Outdoor Brands that Combine Style with Science

Smiths Optic Cycling Goggles

We all want to look good but when you’re about to face a long trek, enjoy some rambling, embark on some trail riding, hit the slopes or just enjoy your morning run - you need outdoor clothing and gear that actually works.

With that said, we reached out to some of our favourite outdoor brands to find out more about the science behind their design, so you can get kitted up for your next adventure in style.

Outdoor Tech: Tech to Suit any Outdoor Activity

Outdoor tech

In their home of Southern California, Outdoor Tech was born from a love of the outdoors and their goal from the beginning was to help people ‘stay connected but not tethered’. We spoke to Director of Marketing at Outdoor Tech Taylor Toussaint. He said:

The story of Outdoor Tech is pretty simple. In the past, if you were a fan of the outdoors, whether that’s hiking, skiing or camping, etc - the only technology was in fabrics, that is tents or apparel. Outdoor Tech was created to bridge the gap between everyday urban life with a love of the outdoors.

We originally found their bespoke bluetooth headphones ‘Chips’, a patented technology for ski helmets that revolutionised the ski and snowboard industry but as ski season starts to twindle, what we love about this brand is the fact that they offer tech for any outdoor activity. Whether you plan to go running, cycling, camping or travel a lot - there’s tech that can make your life easier and slip neatly into your 49Winters pockets. That includes headphones, speakers, earbuds, portable power products, all of which are not just sleek in design but also hyper useful. Taylor added:

“Most recently we created the most scientifically advanced polarised lens technology, called ChromaPop™; while simultaneously creating a dramatically new approach to ventilation and protection in snow and bike helmets through the use of Aerocore™ technology."

Outdoor tech is definitely one to watch for the year ahead with plans to launch ‘Chips Ultra’ later this year in time for the next ski season and a desire to continue to create products that serve real needs.

Smith Optics: Keeping your Eyes Protected Since 1965

Smith Optics goggles cycling

SMITH OPTICS aka SMITH began more than fifty years ago in Sun Valley Idaho and interestingly it was actually founded by an orthodontist called Dr. Bob Smith who classed himself as one of the original ‘ski bums’. We spoke to SMITH European Brand Manager Sara Cisamolo to find out more, she said:

Dr. Smith developed the idea for the world’s first sealed thermal lens and breathable vent foam goggles; purely so that he could get a few more powder runs on days when everyone else had to go indoors! His inspiration has led to SMITH being the pioneers of advanced innovative snow, sun and bike gear to fuel fun.

The first step forwards for SMITH from the original design was the introduction of the first interchangeable lens system for sunglasses and snow goggles. They then went on to design fog-free goggle technology and launch two new ventilation systems for seamless goggle and helmet integration. Today they continue to lead as pioneers in optical wear and their sunglasses and goggles are designed with style and usability in mind. They also have the world’s largest eco-friendly sunglass collection in the world. Talking about their latest innovations, Sara added:

Most recently we created the most scientifically advanced polarised lens technology, called ChromaPop™; while simultaneously creating a dramatically new approach to ventilation and protection in snow and bike helmets through the use of Aerocore™ technology.

Even though they are renowned for their snow goggles, SMITH have grown to create eyewear for a broader range of activities. Staying true to their 50-years heritage but also existing “to empower thrill seekers and modern explorers in snow, bike, fish, surf, peak performance outdoor adventure and more.”


This all sounds great and their products look great, but what is it about these products that make them different to anything else and most important, durable? Well, we asked Sara just that and, we warn you now, the answer is extremely technical. With that said, here comes the science bit:

Aerocore Construction is one of our design philosophies which increases airflow, improves temperature regulation and results in a fog-free vision and improved impact resistance. And our Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) technology reduces the rotational forces to the brain in the case of an oblique impact...
Not all helmets are created equal.  SMITH protection with Koroyd material is really progressive.  Positioned in zonal impact areas, the Koroyd crumple-zone cylinders crush uniformly on impact, converting and absorbing more kinetic energy than traditional protection materials.  Every design detail we include is there to make a real difference.

