Over the past few months, our team has been putting outdoor clothing to the test. From thermal tops and waterproof boots, to backpacks and suncream - we’ve been trying everything we can to make your next outdoor purchase that little bit simpler.
Our dedicated journalists have tried and tested everything on this list - and we really mean that. We’ve worn this stuff in sub-zero conditions on the Greenland ice sheet, up mountains in Switzerland, and hiking the Yorkshire Dales - making sure the quality is there.
Sustainability is of the utmost importance to us, so we only want to recommend products we think will stand the test of time.
So here is our ultimate guide to outdoor clothing (and some accessories) to keep you warm, dry and stylish this winter - and hopefully for many more!
The best outdoor items money can buy
These are the items that really stood out to us, through their quality, style, comfort and practicality. That’s not to say everything else on this list is lacking - anything we’ve highlighted in this article we believe in - but these few pieces were particularly impressive.
Barrage Jacket by Original Mountain Marathon (OMM)
This was an absolute standout for us. It feels almost like a very light sleeping bag (which was particularly handy for one of our team who slept in it while camping in the Arctic Circle).
It’s very lightweight, making it perfect for runners - while still being durable enough to handle even the toughest conditions. Made of 35 per cent recycled content, while still being waterproof and windproof - the Barrage Jacket ticks a lot of boxes for us.
Even better, OMM is keen to ensure the longevity of its products - so offers advice on both protecting and repairing your kit, helping reduce overconsumption and minimise waste.
There’s a men’s and women’s version of the Barrage - but the sizes do run quite small, so we recommend sizing up if you’re unsure. Alternatively, OMM has a really friendly team who know their stuff and are worth contacting for guidance.
Chamlang Fleece Pullover by Sherpa Adventure Gear
No outdoor holiday or hiking trip would be complete without a good thermal fleece.
And to say we love Sherpa’s fleeces would be an understatement. We actually put the Lhasa Zip Fleece to the test (...and may well be wearing it right now as we write this) - but it’s currently out of stock.
The Chamlang, we’ve been assured, is a very similar alternative - and Sherpa has a fair few other varieties of fleece.
Lots of their products, including the Lhasa, are made from recycled plastic - and for every item sold, money goes towards funding education for children in Nepal.
Like a lot of companies right now, Sherpa is dealing with some supply issues related to COVID-19 - so you can’t order directly from their European website until next year. The US site is still working for our readers across the pond though.
Fortunately, their products are stocked elsewhere in Europe, meaning you can still get your hands on a much-needed fleece before winter comes.
Women’s Skinny Outdoor Trousers by ACAI
If you’re anything like us, the words “hiking trousers” sends shivers down your spine. Immediately images of terribly unsexy - and absolutely shapeless - plastic-feeling trousers spring to mind.
Imagine our delight when we discovered ACAI’s outdoor trousers.
You may well have come across these guys on Facebook or Instagram, as they have a strong presence on social media - which makes sense given ACAI has managed to make outdoor trousers finally look cool.
Both pairs fit beautifully and look great - but more importantly, can withstand seriously tough weather conditions.
The Aventurite trousers are all-season, so are perfect in colder conditions. For those of you who always opt for leggings over trousers, these will be the pair that convince you otherwise. They’re high-waisted, seriously stretchy and made from recycled materials.
The Max trousers are very similar, just a lighter fit - which makes them best for warmer days.
We particularly love that ACAI has much more inclusive sizing than most activewear brands, catering up to a women’s UK22 (EU50).
The Weekend Boot by Alice + Whittles
Another brand that knows how to use social media beautifully is Alice + Whittles. Their boots were an absolute revelation to us, after we discovered them on Instagram.
Made from repurposed marine plastic collected by fishermen around the world, the Weekend Boots are vegan and 98 per cent free from virgin plastic.
What we loved about these shoes is that you can just as easily wear them to hike up a mountain as you can to brunch in a city. And we’ve done just that.
If you’re looking for boots to wear in seriously extreme climates, take a look further down this article - but for most conditions the Weekend Boots are perfect.
Plus the team at Alice + Whittles are a dream to deal with and so helpful with any questions we had.
