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Andy Kirkpatrick



The clothing we use can be divided up between performance, utilitarian, and ceremonial. Think a suit of Samurai armour, a sackcloth smock, and a cape made from fox teeth, or a pair of Patagonia guide pants, a pair of Walmart Dickies work trousers (made in a sweatshop), and a pair of Hiutdenim organic jeans (not made in a sweatshop, but Cardigan, Wales). This is an important idea to hold in your head when buying gear, in that you need to ask what kind of clothing you’re looking at, as the market is awash with ‘outdoor’ clothing when 95% of it is actually utilitarian clothing, uniform, lifestyle etc.

Yes, a fleece is a fleece, but a big baggy fleece, covered in patches, badges, so it looks hardcore, will be outclassed by a close-fitting hooded power-stretch top, long in the body, with thumb loops etc. Put it this way, think about the kind of outdoor crap you get bought by relations at Xmas, like a pair of fleece socks with a torch built in, compared to what you’d buy yourself. Where this is important is it’s worth identifying what brands best serve you and your sport, and to support them, as many big brands - in a way - are like a big growth (literally!), that has grown so big from their once specialist host, it might as well be selling branded fitted kitchens (they are not what they were, only the logo remains). Yes, such brands employ shop dummies who demonstrate they’re an outdoor brand, but really, that part of the business is marketing,

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