Quick Guide to Choosing Men's Outdoor Clothing

Posted by Whole Earth | 07.06.2021

A rock climber dangling from a cliff face



A Quick Guide to Men's Outdoor Clothing



What should you look for when buying clothes for outdoor adventure? Knowing a bit about fabrics and construction details will help you find clothing that combines functionality and performance. Here are a few pointers to guide you.


First up, take a look at the care label sewn into a piece of clothing and its accompanying manufacturer's tags. Care labels usually include helpful information about fabric content. Manufacturer's tags may highlight design features and signal just how serious a company is about sustainability.  When shopping online, product specs should give you the same information.




For outdoor clothing, let your activity determine the shirts, shorts or pants you may need. In the summer, look for shirts that will help you stay cool by releasing body heat. Cotton and cotton blends with polyester or Viscose derived from bamboo can breathe and offer good freedom of movement.


There are also man-made fiber options like polyester and nylon which are often made of recycled materials. These shirts may have an added touch of spandex or stretchable fibers. Fisherman and others who spend hours out in the full sun on the water like these blends. The fabric is often treated to increase its sun protection factor and moisture wicking properties. The lightweight fabric dries quickly and helps you stay cool.


Patagonia Men's Baggies Lights Shorts - 6.5inLooking for shorts? Is there a good chance that you're going to get wet? Shorts with man-made fibers would be a wise choice. Why? Because polyester and nylon dry quickly. Cotton, while breezy, can take hours to dry and leave you feeling damp and uncomfortable. Consider a ripstop fabric, which resists rips and tears, if you're going to be tangling with sharp rocks or rugged conditions. And if hiking, you may prefer a heavier material like a cotton blend with touch of spandex for extra comfort.


Choosing a pair of pants? The options are similar to those for shorts: man-made fabrics that dry quickly or heavier cotton blends. Outdoor pants are often styled like regular slacks or jeans so they can do double duty outdoors and in town. 


Design Upgrades

Small details in the construction of your outdoor clothing can make a big difference in comfort and utility. Vented back yokes add an extra cooling element to those long sleeved shirts loved by fisherman. The vents are lined with mesh to let air in and keep bugs out.


tasc Men's Carrollton Fitness T-ShirtRegular shoulder seams can be an issue for hikers and backpackers where the weight of the pack may cause the seams to rub on the shoulder. If you're heading out on the trail, look for raglan sleeves where the seams are lowered away from the top of the shoulders.  Think baseball shirt. Baseball players need maximum freedom of movement for their arms and shoulders, so raglan sleeves can be a good choice for many outdoor activities.



For shorts or pants, look for gussets. A gusset is a piece of fabric that is sewn into a seam to add extra give and mobility. It's a funny word but once you've experienced the added comfort of gussets compared to regular pants and shorts seams, they will be on your list of essentials.


Articulated knees in long pants is another feature that adds comfort and mobility to your outdoor activities. A small dart at the knee creates a curve that makes a big impact on flexibility. Some pants also come with extra layer of fabric at the heel cuff delaying the day when the hem begins to deteriorate. 


Convertible pants that can be transformed into shorts with a quick zip are particularly useful when cold mornings call for pants and by afternoon it's shorts weather.  Some convertible pants have zippers at the ankles so you won't have to take off your shoes when you make the change.


A last feature to look for on shirts, shorts and pants is a zippered pocket or two. Think of it as an added security feature for items you want to keep close at hand and safely in your pocket.




If you're going to spend your hard earned money on clothes for outdoor fun, it makes sense to support companies who are working to preserve the planet and treat their workers and suppliers well. Here are a few organizations whose names may appear on tags or in the specs that show a company's support for people and the planet. The big three are:


bluesign logobluesign® evaluates a company's textile supply chain by assessing chemicals, processes, materials and approving products that are safe for the environment, workers and customers.



Fair Trade Certified logoFair Trade Certified is a designation to help consumers support products that come from producers that have been certified to obey international environmental standards and provide fair wages and safe working conditions. Goods that bear the Fair Trade Certified label carry an independent, third-party-verified guarantee.



1% for the Planet logo1% for the planet is an alliance of businesses whose members contribute at least one percent of their annual sales to environmental causes.




We hope this Quick Reference Guide will help you choose versatile, durable clothing for outdoor adventure that's just right for you and the planet.















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