Drax Down Gilet by TOG24
This is something one of our journalists has owned for years and genuinely won’t stop talking about.
She loves it so much that when she lost it in a house move for a few months, she bought a second (and therefore immediately rediscovered the first) and now just happily owns two identical gilets.
Gilets are definitely an oft-underrated piece of kit - but they are a must for any outdoor trip.
This particular one from TOG24, a British brand founded in Yorkshire, is especially great. We’ve worn it in the Himalayas, the Alps, Snowdonia, the Arctic Circle and everywhere in between - and it’s just so reliable.
We love that it’s super lightweight, adding warmth without any bulk. It’s easy to chuck into any bag and have with you in an emergency.
The best jackets and thermals
The Approach Jacket by Canada Goose
Canada Goose is so iconic as a brand, that it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking it can’t live up to your expectations - especially when you consider how expensive its products can be (some of their parkas cost over €1,500).
The Approach Jacket is mid-range for Canada Goose in terms of price at £750 (€888). But it’s easy to see why.
Unbelievably comfortable and warm, this jacket met all our requirements - withstanding even -20C windchill with ease. We love the range of colours, and it looks just as good nipping out to walk the dog as it does standing on a glacier.
It’s one of those items that will last forever, with the right care - and you’d hope so at that price!
Anvil Women’s Jacket by TOG24
For a cheaper alternative to Canada Goose, we also loved this jacket from TOG24.
Designed for skiing, it has an eco-friendly filling - and we found it perfect for a breezy hike in the Peak District, but it also holds up well in the snow and ice.
The World’s Warmest Baselayer by Zerofit
We love a product with a bold name, and Zerofit is certainly making a bold claim with its ‘World’s Warmest Baselayer’.
We can’t guarantee it’s the warmest in the entire world, but we’d be hard-pressed to think of one that’s warmer. At first, we were slightly concerned it would be itchy, but we were pleasantly surprised by just how comfortable it was.
It comes in a range of sizes and is unisex - although we’d say it’s probably a slightly better fit for men than women.
Zip Fleece by The North Face
Now synonymous with outdoor kit, The North Face is an obvious brand when thinking about warm layers.
Reliable, well-priced, and with plenty of options - we like the variety and quality North Face offers.
If you find yourself overwhelmed by choice though, we recommend contacting a smaller supplier who can help you find exactly what you need.
Simply Hike supported our team when planning a trip to the Arctic Circle, making sure we had exactly the right layers for the climate we were going to face.
Baselayer from BAM Bamboo Clothing
We tried a few things in BAM’s range - and we are absolutely hooked. Made from environementally friendly materials (bamboo, unsurprisingly given the brand’s name!) - we love how comfortable the clothes are, and how much better for the planet they are than many alternatives.
The baselayer was fully tried and tested in Greenland, which was particularly fitting given that’s where the brand’s founder was when he decided to start the company.
We also tried BAM’s leggings, t-shirts (a new fav), neckwarmer, underwear and socks - and nothing has let us down so far.
The sales are also excellent, so you can guarantee you’re getting a real bargain, while also picking up a product that should last for a really long time.
The best outdoor trousers
Chilkoot Trousers by Alpkit
One of our journalists put these to the test in the Swiss Alps and was blown away by the quality - especially the Chilkoots. Unlike a lot of outdoor clothes, they are really soft and comfortable, while also allowing for a full range of movement.
Fortunately the weather held up enough for her in Switzerland, so she didn’t need to try the Parallax pair in the rain - but they were light enough to bring with her on day trips, just in case.
Alpkit also ticks a lot of our boxes in terms of sustainability, as it’s B-Corp certified and they offer repairs for any product (from any brand!) either instore in via the post in an effort to cut down waste.
Aster High Rise Trousers by 3rd Rock
These trousers are technically made for rock climbers, but what this really means is they are super durable and stretchy.
While we didn’t put these to the test on any actual rocks, we did use them for some intense hikes - and they are really comfortable.
The Asters come in a conventional charcoal design and a slightly bolder green - but our favourites are definitely the jazzy blue and pink variety for some proper 90s nostalgia.
