I may dirt bag in the outdoors, but that is more out of practicality more so than making a statement.
Outdoor gear gets dirty, trashed, and destroyed. With some pieces of gear, such as a good quality sleeping bag (or quilt) or a winter rated down coat, it makes absolute sense to buy the absolute best I can afford.
On the other hand, my $10 fleece pullover from Sports Authority or my $5 fleece beanie seems to work the same as the more well-known and expensive clothing from other companies.
However, for daily wear, I don’t mind spending the money for something that will both last and look good.
I must admit my tastes run to the conservative. I enjoy “classic” pieces that would not look too out-of-place in 2014, 1994 or 1974. A three-button wool sweater with jeans seems to have stood the test of time. The Z Cavaricci pants popular among my generation and ethnic and cultural background? Er..not so much. 😉
What this means for winter wear, I don’t personally get with the trend of wearing shiny puffy jackets that look like a cross between something out of the Jetsons and the Michelin Tire Man when I get the groceries.
For the backcountry? They are light and warm and make a lot of sense.
However, for everyday life, I want something warm obviously. But something that will look good be it going to work or a night out with Mrs Mag. And won’t look “so mid-2010s” in a few short years. And, oh, will last.
In 2004, I turned 30. Dad was in town to help celebrate this milestone birthday with some friends of mine.
This venerable Seattle clothier has been in business over a hundred years and I suspect they will be around for a while yet.
Knowing the history and quality of the clothing, I checked out the display. The double mackinaw cruiser caught my eye. Heavy wool with a tight weave that could block wind, repel snow and be blissfully warm in very cold conditions. And looks good, too. The original soft shell.
Then I saw the price. $300+. Ouch. I could not justify or afford the price at the time.
However, Dad insisted on buying it for me for my birthday. An incredible gift for my 30th birthday.
Somewhat resembling a classic navy pea coat, the “double Mack” has a bit of an angular cut and is a little more distinct. I’ve received a fair amount of complements on it over the years.
With the exception of some very slight wear at the cuffs, the coat looks like it did back in 2004.
Couple the coat with a scarf and a sweater and I have been very comfortable in the coldest weather with this jacket. Snow brushes off easily and the wind is blocked (at least with a sweater and scarf underneath). I was very warm in the damp and cold weather of Central Europe when I visited a past partner’ family in Germany one Christmas as well. I don’t think a down puffy would have done so well.
Why I still use this gear: The design of the double-Mack may go back to the 1914..but it is a design that still works well. I doubt I’ll ever use this type of coat for my outdoor activity, but I know some hunters swear by it. However for everyday life, I am warm and wearing a classic piece of clothing that will probably still look good ten years from now both in terms of fashion and overall condition.
Would I recommend buying it?: This coat, at over $400 in 2014 dollars, is undeniably expensive. It is too bulky and heavy for most outdoor use. But for a classic piece of clothing that will last a LONG time, it is worth buying. Again, I would not be surprised if I am celebrating my 50th birthday with this coat still looking good.
As for the price, consider an iPad Mini can cost almost $400 and will be obsolete within four years at the most. Or a modern, winter weight puffy, can cost $300+ and will not last as long if bought for everyday use. And, as with most fad-ish clothing, it will be dated within a decade or so.
Don’t think so? I present the 1980s ski clothing!