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One does not have to be a hardcore outdoorsman to have an appreciation for reliable quality outdoor gear that despite enabling you to brave the elements and unwelcoming terrain still looks fly.
Depending on your climatic context, the change of seasons and resulting cooler weather has us all reaching for cozy layers. If the cold weather section in the back of your closet is looking a little sad, this section contains recommendations featuring some of my favorite transitional picks to keep you feeling good, and looking even better.
Colorado-based Topo Designs gear is durable yet cozy, built tough & rugged yet stylish, overbuilt yet flattering to your silhouette, well-designed yet functional, not unnecessarily complicated or overshadowed by the latest technology and once your gear has broken in, it becomes soft and supple: Their versatile emissions are great to wear as insulation layer and they fit well while not loosing shape.
Inspired by the elements and made to conquer them, their creations have become staple items I can rely on, providing durability and structure yet coming into shape and getting softer as you wear them, plus the fact that they look funky means they can be seamlessly integrated into your own personal style and wardrobe.
Topo Designs’ values and products are deeply influenced by the outdoors and mountain cultures of their home base. With a team who grew up fishing, hiking, climbing and skiing, they often look back to the gear of our youth in awe. The simple yet functional gear of their childhood has been reimagined from the classic designs into capable modern-day products that transition from town to trail and are made in the USA.
Topo Designs’ Mountain Jacket is an absolute essential for the Fall season. It completely blocks out the brisk morning air, yet is still light enough to wear when the afternoon warms up.
Heavy on design details, the Mountain Jacket will definitely be with me for years to come. It is highly compressible, packing down into a mere portion of whatever pack or bag I carry daily. A go-to when there’s precipitation in the forecast and it fits perfectly over a few layers underneath to keep you toasty warm.
Topo Designs’ bag works great as a daily carry to and from work but I have also been using it for short travel.
The Commuter Briefcase is a great everyday bag during the week, and with the stowable backpack straps, it’s versatile enough for a bike commute – it can act as the perfect quick overnighter on the weekends.
The Rover Pack, which comes in a range of colour-blocked shades is small enough so you don’t feel like a pack-mule biking to work, but still manages to easily fit a laptop, lunch, clothes and shoes for a lunchtime run.
The way I first became aware of Topo Designs is via their collaboration with Monocle Magazine, one of a myriad of their collaborations, most of which are sold out.
Monocle teamed up with Topo Designs to offer a range of useful carry-ons and accessories, e.g. a reworking of the US brand’s classic Klettersack design. With their 1000D Cordura exteriors and coated pack-cloth lining, the bags are durable and neatly designed to accommodate the needs of both urban explorers and serious outdoor adventurers.
The Monocle medium pouch is handmade in Colorado, these colourful zip-up pouches are ideal for stashing items away. Perfect for cables, small electronic items and other travel essentials as well as a smaller but perfectly proportioned, zip-up pouch, which is a colourful solution for stashing away your travel must-haves.The micro pouch variants are pint-sized pouches that are ideal for tucking away small items.
The Four Winds Field Jacket is Topo Designs collaboration with Colorado-based label WH Ranch. The foundation came from the basic framework of one of the more accessible and iconic pieces in a man’s wardrobe, the trucker jacket. They wanted to bridge the gap between form and function, and tried to ensure every design detail not only looked the part but had a purpose. Features include single-needle stitched riser seams, a popular construction technique on turn of the century work wear; more tedious to be sure, but the clean lines and added seam durability are worth the effort. The signature Topo Camo Cordura Nylon stays true to the spirit of functionality – recoil pads can actually be placed into the jacket shoulder pouches on either side. Add in heavy-weight 14oz waxed cotton duck cloth, reinforced elbow patches, hand-set pure copper rivets, YKK pure copper buttons, and you end up with all of the elements of a field jacket that is built to last.
The Howler Bros Field Bag is suitable for a range of activities from fishing to photographing, the Field Bag is a carry all for essentials you need at your hip. It comes equipped with a breathable padded back and shoulder strap, removable waist strap, and a fully padded and lined interior.
The Howler Bros Gaucho Snap Shirt is constructed of lightweight, quick drying poly-cotton blend and featuring a cooling mesh lined vented back yoke, this one is ready for everything from the dusty trails of Wyoming to the salt spray of Ambergris. Add in pearl snaps and pleated chest pockets and you’ll be the envy of any campfire. Hee-haw.
Another collaboration saw Topo Designs teaming up with Denver-based artist John Fellows to create a water bottle and t-shirt with his linoleum carving artwork.
Fellows’ signature “contemporary folk” style weaves together layers of found paper, graphic block prints and handwritten text to create an old time, hands-on feel. The artist collects a variety of found paper, maps and books dating from the 1880s to the present to create unique linoleum carving collages that while at the very base reflect his personal experiences, are more like a brief glimpse into another person’s story.
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