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Aiming High


Outdoor participation trends have shifted over the past two years. And performance apparel brands, who remain laser-focused on sustainability, style and fabric tech, are also designing with an evolving consumer base in mind.

The Outdoor Foundation’s 2021 Outdoor Participation Trends Report found that upwards of 7.1-million more Americans took part in outdoor recreation in 2020 than the previous year, with a widening base of skill and interest levels. Even with these encouraging numbers, the report also revealed gaps in diversity and stagnant female participation, identifying a real opportunity to make the outdoors a more welcoming and accessible place.

The increasing range of wants and needs from the growing base of outdoor participants, as well as a desire to invite a more diverse population to participate in outdoor recreation, is driving product creation for Fall 2022. “Inclusivity is influencing style and design in the outdoors industry,” explained Maggie Meisinger, Smartwool’s Manager of Strategic Communications. “At Smartwool we believe everyone should have access to products that enable transformative moments outdoors, regardless of race, color, gender identity or expression, disability, and body shape and size.”

John Gage, co-founder at Appalachian Gear Company echoed this point, saying, “One of the primary style trends we see upcoming in 2022 is a re-working of ‘fit’ standards to be more inclusive of a wider variety of body shapes.”

Randy Schwartz, Senior Merchandising Manager at Marmot explained further, saying, “Consumers are moving more and more into versatility. Outdoor enthusiasts aren’t just picking one lane of activity like they used to. They want to be able to do anything at any time, and our gear needs to reflect that.”

What’s more, the evolving participation numbers and demographics, also mean there are an increasing number of voices calling for greater scrutiny on the industry’s impact on the planet. In 2022, sustainability initiatives are pushing companies to new heights in an effort to find a way to keep both Mother Nature and the modern consumer happy and healthy. Here, we look at some key trends, new innovations and standout apparel products to look for from a variety of outdoor brands in the coming year.

Ibex WoolAire Hoody, $285.

Ibex: Ethically Sourced Innovation

Combining style and tech, the new WoolAire Hoody ($285) from Ibex is lightweight and packable, designed for high alpine pursuits. It’s a water resistant merino-fill puffy jacket with high warmth-to-weight ratio. The Ibex WoolAire Hoody uses ethically sourced merino-fill — the brand farms its wool in Australia and New Zealand. Unlike down and synthetic filled puffy jackets, merino insulation won’t lose loft if it gets wet and it doesn’t break down over time. This new hoody functions as a mid or outer layer that is lightweight, breathable, and moisture-wicking. It features a bluesign certified nylon shell that is both water resistant and windproof.

Houdini Desoli Light Half-Zip.

Houdini: Minimalists at Heart

Houdini Sportswear’s Fall ’22 line showcases the Swedish brand’s minimalist outdoor approach, urging consumers to “reject fast fashion, to buy less and abandon wasteful purchasing habits.” All of the fabrics used in Houdini’s Fall ’22 line are recycled, renewable, biodegradable or bluesign certified.

“We are the perfect antidote to fast fashion because our products stand the test of time and are a planet friendly versatile solution for virtually any life situation,” said Niclas Bornling, Houdini’s head of brand and D2C. “Houdini’s Essentials line solves all modern wardrobe challenges, with durable timeless style, from everyday use to adventures in the outdoor elements. It’s a minimalist approach to products that have longevity both in quality and fashion. By creating garments meant to last, consumers lower the emissions and waste byproducts of their clothing while using premier items.”

The “Forward to Nature Campaign” featuring The New Naturals, is an online marketing campaign from Houdini launching for Fall 2022. It highlights the Alto, Desoli and Lana product families, upgraded collections adding new silhouettes and colors made with all natural materials and no synthetic mixes. These high performance, circular garments are odor-resistant, lightweight and highly breathable.

FLYlow Baker Perm Bib Ski Pants, $520.

FLYlow: Durable, Reliable, Eco-Conscious

The trend towards materials and processes driven by sustainability are evident in FLYlow’s new Baker Perm Bib ski pants ($520), which are set to hit the market in Fall 2022. “We’ve revamped our entire winter line to use more recycled fabrics and we’ve hand-picked our partners in the textile industry to ensure Flylow’s products meet the highest safety and environmental standards,” explained Dan Abrams, Flylow President.