 

SMITH will also be making their new Grow With Me™ technology for junior snow helmets available for winter 19/20. A new debut for next ski season that is “the most technically advanced youth helmet on the market which also grows with your child.” Great news for families planning your next ski trip.


While there are many more nuances to their technology, it’s pretty clear this brand is certainly worth exploring if you need to keep those eyes protecting. In terms of what to expect next, SMITH are constantly reinventing protection to keep up with riders who are going faster, farther and riding more aggressively than their predecessors. Sara explains:

We consistently strive to create helmets that exceed safety standards by focusing on the four types of impact: low speed, high speed, rotational, and multiple-impact… To go forward, we are creating a Four Pillars of Design ethos. A belief in building the best helmet we can to meet as many of these pillars at one time as possible.

 

49Winters: innovative three-part system for all seasons 

Three part system 49Winters coat for all seasons

 

In 2016 a team of designers and innovators with 48 winter seasons’ worth of experience put their heads together to come up with a coat design that would work for all seasons. An outerwear design that didn’t just look good and hold its worth as ‘luxury fashion’, but also scientifically was built to offer the best protection against all elements. And so… 49Winters was born. Setting a new standard in outerwear the team created a unique three-part system with an interchangeable zip design that can work throughout the year. Brand visionary at 49Winters, Andrew Lever explains:

Over the years, we watched other luxury outerwear labels competing with one another, with strong marketing campaigns claiming to offer the ultimate “expedition” coat to wear in sub-zero temperatures. With global warming and unpredictable weather conditions, we wanted to deliver an ultimate product that paid less attention to the badge and more attention to its purpose. A more intelligent coat  beautifully made, stylish product that would have more longevity and adaptability for our customers. We wanted a coat that would fit our everyday lives, not just extremes; a coat that could cope with the unpredictability of all seasons.
Most importantly, we are committed to discovering and developing materials of the highest level of craftsmanship that allow us to stand out as the ultimate performance outerwear brand.
collage of close ups of three layer system by 49Winters

 

There were many challenges along the way to achieve the right balance between innovative design and luxury fashion. This included finding a way to assemble and dismantle two individual pieces of outerwear without negatively impacting the aesthetic of the individual items. Thankfully, due to the engineering expertise of the team 49Winters were able to use the latest technology to find innovative solutions. Together they were able to design a zip system that was interchangeable across multiple garments and worked beautifully with the design all three layers. The next challenge was to incorporate elements of the modern lifestyle in the design and make it wearable for a range of outdoor activities - whether people are lounging at home, walking to work, skiing, cycling or mountain climbing. Andrew added:

A significant part of our own design research is to understand how our world is changing and to take a practical approach to our design to remain in harmony with the boom of technical innovation and maintain the functional design required for outdoor activities. Incorporating utility pockets that can hold electronic devices and keep people warm and protected while they enjoy the outdoors is vital to a good outerwear design. We dedicate a lot of time to understanding these needs and our mission has always been to discover a perfect axis that combines tailoring heritage with technical innovation to become a new standard in outerwear.

The result is a coat that is truly individual to the owner, personalised by them to be enjoyed throughout the year. Fully assembled with all three-parts a 49Winters coat can cope with a winter blizzard on a ski trip, the water repellent outershell, whether you opt for utility, mac or the parka, can help cyclists and walkers stay dry in a summer monsoon.


Finally, the light inner down can be used as a transitional garment for any outdoor activities from spring to autumn. Of course, for anyone in the UK the ability to zip in hooded elements is also handy for those unpredictable weather changes throughout the day.

Are you ready to get geared up for your next adventure?


Often we feel we have to choose function over fashion when it comes to outdoor activities, but these outerwear brands prove that there really is no reason to compromise on either.

Start gearing up for your next outdoor adventure or have a read of our blog on the latest Spring Outerwear Trends for some more inspiration.

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