This time of year, gear becomes crucial to enjoying the outdoors in Oregon.
Having the right clothing can make the difference between your outdoor excursion going smoothly and having a wet, cold and miserable day. Though it's not necessarily pleasant to hike a trail in flip-flops in the summer, you can usually do it without dying. But in the colder months, when trails get muddy and icy, more than that can go wrong.
Luckily, Portlanders have a lot of options when it comes to buying their outdoor supplies. Whether you're just looking to replace the straps on your snowshoes or need to outfit yourself for a week in the backcountry from scratch, there's a shop that has what you need.
Here are the 11 stores with the staff and stock that can best prepare you for your outdoor adventures.
Andy and Bax
324 SE Grand Ave., 503-234-7538, andyandbax.com. 9 am-6 pm Monday-Thursday and Saturday, 9 am-8 pm Friday.
Andy and Bax falls somewhere between a military surplus shop and a novelty store, so you could pass a lot of time just browsing. Want some rabbit pelts or nunchucks? How about guidebooks on hand-to-hand combat or booby traps? But it also has a large selection of rugged gear at good prices. This isn't the place to go for backpacking, since it won't have the latest high-tech ultralight version of whatever you're looking for, but it will have the military-grade version.
605 NW 23rd Ave., 503-808-1859, stores.arcteryx.com/portland. 10 am-7 pm daily.
If you have a shit ton of money to spend on outdoor apparel, you should probably spend it at Arc'teryx. The Vancouver, B.C., company makes serious activewear that's lightweight but extremely durable. Its boutiquelike store on Northwest 23rd Avenue has monochromatic apparel from base layers out, but the gear that's most worth splurging on is the outer layers: everything from luxuriantly fluffy, rain-repellent parkas to ventilated rain gear and ultra-lightweight thermal jackets.
200 SE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 503-972-5850, evo.com. 11 am-7 pm daily.
Everything at Evo looks as if it were meant to be seen through an Instagram filter. The Seattle company's Portland store has a zen layout, with white walls and light hardwood floors. In addition to bougie clothing from Prana and Patagonia, the Portland store stocks the likes of rainproof wedge booties, T-shirts that say things like "West Coast Wild Child," and the sleeping-bag version of a snuggie. But on the second floor, Evo has an impressive selection of snowboards, skateboards and skis. You can even get a board decorated with a photo of a cat sitting on the head of a wide-eyed pony if you're into that kind of thing.
1109 W Burnside St., 503-241-8300, icebreaker.com. 10 am-7 pm Monday-Saturday, 11 am-6 pm.
Everyone knows that any synthetic fabric labeled "moisture wicking" is total bullshit. If you want athletic clothing that will keep you dry, wool is the way to go. Icebreaker's merino wool clothing may not be the cheapest, but it's lightweight, warm yet breathable and your best chance of keeping warm but not sweaty on cold-weather adventures. Its Pearl District storefront keeps a couple different outdoor clothing options in stock in base, mid- and outer layers. If you're willing to drive for a bargain, an Icebreaker outlet store in Woodburn offers great deals.
1510 NE 37th Ave., 503-288-6768, mountainshop.net. 10 am-7 pm Monday-Friday, 10 am-6 pm Saturday, noon-5 pm Sunday.
The name pretty much gives it away, but the Sullivan's Gulch store is the best place to go for anything mountain-related—particularly climbing, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and, uh, mountaineering. Founded by an Oregon mountaineer 80 years ago, Mountain Shop employs a staff that is super-knowledgeable. If you're climbing Mount Hood, this is where you can get your climbing ropes and harnesses, plus maps, dehydrated food and advice. Mountain Shop carries gear that's pretty specialized, so it may not have the most cost- efficient options if you're just starting out. But along with doing repairs, it also has rental gear.
426 SE Grand Ave., 503-233-0706, nextadventure.net. 10 am-7 pm Monday-Friday, 10 am-6 pm Saturday, 11 am-5 pm Sunday.
Ask most outdoorsy Portlanders, and they'll tell you Next Adventure is the first place they shop for most gear. That's because in addition to two floors of solid new stock, some of it from house brands that cost half as much as the alternative, it also has a basement packed with used gear. Savvy shoppers start downstairs, then work their way upstairs if they can't find what they want among the wide selection of gear and clothing, which ranges from climbing shoes to bike bags.
Portland Outdoor Store
304 SW 3rd Ave., 503-222-1051, portlandoutdoorstore.us. 9:30 am-5:30 pm Monday-Saturday.
The smell of new leather hits you before you're even all the way inside Portland Outdoor Store, a higher-end shop for classic wool outerwear, fly-fishers and cowboys. This Western apparel and saddle store has cowboy boots and lots of jeans and jean jackets, but it also sells Filson and Pendleton sweaters and flannel. What Portland Outdoor lacks in variety, it makes up for in consistency. There's a whole row of the most basic wool sweaters in muted colors, and several floor-to-ceiling shelves of blue jeans.
1405 NW Johnson St., 503-221-1938, rei.com. 10 am-9 pm Monday-Saturday, 10 am-7 pm Sunday.
There's a reason everybody in Portland owns one of those REI Flash packs. REI is nothing if not reliable, and carries standard to specialized gear and apparel. The fact that it's a large chain means it has a huge selection of devices like solar chargers and portable water filters and can afford to stock specialty items that are hard to find at other outdoor stores.
1015 NW Couch St., 503-227-5125, timberland.com. 10 am-7 pm Monday-Saturday, 10 am-6 pm Sunday.
They come from the other side of the country, but "Timbs" are perhaps the perfect New Portland footwear. An old-school functional-to-fashion crossover, the rugged and waterproof nubuck leather boots have long been popular with everyone from hikers to construction workers to rappers—Kanye has worn them since he was the old chop-up-the-soul Kanye, and still does now that he's the spaz-on-the-news Kanye. Portland's newest shoe store is a boutiquey Timberland shop in the Pearl. Inside, you'll find the classics along with newer models that borrow style cues from Red Wing and a line with lighter and more flexible soles called SensorFlex.
U.S. Outdoor Store
219 SW Broadway, 503-223-5937, usoutdoor.com. 9 am-8 pm Monday-Friday, 10 am-6 pm Saturday, 11 am-5 pm Sunday.
The three-level, 60-year-old downtown store mostly stocks apparel. It has a warehouselike discount annex, plus a corner of the store that's all Arc'teryx. But it also carries the essentials for plenty of outdoor sports, too. On the top floor are beginner-brand snowboards and skis. In the basement, the store offers gear repair services and stock climbing, camping and backpacking equipment. As long as you're not looking for anything too specialized, U.S. Outdoor probably has it.