Within easy reach of desert, river, waterfall, lake, mountain or ocean, Portland has always bred and attracted an army of lifestyle heroes—dabblers in the unspeakably arcane arts of being outside. These shops are where you might find them the tools of their off-time trades, all made by local folks.
Icebreaker Touch Lab
1109 W Burnside St., 241-8300, icebreaker.com.
The tech blog Gizmodo once said Icebreaker makes "the greatest T-shirt in the world." I can neither prove nor disprove this, but it seems plausible. The company's branding-heavy store is clearly trying hard to make wool cool, but the products sell themselves. Designed in Portland, Icebreaker's sporty line of wool shirts, underwear, socks and cycle jerseys is made from an ultra-light weave of merino wool, sheared from magical sheep beasts that live on the edge of the habitable universe, New Zealand's South Island. You probably know merino wool is not scratchy ("smart," some people call it) and it breathes about as well as your own skin.
Buy this: Icebreaker Ultra-Lite Tech T ($65).
426 SE Grand Ave., 233-0706, nextadventure.net.
Know a broke outdoorsy type? Give snowshoes, not ski gear. Next Adventure has a long wall of options, ranging from about $80 to $300, with friendly staff that can shuttle you through any sizing dilemmas. Sure, snowshoeing is remarkably like regular ol' hiking, an activity that requires no such specialized equipment in the summer, but it's also the bargain basement of winter sporting activities. For roughly the price of one lift ticket and rental, you can buy a bottom-tier—but still excellent—set of shoes made by Seattle-based Atlas.
Buy this: Atlas 825 Snowshoes ($110).
1001 SW 10th Ave. and other locations, 222-3821, bikegallery.com.
Not so long ago, only the most precious and fragile children wore skiing helmets on a mountain. These days, they're quickly becoming as common as bike helmets for adults. Bike Gallery carries a large selection for cyclists and a few, like this one from Portland's Nutcase helmets, for the slopes. High-end helmets aren't fun to buy, but are nice to have, which makes them an ideal gift. The store also has a wide selection of rain- and cold-weather gear, including toasty, waterproof and flexible soft-shell gloves.
1. Buy this: Nutcase Snow Sport ($80).
900 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 334-1560, clevercycles.com.
Rain gear might seem like a boring gift to non-riders but, trust me, if you've heard the bike commuter in your life complain about any part of his or her system, your gift will be met with gratitude. Every Portland bike shop carries solid stuff, but if you're looking for something unique, go to the innovation-minded Clever Cycles on Hawthorne, which carries neon-green riding chaps and a $300 cape. And the Rogue Hoodie from Showers Pass was clearly designed in Portland. Everything about this piece of waterproof, windproof, reflective and functional but bar-ready jacket looks made for the rainy season in Stumptown.
2. Buy this: Showers Pass Rogue Hoodie ($160).
Andy & Bax
324 SE Grand Ave., 234-7538, andyandbax.com.
Our rainy season demands serious footwear. But perfect Portland rain boots—to our mind, ankle-high and made of rubber and neoprene, not leather—are tough to find. Perhaps Portland's best selection of rubber boots is at the drafty, old-school military-surplus store Andy & Bax. The Hawthorne boots from local maker Bogs (pictured) look like Chuck Taylors that won't get soggy, and are ideal for walking to the bus stop or a short stroll in the woods. But the model has just been discontinued, leaving the comparatively chunky Tillamook and Classic Mid models as the closest you can find.
3. Buy this: Bogs Classic Mid ($100).
6635 N Baltimore St., Suite 238, 305-3858, cilogear.com.
Portland's CiloGear doesn't have a shop, per se, but it does sell some of the best backpacks in the world out of its St. Johns manufacturing space between 3 and 5 pm each Wednesday. CiloGear's light and durable backpacks are perfect for extreme craggers and alpine climbers. If you know serious climbers, these packs are on their wish list.
4. Buy this: 45-liter W/NW Alpine WorkSack ($700).