In addition to sustainability, durability is a big headliner for this next-level bib ski pant, which is made with the brand’s proprietary recycled Perm HD fabric. Together, these special fibers, along with reinforced knees, offer optimal durability, waterproofing, and air permeability for almost any imaginable mountain endeavor.

“Climate change is one of the most important challenges facing the world, and we’re doing our best to reduce our impact,” added Abrams. “That includes using fabrics and insulations made from recycled materials wherever possible and creating long-lasting durable gear that will be reliable season after season after season.”

RAB Women’s Mythic Ultra Jacket, $475.

RAB: Pushing the Limits

RAB continues to fervently chase the holy grail of insulated gear: Greater warmth for fewer grams. “Consumers are demanding warmer, lighter, and more breathable products, which pushes us to get strategic with our use of fabric & technologies to push the limits of what a single jacket can do,” said Jim Evans, Global Marketing Director.

Front and center in this quest is the Mythic Ultra Jacket ($475), which combines TILT technology with ultralight Pertex Quantum fabric and 900FP down. Designed to provide maximum heat in freezing temperatures, the built-in TILT technology reflects heat back towards the body, while body-mapped box walls and stitch-through baffles offer enhanced warmth around the core and mobility through the arms. “Taking our inspiration from technology used in space exploration, we created an aluminum scrim that works similarly to emergency blankets. Coating the fibers with aluminum before they are woven means the fabric maintains airflow and breathability—while reflecting the heat back towards the body with incredible efficiency,” explained Tim Fish, Brand Director.

This is all done while upholding RAB’s goal of reaching net-zero by 2030. A big part of this mission is insuring that products and materials are in use for longer. For instance, they are currently working on sending consumer donated used down from bedding, sleeping bags, and apparel to be reprocessed and recycled—an effort to prove a concept that could be executed on a larger scale someday. “We continue to explore ever more sustainable ways of meeting this need through an increased use of recycled materials, considering repair and care as well as end of life design,” added Debbie Reed Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at RAB.

Marmot WarmCube Active Alt HB, $350.

Marmot: Next Gen Temperature Regulation

Fall 2022 marks the launch of Marmot’s next-generation active insulation, WarmCube Active. A temperature-regulating insulation system, the technology is custom made for high-output activities in cold weather. Temperature regulation is the top-line story with this system, explained Marmot’s Senior Merchandising Manager, Randy Schwartz: “As you move, air circulates inside the jacket. When you stop, the insulated cubes and trapped air keep you warm.”

This technology, ideal for high-effort activities, like running, cross-country skiing and hiking on steep trails, will be offered in both the WarmCube Active Novus ($300) and the WarmCube Active Alt HB ($350). The Novus is built to replace traditional insulated midlayers by providing more consistent temperature regulation and breathability. The Alt HB seeks to be the ideal hybrid midlayer for high-output sports in winter, featuring 700 fill Down Defender in the core.

Schwartz says that the brand’s penchant for innovation goes hand-in-hand with sustainability efforts. “We are partnering with Econyl to bring recycled nylons made from upcycled fishing nets into our line,” he said. “We are committed to bringing in recycled materials anytime we update a product using virgin yarns.”

Black Diamond Recon Stretch Bib, $525.

Black Diamond: Upping the Ante

In Fall 2022, Black Diamond is looking to up the ante when it comes to products that perform across various activities. The CoEfficient LT Hybrid Hoody ($180) showcases this brand objective—the Primaloft insulated, breathable, woven front panel offers warmth, while the Polartec Power Grid fleece features superior wicking and breathability properties. “Our CoEfficient LT Hybrid program embodies lightweight warmth and features paneled zones of insulation. It can be used as an outer layer for trail runs during shoulder seasons, as a midlayer for ski dawn patrols under a snow bib, or as a helmet compatible layer for multi pitch climbs and is applicable to many other activities as well,” explained Black Diamond Equipment’s Director of Apparel, Tony Rivera.

For longer ski missions in the backcountry, Black Diamond will be launching their new Recon Pro series, which is part of their Recon Stretch Shell family. The tough, weatherproof Recon Stretch Pro Shell ($475) and Bibs ($525) are built with durability in mind, a nod to the brand’s work to enhance sustainability. “What we can do best is build product that can be handed down,” added Rivera. “The most sustainable product is one you already own and we build to ensure performance over lifespan of the garment.”

