- Buyer's Guide
Buyers Guide: Autumn Adventure Kit 2020
We find ourselves in a unique time. The world appears to be hopping from one mad incident to another, and life isn’t quite as we knew it in February 2020.
What you can do, and who you can do it with has become the defining consideration when trying to make our social plans. This autumn is going to look very different for all as the hunt for outdoor activities becomes of paramount importance. While it may seem odd at first for some, it is in fact a good thing. It’s a chance to reconnect with the outdoors in different ways. A chance to enjoy the breezy chill on an autumn afternoon. And most importantly, a chance to pause and be grateful!
With that in mind, we’ve put together your Autumn Adventure Kit. This selection of items will see you through every outdoor social event you may find yourself in this autumn. Not only are these great products functional, but you’ll look stylish, feel snug, and be ready to overcome any amount of fallen foliage while using them! We’ve separated them into three separate kits: a weekend trip/social garden kit, a hiker/active kit, and a bonus/car kit. Between these three, there is nothing you can’t tackle.
Weekend and All-round Kit
In this first and largest selection of items, you will find the fundamentals. These items are the pieces you will use most, even if you don’t use them all at once. Jackets, pants, cups and even a waxed bag. If nothing else, do yourself a favor and pick up a few of these for your autumn adventure kit!
Fall is the greatest season of all, particularly in the sartorial world. It’s not just because of the glorious colors and football season. Why? Jackets. You’ve been waiting all summer for it to be cool enough, and finally the time is here to show off your collection. From quilted, to denim, or even down, autumn is the season to showcase all the styles that’ve been hibernating in your wardrobe. However, you can’t take them all on a weekend away, and you can only wear one at a time (believe me, I’ve tried). The one size fits most solution? A waxed trucker. Hardy enough to get the job done working outside, trendy enough to turn up to a friend’s hog roast and still look the part.
The wax trucker is a tough and burly yet stylish piece from Flint and Tinder. It provides ample warmth on its own for the sunnier days, but leaves room to layer on the chilly mornings or late nights. Premium waxed cotton, luxurious flannel lining, and USA made: this is a jacket that will patina wonderfully over the years of use. It’s also available in a vast selection of colors ranging the whole autumn palette. This jacket kept me dry as a bone from unexpected rain, warm around the fire, and protected me while chopping wood. It is a jacket that really does it all and more than worthy of your autumn adventure kit.
Comfortable trousers are the foundation of any good autumn adventure kit. Socially, they need to be smart enough to prove to people that you have left the sofa more than twice in the last six months. Stretchy enough to allow for any treats you might indulge in (snacks, IPA’s, whole pies). And warm enough for you to enjoy your afternoon – regardless of windy gusts! The Rover Pants are just that: a great foundation. Supremely comfortable thanks to a gusseted crotch (you’ll never go back!), breathable canvas fabric, and dart seams behind the knees. All of these features really make it a strong staple that looks just as good for a dinner with parents or playing games at your local brewery. A multitude of colors means you can choose the right pair(s) for your wardrobe.
This 72-hour tee has been a revelation for me. As an avid outdoorsman, I’ve always understood, and benefited from, all that merino has to offer. However, I’ve never really found the transition from outdoor equipment to “fashion” a successful one. Most merino tees I’ve encountered still look like outdoor gear, rather than a subtle social staple and are way too itchy to wear more than one day in a row. You expect a bit of hardship when hiking, or camping, or boarding, but not down the pub. The 72HT succeeds where others have failed. Great cut, comfortable, and odorless. The one I’m wearing now will stay on all weekend and my wife still wants to sit next to me! This also comes in a long sleeve, polo, and henley version depending on your preference.
