Found! Twelve of the coolest brands for outdoor clothes and bags

Are these some of the coolest outdoor clothing brands you’ve never heard of? And is that woman wearing a fruit-bowl on her head?

We’ve been testing everything from walking trousers to cycle helmets and from backpacks to everlasting socks.

The People’s Poncho

Brilliantly designed ponchos for cycling, walking and even paddleboarding (providing you NEVER fall in).

 

Clever fastening straps and total waterproofness. They fold up into the front zip pocket for portability, have a peaked hood and weigh less than 500g.

Four colours and cost around £60 at Wildbounds (where there’s also usually a discount on offer too).

Ziplongs from Northern Playground

A base or mid layer you can take off without removing your boots or outer trousers. Ingenious!

So, dress up warm in the morning and then zip ’em off as the hike, ski or cycle heats you up. Ziplongs come in full and 3/4 length, in wool and microfleece and for men and women. From around £60.

Kuhl

We don’t mind saying that this North American company make the absolute best outdoor trousers we’ve come across.

They fit fabulously (providing you find your way around the US/UK sizing muddle) and many of the styles are as streetwise as jeans, but with all the versatility and flexibility of outdoor clothing

Ever-popular women’s Splash roll-up convertible hiking trousers that look great in town too. Watch out for the US sizing and very generous fit too. From around £50.

 

The men’s Rydr – tough and good-looking

There are men’s and (limited) women’s ranges. Sadly, fewer models make it to the UK than are available in the US and Canada. Let’s put some pressure on them to send us UK-ers a bit more choice! Tops, jackets and brilliant shorts too.

The best choice we’ve found (and best prices) seem to be at Go Outdoors online.

Closca bike helmets

Unlike any other bike helmet, the Closca folds down and opens up to something akin to a horse-riding helmet or even a beautiful Swedish fruit bowl…almost. Not cheap at around £60, but lovely, fits in a bag and very protective.

Ventilated, adjustable, CPSC & EN1078 international safety certifications and a two-year warranty. Available in black, grey or white with contrast accents. Sizes M and L.

Darn Tough

The only socks you’ll ever need. I have to admit I’d stayed clear of trying these made-in Vermont socks because of the price (around £15 upwards). Then I found out that they’re guaranteed for LIFE!

 

And that makes them the cheapest socks you’ll ever buy. With that hurdle passed, you can indulge yourself in their softness, their cushiony comfort and their fabulous range of patterns and colours.

We love the company’s phrase: “Nobody ever outsourced for quality” – says so much about all that cheap and nasty camping gear we come across. Their merino wool is ethically sourced from known suppliers too.

Here are the feet I love most (despite being a bit hobbit-like in some much-admired Darn Tough socks.

There are ranges for men, women and children, for hiking, skiing, sports and everyday. The “unconditional guarantee” states: “unconditional lifetime guarantee is simple and without strings or conditions. If our socks are not the most comfortable, durable and best fitting socks you have ever owned, return them for another pair.”

Skinners

Socks that are shoes that are swimming footwear. All in one clever design.

Skinners are hard-wearing socks with a flexible sole that’s strong enough for you to wear outside and even on rough terrain. They’re great as in-the-house slip-proof slippers, for watersports, for gym and yoga classes and for just about anywhere. Easy to wash too. Around £35 and a range of sizes and colours.

 

Horizon Socks

We also love Horizon Socks’ bamboo, merino and cotton socks. Have a look at their range at WildBounds.

Horizon Socks are engineered in Italy and tested in Britain.

Millican

Based in Keswick in the Lake District, Millican make packs, bags, travel wallets and packing cubes out of natural and recycled materials.

 

The range is very minimal in style and beautifully made. All hardware is lightweight aluminium – no plastic.

The packing cubes (in three sizes) are made from 100% recycled, waterproof polyester. Choose a big backpack, a camera bag or even a Moleskine cover.

Find their range at Cotswold Outdoor. Prices range from around £15 to more than £150.

Restrap

Made by real people in real Leeds, Restrap makes beautifully finished backpacks, bags, cycle straps and more with a thought for sustainable materials.

Vaude

This company just seems to get it right both in terms of style and in their fantastic environmental and ethical stance.

So what if my legs get cold…my Sesvenna skirt’s insulated!

The range is huge and includes jackets, trousers, some very nice backpacks, T-shirts and more. All very minimally designed and with flattering fits.

We really liked their jackets when we were researching for our non-down padded jacket feature and for our feature on environmentally-minded fleece alternatives.

Bamboo Clothing

Soft, breathable, environmentally friendly…and lots of great lyering tops, hoodies, running clothes and more.

Clothes from Bamboo Clothing are, as the name suggests, usually made from natural bamboo, but there are also linen and ethical merino mixes too.

We love their cushioned sports socks and their long-sleeved tops. Nice underwear as well, plastic-free packaging and a good clearance section on their website.


Got any favourites? Let us know below. And we’ll keep adding as we discover more brands that know how to style as well as keep us warm, cool and active.

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Tilley hats

So, you probably HAVE heard of Tilley hats. They’re famously Canadian and even more famously supplied with a lifetime guarantee.

 

I remember my dad’s delight when he got a replacement Tilley hat in the post after his old one disappeared over the side of a ferry. That’s service!

A rather cool Dakota hat

However, we had thought of them as a bit backcountry staid…definitely not cool. Things have changed and there are now some styles we’d say were more boho than boohoo. Plus, the quality is second-to-none as usual and they come in a good range of sizes.

The Wanderer, for example, is a prewashed hat that looks worn-in and characterful. The Airflo series hats are great for hot weather, though a little more on the traditional safari side. Our favourite, however, is the Dakota, a waxed cotton, vintage style.

 

Velosock

Well, not clothes for you, but something rather fetching for your bike!

Velosock is a stretchy cover that keeps the muck from your bike out of your house, car or campervan. The range of colours and patterns is dizzying, and there are half- and full-covers, plus waterproof transport versions and Velosocks designed for in-the-house storage.

A brilliant idea and turns your bike into a work of art…almost. From around £45.

Vivo Barefoot

The most minimal, lightweight, comfortable and cool-looking shoes just happen to be pretty good for your feet too.

 

Vivo make shoes that allow your feet to move and breathe as if you were barefoot. There are running shoes, hiking boots, streetwear and all-round trainer types – for men and women.

They won’t suit everyone’s feet. If you have no arches or a serious foot problem that requires a lot of support, you might not find these help. For most of us, though, they give a fantastic sense of freedom that makes you want to hop, skip and jump.

There are some non-leather options for vegans, some that come with a training insole to get you used to the feel and some with a choice of sole for firm or soft ground. Plus amphibious running shoes (for walking on water?!)

Shoes from around £100, but more for the top of the range!

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