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An Outdoor Guy’s Guide to Lifestyle Brands That Resonate

Not all brands get it wrong. Creative director Paul Lackner tells us which outdoor and lifestyle brands have the best performance, style and marketing.

There has been a lot of brand bashing about companies that just don’t get it when it comes to people like us. Who does get it right? We asked long-time creative director Paul Lackner which companies and brands he thought were getting it right.

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For the past 20 years, I have been a creative director with a focus on outdoor and lifestyle brands, and I am intimately familiar with the passion and loyalty a brand can provoke when it makes a genuine connection with an audience. As a race, we tend to be tribal by nature, and this relationship with the brand and its community can be comforting and transformative.

Where Are the Best Places to Shop?

This time of year, my digital and analog mailboxes are stuffed with clothing and gear catalogs. It can be baffling. Where to shop and what brand to trust can be an anxiety-provoking exercise. On the plus side, we have never had so many choices.

With all this static, where are the best places to shop? Below, I have hand culled some of my favorites. My preferences are quality, value, timelessness and a “connection” with a brand. These brands get plus points for being inclusive in targeting their audience.

The Basics (Jeans, Pants and Shirts)

Buck Mason
Nobody gets the basics better, especially for the price. The line is always growing, and it’s all good.

Raleigh Denim Workshop
A little pricier, but these are the best jeans I have ever owned.

There are so many choices when it comes to denim, and you should also check out Imogene + Willie, Hiut Denim and, of course, Levi’s 501 Originals and Vintage.

All-Around

Faherty
Family-run surf-culture brand with high core values. Brighter “beach” aesthetics. Fun.

Taylor Stitch
Responsible, Northern California-based classic men’s clothing brand.

Workwear

Filson
Timeless classics whose style and fabrics are as good as it gets and can last, in some cases, for multiple generations.

Carhartt
In the field or on the town, no one does affordable workwear better than Carhartt does, and they are made to last. Not fashionable enough for you? Check out their Work In Progress (Carhartt WIP) division.

Outdoor Lifestyle

Filson
Here they are again with endearing hand-me-down-worthy classics for the hunt and fish crowd. Their fishing gear will make you feel like Hemingway on the Big Two-Hearted. 

Patagonia
Iconic and progressive, you really can’t go wrong here. Just about every outdoor adventure is covered, and the brand ethos is second to none.

Narrona

Norrøna
Shameless plug for a former client but, the fact is, no one gets outdoor clothing like these Norwegians. If you are in NYC, check out their new SoHo flagship store. 

Rapha
If you are into cycling, nothing compares. 

Best Made Company
Exclusive collection of classic adventure and camp gear and men’s clothing. Need an amazing axe? They got you covered. 

One-Stop Shop

Finally, here are a couple of excellent options for those that want a one-stop shop.

Huckberry
A fantastic collection of great brands. A real cornucopia for the modern man. 

Backcountry
An astonishing array of global outdoor gear and clothing brands. 

Shopping these brands can be an addictive experience. But keep in mind that shopping in the shoulder seasons, you can find some excellent deals. Regardless, the value here is in their timeless style, durable fabrics and inclusive brand experience that makes you feel good all year round, and last a long, long time.

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