Denim Shirt: Flint and Tinder Bone Button Western Shirt; Plaid Flannel Shirt: Flint and Tinder Telluride Plaid Shirt
You can’t have an autumn adventure without a good shirt. The two we’ve got our hands on cover almost every situation I came across. For the warmer days, a lightweight plaid from Flint and Tinder fits the bill. Beautiful materials (99% cotton and 1% spandex) give it that soft flannel comfort with just enough stretch when you’re reaching for that beer or tossing cornhole. The best thing about this shirt? It feels broken in when you take it out of the package. None of that stiff starch feeling and you can get straight down to using it. If you still want the plaid aesthetic when it’s a little cooler, it pairs well with a tee (like one of the choices below) for some extra warmth. Finally, a great pattern. Some plaids can be busy and overbearing, this blends in nicely.
Now if you want a tougher and thicker shirt, the Bone Western (from F&T again) is a great option. The washed-out black color has a great aesthetic, along with the traditional buttons and styling, that gives you a different dimension to the plaid. The 8oz denim feels like it could take a beating, and it’s just up to you to decide whether that’s in a social or labour setting! I would have no qualms using this as a garden work shirt, and it was great for chopping wood. It is also thick enough to double as an overshirt into the evening.
For the days when it is gusting from every which way, the Relwen Windzip Popover comes to the rescue. I turned to this a lot, both socially and on my hikes. It is quite the chameleon. It has a nice military heritage style that works casually, but is also very much a performance piece. Relwen is known for this best kind of duplicity, and they’ve achieved it again here. The nylon and spandex give you plenty of stretch, and then the 60g synthetic filling keeps you toasty. It’s also water-resistant so it’ll save you from that unexpected shower.
For those typical autumn days where the mercury is constantly fluctuating, a vest is where it’s at. This piece from Filson, in a versatile rich navy color, is perfect for keeping you warm enough to socialise, but not too hot that you’re sweating buckets. It is made from a 13oz nylon/cotton canvas that houses 60g of PrimaLoft® Gold under a nice 6oz cover cloth lining, with a drop tail for you to park on when needed. This is one of the more versatile vests that I’ve owned. It has the classic Filson utility: functional pockets, great materials, and a killer simple style. The waxed outer means it can take any weather too!
The folks at Danner have done it again. They’ve reinvented a classic and made it work for the modern-day adventurer. This boot works in every setting you can think of: park games, mountain hikes, even rainy beach visits. Its silhouette isn’t aggressive, and allows the boot to blend into whichever environment you escape to this autumn. The comfort straight out of the box is noticeable and is not something I always associate with boots. This allows you to hit the ground running, even if that ground is wet, thanks to the Gore-Tex membrane. I loved the Huckberry Gold Rush colorway, but they have a plethora of styles to cover all tastes. Each pair of boots also comes with two different sets of laces. Plus you can remove the kilties if you aren’t going for the lumberjack vibe.
For afternoons where boots feel too much, or you’re just in a sportier mood, the Lems Trailhead V2 are the trainers for you. Firstly, they are designed to work anywhere. From trailhead to town, they genuinely excel in both. The sole is robust enough for a day hike, but comfortable and subtle enough to work on a calming afternoon stroll when your team loses. In fact, these have become my go-to shoes for all of my errands this autumn.
The low heel drop, natural toe box, and ankle cushioning make these a real joy to wear. That’s before we even get to the retro styling that has made everyone ask me where I got these. Lems are well known to us at Carryology, they even scored a Highly Commended in a Carry Award this year. If you haven’t tried a pair of their boots, chukkas, or trainers yet…well, there is no time like the present!
These slipper/shoe hybrids are a revelation to me! Ultimately they’re bloody snug and good-looking, but they are really exceptionally functional too. They are perfect for back garden games, football watching, firepits; you name it, they can do it. With a water-resistant outer which covers the sleeping-bag-esque insulation and a healthy rubber outsole, these are made to be outside, which is where we should be in autumn. The collapsible heel makes them easy to slip on and off, whether you’re camping or just popping to the bathroom. While these are very comfortable with a wonderfully cushioned footbed, I wouldn’t be inclined to wear them out and about; they just don’t have enough structure.
