I am a clothing geek. Clothing selection is critical to having a safe, pleasant experience in the outdoors. When you are not in a waterproof, climate-controlled, bug-free environment, your clothes become the primary interface between you and the elements. I have been learning a lot about clothing over the past couple of years and continue to refine our systems as we spend more time outside.
Finding the right clothes at the right price for a family of five can prove challenging at times. One little secret we use was outlined in a guest post I wrote a few months ago here. Another approach I have started to experiment with lately is to make some of the clothes myself, my latest project being a windbreaker for our youngest daughter.
This jacket pattern came from the Sandpiper Wind & Rain Suit made by The Green Pepper. The fabric used was the 1.1 oz nylon ripstop from Thru-Hiker. The only modification I made to the pattern was to not do the front pocket. In the future I also think I would change the hood a little so that it has less of a beak, and make it a full-zip instead of a velcro pull-over. In the end, we got exactly what we wanted: a highly breathable, light-weight, water-resistant windbreaker at a good price, in the right size, in the color of her choice. It was a win-win situation for everyone!
In case you might be interested in attempting to make some outdoor clothing (or gear) of your own, here are some great online resources that I have found:
- Outdoor Wilderness Fabrics has a good selection of outdoor fabrics, notions, and patterns
- Thru-Hiker has a limited selection of very specialized patterns, fabrics, notions, and kits for making clothing and gear for long-distance hikers. This site has a wealth of information on sewing techniques and also has a forum that is very helpful for sewing newbies.
- The Rainshed has a wide variety of patterns, fabrics, and notions for all kinds of outdoor pursuits
- Rockywoods Outdoor Fabrics has a great selection of outdoor fabrics
- Shelby Extreme Materials & Gear is a European site that carries a selection of patterns and high-tech (expensive) fabrics not easily found anywhere else
- The Green Pepper is a company that makes outdoor clothing patterns for both adults and kids
- Controlled Exposure is another company that makes outdoor clothing and gear patterns
- BackpackingLight has several articles on how to make your own gear. The forums also have a MYOG (Make Yor Own Gear) section with all kinds of really interesting discussions on cool projects people are working on. Great inspiration can be found throughout this site. I am always amazed at what people are doing: making their own tents, down-filled sleeping bags, backpacks, etc.