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We all know one of them: the guy who whittles his toothbrush in half to save weight, the gal who drops an extra $7 to upgrade her camping spoon to titanium. They’re gram weenies, or “people who are so obsessed with keeping everything as light as possible that everything counts,” says Jim Tafuto, sales associate at Ragged Mountain Equipment in Intervale, New Hampshire. Thanks to these obsessive, er, particular, outdoor enthusiasts, performance apparel is following the trend usually seen in hardgoods. Keep an eye out for featherweight windwear, insulation layers, and shells.
Gear Trends: Spring 2018 performance apparel
Outdoor Research Optimizer Jacket
Weighing in at just under 13 ounces, the Optimizer Jacket ($399) from Outdoor Research is perfect for those looking for fast-and-light performance with a dash of style. The shell features the Gore-Tex Active 2.0 membrane touted for its balance of weather protection, venting capabilities, and light construction. Men’s (pictured) and women’s versions available.
Helly Hansen Vanir Var Pant
Hips say hooray for the women’s Vanir Var Pant ($100) from Helly Hansen. Thanks to their seamless side panels, which are designed to be worn with a hipbelt or harness, chafing is a thing of the past. Two-way stretch twill adds comfort, a DWR finish keeps it dry, and a drawcord waist provides a perfect fit.
Flylow Bandit Shirt
The men’s Bandit Shirt ($75) from Flylow offers UPF 50+ sun protection in a handsome package. The quick-drying poly fabric is ideal for days in, on, and around water, while casual raglan sleeves offer a stylish aesthetic. Sun really beating down? A lightweight hood offers bonus protection.
Under Armour Scrambler Hybrid Jacket
Bring it on, Mother Nature. With Under Armour’s body-mapped Scrambler Hybrid Jacket ($130), you’ll be ready for whatever she throws at you. Credit the Pertex Shield+ 2.5-layer laminated waterproof/breathable fabric in the hood and shoulders with a breathable single-weave material throughout the body. A center front vent tab, secure phone “seatbelt” in the chest pocket, and moldable hood brim round out the package. Plus, it packs into its own pocket. Available for both women and men (pictured).
Black Diamond FineLine Jacket
Active insulation takes center stage in Black Diamond’s men’s (pictured) and women’s FineLine jacket ($129). Built with the new BD.dry waterproof/breathable protective fabric and designed with a close-to-body, harness-compatible fit, climbers will dig this lightweight layer. Pack the jacket into its own pocket and use the integrated carabiner clip for easy carrying accessibility.
Brands continue to inject body-mapping and active insulation technology into their garments, often with the help of the latest version of Gore-Tex Active—now with enhanced comfort, durability, and a 20 percent weight reduction. In many cases though, that function is hidden beneath a fashionable exterior. “Consumers want to wear their performance apparel to the climbing gym, yoga studio, group fitness class, and anywhere in between,” says Joanna Tomasino, Mammut softgoods category manager.
Retailers report that interest in UPF-rated apparel is also high, especially among watersports enthusiasts who spend a lot of time under the sun.
Pack it up, pack it in
“Super, super-compressible . . . it’s one of those features that’s almost expected nowadays,” says Austin Gibney, sales associate with Pikes Peak Outfitters in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
As a result, more and more brands are offering über-lightweight jackets that pack up into themselves. These jackets are so small and unobtrusive that The North Face-sponsored ultrarunner Rob Krar notes, “you have no excuses not to bring one.”