Simple, elegant, and timeless. These tortoiseshell sunglasses come with Carl Zeiss polarised lenses which provide clarity and high UV protection. They’re perfect for the low autumn sun. The palette goes with everything in our kit, and they’re lightweight enough so you can keep them on all day. The hardcase is slender and slides into a pocket easily. I got multiple compliments on these while I was test driving them. I can say, while they’re not a style I have turned to in the past, I found myself wearing these over my usual glasses because of the fit and look.
A nifty tool is always worth having, and the Armbar Cork prepares you for autumn fun. Low profile and functional, this offers all the necessary tools you might find yourself needing. You get a 2-1/2″ fine edge blade with frame lock, corkscrew with lever arm, pry bar, bottle opener, hammer, scissors, and a can/package opener. There’s no chance of anyone getting thirsty with this at hand.
OSFA. That’s the most apt description for these mugs. They will work for you 24/3 on your long weekend. From the morning caffeine hit to the amber nightcap (ice or not: dealer’s choice) and everything in between, these mugs will help those beverages slip down a little smoother. In a time where we should be careful about what we’re touching and where it comes from, this puts your mind at ease. 10oz is a versatile size that covers most bases. The stackable design also allows you to take two with you for your spouse or drinking partner. In true YETI form, they’re indestructible too. The dents only make them look better…or at least give you some stories to tell.
We need something to haul all of this goodness around. Enter Mystery Ranch. This. Is. A. Tardis. As you can see from the pictures, all of these items fit into this wonderfully crafted bag. This is a really intelligently designed bag, which should be no surprise coming out of the workshop of Dana Gleason. In partnership with Huckberry, MR have created a piece that is not only incredibly functional and versatile, but stylish and timeless too.
The Mission Hybrid is a 3-way carry (backpack, shoulder, handle) 40L bag that can swallow anything you throw at it. The dedicated boot bag can hold two pairs of shoes and keeps your clothes clean (it can also hold a couple of six-pack cans when you’re using the bag as a backpack). The waxed wood nylon is tough, weather resistant, and will develop a great patina over time. It makes the bag blend in rather than stand out.
There is a Fidlock buckle to give you access to well-thought-out organization on the front, and a padded laptop compartment if you need to bring work with you. Personally, I’ve avoided that, but it works well for a book or magazine too. The nooks and crannies reserve a spot for every item that you could possibly need for your social weekend. The reason we chose this bag is precisely because it’s understated. This isn’t a show pony that screams “look at me!” It is a workhorse that allows you to do precisely what you want to.
The main compartment is well organized with a deep opening that can stomach a lot. It is worth noting that the shoe compartment does eat into that space, but because it is suspended, you can slide clothes underneath the shoes too! A simple mesh zipper pocket holds underwear, and the other side has a shallow zip pocket, enough for a jacket or vest. I’ve also found this bag to be really useful for daily adventures too. Aside from beer, you can take a blanket with you, some more beer, a garden game, a speaker, etc. It is a good hauler that makes sure you are prepared for the fun in your future.
Hiking and Activities Kit
Everyone knows autumn is the time to be outside. The colors are beautiful, the temperature range is perfect and allows you to be outside all day, even the wildlife enjoy it! When you’re away for the weekend, having a lightweight hiking kit leaves you ready to go whenever a trailhead catches your explorer’s eye. Additionally, the items in this day hike kit give you some great carrying options for farmers’ markets and breweries too!
You simply can’t hike without good trousers. When absorbing all that nature has to offer, you don’t want to worry about if your leg will stretch to the next boulder, or if your jeans are going to wet out. The Trek pants from Proof were designed and tested in the Alps, and they really are quite an exceptional piece of gear to have at your disposal. Made by the magicians at Schoeller®, the Trek pants are made from EcorepelBio, a custom, technical PFC-free fabric designed and woven in Switzerland.
The athletic jogger fit doesn’t leave swathes of fabric billowing in the wind, but instead gives you a range of movement where you need it and tapering where you don’t. They are easily adjustable too, both at the waist and the leg opening, depending on how you like to wear your gear, or if the environment dictates it. A variety of pockets allow you to carry essentials you need (including a secret pocket for valuables). I really liked the fact that the pockets on the thigh were different orientations (one vertical and one horizontal) as it allows you to be truly versatile in your carry.
