With Gorpcore officially a thing, we round up the best outdoor clothing brands to not only achieve the look, but invest wisely so you can resell later.
Stonewashed dad-jeans, Fruit of the Loom tees, and boring sneakers appear to have had their day. Now its time for Normcore’s muscular-thighed, trailmix-chomping offspring to enjoy its moment in the spotlight. In practice this means ’90s hiking boots and big-pocketed utility vests favored by middle-aged men who spend their Sundays sitting in the rain with only a can of worms for company.
Pitti Uomo’s I GO OUT section is filled with utilitarian and survivalist-inspired brands like Nigel Cabourn, Raeburn, and Rolf Ekroth. Meanwhile, genuine outdoor clothing brands who for years have been quietly producing hardwearing, warm, and waterproof layers for the great outdoors suddenly find themselves in demand from an entirely new demographic; one whose only exposure to the natural elements occurs between exiting the subway and arriving at a Brooklyn office-share.
But outdoor clothing is made to endure more strenuous punishment than this. Clearly, then, the Gorpcore look can be achieved for a lot less by sourcing lightly-worn secondhand items. For the truly style conscious, though, not just any old windbreaker will do. And for an outdoor clothing brand to be successful on today’s secondhand market, it must firstly have mass appeal; secondly, come with instant name recognition; and start with a higher than average retail price. Therefore, our list had to exclude many innovative but lesser known brands, such as Snow Peak or White Mountaineering.
These are the top 10 outdoor clothing brands we’ve had success reselling in the last 6-8 months.
As the rest of the apparel industry belatedly develops an environmental conscience, Patagonia keeps on doing what it’s always done: putting out simply-designed, well-made, and ethically-produced outdoor clothing. Fair-trade certified, made in the USA, from recycled polyester, hemp, and organic cotton, using reclaimed and traceable down; the average eco-minded brand might stretch to offering one or two of these options. Patagonia manages to cover them all (although not necessarily in a single garment).
But it’s not only for these commendably-green credentials that Patagonia tops our list of the best outdoor clothing brands. Guilt-free shopping alone will not save you in a blizzard; but one of Patagonia’s down-filled parkas just might.
Patagonia offers good-looking and well-made outdoor wear that comes with a reduced environmental footprint. And because it’s everywhere, Patagonia can be picked up used for a great price. Hard to beat.
Arc’Teryx is another innovative outdoor clothing brand with a commitment to reducing their ecological impact. Alongside basic fleeces and thermal hoodies, you’ll also find skiwear, pro climbing equipment, and technical footwear for trekking and trail running.
While some of the Arc’Teryx color palette is certainly not for those of a shy disposition, as we saw at Pitti 95, chromatic extravagance makes the brand very much on-trend. Meanwhile, for anyone who prefers a more elegant silhouette than your average puffer jacket, Arc’Teryx does an interesting line in down parkas with the quilted padding on the inside.
Used prices remain consistently high, making Arc’Teryx outerwear an excellent longterm investment. This year, some of the top resale pieces include the Firebee, Alpha SV, Fission jackets and anything from their Veilance line.
Filson is a rare entity; a brand that has recently opened new American manufacturing facilities. Backward-looking innovation of this kind is fairly typical for them, excelling in classic American hunting apparel and workwear, but with a contemporary mien.
As case in point, check out the Mossy Oak collab for next-level camo looks, or their extensive variations on plaid flannel shirting, waxed waterproofs, padded shooting vests, fishing vests, and all things utility. Pricier than your local outfitter, but a lot more stylish.
Worn right, many a Filson garment would look at home in a contemporary streetwear lineup. Whether this is intentional or not is difficult to tell, as Filson’s branding is invariably of the rather old-fashioned “rugged men, doing stuff” variety. In our experience, nearly anything from Filson can be resold on the secondhand market.
4. Best Made Co.
Call me a romantic, but when a fresh brand launches, I like to imagine that it’s because the owners first hit upon the idea for a fantastic new product, and then decided to share it with the world. The alternative of course being that they merely wanted to make vast sums of money by selling us something, anything, and then went about looking for a product that they could offload onto the general public.
Hence when the person behind a brand, rather than actually knowing how to create anything useful, instead comes from a background in marketing, as is the case here, my initial reaction is one of extreme skepticism.
Best Made Co. illustrates that such cynicism can be misplaced; this is a “lifestyle brand” that actually makes good things. Such things can be a cooking pot, axe, quilt, Madras shirt or a ripstop Ventile parka. And as the name suggests, whatever Best Made Co. does, it does well. That’s a “USP” we can support. Purchase a Best Made Co. jacket or a casual shirt, and you should have no trouble reselling it later. We’ve sold gently used Best Made items from numerous categories, but the outerwear and shirts tend to be most valuable.
