Outdoor Clothing Manufactures are Listening: What do YOU want to tell them?


A major outdoor fabric manufacturer has invited me to attend a 2-day workshop to brainstorm and develop new ideas for technical clothing. There are going to be 6 or 7 other people representing various outdoor sports and it looks like I'm the "backpacking guy". I know that a lot of you in the forums and those who follow my blog have had some great ideas and I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to bring them to the table of a company who has the desire to listen, and the ability to bring them to fruition. Basically, I'm hoping to act as an ambassador for the backpacking community and see if I can get some of our ideas into the hands of the R & D guys.

In an effort to compile ideas and present them at the workshop, I ask that you answer the following 2 questions in as much detail as possible:

1. What are some problems you have experienced with your outdoor clothing or things you don't like that you wish could have been designed better?

2. What are some design features you'd like to see in outdoor clothing that don't currently exist but you would like to see developed?

Please keep in mind that if any of our ideas are actually implemented, we have no rights to them--they become the property of the company; however, at least we have a chance to have our voices heard and maybe get a few things from our collective wish lists checked off! Wouldn't it be nice to see that pocket design you've always wanted on a rain shell hanging on a rack at REI?
Outdoor Clothing Manufactures are Listening: What do YOU want to tell them? Outdoor Clothing Manufactures are Listening:  What do YOU want to tell them? Reviewed by Jason Klass on February 15, 2009 Rating: 5


Anonymous said...

Things I dislike:
- Creeping featuritis - I like my clothing simple, no frills and LIGHTWEIGHT. without added nonsense. Unfortunatly as things get updated they add more pointless bells and whistles that make it heavier and sillyer.

- Constant change making it where once I find something decent, I can never find it again.

- POOR FIT for larger people. not all of us are shaped like marathon runners who like light quality outdoor gear. General problems - impossible to get something nice to go around a wider gut,- and larger people who are still active tend to wear pants below same, this means that we end up with a crotch that is around our knees and look like a 14 year old gangbanger. I'd kill for a decently
fitting set of syntheitic convertible pants that were nicely low rise.

What I'd like to see?

- simple stuff, lightweight and breathable shells that fit me.
- WOOL pants and midlayers. - why is it I have to go to cabela's or johnny rednecks to get these - they are so much better in winter than anything else. I can get merino underwear but I'd love for a more modern take on the wool pants and filson type jackets.

*** DECENT BOOTS *** - I love trailrunners, and the selection is pretty good. but I also like a good boot for some trips. the problem is every decent bootmaker seems to have dived their product to the lowest common denominator of unresolable assembled by machines and small children in china garbage that self destructs after several trips. I want good boots in good sizes. The old leather lined raichle's and stuff were great. Nowadays they're stiff crap.

Jason Klass said...

Thanks Anon,
I also hate the phenomenon of "creeping featuritus". I'm glad you brought that up. Too many companies neglect the basic functionality of performance clothing in favor of the more marketable bells & whistles. Great points!

Anonymous said...

I really hate velcro near the neck on my jackets. I have long hair, and it inevitably ends up stuck in the velcro. I'll go with the no-frills/lightweight bit, too.

What I want: integrated hoods on my fleece/insulating layer. Seems like right now I can find hoods only on rain jackets and clothes that don't need them.

Women's technical hiking pants with elastic waist for freedom of movement, rather than trying to look great out on the town. IN general, women's clothing that is meant for use in the backcountry, not the clubs. Also: note that many women are not 20 years old with the bodies of models. Just sayin'.

Jason Klass said...

Thanks, anon. OK, I'll bring those issues up. I'm not exactly an REI supermodel either so I can empathize!

Are there any other issues specifically related to women's clothing you think would be worth mentioning?

Anonymous said...

Materials aren't the problem.

POCKETS... inside jacket pockets, shirt pockets, tee shirt pockets, useful pants pockets.... WE NEED GOT DAM POCKETS!

Jason Klass said...

Seriously man, stop being so cryptic with me and tell me what you REALLY want! Is it less pockets? Why don't you just come out and say it? ;)

Anonymous said...

1) Arms are constantly a problem for me. Maybe I have abnormally long monkey arms, but it seems sleeves are never long enough and expose my wrists when I reach for things. Shoulders similarly need to be wider.

2) Jackets, shirts, pants, etc all need to be smooth and as feature free near the waistbelt area as possible. There is nothing worse than a packbelt grinding a seam into my skin until I'm bleeding.

3) Hoods on jackets are another weak point and need a lot of help.

4) BREATHE!!!!! Waterproof/breathable fabrics often don't breathe at all. They are incredibly uncomfortable to wear.

5) Pockets should primarily be placed on the upper torso where they can be accessed while wearing a pack, or on the mid thigh, again, where they can be accessed while wearing a pack.

6) If I'm wearing a pack all day, do I really need as much insulation on the back of my torso? I don't think so, I have a ton of that there already due to the pack. A fleece jacket with a windproof but breathable nylon back panel would be more comfortable under a pack.

