Do You Really Need Technical Outdoor Apparel?

Photo credit: Gideon Haden ChomphosyOutdoor recreation is reaching a new level of popularity. Hiking, backpacking, and camping have always had their place as fun hobbies for the whole family, but pursuits like climbing, mountaineering, and paddling that have typically been on the fringe are becoming increasingly mainstream. You probably now need two hands to count the number of commercials that are trying to capitalizing on the growing popularity of rock climbing. A silly metric, but telling nonetheless.

Outdoor apparel companies are making the most of this golden age of outdoor recreation. Popular outdoor brands like Marmot and Outdoor Research have been making quality gear to put you in the mountains or keep you comfortable in the woods regardless of the conditions for decades, but now you have an almost endless selection of breathable soft shells, bombproof hard shells, and other technical garments to choose from. And you can even choose them in your favorite color to match the rest of your wardrobe.

There’s no denying the value of technical outdoor apparel, but some of these pieces can get pretty expensive. Many won’t bat an eye at a $200 price tag on a down jacket, and that’s getting you a garment on the low end of the price range.

So, do you really need technical outdoor apparel to get amongst it and enjoy nature? Do you need an antimicrobial wool base layer to spend a day outside? Do you need a seam taped soft shell jacket to brave the rain? Do you need waterproof boots to go hiking?

The answer isn’t really as simple as yes or no. To determine whether or not technical outdoor gear is necessary, you have to determine the nature of the activities that you do.

For the average weekend warrior who only steps foot outside when the skies are blue and the temperature hovers in the 70s, and whose idea of getting outside is a 3-hour day hike before hitting the taproom, you do not necessarily need technical outdoor gear. Yes, quick drying base layers, synthetic hiking pants, and a good pair of trail shoes will make your experience more comfortable and more enjoyable, but you don’t have to have pricey outdoor apparel.

You can hike in tennis shoes, you can climb in blue jeans, and cotton t-shirts will always and forever have a home on the backs of fair weather adventurers.

If you’re the type to head out in freezing temperatures, trudge through tempests, summit mountains, and spend weeks on the trail, technical apparel becomes less of a luxury and more of a necessity. It’s no longer a matter of just being more comfortable, but being safer.

Outdoor apparel companies don’t just slap a big price tag on jackets, shirts, pants, and base layers just because they make them in your favorite color and getting outdoors is popular. There is a lot of research and testing that goes into designing those garments, and a lot of technology designed to keep you warm or dry or comfortable or safe.

When you’re nearing the summit in 30 degree weather with whipping winds and storm clouds brewing, you need technical gear, and your safety is worth every penny.

In short, leisurely pursuits don’t require fancy duds. Technical adventures require technical gear. Either way, we’ve got you covered for your next trip at Uncle Sam’s. Stop by the store and let us get you set up with the gear that suits your needs!

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