Smartwool: Lightweight Performance

Coming in 2022 from Smartwool is an all-new line of performance run socks and activewear made with their lightest merino wool yet. In Fall 2022, Smartwool’s all-new innovative midlayer Intraknit Merino Tech collection will hit the market. These garments will feature 3D-knit design and gender-specific body mapping tailor made for high-aerobic activities. And Smartwool is eliminating cut-and-sew waste through this Intraknit 3D knitting technology. “By 2030, we want 100% of our products to be made from regenerative, responsibly-sourced, renewable, or recycled materials,” said Meisinger. “We are working with wool growers signed up to the ZQRX platform – regenerative farmers who are accelerating sustainable grassroots actions, and producing wool ethically, and working to minimize their impact on the environment by protecting and enhancing soils, water and indigenous biodiversity.”

PrAna Alpine Air Hooded Jacket, $250.

prAna: Sustainable Performance Style

For Fall 2022, prAna will debut a lineup of new products that feature PrimaLoft P.U.R.E. technology. In both the Alpine Air and the Insulo collections, P.U.R.E. Black insulation reduces carbon emissions by 70-percent during the production process—equivalent to 11,000 trees worth of CO2 in a single year. “Our Alpine Air and Insulo jackets use recycled nylon shells and Primaloft P.U.R.E. together to give our customers a superior durability and sustainable warmth experience in a jacket that they can both look good and feel good about,” said prAna merchandising director, Brigham Pierce.

In addition to the use of P.U.R.E. Black insulation, the shells in the Alpine Air vests ($170), jackets ($220), and hooded jackets ($250), as well as the Insulo Stretch Hooded Jacket ($220), will be made with a bluesign approved matte finish recycled nylon ripstop fabric with PFAS-free DWR. “The Alpine Air collection and Insulo Stretch Hooded Jacket are perfect examples of effortless layering to protect from the varying elements outdoors,” added prAna design director, Andrea Cinque-Austin.

Norrøna Lyngen Gore-Tex Active Jacket, $649.

Norrøna: Premium, Mindful, Innovation

The four-season Norwegian outdoor brand Norrøna, known for its sustainably built premium outerwear, will unveil a Fall 2022 collection featuring its most innovative products to date. Expanding upon its popular lyngen and lofoten collections, Norrøna is introducing purpose-built products for big mountain freeride ski touring and mountaineering built to withstand all weather conditions.

“Skiers are pushing their limits further than ever before and requiring products with premium fabrics, quality, fit and functionality to meet their needs. In keeping with our design philosophy, loaded minimalism, the upcoming fall collection features both commercial and unique products that are optimized for protection, breathability, durability, versatility for whatever the mountains dish out,“ said U.S. sales manager, Adam Chamberlain. “With outdoor participation rates at an all-time high, we are excited to expand our product offerings across multiple collections, while simultaneously leading with a truly minimized environmental footprint for every style.”

Norrøna’s lyngen collection is engineered for functionality, breathability, weight and flexibility for ski touring. The all-new lyngen Gore-Tex Active Jacket ($649) is Norrøna’s most breathable, lightweight weatherproof jacket developed for ski touring. The front and underarm area are made with Gore-Tex Active Shakedry, a technology that eliminates the face fabric, preventing the absorption of water to maintain comfort during high-intensity activities. The hood, shoulders, upper arms, and bottom hems are built with 30D Gore-Tex Active recycled nylon fabric for ultimate breathability.

Appalachian Gear Co. All-Paca Shirt.

Appalachian Gear Company: Purpose-Built

Appalachian Gear Company co-founder John Gage says that the NC-based brand’s entry into the market in 2016 aligned with a growing consumer awareness of corporate values, processes, and designs. As part of a smaller “cottage” industry, the brand has been able to design “purpose-built” products, rather than one-size-fits-all. “We are seeing that experienced and new outdoor adventure enthusiasts are looking for companies that mirror their values. That includes a growing concern for sustainability because of the significant increase in awareness of microplastics, as well as human rights issues associated with some of the emerging global economies,” he said.

Case in point: In 2022 App Gear Co. will re-introduce a new and improved version of the lightweight All-Paca Shirt ($90), which launched the brand in 2016. Featuring a 180 gsm breathable jersey fabric designed for maximum stretch, recovery, and durability, the shirts feature super-soft Royal Alpaca fibers to make a tee that stands out from the competition. “Our new lightweight jersey fabrics will reflect our increasing knowledge of how to make great products with natural fibers,” said Gage.