7) Neutral, natural colors are preferred whenever possible. An occasional brightly colored item can be useful for rescue purposes, but primarily, clothing should not be a sore thumb in the wilderness.

8) No seams where the shoulder straps run.

Scott said...

I'd like to see smaller armholes on shirts and higher rises on pants.

The smaller an armhole is (within reason, of course), the better articulation one will have. With most modern shirts and jackets, when I raise my arm, the hem of the shirt pulls out of my trousers and exposes my skin underneath. Sometimes, it's merely annoying, but other times (such as bug season or winter) it can be dangerous. smaller armholes used to be standard; one can tell from wearing vintage clothing or watching old movies. There's a reason old movie characters could fight in suits and it all comes down to armholes. Have you ever tried to raise you arms while wearing a suit jacket? the thing ends up around your ears. Outdoor gear has this problem, too (though to a lesser degree).

Higher rises on trousers would fix another problem with fit. When trousers are made to fit on the hips, that makes the waistband sit at the same place as the pack's hipbelt. I end up tugging my pants up as high as they will go to keep from chafing at the hips, but the crotch tries to cut me in half (and my pants end up looking like high-waters). Pants that are meant to sit on my waist would reduce this problem greatly.

Anonymous said...

Really HATE cheap faux "Velcro" that snags on liner fabrics. It is never a sign of quality.

Anonymous said...

I too hate freeping creaturitis, especially as it usually reduces real functionality and increases the price. I can't see the manufacturers ever accepting this however - in part because of resistance from the retailers.

And I will also mention 'constant change', which kills decent items in favour of new models just to keep the marketing guys on a fat salary.


Jerry said...

a Couple things that I would like to see.
1. Breathable and quick dry. Living in the Northwest, it has to be able to stand up to wet.
Thats not to say that I want my shirt and pants to be water proof.. but it would be nice to have materials that dry rather quickly.
2. Light weight rain gear that is durable.
3. velcro on pockets.
4. I'm with the rest that are not into too many frills.
5. Finally. Resonable pricing.

Thanks for being the sounding board.


Mocs said...

I have had a problem overheating in my rain gear. I would love to see more manufactures here in the US utilize eVent, and of course would love a light weight eVent jacket with pit zips.

I have had a problem overheating in wind shirts. What happed to the days when a wind shirt was a wind shirt? Why do all gear makers think they need to make their windshirts so water repellant that they don’t breathe? In my opinion most of the windshirts out there today are too hot for all day backpacking and still not water repellant enough to replace a rain jacket, so they end up not being good for anything.

I have a problem finding basic insulation layers. I would love to see a no frills insulation layer like the BMW Cacoon pullover. No pockets, no extra stitching, just basic insulation. I find this a even bigger problem with pants. The ones I have all have pockets (which aren’t even insulated, so they are useless), a fly, and full leg zips. I would love a pair of sweatpant style insulating pants. Elastic waist, elastic cuffs no pockets, no fly, just a lot of warmth for the weight. If a piece of clothing is a mid layer, like Mico Puff, Thermawrap, etc, then it doesn’t really need pockets. Simple is better.

I have a problem finding a good pair of waterproof handwear. I would love to see a major manufacture make lightweight waterproof mitts, similar to the MLD eVent ones. They could be GT, eVent, or a proprietary material, factory taped, and slightly more durable than the MLD ones.

Anonymous said...

1. Stop designing clothing to look like something from Star Trek, keep it simple.
2. Why isn't every manufacturer using Event? Dont they know its the best fabric out there -bar none? Why are we wasting our time on out dated wp/b fabrics?

Anonymous said...

I would love to see more color options in the lighter weight fabrics like silnylon and cuben..if that is possible. Camouflage coated silnylon is really hard to find.

Unknown said...

cold weather gear still seems to have design gaps. Skiers have figured out for 25 years that bib pants make sense for keeping your kidneys warm - especially if you are hunched over. a better clothing overlap would help.
climbers and backpackers need the waist area unencumbered by clothing because of harnesses and waist-belts.

Ice climbers DO have one piece wind and pile suits, but that isn't the answer for backpackers.

Anonymous said...

As we repeatedly see on the news a larger and larger part of this country is overweight. You would think clothing manufacturers would produce plus size clothing to try and encourage overweight people to get out and exercise. As has been said there are a lot of large people who are active we do not just sit home and eat potatoe chips on the couch. It is disheartening to find that clothing manufacturers do not even offer clothes in your size even through special order. Me I'm a 6xlt shirt and jacket and a 4xl pant and if I want something in a specialty fabric the only way to get it is to make it myself. Also if cotton kills so much how come you can't find a damn hoody that isn't made out of cotton. I also agree that simpler is better on clothing design this bells and whistle crap is for the birds. And definately subdued colors, Earth tones. My favorite would be Od Green Or a nice dirt brown even slate blue would be better than some of these colors they come out with. Seriously if it's hunting season we are going to wear our blaze orange any how and probably a strobe light or two just in case. I hear you on the boots but I personally like a ultra light high traction breathable sneaker type that will dry really quickly if it gets wet and I can tie super fast or even better cinch a lace and go none of that velcro crap. velcro scares the birds.

