, for example the strap on the back of the waist for you to strap your chalk bag to so you're not scrambling for it while you're halfway up a route.
The brand has come a long way since its origins in California. Gramicci is now an international brand you can find stocked in some big high-street stores. Despite all this, the brand has not lost sight of its roots and origins and they still continue to produce some of the best clothing for climbers. The brand has explored new realms of using technical fabrics and looking at innovative new ways to provide its wearer with a free range of movement to prevent any hindrances on their climbing.
The spirit of Gramicci is one of the reasons it made our list as one of the best outdoor clothing brands. The brand was built by a pioneer of the climbing movement and is all about using experience to drive innovation. An item you've got to check out from the brand is their G Pant or G Short. These are the brand's bread and butter and they come packed with a load of features that make them great bottoms for climbing or hiking.
Snow Peak was founded in 1958. The brand's founder, Yukio Yamai, had been passionate about mountaineering and created his own brand due to his unhappiness with the products currently on offer. At the time, in the brand's home country of Japan, leisure camping was still very uncommon and so Yamai wanted to create something which could represent his attitudes towards the outdoor.
At first, Snow Peak was predominantly creating mountaineering equipment as the hometown of Yamai was famous for its metal processing. Even to this day, the brand's infamous titanium is still manufactured there.
Now owned by Yamai's son, the brand has not compromised on its vision. Snow Peak creates everything you could need to enjoy any adveture such as tents, fireplaces, cookware, sleeping bags, furniture and much much more! They also produce some beautiful apparel, which is why we had to put them on this list.
Snow Peak is dedicated to having a positive impact on the planet and all of those who love to explore it. The brand is always creating products and equipment in collaboration with its customers to help them reconnect with the natural world. Every year they hold various Snow Peak Way camping events, in which the brand gets to meet and engage with their customers about the brand and their lifestyle in a way many clothing companies don't.
If you're looking to pick up a piece from Snow Peak, you can't go wrong with a pair of the Quick Dry Shorts. These are the perfect summer staple to bring with you on camping trips, holidays or weekend getaways.
Manastash started out in Seattle, Washington, home to the Olympic National Park, Mount Rainer and the North Cascades Park. With all this natural beauty around, it is easy to see where the inspiration for an outdoor clothing brand could come from. The motto of Manastash represents the easy-going nature of the brand’s home: “To create functional, stylish and earth-friendly clothing based on the free wheeling lifestyle."
Right from the get-go, Manastash wasted no in trying to use recycled and environmentally friendly materials. Hemp was the go-to however in the 1990s it was a lot less consistent in quality as it is today. The brand continues to make use of sustainable materials to this day and aims to design clothing that has minimal impact on the environment so future generations can enjoy its natural beauty.
Manastash deserves to be on any list of the best outdoor clothing brands. They're the perfect outdoor clothing brand for people that enjoy getting out in nature but aren’t pushing the boundaries to the extreme. Let’s face it, as much as we all love a hike, we don’t all need the same jacket worn by people who are scaling Everest. For the sake of sustainability, Manastash rejects these technical materials which cause a lot of excess pollution and instead opt for simple but effective materials which don’t cost the Earth.
Be sure to check out Manastash’s utility shirts. They are a staple pieces from the brand and work as excellent layering pieces, ideal for activities such as hiking, biking, camping and climbing.