Gear That Goes Anywhere
The rough-and-ready essentials that will work even where your phone carrier doesn’t
If, like us, you’re based in a bustling city, there’s nothing more reviving than a weekend jaunt to the countryside. It’s not always as idyllic as it sounds, however, as many will attest. As much as we like the idea of shunning home comforts, there are some things we can’t escape. FOMO, for one. It’s a scientific fact that the one weekend a year you decide to head for the hills coincides with the Party of the Century back home. And tramping through a field for a few ales at The Fox and Hounds doesn’t always stand up to free cocktails at a rooftop pop-up. But not to worry, the 3G connection’s so bad you won’t be able to see how much fun your friends are having on social media. It also means your carefully cropped Instagram post of the view from your cottage will remain under “failed” until you bet back to the “burbs”.
You may of course be the outdoor dude, who regularly indulges a passion for adventure. If so, ignore the above. But please be understanding towards those of us who simply like to channel the outdoorsman with a plaid shirt and Red Wing boots, rather than actually be him. Whichever camp you sit under, below, we picked out our favourite items that are as welcome in the city as they are in the country.
A rather unpalatable term emerged a year or so ago to describe a certain section of male society who like to appropriate the great outdoors to build a rugged, yet considered look. Found in neighbourhoods such as Dalston and Williamsburg, they may sport a plaid shirt, thick beard and loose-fitting trousers, but they are much more likely to be seen with a MacBook than a map. Who are these men? Lumbersexuals. Yes, we’re cringing too – but only over the name. The clothes, we can handle. Equally at home in a coffee shop as they are traversing a scree-strewn mountain, these robust boots, crafted by artisans in Yuketen’s Maine workshop, are also a shoe-in for any man who prefers to keep his foraging to wild mushrooms in his local Whole Foods.
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Having realised that urban living men were buying their products with no intention of wearing them to fight the elements, high-tech outdoor apparel brand Arc’teryx launched Arc’teryx Veilance. With less compromise on aesthetics, this sister brand caters for customers who would sooner slip on a pair of slim black jeans with their waterproof jacket than a pair of crampons. Indeed, it looks stylish, but the three-layer Gore-Tex Pro shell can still fend off the elements as well as anything else in your wardrobe.
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Some might look at this and see the perfect work bag, an easy carry-all to pop, say, a book and a bike lock into. Maybe you don’t even have a bike, so, in place of the lock is a delicate cashmere sweater just in case there’s a nip in the air. The more adventurous may be more likely to see a robust backpack, perfect for cramming full of essentials for a weekend of walking. Whichever outlook you have – understated and made with army green, water-repellent canvas – this Journeyman from bag specialist Filson is practical and stylish, whether your cargo is precious or merely incidental.
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Gilets (pronounced jill-ay) are sometimes misunderstood, mainly because some men are unsure how to wear them. And how can something so pretentious sounding offer any kind of practical benefit? Well, worn over a sweater or shirt, this piece is both water-repellent and lightweight – perfect when the weather’s too warm for a winter coat, but too cool for just a knit. The result: a piece that operates seamlessly between town and country. And, with a brand like Patagonia – founded to supply high performance gear to climbers and outdoors men – you’re approvingly in the know among hardened country types.
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If you’re turning on your out of office for a no frills weekend, it’s unlikely you’ll want to take the antique Rolex your father gave you along for the trip. Bremont makes watches inspired by aviation timepieces and this piece has been assembled with hardened steel and scratch-resistant sapphire crystal which is sure to stand up to whatever the outdoors can throw at it. The timeless, understated design means this is appropriate wristwear for the office, too. And it’s sure to stand the test of time, should you, like your father, want to make an heirloom of your watch.
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It’s little surprise that a brand founded by pro-surfer Mr Kelly Slater offers clothes suitable for the outdoors, and with his new label Outerknown, he doesn’t disappoint. Informed by “the coastal lifestyle” and those chilly moments after a surf, his designs are eco-friendly and sustainable (this shirt is made using organic cotton, for example). If you’re not a fan of salty air and brisk breezes, however, this shirt will work just as well in the city.