Anonymous said...

and when I say hoody I don't mean a zip up I mean a pull over with a pocket in the front. An additional front zip pocket would be neat so as not to loose things. Kind of put the zipper where the top seem of the pocket is currently and make it go behind the pocket so it kind of remains hidden so you could stow your ID and a couple bucks and maybe a car or house key.

Geo said...

1) Animal friendly and "green" production:
- no mulesing of sheep,
- no plucking down from live birds,
- more synthetics and recycled fabrics

2) Asymmetric / side zippers in jackets, better weather protection and no snagging

3) Winter jackets need inner pockets for batteries, small alcohol bottle for priming stove, etc.

4) More focus on overlap in winter clothing; back, wrists, ankles

5) I second the "KISS choir", no need for integrated MP3 controls...

6) And of course, The Quest for the Holy Grail, the waterproof but highly breathable fabric, must continue ;)

Thanks, and good luck!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jason!
I would like to see sidezippers on jackets. I mean a zipper about 30 cm long on each side. This to be able to wear the front of the jacket outside the hipbelt when backpacking. This would stop the hipbelt from being a "raincollector" and one would be able to carry an apple or banana in jackets frontpocket.
I made a annorak with this configuration a couple of years ago and it worked great.
Hope you get my explanation!
Best regards
Anders from Sweden.

Jason Klass said...

Thanks, this is great everyone! Keep 'em coming!

Anonymous said...

A fabric manufacturer? Well how about lower prices that they can pass on to the outdoor clothing manufacturers, that they can pass on to the outdoor retailers, that result in lower retail prices on gear made with Gore-Tex Paclite, Event, Epic and Momentum fabrics.

Contrary to past behavior, I don't anticipate any major gear list changes for the next few *years* in the current economy, and judging by peoples' spending habits these days, unless fabric manufacturers reduce costs to consumers, there will soon be many fewer fabric manufacturers left after this recession.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to get some good outdoor clothing for my wife, but nobody seems to make good gear for plus size women.

I'm tired of waterproof-breathable fabrics. They're never breathable enough. They can't completely keep water out (there's a big opening at your face). Instead of trying to keep water out, they should try to keep you comfortable when water does get in. So I'd like to see some US companies use the Paramo style of rain jackets or some other idea that keeps you comfortable in rain.

Along similar breathability issues, perhaps companies can focus more on mixing fabrics - waterproof on some sections of the bodies and non-waterproof on other sections. If I'm wearing a raincoat and a backpack, I could use waterproof material on the hood and front of the jacket, but the back would be protected by the pack and wouldn't need to be waterproof. Under the arms also wouldn't need waterproof fabric.

Anonymous said...

-Fit!! Make more than simple unisex sizes - tall/long (and short), men's and women's proportions, and close to body cuts. Think about making both waist and hip length jackets.
-Hoods - make 'em adjustable - cinch down around your face, pull the top back out of your eyes, pull the sides back, and a stiffened brim to keep the drips off your face. And make sure the hood zips all they way up so wind can't blow velcro open and you can bury your face in it when needed.
-Mitten-friendly zipper pulls - big and grippy
-Ventilation options - I like pit zips and chest vents for temperature control
-1L bottle sized interior pockets on puffy jackets
-Uncomfortable tag placement
-Cuffs - adjustable and able to be put under big glove gauntlets or slip smaller gloves under.
-Waist hem drawcords should be on all outerwear. They should be easy to adjust with 1 hand either on the hem or in a pocket.
-Pockets - thought out for the outdoor crowd, not the mall. Back pockets on pants/shorts. My fav pair of convertibles has diagonally cut pockets on the back. Excellent. Chest pockets on jackets that are accessible with a hipbelt on. Get rid of those dumb sleeve pockets.

Anonymous said...

-Pockets have always been an issue for me. I hate pants and coats with small and unnecessary pockets. The sleve pocket is a great example, because whatever you put in it will continually pump against your wrist. I had a pair of pants with pockets that went over the knees. The double layer of fabric wasn't bad, but imagine that grinding against your leg all day while you walked.

-Velcro is great and it weighs less than a zipper, but make sure it isn't located near fabric sections that snag easily.

-Seams need to be sewn better. Double stiched seams hold up so much better than single.

-Gloves. I have problems keeping my hands warm enough during winter. Building additional insulation into the back of the hand could help keep them warmer without taking away from the finger and hand dexterity.

Anonymous said...

Wow, lots of comments so far. I hope you can manage to get it all sorted.

And I hope I haven't missed it, but I didn't see a date for when this was supposed to happen.

My number one suggestion is to re explore natural fibers. What could be more green than a renewable material? Obviously at some points natural fibers may be too heavy, but as one poster already pointed out, they have to go to Cabela's etc. to pick up wool base layers.