The best walking shoes and boots
Cloudventure & Cloudrock by On
The Cloudventures had a difficult challenge, as one of our reporters wore them to walk on a glacier, in the freezing rain, at 1am. She was one of the only people in her group to remain upright - so that’s certainly a plus!
As far as trail running shoes go, the Cloudventures feel sturdy and solid enough to trust on slippy ground, while being comfortable enough to wear straight away.
The Cloudrock Edge boots we found equally great - with the added bonus of being made from recycled materials and undyed fabric. It’s rare to find truly sustainable boots that are made with serious and challenging hiking in mind.
The sizing at On is a little varied, but we found their website (and customer service team) really thorough in making sure we had the perfect fit.
Ingleborough Vibram Waterproof Boots by TOG24
These boots are designed with the Lake District peaks in mind. With a more traditional look and feel than others on this list, the Ingleboroughs aren’t necessarily the coolest shoes - but they are incredibly reliable and will be good to wear year after year.
They are significantly cheaper than flashy alternatives like Timberlands, but far more comfortable and great to walk in.
While you may want a lighter shoe if you’re going for speed records, the Ingleboroughs are what you need for peace of mind when tackling tricky terrain.
Our journalist actually went a size up on these, pairing them with really thick socks. This turned out to be a lifesaver after a different brand she tried left her with nasty blisters.
Vegan Hiking Boots by Will’s Vegan Store
Although there is a growing market for vegan footwear - it’s still hard to find proper hiking boots that tick this box. That’s why we were so delighted by these waterproof boots from Will’s Vegan Store.
They are super comfortable - and fit larger feet well too - plus they arrived in plastic-free packaging and a free shoe horn too.
To make things better, when you’re done with these boots (hopefully in many, many years’ time) you can even recycle them! Will’s Vegan Store offers a recycling service when products reach the end of their life, helping close the loop.
The best bags for hiking
PhotoSport Outdoor Backpack by Lowepro
If you’re someone who likes to hike with camera equipment - this is for you. Complete with an integrated, removable camera insert - this backpack is perfect for a day hike with your DSLR and an extra lens.
As journalists, we found this particularly useful - as lugging camera equipment around with us can be a real pain (not to mention the fear of damaging a lens).
There are multiple size options too, so if you’re someone who likes to bring a lot with you - we definitely recommend something bigger than the 15L option we tried.
Classic 25 Pack by OMM
This is a classic for a reason. It was first developed in 1973 - and has continued to get better from there.
It’s unbelievably lightweight, which is important for anyone looking to wear this during a race, while still being very comfortable to wear.
While this back is designed for ultramarathons like the Marathon de Sables, we found it perfect as a day pack too. There’s a good range of colours too (we went for pink - which is apparently quite popular), so you have a few options to choose from.
Plus - for those with bad backs who sometimes struggle with backpacks, the straps made it a really comfortable wear.
The Roll Top by Stubble & Co
A chicer option than the more practical alternatives on this list, this bag is a great all-rounder. It works for travelling, hiking, or taking to a fancy café.
But don’t let its stylishness convince you that it’s not practical; the Roll Top is completely waterproof with reflective shoulder straps - and a 20-litre capacity.
We also like how timeless it is, meaning it shouldn’t ever go out of style - which is better for your wallet (and the planet) long-term.
The best accessories
Socks by Hexxee
Described as ‘the World’s funkiest socks’, Hexxee produces an enormous range of products. We can’t verify their claim officially, but we’d certainly be hard-pressed to find a bigger variety of designs.
Sometimes with brands that go heavy on the choice, the quality suffers - but not with these socks. We tried a couple of pairs and they’ve become fast favourites.
Our favourites are the Fresh Prince 2Stripe, because who doesn’t love a bold pattern?
Sunglasses by Sungod
If you want polarised, high-performance sunglasses for a range of activities without a hefty price tag - these are the ones for you. You can customise every pair, and the frames come with a lifetime guarantee.
As a bonus, the company is about to become B-Corp certified and have an impressive carbon offsetting programme too.