The best women's gear news and reviews
Well, here it is! The first issue of Dawn Patrol. Below you'll find a mix of reviews, deals, and gear we love. Plus, a story from assistant editor Ariella Gintzler that gets at the heart of the question: What’s with all the pink, ill-fitting gear?
But before all that, an important note from everyone behind Dawn Patrol: since launch, we’ve received an overwhelming amount of feedback—some positive, some critical, all very appreciated. Much of the latter centered on the same question: Why should women have to pay for gear reviews when guys get them for free?
Our answer: Dawn Patrol is not designed to replace any of Outside’s women’s gear coverage, which we’re ramping up—across all our platforms—so it’s equal in volume and quality to the men’s gear coverage. (Read more details in this story). We know we still have work to do on this front, but know it's a priority for everyone at this magazine.
This newsletter is designed to provide additional, exclusive content to subscribers. It’s a membership with added perks—special gear deals, free product giveaways, behind-the-scenes stories, and direct access to Outside editors. We don't have something like this for the dudes simply because we wanted to prioritize our women gearheads.
We realize this membership isn’t for everyone, but we want to make it as good as possible, and that means listening to all reader feedback. So keep us posted on what you do and don't like, and feel free to email us any and all feedback at this address. We’re replying to every note we receive. Finally, don't forget to spread the word about this newsletter. (While you’re at it, take a look and consider signing up for our other ones, too.)
What we’re testing this week
We polled our staff on new gear they’re running, skiing, and climbing in right now. Have a question? Want to know more? Shoot us a note and we'll respond personally to you.
Oiselle Ballard Bra: Oiselle's new sports bra is basically a dream come true for me. I've remained loyal to a certain model of Nike sports bra for years, but this one somehow manages to be more comfortable and more supportive while also looking better. Don't be fooled by those small-looking straps—I've done marathon-training long runs in this bra, and it's the real deal. —Molly Mirhashem, associate editor
Giro Facet Snow Goggles: My vision has stayed crystal clear every weekend this winter, thanks to the anti-fog coating on these bad boys. The fit keeps them perfectly flush against my face, and I never have to tinker with them when I'm on the mountain. Plus, the rose gold shimmer gets me lots of compliments! —Jenny Earnest, social media manager
The North Face Summit L3 Ventrix Hoody: I've been wearing this jacket nearly 24/7, from the climbing gym to chilly sunrise runs. It incorporates TNF’s new Ventrix technology via insulation in the torso (which offers both breathability and warmth), while the sleeves are made of a stretchy fleece that allows for movement. The hood fits under a helmet and the pockets work with a harness or backpack. —Anna Callaghan, contributor
Kari Traa Louise Tights: I’ve logged about 50 miles in these pants so far, and I love their snug fit, colorful design, and elastic waist draw that keeps them over my hips—even on long runs. The back zipper pocket is just big enough to hold my house key. —Abigail Wise, online managing editor
Gear we love
Outside editors Marie Sullivan and Abigail Wise spent the weekend climbing at Diablo Canyon, the local crag. Here’s Abigail’s go-to gear:
La Sportiva Mythos climbing shoes (for comfort) ($145)
La Sportiva Miura VS climbing shoes (for harder sends) ($175)
Sterling Evolution Velocity 9.8mm climbing rope (from $200)
Salewa Firetail 3 approach shoes (on sale for $80)
Petzl Bolsa rope bag ($40)
Mammut Contact slings (from $9)
You asked, brands answered
Why does so much women’s gear fit poorly? And why the pastels, please? Here’s how four major brands answered.
Women’s gear has come a long way since the pre-sports-bra days. Brands are putting more time into developing products specifically for women, and there are more women-owned gear companies than ever before.
But there are still plenty of products that are, shall we say, far from perfect. Last month, we put out a question on social media: What do our women readers hate most about women’s gear? Unsurprisingly, most of your answers revolved around two key frustrations: fit and color.
Why do brands keep producing women’s gear in so many shades of pink, purple, and turquoise? And why can’t women of all shapes and sizes find technical apparel that fits? To find out, we went straight to the source, and asked four outdoor makers how they design their women’s stuff.
First up, fit.
Here’s what Kim Stanford, technical design manager at Outdoor Research had to say.
Outdoor Research designs its apparel on what it calls a “modified curvy body shape.” “We believe that the modified curvy shape is exemplified by a body with well-developed core and thigh musculature,” says Stanford. “We understand that athletic women come in all shapes and sizes, but we have to put a stake in the ground somewhere on fit.”
That “modified curvy” shape is the one the team believes works best for the widest range of women. Outdoor Research has a single fit model for men’s apparel, too: the “rectangular” body shape.
The North Face takes a similar one-model-fits-all approach.
The TNF fit model “is a size medium that falls within the demographic of a global average,” says Keryn Francisco, creative director. “We know that for women, comfort is key. All of our fits and details are engineered to give women the most flattering and easy experience possible, such as soft, adjustable waistbands.”
Patagonia didn’t specify what body type it models its apparel for, though a spokesperson from the design team explained that they work closely with their pro athlete and field-testing teams.
Designers pay close attention to “how products will fit on a climber’s body versus a skier’s body,” says the spokesperson. “Fit is an incredibly complex issue, and women are much harder to please than men, so it’s one of our greatest challenges.”
But for others, like Cassie Abel, co-founder of women’s-first outdoor apparel company Wild Rye, the question of how to design clothes for active women is actually pretty straightforward.
“Athletic women have sturdy thighs and bigger butts,” Abel says.
Now let’s address those bright, pastel colors.
Two weeks ago, we shared a review of the new DPS Yvette skis, and dozens took to the comments on social media to voice their displeasure at the fact that the skis were hot pink. DPS spokesman Alex Hunt points out that DPS is known for single-color top sheets. And:
“Feminine colors naturally find their way onto our women’s skis,” he says.
Patagonia didn’t talk gender when we asked them about color choices. Instead, the spokesperson said design teams source colors from the environment.
For Patagonia, the selection process starts with a trip outside—this year, the team visited national monuments—where designers drew inspiration from the colors they find in nature, the spokesperson said.
TNF said basically the same thing.
“We love colors that evoke the outdoors or nature so you can have a seamless experience when you take your products outside,” says Francisco.
Finally, our conversation with Outdoor Research begged the question: maybe women (gasp!) really do prefer pink?
“Traditionally these kinds of [bright, pastel] colors have sold well in women’s apparel,” says Kylene Wolfe, sportswear product manager for Outdoor Research.
Of course, we have to take that with a grain of salt. None of the brands shared sales data.
Abel is a fan of pink and turquoise. But she recognizes that not all women are. So Wild Rye takes its cues from the fashion runways and goes for muted tones.
“In fashion,” she says, “not all women's clothes are pink.”
Our favorite gear at a great price
Gregory Deva 60 Pack ($150)
Show us your gear shed
Whether your gear’s stored in a designated closet, taking over your garage, or tossed into the back of your truck, we want to see it. Shoot an email to email@example.com with a photo of your helmets, draws, and bikes in all of their glory for a chance to be featured in the next issue of Dawn Patrol.