Silk is a great natural insulator and super light weight.

Waxed cotton has been used for years in the motorcycling realm and works great against rain.

One of these manufacturers might be quite surprised to see how well a waxed cotton jacket with a silk liner would do in a cold/damp environment.

Jason Klass said...

Hi Jonathan,
Sorry, I should have been more specific about the deadline. I'm going March 6th so I need everything by then.

With regards to waxed cotton, I love my Barbour Jacket for casual wear (funny, today I just ordered some wax for it) but don't you think the material is kind of heavy for backpacking?

Anonymous said...

I'd like a fairly lightweight shell mitten with fairly tough, durable fabric on the palm and "wearing" surfaces. Not water proof, but reasonably quick to dry. Reasonably inexpensive of course :-)

I bought something like this from REI a few years ago, an REI branded mitten. When I look now, it seems like all mittens I see are huge, bulky, heavy uberkill units for downhill skiing or the like. I want something for general purpose hiking use, something I can use standalone, and layer with a light or not-so-light inner liner mitten or glove.

The prime concern for durability is if I'm using trekking poles with the straps in the recommended way and walking twenty mile days that the mittens last and last and last.


Anonymous said...

By all means put your (manufacturer) name on your clothing, but either put it on a label on the *inside*, or put it very small and subtle on the outside.

I piece of clothing has to be really, really superior for me to buy something with the brand name slapped prominently on the item to make me an unwilling on-trail advertiser. If it's something I can cut off with a razor blade without too much effort, I don't mind as much, but if all things are reasonably equal, I'll go to your competitor every time if their logo is absent or at least more subtle.

Anonymous said...

-I second the comment about thinner fabrics on the back of jackets. I really sweat on my back but not the front and when I try to keep my front warm using heavier fabrics, my back gets too hot. If I try and use lighter fabrics so my back doesn't get too sweaty, my front gets cold. With this setup, if I need to take off my pack, I can always throw on a layer so my back doesn't get cold.

-As a 5'11" woman, I have the hardest time finding pants long enough. If I do, the waist comes up to my chest and they taper to the ankles. Give me some lower rise pants with wider leg openings that go over my boots. And please, can we have longer arm lengths on shirts? I hate having to go to an XL just to get the sleaves long enough but then I am swimming in the body, which doesn't do much for moisture movement.

Anonymous said...

First off, I'm Canadian, and I deal mostly with MEC not REI...

Things I disklike:
I'm a shorter, rounder guy, so I too hate how it's hard to find stuff that really fits me - I go buy some jeans or slacks and I can have them hemmed - but I buy fleece pants or some windstopper pants they always seem to have zippers, draw cords and other suck features that make it impossible to hem them. I don't know how many great pants I've tried on, only to realize that they assumed nobody would have a size 36 waist, and only a 29" inseam - NOBODY makes good outdoor gear with those measurements. My wife has problems finding any pants that fit, cause she has a tiny waist and some 'junk in the trunk' - it's soo hard for both of us to find nice quality pants at reasonable prices.

Things I'd like to see:
Quality for cheaper. Gore-tex is coming down in price yes, but I've been watching somethings in my area like down, wool, and fleece getting more and more expensive to find good stuff. I understand how people don't like features, and I generally don't either, especially if it's bringing the price of things up.

One of my favourite pieces of gear is my Northface Apex jacket - two hand pockets, one chest pocket, and I wear it nearly year round - it's fantastic and it was inexpensive. One of the worst pieces of gear I have was a MEC backpack that had waaay too many features, weighs a tonne, and isn't going to last through hard use. It was cheap yes, but it wasn't worth what I paid for it.

Mike MacFerrin said...

Durability! Specifically, I mean stitching. I do an awful lot of heavy-duty bushwhacking through rainforests in the Pacific NW and coastal Alaska. I realize coming up with durable (lightweight and easy-to-dry) fabrics is difficult for such harsh abuse, and I know tears inevitably happen.

But it's almost never the fabric that gives out first. Especially in hiking pants, it's always the stitching... a single stitch pops loose and suddenly the whole seam is coming apart like cheap velcro. I've become quite an accomplished field-seamstress through no choice of my own, but I'd love to not spend my evenings in camp laboring over my clothes with a sewing needle and dental floss. Please double-stitch your seams, and use more durable thread!

Same goes for packs, as far as that goes. The seams always pull out first. No one stitches 'em sturdy enough. Just a thought from a rainforest bushwhacker,

- Mike

Mike MacFerrin said...

Oh, and another vote for the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid!) mentality. Streamlined clothes with only a couple necessary "features" (if any) will always work better for me than something overladen with features trying to do everything for everybody. Give me a wide selection, and I'll pick the clothes with the selection of features that I want and need.

CameronE said...

Soft shell pants and rain pants for short people, ie a 28in inseam. A lightweight rain jacket made with goretex paclite that has a hood that fits over a helmet well.

