Every good outdoor adventure needs good outdoor clothing
New Zealand is famed far and wide for our active adventure activities and wide open spaces. People travel from all over the world to hike our picturesque walking tracks, kayak around our unspoilt coasts, go camping at some of the most stunning spots in the country, and take photos of the kinds of scenery you see in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. And since we’re experts in the outdoors, it makes sense that we’re experts in producing clothing for the outdoors too. Here are our top five outdoor clothing brands from New Zealand, perfect for active people far and wide.
Earth Sea Sky
Earth Sea Sky started life as a small family-owned business that produced the first down-filled sleeping bags in the Southern Hemisphere, perfect for camping, sports, climbing and adventuring. When the founders teamed up with a clothing designer, Earth Sea Sky evolved into an outdoor clothing specialist, introducing designs and colours that linked function and performance with great fit, attention to detail and fashion. Their first range of 20 garments included tramping jackets, oilskins, waterproof ski wear, 60/40 anorak windshells and Polartec thermal fleeces perfect for all manner of active outdoor activities, including camping, hunting, climbing and trekking. While many New Zealand outdoor clothing brands have taken their production offshore, Earth Sea Sky remains 100% New Zealand-made. Fabrics are sourced from the finest fabric mills in the world then brought back to their factories in Dunedin, Christchurch, Hastings and Nelson and turned into clothing that’s suitable for anything from multi-sport racing and mountain adventuring, to travelling and the daily commute.
What started out as a small business making tramping packs in the back of a Christchurch garage has developed into one of the world’s most trusted and respected outdoor adventure brands. In the beginning macpac was all about making better backpacks that were practical, authentic and would last the distance in New Zealand’s rugged, unforgiving terrain. These days macpac produces so much more than just packs, with a high quality, durable, adaptable clothing line suitable for anyone who wants to make the most of the outdoors. Macpac’s clothing works for everyone from city commuters to dog walkers to travellers right through to adventurers climbing the planet’s highest peaks. New Zealand-made Macpac products are now sold in more than 30 countries around the world.
Ridgeline of New Zealand
Hunting isn’t your average outdoor activity, which is why Ridgeline of New Zealand specialises in producing the highest quality outdoor clothing especially for hunters. A market leader in the Australasian hunting clothing scene, Ridgeline creates comfortable durable performance outdoor clothing that’s also affordable. With grass roots in the rugged New Zealand mountains, Ridgeline has developed a specialist range of fabrics to suit just about any challenge your environment can throw at you. Focusing on warmth, comfort, durability and functionality, Ridgeline is a market leader and the first choice for many hunting and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Today the Ridgeline team is broadening their horizons by sending their New Zealand-made products into Southern Africa and Western Europe too.
We all know that New Zealand is home to a lot of sheep. Kiwis are mocked ruthlessly for it. But sheep lovin’ has come in handy for Icebreaker, one of New Zealand’s most well-known merino wool-based outdoor brands. Icebreaker creates outdoor clothing brands from New Zealand-grown merino wool, tried and tested by sheep that deal with the harsh summers and freezing winters on the rugged Southern Alps. New Zealand produces the longest, strongest, purest, whitest merino wool on the planet, which means it’s more durable, stays softer for longer and is less likely to pill. Clothing made from merino wool is an excellent alternative to man-made synthetic alternatives because it takes the best bits from nature and works them into a product that humans love too. Icebreaker’s merino wool combines traditional wool, synthetics and cotton to produce clothing that is soft and non-itchy, is warm in the cold and cool in the heat, breathable and non-stinky – perfect for sports. And the best bit? Icebreaker has a deep commitment to animal welfare, the welfare of the people who work with them, and the environment. Their Baacode trackability programme lets you trace the merino wool in your garment right back to the source. You can see the living conditions of the sheep, meet the growers who raised them, and follow the production process through to the finished garment.
Most well-known for their black puffer jackets that just about every Aucklander owns, Kathmandu is one of New Zealand’s most loved outdoor clothing, camping, climbing, sporting and all-round adventure brands. In the mid-eighties the Kathmandu adventure began with a mission to use light and quick-drying materials such as fleece and thermals to make outdoor adventure less about lugging heavy packs and stiff boots up mountain and down valley, and more about comfort, freedom and accessibility. Today Kathmandu produces high quality, versatile, comfortable, safe and technically superior outdoor and sports clothing that makes New Zealand’s great outdoors more accessible to everyone. Every product is extensively researched, designed and developed by Kathmandu’s inhouse specialist design teams, and put through rigorous international testing before they make it to the clothing racks. Kathmandu stores are found throughout New Zealand and Australia (plus two stores in the UK), as well as online.
Don’t forget about our national sport…
An honourable mention needs to go to Canterbury, the stuff rugby shirts all over the world are made of. Established way back in 1904 by three English expats who quickly became classic Kiwi blokes, Canterbury produced New Zealand-made tough woollen garments perfect for the outdoors. When the New Zealand and Australian armies needed gear for World War I, Canterbury was called upon to create hard-wearing kits suitable for the blistering heat of the Mediterranean. These days Canterbury is most famous for putting the shirts on the backs of the All Blacks and other sports codes. They don’t just make any old shirt, though. The product development team at Canterbury analyses the fast-paced and ever-changing rugby game and designs game-wear that is highly-technical, innovative and ever-evolving – something the All Blacks need to stay at the top of their game.