So ubiquitous are Fjallraven’s backpacks among a certain demographic that you might imagine that the company was recently dreamed up by Snapchat-dwelling hipsters in their late teens. Actually, this Swedish brand has been making streamlined and hardwearing outdoor clothing for several decades. Even equipping various research groups for their expeditions; throw-away fashion accessories these are not.
Beyond the genuine cold-weather credentials, what makes Fjallraven stand out is the quality of design. Simple and well-proportioned, their clothing is invariably stylish in an understated way, and is reminiscent of the Swedish military’s mountain clothing. Colorways, too, tend to be more tasteful than is the norm in this sector. Although, for those who prefer their outerwear in safety orange, Fjallraven has you covered here too.
Go to Fjallraven for windproof military smocks and parkas, or nice old-school ‘70s-style puffers with serious hoods. Prices for used Fjallraven products can vary considerably according to condition, year, and model.
Specializing in merino base-layers, Smartwool is for those who hate the cold, yet want to remain stylish to the core. The kind of vainglorious image-obsessive who, when putting on their underwear in the morning, considers the impression their corpse might make on the emergency services should the day ahead turn out to be their last.
The brand produces fleeces, thermal inner layers, real socks, and even underwear: all in merino wool, or some combination thereof. Perhaps more surprisingly though, the brand also offers numerous breathable, wind-resistant woolen hoodies and thermal vests of the kind you’d more usually expect to find in 100% synthetic fibers.
Smartwool’s products appear on the secondhand market quite frequently. Whether you’re comfortable with the idea of wearing used under-garments and base layers, though, is another matter entirely.
In some respects, New-Zealand’s Icebreaker is like a more subdued version of Smartwool (above). And as with the latter, you’ll find plenty of lightweight insulated jackets, zippered fitted tops, and leggings for running; all in merino wool. What’s more, there’s perhaps an even greater degree of innovation here when it comes to high-performance merino blends.
Yet despite all the technical woolen activewear, Icebreaker also offers more traditional knitwear in sophisticated and elegant colors. However if your idea of woolen clothing is a great big hairy bird’s nest, Icebreaker will come as a real eyeopener; these are not your father’s itchy old woolen sweaters, but smooth, lightweight and refined knits designed for performance.
8. Stone Island
Another outdoor clothing brand that is as comfortable swaggering through mean inner-city streets as it is braving the eye of the storm, Stone Island has been a favorite of British “casuals”( the vainer subspecies of soccer hooligan) since the 1980s. Following more recent adoption as rap-royalty’s brand of choice, the Italian label is now hot property stateside too.
Early Stone Island built its reputation on innovative textile research and design: a tradition the company continues today with a strong emphasis on tech fabrics and fibers for both waterproofing and insulation. While the brand is largely known for its futuristic outer garments employing materials such as GORE-TEX or resin-treated water-repellent linen, you’ll also find plenty of strong knitwear designs on offer here too. Track down Stone Island for its combination of technical excellence, quality of materials, and superior construction, all in highly stylish and masculine-looking garments.
9. Canada Goose
Although established as a genuine high-performance outdoor clothing brand, in recent years Canada Goose outerwear has become a status symbol. This rise in status has not been accompanied by a corresponding drop in either street-cred or product quality. Indeed Canada Goose continues to innovate, and the label’s new Branta line offers limited edition runs of high-fashion garments with more elegant, minimalist silhouettes; using Loro Piana technical wool for a luxurious construction.
Seek out the label for heavyweight parkas and outerwear in bold primary colors or a thousand variations on camouflage. Canada Goose parkas retain their value very well on the secondhand market, so if you find a bargain, be sure to snap it up. Our only gripe is that the brand continues to use real coyote fur in its products.
10. The North Face
As one of the world’s most well-known outdoor clothing brands, The North Face will likely need little introduction. Over the last few years the company has almost repositioned itself as a streetwear brand, with many designs as suited to urban exploration as to the great outdoors. An impression that’s further reinforced by the ongoing collaboration with Supreme.
Beyond the hype, The North Face continues to produce credible high-performance outdoor clothing. The brand’s motifs are more varied and eclectic than many of its competitors, relying on the authority of The North Face logo to ensure continuity across collections. Standouts include iconic two-tone designs and the boxy ’90s puffers that first elevated the brand to cult status within hip-hop circles.
Used outerwear from The North Face maintains value fairly well; often fetching $200 and beyond depending on model and season, making it a good candidate for resale. That said, their clothing is relatively common which means that some pieces are a resale hit and others are a miss.