Anonymous said...

I like decently sized cargo pockets on BOTH legs. As it is, military BDUs seem to be the only option.

More earth toned colors.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to agree with everyone that basically stated outdoor clothing manufacturers must focus on function over style.

Put at least a few pieces in your line that are as well-thought out as possible, keep them simple, and make them durable. Let styling be a secondary concern.

I don't doubt that these items will not be the most profitable items that you sell but look at them as an investment. If TNF produced some extremely focused pieces designed with lightweight performance in mind, then the company would probably have more cache with serious hiking/climbing enthusiasts.

Of the non-cottage manufacturers my opinion is that Patagonia is currently striking the best best balance here. A large portion of their products are more fashion oriented (I think the corporate identification for this is 'lifestyle' items) but Patagonia has not forgotten it roots and still produces a good number of items that appeal to folks like myself- lightweight, durable, minimalistic, functional.

Also, don't sell us stuff that doesn't work. No more Gore Tex lined trail runners, please.

Anonymous said...

Jason, regarding waxed cotton for backpacking, well, I think it depends on the waxed cotton. I'm sure that the usual jackets are pretty heavy weight by default, but perhaps a lighter weight cotton could be just as effective?

I'm no expert, but I think there is something to be said for exploring natural fibers a little bit more. It seems like the more we push for lighter, more breathable, etc. one end of the spectrum has to suffer and we end up with synthetic materials made with petroleum products that cost 4 times as much and do 3 things great and 2 things terrible.

Gore-Tex for instance. I have some Gore-Tex Windstopper products for the motorcycle. It stops wind like no other and is perfect for 40 degrees and lower. But if you put that material over your nose and mouth, you're going to choke. It does NOT breath, no matter how much they profess it to.

Unknown said...

I once went for a short hike with my new super cool long sleeve shirt. I was pretty happy with it until I walked by a swampy area. Well that’s when the mosquitoes really loved it. I couldn’t run fast enough.
How about something that isn’t so skin tight that the bugs can have a field day with me through my cloths.
Also, I love zip off pants, but I find no point in buying any that I can’t zip up to fit over my boots. I’m not going to sit down just to untie/retie them just to slip off a couple of legs.
Multi functionality is good (pants/shorts) but as others have said, lets not get crazy.
Lastly, please do something about the cost. I shouldn’t have to spend a days pay on just one pair of pants should I?
Thanks Jason, keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Stop focusing so much on weight - I know that many consumers search for a specific weight or price. But don't save a few ounces by shrinking the fit - a lot of "ultra lightweight" jackets don't even extend beyond my belt. I'd rather trade in a few ounces for 6 more inches of coverage - especially for a rain shell.

Anonymous said...

I have to Join with Others and Ask for Bigger sizes, I will Pay Extra For Bigger Sizes, Cabelas 3x Tall Fits Me Fine, I know it My Fault that i Have to wear Bigger Sizes and Im sure the Market is smaller for the Bigger sizes But I have found Cabelas sells out of the Bigger sizes Rather Quick Most of the Time,And with Mostly Cabela Gear on I got My Big Arse Up and Over Jackass Pass Last Year and Plan on Going Back In 2010, So i Think There is a Market out there For Bigger Sizes!

Anonymous said...

1) problems in existing materials

Some ultalight outer materials are very noisy. This isn't horrible, but it's annoying while walking or while trying to sleep. "Quiet" fabrics used for hunting are often too heavy for hiker use.

I find it frustrating that clothing & gear are often only available in crunchy colors like yellow or blue.

Base layer material often stinks after a few days of use, a lot more than evil cotton.

2) things I'd like to see

I want drab colors that blend in with the environment, yet don't look like military or hunting gear. Some printed hunter's camouflage photographically mimics vegetation, which is a step in this direction.

The holy grail for outer material: waterproof, wind resistant, complete breathability, rip & puncture proof, weighs nothing, and is quiet. The material should look like clothing, not like mylar or paper.

The ideal insulation: warm when it's cold, cooling when it's hot, warm when moist, warmer per ounce than down, has reboundability after compression.

The ideal "next to skin" layer: moves with wearer, non-bulky, prevents chafing, completely breatheable. Doesn't stink.

For clothing in general, I find it's hard to get clothes for slender people. Most stores don't carry shirts in small or pants smaller than 32" waist.

Get rid of superfluous items on clothing; excellent examples of this are Cabela's "Ultrapack" raingear, or Backpacking Light's Thorofare wear. They fulfill their purpose without the bells & whistles - just enough zips & pockets to get the job done. Same goes for most equipment; we've all cut off mysterious straps & tabs from backpacks at some point.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Jason! I'd like:
1) Clothing for women over 35 which is less trendy, looser, and more comfortable fitting.

2) Pants that sit on the waist not the hips (=higher rise in the crotch). Hip hugging pants are not for backpacking!!

3) Sizes for short women (e.g., 27-28 inseam).