The four-way stretch, gusseted crotch (hallelujah!), and articulated knee seams make these pants the Rolls-Royce of hikers. I actually find myself wearing these more and more around the house too. Additionally, my brother-in-law works in law enforcement and was commenting on how great something like these would be for work. He then commented how he prefers X pockets or Y fittings and I just kept showing him that these pants had all that and more. Check, check, check.
Tracksmith are a boutique running company from New England that has caught my attention over the past few years and based on these tees, for good reason. While they are primarily designed for the serious runner (not me!), their clean, timeless aesthetic and excellent materials make them a great hiking shirt too. The merino nylon blend keeps them odorless, comfortable, and lightweight. A lack of tags and intelligently placed seams keep you comfortable when moving around, a perfect addition to our autumn adventure kit. I had no issue wearing this to a garden firepit after a hike, and have even used it under the plaid shirt on colder days. A full range of colors allow you to pick your poison.
The team at Matador are innovators supreme when it comes to all things packable. It was only natural that we found three excellent products that would fit our adventure kit. The On-Grid Packable Backpack is a 16L daypack that collapses into its own quick-access pocket (and then into our main bag!). It has a surprising amount of features including two full-sized water bottle pockets, a laptop sleeve, and some simple but effective organization spots. It is made from 100D weatherproof Robic® nylon that lets you adventure worry-free.
I like the fact that this little gem really does work in multiple situations. It holds all that you need for a hike, but also allows you to take home a couple of six-packs or a growler from that brewery you liked so much. It’s comfortable too. It doesn’t have the padding of a dedicated hiker, obviously, but it’s comfortable enough to get you to a nice vista and back again! The clean, minimalist aesthetic also blends into any surrounding.
The Packable Water Bottle is an ingenious design that allows you to take this everywhere this autumn. It packs flat when not in use, and has a full length straw (lockable!) to keep you fully hydrated. If you’re going airborne, no problem: hydrate and pack away. This was a nice surprise for me. I’m a self-confessed insulated cup fan, but I would easily choose this on an autumn day when drinks tend to stay colder longer on their own.
Finally, the Pocket Blanket 2.0 is one of those items that you didn’t know you needed until you have it in your hands. This 3.8oz blanket gives you and up to three others a place to sit down on your hike, change shoes at your car, or even shelter from the rain. It isn’t the item you’ll use to stave off hypothermia at a summit, but does the job keeping wind at bay if you need to wrap it around your shoulders. Its design also includes small stakes so you can secure it to the ground and mark your territory at the brewery.
All this talk of hiking and high activity is making me thirsty. Luckily VSSL saw me coming and created an all-in-one solution. The Flask contains two collapsible shot glasses, a bottle opener, a 9oz flask, a 200-lumen LED light, and a precision compass. Did I mention it is fully waterproof and impact resistant too? By their own admission it “is designed to help you celebrate the summit, an epic pow day, or good friends around a fire.” It does all of those admirably, and its sleek cylindrical profile means it slips into any pocket or bag with ease. This will continue to come with me everywhere. It doesn’t discriminate, so take your favorite tipple with you!
These midweight gloves are excellent. They are waterproof, windproof, and even touchscreen compatible to make sure you can snap those pictures when you need to (or double-check the hike route: no judgement here!). Gloves are an underrated accessory if you ask me, and these were perfect to stave off the chill of a cold hike, or keep those digits dry when working in the garden. The style, as always from Hestra, is understated and is more about function than fashion. These are a good investment and cover a few use cases. I wouldn’t take them snowboarding or into extreme cold, but they’d come with me just about anywhere else.
