Clothing to get down and get it done.
[by Bjorn Dihle]
Despite popular belief, Alaska has a sense of fashion as cutting edge as SoHo in New York City. The difference is we go for practical rather than pretty. Sure, men and women alike wear sexy knee-high boots, but they’re made of rubber and generally coated in mud and fish slime. We love oversized fleece and raingear. Everyone knows “cotton kills” and believes in dressing for success, really—you’ll be miserable or worse if you don’t. Here are five products suitable both for keeping you happy in the outdoors and looking good enough to eat out at the fanciest restaurants—in Alaska.
Sitka Gear Kodiak Jacket
The new jacket from Sitka Gear—the most beloved brand of clothing by hunters in Alaska—is going to be a hit. Completely waterproof and breathable, the Kodiak is—get this—knee length for added protection for your fanny! It’s great for sitting around while glassing for critters, telling lies about past hunts while in camp, or wandering around town with a faraway look in your eyes, wishing you were o in the wild. When you need to run like a cheetah, you can shorten the jacket for unencumbered movement. With side vents and lots of pockets, you’ll be set for just about whatever the day throws at you. I consider the Kodiak a step up for Sitka Gear rain jackets when it comes to dealing with Alaska’s nasty elements. $549; sitkagear.com
Filson Barrier Long Sleeve T-shirt
This is a great base layer for getting out in the woods and water. Breathable, quick drying, and moisture-wicking, the Barrier held up in wind, rain, and sun this spring in Southeast Alaska. I’m a smelly dude but the t-shirt’s odor-fighting treatment has worked thus far. The shirt has a nice athletic fit and comes in colors like dark green and orange that are ideal for hunters, fishermen, or other people walking in the woods during open season that want to avoid being shot at. My goal is to wear the Barrier t-shirt all summer while adventuring and guiding bear-viewing trips without ever washing or taking it off. $55; filson.com
Eddie Bauer Expedition Flannel Shirt This product looks so nice it’s become my designated frontcountry shirt for weddings, funerals, and other obligatory social engagements. My anxieties quickly melt away when I stroke its soft polyester and imagine myself far away in the backcountry, safe from all the people that surround me. Practical and pretty, this shirt is great for spring and summer adventures. In Alaska these days, you’re more likely to be attacked by a reality television crew than a grizzly. It’s not about surviving the wilderness anymore—it’s about how good you can make surviving the wilderness look. For these reasons and more, purchasing Eddie Bauer’s Expedition Flannel is a wise decision. $49; eddiebauer.com
Patagonia R1 Fleece Pants
I am a connoisseur of fleece pants, and I thoroughly like the R1s. Like all Patagonia offers, they’re high quality and built for active use. Midweight, stretchy, breathable, and moisture wicking—they’re perfect for hiking, going out to town, or lazing on the couch with a good book. They are also great for a layering system and fit snugly beneath rain pants, snow pants, and waders. Despite weighing less than a pound, they’re exceptionally warm and compress nicely for packing. They’re so comfortable, I probably won’t take mine o for the next several months. $119; Patagonia.com
WETSOX Explore More Sox
WETSOX may be best known for their knee-high wader sock—a neoprene phenomenon for your feet if you spend a lot of time in cold water like me—but they recently came out with the Explore More Sox. This amazing hybrid—it’s 100-percent waterproof and 100-percent breathable—blew my mind. I tested a pair on a 30-mile hike and my feet were drier and prettier than when I began 12 hours prior. I found them comfortable and didn’t have a hint of a rub or blister. The next morning, after camping out, I put the socks back on. Though they were a bit damp on the outside, they were bone dry on the inside. My happy feet instantly warmed up, and we were o for another great day in the Alaskan wilds. These socks are a game changer, especially for fishermen. Seriously, treat yourself this season. $37; wetsox.com