4) 3-season tents that are really for 3 seasons (less mesh=warmer for spring and fall).

4) Boots that can be resoled.

Roleigh Martin said...

I would like to see a parcho (see Quest Outfitters Parcho, similar to "The Packa") made of cuben fiber. I would like to see an ultralight umbrella made of cuben fiber. I would like to see a heavy duty Cuben Fiber backpack that is wide enough to hold a Bearikade Expedition Cannister horizontally and that has internal frame. Think Exos 58, lighter, wider to support multiday expeditions like on the JMT for the last 100 miles that is unsupportable. Think Granite Gear Nimbus Ozone redesigned with Carbon Fiber and wider to hold that bear resistant cannister. I would like to see an ultralight cuben fiber compression sack with an event bottom to hold sleeping bag. I would like to see more ultralight tents that use cuben fiber walls and silnylon floors -- why is it that only small manufactuers are making ultralight gear? I would like to see an eVent jacket that is XXL with pit zips that is under 14 oz. Integral Design's sizes are too msall (their XL is similar to most company's "L" size) and their eVent jacket has no pit zips.

reanne said...

I agree with more women's gear that is USEFUL and not aimed at "apres ski" or posing. And women's gear that fits women with bigger busts and hips would be nice. And women's gear that fits shorter legs would be pretty rad! And if the pants have elastic waists, they must have drawstrings. Also agree on getting rid of velcro anywhere near faces or heads.

Some better quality kids' gear would be nice, and more SMALL women's socks and/or more high quality kids' socks.

Hip pockets in pants and shorts that are easy to access would be great. I like to keep my camera and chapstick in my pockets easily accessible. Cargo pockets are often too low (especially when you have short legs like me so the "knee" is always below my knee. But the hip pockets are usually under my hip belt. So pockets somewhere between those two instead would be great.

Women's clothing in natural colours would be nice too...blues, greens, maybe even purple. NOT electric colours, NOT baby colours, and well, not anything that burns the eyes when you look at it for longer than 10 seconds.

Anonymous said...

My personal biggest gripe: I used to be a XXL, and as stated earlier, there is rarely ever a tall/regular/short version of pants,especially regarding shell pants of any brand or make. Even now,I wear an XL in everything, yet I'm a 30" inseam, and I constantly find most companies run around a32" standard with no variation of length from L-XXL.And with velcro closures, and zippers at the helm, they are nearly impossible to hem.

Anonymous said...

Prices!!! Prices!!! I would love to know the mark up for much of the gear we all love. I love both Patagonia and Cloudveil gear but I cringe and curse them every time I visit see their high prices. Inevitably I break down and buy something b/c, but damn!! does it all need to be so exorbitantly priced?

Joe and Lisa said...

Jason, great site and thread!

For me, I have a few things to say about pants/shorts:

- Offer women's pants in varying lengths (especially for petites), and some mid-rise or low-rise pants. My wife still has 7-year old pants from Galyans because she cannot find another pair that fits her length (short), and do not rise up like granny pants.

- I seem to have an issue with baggy hiking pants. I hate wearing pants that look like a burlap sack. I like the pants to be an athletic fit (not baggy in the crotch), so they're presentable in town while traveling as well. I've hit home runs with MHW Canyon Pants and LL Bean Ripstop Trail Pants.

Anonymous said...

Poor fit for normal sized people.
The 100% markup because it's technical clothing.
Low rise pants - WTF?
Convertible pants that work in all seasons, not just summer. (ie not paper thin)

Anonymous said...

I should clarify, I got some men's pants from a major outdoor company that were low rise. Yeah right.
Price again. I get a Patagonia proform, and I can't afford that stuff at those prices.

Anonymous said...

I see a few complaints about low-rise pants. I'd like to voice my support for low-rise. Pants sit naturally on my hips, if I try to wear them higher, they always slide down. I like pants that are designed to sit on my hips rather than higher rise pants that slide down. Sliding down alters how they fit everywhere, since they're designed to be worn higher.

My preference illustrates the point that many have made: more fit options. It would be nice if hiking pants had options for low/normal/high rise, as well as more options for length. Short inseams still aren't short enough for me. Long inseams still aren't long enough for many tall people.

Anonymous said...

Zippers and pockets that are not covered by pack straps. For this reason I prefer pullovers for hiking. I like kangaroo pockets and tunnel pockets. A napoleon pocket with a cell phone/GPS sleeve would be great.

The fewer the seams the better.

Anonymous said...

-What ever happened to film based fabrics?

-Cargo pockets that end above the knees.

Anonymous said...

Like said above. Big Guy sizes and pullover hoodies made of outdoor safe material. They are all made of cotton and they keep telling us that cotton kills but then don't offer our favorite items in outdoor materials. And Big Guys are active too! If you want skinny hikers make the gear for big people to get out so they can get skinny!

Anonymous said...

Hey Jason, thanks for taking our comments to the corporates.