Sunglasses can be a battle. Fashion sunglasses look great for relaxing in urban environments, but I personally find them uncomfortable for strenuous activity. Good “active” sunglasses should be lightweight, robust, and with excellent optics. We all know the big players in that field, but as someone with a larger, Anglo Saxon head, those brands don’t often fit me so well. The DA glasses are excellent. They covered my full field of vision, their Polar Lumalens tech helped me differentiate terrain when hiking, and, wait for it, they float! I can’t tell you how many pairs of glasses I’ve lost to the depths of lakes and the ocean, so this is a nice safety blanket feature. More so than that, they are exceptionally comfortable, and feel as though they could last decades of abuse.
Autumn Adventure Kit: Bonus Round
Now, I’m not a cheat, and I know I said everything fits into the one bag. BUT there are times where you may have a car with you and you can squeeze a few extra items in to heighten your fun. These items are luxuries, but ones that might just sway you…
Fact #1: Firepits are fun. Fact #2: Firepits are time-consuming to set up. And fact #3: Firepits can be dangerous around little ones (or big ones). The Solo Stove addresses all of these concerns with an ingenious design that allows you to quite literally bring the party (fire) with you! The Ranger is the smallest of the three sizes they make, but throws out good warmth thanks to their ingenious airflow design. It burns cleaner than most, but it is not entirely smokeless, and looks great too. I’ve used it in my garden multiple times, and there are no burnt blades on my grass. It stays cooler than most firepits too, allowing you to relax about singed calves or fingers.
If you are concerned about your lawn, or deck, there is a simple ring accessory that raises it a little higher off the ground. The included carry case allows you to bring it with you wherever you go, so now you can take “firepit” off your Airbnb search requirements. There are a multitude of accessories you can add on but the roasting sticks stand out as a winning choice.
Comfort is critical when we’re talking about social interactions, particularly outside. YETI’s Lowlands Blanket is a winner. It is comfortable, waterproof, indestructible, and stylish. The Fireside Red color is perfect for autumn, and this blanket can be used in a variety of situations. YETI designed this to be “base camp” for all your needs: Tailgating, firepits, brewery visits; it does it all.
It has stake points in the corners if you want to really secure it on a windier day in the garden. Plus it’s quick to clean too! Rogue child eats their snacks with a little too much gusto? Hose it down. Messy pup from afternoon walk? Hose it down. You see my point; it’s hassle-free. It doesn’t attract dirt in the same way most picnic blankets do. That makes me want to take it with me, rather than reject it based on upkeep concerns. It comes with a useful carry bag, just sling it over your shoulder and away you go.
Thirsty? uKeg Go & YETI Stackable Cups
Whether you’re going to a brewery or bringing your favorite Oktoberfest with you to a friend’s garden, the uKeg Go growler is a great addition to your drinkware collection. At 64oz, it should be enough to allow you a fun afternoon! The uKeg Go is insulated to keep your choice cold and comes with a rubber base to stop any sliding around.
The real unique feature is the carbonation. Each small 8oz CO2 cartridge slips into the cap and keeps your drink as fresh as the moment it was poured, whether by your hand or from a tap at the brewery. It has two settings: a beer setting and a cocktail/soda setting, the carbonation is controlled by a simple dial on top of the uKeg. Easy to clean and easy to use, this has become a great addition to my autumn exploits. Aligned with a couple of YETI’s indestructible stackable pint cups, you can imbibe to your heart’s desire wherever you are.
If you’re more of a quiet sipper, then CamelBak have you covered with their Rocks Tumbler, designed for the whiskey aficionados amongst you. A nice wide opening, rubber base, and insulated design keep your amber cold. They also come with a simple lid if you’re roaming around while warming, but personally I found myself staring at the stars, sipping slowly by the firepit. These are exceptionally light too, and could easily fit into the hiking kit if you wanted to take in the view with a celebratory dram.
There we have it. A collection of autumn adventure kit products that afford you the chance to make the most of your autumn. Times are hard for all of us at the moment. As such, it can be tempting to retreat and write off socialising. With the right gear, you can still absorb all the world has to offer. Now the important question: where will your adventures take you?