Stuff Galore

Seattle’s Outdoor Gear Hall of Fame

The things we’ve had—and are keeping—forever.

By Allison Williams May 7, 2024

What do you get when you build a city out of engineers and outdoorspeople? A thriving gear scene, with some of the best inventors around turning their attention to making playing outside more fun. Here are our proven outdoor essentials.

Swallow UL 30 Sleeping Bag

Feathered Friends, $569

Perhaps the most hometown of the city’s makers, Feathered Friends stitches almost all its jackets and sleeping bags in a SoDo factory and has outfitted countless high alpine and arctic expeditions. The Swallow UL 30, one of its most popular bags and puffed with high-quality down, serves the more casual camper. It’s more durable than its feather weight would suggest.

WindBurner Stove

MSR, $190

While the company first known as Mountain Safety Research revolutionized liquid gas heating with the WhisperLite, then expedition-grade cookers with the Reactor, its WindBurner has emerged as the everyperson’s stove for making hot water in the backcountry. Fitting that a company launched by engineers would thrive in Seattle and produce a workhorse that performs in any weather.

Kula Cloth

Kula Cloth, $20–23

Reusable toilet paper? Yes, really. When a local hiker realized how much bathroom trash was left in the outdoors, she developed a rag—for pee only—with antimicrobial silver that dries fast and can be clipped conveniently to the outside of a backpack.

Aspire II Rain Jacket

Outdoor Research, $225

Only a company based in SoDo would know that a rain jacket needs to be not only waterproof but breathable, so it adds long zippers on either side to create instant airflow. Though first lauded for its boot-covering gaiters, OR has made a mark with its Gore-Tex rain gear and a growing commitment to inclusivity; the jackets go up to 3X or 4X in size.

Rope Bag

Kavu, $60

Outdoor gear or city staple? KAVU’s classic rope bag, born in 2003, may be used more frequently for trips to Fremont Brewing than treks to the Mount Fremont Lookout, but its iconic shape, rope-style strap, and over-the-shoulder construction make it popular among outdoor folk. Spot them lining the climbing gym floor, or when a work commute demands a nature walk detour.

Baja Dry Bag

SealLine, $26

When water sports like standup paddling and kayaking became commonplace, the once-niche roll-top bag became an absolute necessity. SealLine has been developing its version, with two strips at the mouth to fully keep water out, since the 1980s.

Flash 22 Pack

REI Co-op, $60

While the country’s preeminent outdoor retailer stocks plenty of North Face and Patagonia, the house brand manages high-quality basics from tents to base layers. The original Flash 18 was first imagined as a combo stuff sack and backpack but has evolved into a multisize line adequate for—and priced for—a casual day hike. The bigger Flash 22 is a true workhorse.

Cascadia 17

Brooks, $140

Though the shoemaker has been crafting everything from roller skates to ballet shoes since 1914, it came to Seattle only in the 1990s, shortly after it went all-in on recreational running. This model is built for a slightly more niche sport: trail running. Today the Cascadia is on its 17th iteration (plus a waterproof version). It’s a shoe ideal for the combo of dirt, gravel, pavement, and mud that make up a Pacific Northwest run.

Z-Lite Sol

Therm-a-Rest, $58

Dreamed up by a crew of current and laid-off Boeing workers in the 1970s, Therm-a-Rest revolutionized the inflatable pad industry. Yet its secret weapon is an old-fashioned waffle-y foam, not a blow-up model. The Z-Lite Sol is a floor mat, wind wall, changing pad, and warmth booster in any situation, and it can’t be accidentally deflated or popped. If duct tape were a sleeping pad, it would look like this.

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