I don't know if anyone has already mentioned these, so forgive me if I'm redundant.

First thing ultralight rain jackets/shells need to have pass through hand pockets. If its cold, and rainy, and you have a nice cozy fleece under your rain shell, your hands end up getting screwed because they're stuck in the outer pockets of the rain shell instead of the cozy pockets of your fleece. Solution. Pass through pockets.

Second thing. No arm pockets. Chest pockets are actually useful, but arm pockets not only look stupid, but provide no actual functionality. There's nothing more annoying than having something heavy shaking around on your arm when you're trying to move it. (IMHO)

Third thing. Colors. I know that outdoor manufacturers think that outdoor people want to be in burnt orange, or neon green, but honestly, I'd just like a jacket that doesn't scream "I bought this at an outdoor store...look at me!" Black is a classic color. Turning it into gunmetal does not make it any cooler. It just makes you wish it was still available in black.

Fourth thing. 10 years ago, I used to wear a medium. Now I have to wear small. I imagine in the next 10 years I'll have to transition to extra smalls. Please STOP UPSIZING CLOTHING. If someone is a little larger, let them wear a large, if someone is smaller let them wear a small. There's no need to keep changing sizes on us.

I hope that didn't sound too much like a rant.

Anonymous said...

Not sure if it has been posted yet, but pant fabrics. Nylon convertible pants are incredibly light and quickdrying; however, they also snag incredibly easily. I would love to have a pair of pants that were tougher and more conducive to bushwhacking or just hiking along a trail that doesn't have a 3-foot clearing around it. The heavier-duty fabrics I've seen have all been cotton-canvas...VERY tough, but incredibly uncomfortable (and potentially dangerous) when wet. Maybe a nice compromise would be in order???


Anonymous said...

1. Why are arms (of jackets, pullovers etc.) always so short???
We want longer arms!!!

2. Why must outdoor clothing always appear in shrill color?
Hikers do not want to imitate mountainbikers or paintball-players, normally.
Worst example for this "industrial wrongdoing" is golite (with its dis-gust-ing colors :) ).
Only under extreme conditions, during mountaineering and long range expeditions in the wilderness e.g., signal colors have considerable advantages.
We want simple, natural uni colors (nice blue, olive, black.) during our trips in the wilderness.

Anonymous said...

1) Multi-use clothing. For instance I am a backpacker AND a cyclist and most of the time I combine the two. I don't want to have to buy two separate rain jackets for both. Fitted is better then too big and boxy. Pants; please remove seems from the crotch (think riding breeches just not tight)!
2)I agree that simple is way better. And those MP3 pockets have got to go... backpackers go out to enjoy nature not bring along annoyances!
3) Red? Orange? Yellow? Come on, you've got to be kidding me....once again we want to enjoy nature not stand out. Green, brown, tan, gray and darker blues are best.
4) I did notice a woman who mentioned the elastic waist band at the waist. I'm short waisted so, at- waist clothing rubs on my ribs. I prefer just below the waist however, WIDE (like 4") thin waistbands eliminate chaffing.
5) I love zip-off convertible pants but they are increasingly hard to find especially for women.
6)I realize that technology has a price but with the suggestions here being "keeping it simple" this also means lowering the price. I admit I am very cheap as I don't have much money to spend in the first place but $50 for one pair of pants is way too much. $25 is much more reasonable.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see a hoody made out of wicking polyester underwear type fabric. It would have a kangaroo pocket, be extra long in the torso, and have extra long sleeves (so your hands could go up into the sleeves to keep them warm). It should weigh under 12 oz. in Mens Large. This would be the ultimate long underwear for backpacking (you wouldn't need to bring fleece anymore).

Anonymous said...

1/a layer system designed to work together. Must be designed for good breathable items /lightweight materials / also have good thermal properties

(my method has been to use items from different manufacturers enabling me to pick the best items in respect of the above)

In my view no company ticks all the boxes from base layer to waterproof) The weight is very important for my long distance hikes but I need to be prepared for anything!

2/more flexibility in items use
zip off arms / legs

sun block materials in lighter colours (sorry do not know the technical term for this)

Anonymous said...

Reasonable prices, higher quality, lite weight, versatile (dual purpose clothing for example can be worn in urban and mountain environments, wool pants great idea that aren't hunter or army - natural fabrics that look contemporary not hippie so I don't "swish" when I walk wearing nylon), simple and functional clothing (no frills) that fits and looks creatively good. Oh, and I prefer it be made in USA. And zip off pant legs are lame and no elastic because it looks cheesey. Oh again, find an alternative to heavy zippers.

Jolly Green Giant said...

To me, there are no greater fabric innovations right now than eVENT, Cuben, and Pertex. These need to be explored - BIG TIME - and Europe has consistantly beat the U.S. to the punch on these things.

I think manufacturers need to get simple and realistic about who they are designing for. Not every piece of gear needs so much function and "bombproofness" that it could be taken to Everest.

I think gear is entirely too heavy which is a direct result of poor design and an over abundance of features and unnecessary utility.

