Sure, you work in the city, but you’re not the buttoned-down, three-piece suit type, at least if you’re like me you’re not. I do own a few ties and maybe a jacket, but those are reserved for funerals and marriages, when I’m forced to attend such a function. That means, when I head to the office, I’m enjoying some of the widely available trail to city gear that so many outdoors companies have been designing over the last few years. Here’s a gift guide for the commuter in your life that will take him/her to the office with outdoorsy cred intact. Quick reviews for each item include whether or not a woman’s version exists (as necessary).
I’m not a fan of plastic bottles, especially the single use that pretty ubiqitous nowadays. REPREVE is a brand of recycled fiber that is made from recycled materials, including used plastic bottles. You probably won’t be able to find the REPREVE Winter Beanie in stores (we got it at The North Face Endurance Challenge California), but REPREVE is used by a bunch of brands like Adidas, Mammut, Cabela’s, Black Diamond, Outdoor Research, LLBean, Arc’teryx, and more. Look for the REPREVE logo and know you’re buying a quality product that is also helping keep those nasty bottles out of our landfills – this winter beanie used 6 bottles, that’s amazing!
Red Ace Organics make concentrated beet juice drinks – 3 beets per 2 fluid oz. (60ml) bottle. Depending on the result you want, they are available in original (long lasting energy), Organic Beets With Turmeric (quick recovery), and Organic Beets With Greens (cleansing and detoxification) – all the flavors are tasty, and they all had a noticeable effect, at least in my case. I would definitely recommend packing these rather than using soda, coffee, or sugar-filled energy drinks to make the day go more pleasantly. These drinks were a lifesaver for me on my hike with Missouri Howell and, I believe, were the only reason I could finish our hike as strongly as I did.
The Kelty Versant Backpack (MSRP $79.95) is a 25 liter backpack is a well-designed commuter bag with mostly plusses. From the interior laptop/tablet sleeve to the multiple zip pockets on the front and underside of top lid, this is a bag that’s easy t o get organized with and comfortable to carry to and from work. In my opinion, only the water bottle pockets miss the mark, at least for the bottles and mugs I carry. One innovative touch is a zipper across the top of the main compartment that allows access without opening the front flap – nicely done. This is only water-resistant fabric, so it’s not ideal for variable weather days, but in general it’s seen heavy rotation amongst my options. Various members of the family have used it as a weekender – on the small side, it works perfectly for those of us who pack lighter. The Versant works across a wide range of body sizes, so is appropriate for both men and women commuters.
L.L. Bean Men’s Cresta Hiking Pants, Lined (MSRP $89.00): Made from a water-repellent, abrasion-resistant 96% nylon, 4% spandex blend fabric, these pants are lined with bulk-free, microgrid fleece for warmth. The fabric has a two-way vertical stretch for range of motion – I’ve worn these pants rock climbing, so I know they’re both comfortable and tough. One of the best thing is the range of comfort, temperature-wise; I travelled to work one day in negative windchill temps, but was still comfortable all day in a warm office. Well done LL Bean. The only caveat is that these pants are definitely on the casual side of Business Casual – not everyone will be able to get away with these in an office situation. More’s the pity. While the Women’s Cresta doesn’t come as a lined version, check out alternatives in the Comfort Trail Pants, Lined or Vista Trekking Pants, Lined.
Part of the Merrell 1981 Waitsfield collection, the Sugarbush Waterproof boots (MSRP $230.00) feature Full grain waterproof leather upper, a traditional lace closure, Vibram® outsole for traction and durability, and a breathable lining treated with M Select™ FRESH antimicrobial agents to reduce odor. I happen to think that these are a great combination of classic and appropriate design on top, with a killer sole that will last indefinitely and keep you safe on slick surfaces. Merrell included beige laces for those who are less fashion-forward, but I love the pep of the blue. The women’s Sugarbush Waterproof boots also come in 3 colors, same features, and an equally timeless design.
If your commuter is not happy with any of these fine products, I’d be very surprised. I recommend them all after much use – each item performs as needed and looks great to boot.
*Some of these items were provided for editorial purposes – all opinions are my own.