With the Great Recession continuing to put a serious dent in everyone’s wallets, it’s tough to justify purchasing gear that you might only use a couple of times per quarter. Fortunately, backpacking attire has long had a habit of making its way into popular culture (witness the transition of knickers for women from backcountry function to department store style in the 20s); here are a few pieces that look just as good on the town as they do in the woods.
For Ski-town Cool – First Ascent Cloud Layer 1/4 Zip
11 oz. (Men’s M), Men’s S-XXL, Women’s XS-XL, $50, firstascent.com
The Cloud Layer’s simple, clean style let me walk straight off of track, slopes, or trail and into the bar without feeling like a dirtbag. Out in the field, this top nails everything I want in a mid-layer. The brushed microfleece is buttery smooth, it insulates well for its weight, and it has a 1/4-length zip that allows for easy venting when things heat up. The cut makes room for a t-shirt or performance baselayer underneath, but it’s still trim enough to go under a shell without bunching up. This was the only insulation layer I took on multiple summer trips to the Sierra, and it was all I needed to stay warm during late-night stargazing sessions. When a Benjamin can buy one for you and your significant other, it’s a pretty decent value considering its year-round use. Bonus: The hole on the inside of the welded chest pocket allowed for earphone cords, and the super comfy microfleece made for a great camp pillow.