I think gear often lacks the simple utility it needs, i.e. functional hoods to be used for the 99.9% of us who aren't wearing helmets, jackets with appropriate drop tails, pit vents, etc.

As a big guy, I'd like to see items designed for wider ranges of people. This may be a "medium" world, but lots of us aren't too.


Anonymous said...

As others have said - less feature creep, more function.

I would love to see a jacket for backpacking - insulate the front heavier than the back, make the back and the areas where the shoulder straps generally rub of a tougher fabric to withstand the friction. Nothing fancy or waterproof, just an extra layer to keep you warmer while hiking in cold temps.

Anonymous said...

Pet peeves- neck openings on shirts that are way too small and really hard to get over your head, velcro or zippers that make skin/hair contact, colors that point out that solo female hiker on the next mountain peak.

I would like to see more petite sizes available, same insulation/functionality in women's as in mens (if anything we are MORE prone to cold!), REAL pockets (we carry our own gear too!), and how about putting those tags where they don't poke us!!
I'm not out there for a fashion show. I need function! PLEASE ditch the tooty-fruity colors!

Anonymous said...

Pocket zippers that zip down instead of up. A pocket zipper should stay closed. You put your valuable stuff in your pocket and zip it closed and it should stay that way. If the zipper zips up to close, then slowly, gravity works and the pocket ends up open, and your stuff spills out. And if you're in cold weather, it lets the heat out.

All the recent jackets I've bought have pocket zippers that zip up, the wrong way.

Anonymous said...

Rain pants with cargo pockets. Good for GPS, Maps, Snacks, etc

A good Anorak with pit zips

More light thin wool products.

Unknown said...

More clothes with silver fiber weaved in.

Babour Jacket said...

@Jason Klass - i'm with you about the barbour jacket, definately a good investment

Jason Klass said...

Barbour Jacket,

Actually, I love Barbour jackets. I have a Beaufort that's about 10 years old and because I've waxed it when needed and taken good care of it, it looks almost new. The waxed cotton isn't really good for ultralight bacpacking (too heavy) but I wear mine to work, around town, and in most casual situations. To me, the mid weight jackets are better for low exertion outdoor sports like hunting. I used to use mine for skeet shooting and fishing for Salmon and lake run fish in the tributaries of the Great Lakes. Damn fine jackets!

Kathy Handyside said...

Anonymous - you are singing my song! I'm not a tiny size four woman with six-foot legs! Unfortunately, I possess those things that clothes designers think we should not have: curves! A backside, a gut, hips, you get the idea. I'm tired of frilly, cutesy little prissy women's outdoor clothing! I used to be able to depend on L.L. Bean, but even they've gone to the cutesy prissy stuff. And what's with all this catering solely to the very young crowd? Excuse me, but I don't exactly have one foot in the grave. I want practical women's outdoor clothing that comes in a wide variety of sizes. It seems that men, no matter how large they are, are offered a wide variety of sizes, so why not us women? Like you said, not all of us are shaped like marathon runners.

Kathy Handyside said...

I think the root of the clothing fit problems is because so much is made in Asia, where people are smaller and shorter than in America. However, I'm 5 feet and it's hard to find pants my length that also fit me. Usually pants that are petite length don't come large enough. Maybe I should take a sewing class and learn to use my late mother's sewing machine and just make my own!

Anonymous said...

I tend to get into a lot of summer activities (paddling, backpacking, climbing) and I've yet to find good rain jackets that are truly well designed for multiple activities. the non-paddling jackets don't have cuffs that block water dropping in, climbing helmet hood compatibility is a must, backpacking frequently makes my jacket creep up my back and i get a soaked butt, and NONE of them are good enough in a several hour driving rain. I agree with what a lot of other people are saying: keep the design simple, make the fit comfortable, etc. but can I just get ONE jacket instead of needing 3?

Norwegian said...

I want an all-purpose, all-year around jacket for many years of "every-week" use. From riding my bicycle to university/job in the city on a rainy day to the week-long wintertrip in the mountains. That means: A classic look that withstands the city-fashion without being ugly or too boring. (People usually don't want to look ugly outside of the city either). But more importantly, the backcountry functions: 1. Pit-zips, 2. two big waterproof napoelon pockets for storing gloves when they're off and other stuff that might become wet, 3. Two handsize handwarmer pockets of mesh beneath the napoleons, 4. Reinforcements on shoulders and underarms (Let them show! Use them in the design to help "shape" the jacket and making it less boring), 5. Drawcords for one-hand adjustment around the gloves, 6. A good, adjustable hood, 7. Functional colours as well. Green is the functional hunting colour and should be an alternative. I would want it in a red, as that is the classic norwegian colour for backcountry clothing. For a reason. Red is the opposite of green. It's easy to spot in nature, especially at wintertime. When in the mountains at winter, you want your friends or rescue personell to see you. More functionality + durability and less fashion in outdoor clothing!

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