Woods & Mountains
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Outfitting the Outdoor Adventurer

Innovations in apparel and gear for your active cabin lifestyle

By John Neporadny, Jr.
Published: June 6, 2011
GuideVest
CLOSE TO THE VEST – This Simms New Guide Vest features an 18-pocket layout for storing all of your gear. The multiple pockets could also come in handy for outdoor photographers, bird watchers and gadget guys.
Photo by manufacturer listed
Back in my younger days whenever I got dressed for a summer day in the woods or on the water, I would don an old T-shirt and pair of jeans and slip on my worn-out tennis shoes with the toes ready to blow out of the sides.
   
In those days, I had that feeling most young men have of a false sense of indestructibility, so I didn’t worry about the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun, dehydration from sweating too much, stone bruises on my feet, pulled hamstrings or other leg-muscle strains. That’s probably why I now have brown splotches on my sun-damaged arms and aching knees and hips.
   
Advances in technology and materials, and creative designs now make adventures in the outdoors a more comfortable and safer experience for everyone. With the stylish clothing available for today’s outdoor adventurers, I no longer have to look like or feel like a bum when I go fishing or walking around in the woods.

Comfort is King

   
If clothing makes the man (or woman), then today’s outdoor wear will go a long way toward making you a regular in the outdoors scene. Comfort is the key to summertime outdoor clothing. Woolrich spokesman Michael Collin notes that, “There are now poly-blends that are quick drying, wicking and have UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating."
   
Today’s outdoor gear sports a casual look for multifunctional purposes. “It's an interesting trend,” says Mac McKeever, spokesman for L.L. Bean. “A few years ago we developed a line of apparel originally designed for technical fly-fishing, but we discovered it had fantastic mainstream appeal, and anyone who spends any amount of time outdoors can benefit from this type of apparel. It is very comfortable material, has UPF 50, and the fabric is fast-drying and wicking.”
   
Shirts in vibrant colors such as chartreuse or bright shades of blue, orange or yellow are also more popular with today’s outdoor enthusiasts. A bright blue shirt blends in with a bluebird sky to provide camouflage when fishing and the other bright colors make you highly visible if anything goes wrong on the water or in the woods.
   
Long-sleeve shirts made of lightweight nylon material with vented backs and deep front pockets have become standard wear for many professional anglers. “You can easily carry your cell phone in those pockets,” says Collin.

shirts
SUN AND BUG BLOCKER – The fabric of Columbia’s Back Country long sleeve shirt (Blue shirt) helps block UV rays and contains Insect Blocker (a synthetic version of a natural insect protection found in flowers). FUN FLANNEL – This 100-percent cotton shirt from Stormy Kromer breathes well enough to keep you warm without getting too warm. The reinforced elbow patches will come in handy during projects at the cabin.
Photo by manufacturers listed
Stay Cool This Summer
   
I have been wearing long sleeves while fishing in the heat of summer the last few years, and with the lightweight UPF material, my arms actually stay cooler than when they are exposed to the broiling sun. The technical features and cool-down materials of these shirts make the apparel ideal for other outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking, bird watching and canoeing. Some manufacturers such as Columbia have also embedded insect repellent technology into the fabrics of shirts and pants to help keep the pests off while you are in the woods or on the water.

pants
LONG AND SHORT OF IT – L.L. Bean’s Men’s Tropicwear zip-leg pants can be converted from long pants into shorts by merely unzipping the legs. TOUGH TROUSER – The wool and nylon blend in Stormy Kromer's Bunkhouse Trousers mean they are tough yet comfortable and ready for hard work at the cabin.
Photo by manufacturers listed
Pants made of the same lightweight nylon material and UPF rating with large roomy pockets are also popular wear for a wide variety of outdoor activities. Zip-off pants that convert into shorts are ideal for an all-day venture in the outdoors.Start with the long pant legs in the morning when the air is coolest then unzip to shorts for a while when the day heats up. But consider zipping on the long pant legs again in the middle of the afternoon to protect against the sun and to prevent lobster legs.

hats
MADE IN THE SHADE – The wide brim of L.L. Bean’s Tropicwear Outback Hat provides plenty of shade for your head and the back flap protects your neck from harmful UV rays. BETTER BALLCAP – For those who prefer wearing a ballcap for their outdoor activities, try the Stormy Kromer (from the Stormy Kromer Company) to keep the sun off of your face and neck.
Photo by manufacturers listed
Ball caps have always been a favorite headwear for any outdoor activity, but growing concerns for protecting faces and neck from the sun has prompted many to start looking for a good wide-brimmed hat. Many outdoor clothing manufacturers are now offering wide-brimmed outback-style hats or longer billed caps with back flaps to shade your face and neck.
   
A good pair of sunglasses is also a must for any outdoorsman or woman. Look for a pair with 100-percent UV protection, a lightweight frame and large wrap-around lenses to reduce glare and protect your eyes from flying objects or wind. Sunglass manufacturers offer lenses in a variety of colors for various lighting conditions. I usually wear dark gray lenses for reducing brightness on a sunny day and amber or yellow lenses for brightening objects in low-light conditions.
If the Weather Outside is Frightful
   
Sudden rainstorms can make your day in the outdoors miserable if you are unprepared, so it’s advisable to always carry some rain gear. A lot of rain gear on the market today is heavy and bulky since it is geared for those nasty weather days in the spring and fall.
   
But most summer rainstorms are short, and you are usually shedding the rain gear afterwards when it gets hot and muggy. So Jeff Johnson of Cabela’s recommends carrying lightweight rainwear made of Goretex or another waterproof breathable fabric that can be packed down for compact storage.
shoe
HYBRID SHOE – The Columbia Drainmaker is both a water shoe and running shoe. The outer sole gives traction on wet and dry surfaces alike while the drainable midsole flushes out excess water with every step.
Photo by manufacturer listed
Fine Footwear
   
Since most outdoor activities require a lot of standing, walking or wading, proper footwear is essential. Deck shoes have become standard footwear for boating and fishing. Modern deck shoes use everything “from leather uppers to synthetic uppers that are wicking, very breathable, comfortable and less likely to retain foot odor, but still give the same traction and footing as the traditional boat shoe does,” Johnson says.
   
Picking the right pair of hiking boots or walking shoes depends on how the footwear will be used. “If they are going to be carrying a load or backpacking they will want foot support and a certain amount of rigidity in the mid-sole so the foot doesn’t torque and doesn’t stress the muscles in the foot,” Johnson says. “They will also want ankle support and dry feet as well.”
   
Lightweight, flexible hiking boots can be used for casual walks and short hikes on trails. Sandal-style shoes allow for maximum breathability and the new toe-shoe styles of footwear designed for strengthening foot and ankle muscles are also ideal for casual walks or jogs as long as you stay off rugged terrain to prevent stone bruises.
   
So when Mother Nature beckons you outdoors this summer, you’ll be ready with the right gear for maximum comfort and protection from the elements.

John Neporadny Jr. traded in his old blown-out tennis shoes for the more stylish and protective footwear of today’s outdoorsman.
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