A dishwasher repairman showed up to my house around noon. This wasn’t weird; I was expecting him. I closed my laptop, having just finished a few hours of deep work. I went out to greet him dressed in my usual outfit of sweatpants and a tank top.
This guy was a real character. In the ensuing hour he spent at my house installing a new dishwasher, he told me hilarious stories about his upbringing in Mexico, hinted at how good he was at partying as a younger man while not-so-subtly tapping his finger to the side of his nose, and openly bashed Trump—all of which was completely welcome in my home.
However, the thing that caught me off guard was the very first thing he said to me as soon as he took one look at me in my sweatpants.
“You working or lounging?”
No Hey. No Hello. No Is this the right address? Just “Working or Lounging?”
It was the perfect comment.
I was momentarily taken aback by this bold greeting, and even felt a brief twinge of shame for wearing an outfit society associates with Doritos and video games and not the creation of bold, leading-edge climbing literature.
I stumbled but managed to counter with, “Well, my friend—I guess it’s a little bit of both.”
Which was true. In fact, it’s a little bit of both most days. Because as a freelancer, one of the few perks of my job is the ability to work and lounge in tandem. To chip away at a piece of writing while wearing the exact outfit that, given all the possible options, is the one most conducive to productivity, creativity, and success. Let all the fashion norms about what’s considered acceptable or even polite be damned—I’m looking at you, blue jeans, with your sadistic fetish for chafing nuts and swamping ass.
For the past year, my sweatpants of choice are the Vuori Balboa, which I bought on a whim from Backcountry as I’d never heard of the brand before. Since then, I’ve become totally obsessed with this brand, which produces high-end athletic clothing that doesn’t make you look like the last time you went shopping was at Sport’s Authority.
Vuori makes high-quality clothing out of really nice fabrics. The line is, above all, comfortable. It’s hip, yet understated with dark, subtle tones and no big, ugly logos.
Vuori’s crossover from one activity to another is huge. Vuori is not perfect for everything I do, but it’s more perfect for most of what I do than any other brand I’ve tried. If the Venn diagram of my life includes lounging, writing, climbing, training, and traveling, then Vuori has become my go-to apparel.
One of my favorite pieces is the Ripstop Climber pants, which I brought to Fontainebleau last fall. With a stretchy waist and the signature drawstrings that are on all Vuori pants and shorts, the Ripstop Climber pants are made of durable ripstop cotton. They feature a slim (but not too skinny) fit that’s perfect for travel, training, and climbing. I chose to wear the Ripstop Climber pants on our overnight flight to France. They were the pants I rocked while touring Paris and eating out at nice cafes. And they were what I used for my days of bouldering in the forest.
Being cotton, the Ripstop Climber pants do tend to get chalk caked into the fabric, which is my only complaint of one of the most versatile and comfortable pairs of pants I’ve ever worn. Fortunately, a quick rinse, whether in the sink or in the machine, does the trick.
Another item I really like is the Kore Short, an all-purpose short that has a comfy Coolmax liner. I used to think the Patagonia Baggies were pretty sweet, comfy shorts. That was until I wore the Kore Short. These shorts are truly Baggies killers. The Kore Short is now my go-to short for summertime sending. I can go on morning runs or lift some weights in them or do some Moon Boarding in my garage, then work/write comfortably in them all afternoon. I’ve worn the Kore Short sport climbing, and while they’re still comfy under a harness, they’re a little too short with the bunch-up effect created by harness leg loops.
For tops, Vuori makes a bunch of great tank tops that are perfect for rock climbing. Most of their shirts and tank tops seem to be slightly longer than other brands, which is great if you’re wearing a harness. The Tuvalu Tee is my go-to for cooler climbing temps or for traveling overseas. Made of a material called Sea Cell, a super soft and high-performing Pima cotton with various anti-odor properties, this tee doesn’t get stinky and it keeps you feeling fresh after a long day of climbing, or an overnight journey to Europe. I wore one of these Tees on my trip to Norway last summer, and after 36 hours of travel, I didn’t feel that normal itching need to immediately change clothing upon arrival at my destination. This tee also comes in a tank top version, which is also recommended.
A lot of Vuori’s offerings are pieces that you can climb in, but they aren’t necessarily designed for the rigors of climbing. That’s one of the things that I like, though—this clothing doesn’t necessarily look like it’s trying to be climbing clothing. This is what gives it so much crossover, in my opinion.
I still own a few pairs of jeans, and I even wear them every now and then. But only because society wrongly says this is the polite thing to do—with time and open minds, insh’allah, that will change. But if I had it my way, I’d be working, climbing, training and, yes, even lounging in something made by Vuori. I hope they take their distinct, understated style and knack for producing brilliantly comfortable, soft clothing and add in some pieces that are specifically made for rock climbers because I’ll be the first in line to wear them.