While there are many “outdoor clothing “ equipment brands, not all fit my needs or preferences. Stealth Gear had all I needed in terms of trousers and jackets, but with the company gone I had to look for an alternative.
Being outdoors, under rain or cold, on coastal areas blasted by strong winds, or in damp forests where you sit for hours, waiting for the right moment, makes you think carefully about the layers of clothing you wear, the boots you use, the multiple choices to make the experience more comfortable so you are ready when the right moment comes.
Most people do know the essential about clothing for outdoor photography, so I am not going to mention the most regular choices available when it comes to footwear and clothing for Winter times. But I still do find some people are curious when they see some of the things I use, so I thought it would be a good idea to write this article revealing what works for me. This is not a “best solution”, it should be read as “the solutions I use”, and which may interest some readers.
If you’re a photographer looking for clothing to protect you from the elements, you’ll find there is not much around that suits your needs. You don’t want to look like a hunter or a fisherman, and that’s where Stealth Gear came in, with a product line designed specifically for photographers. Their first trousers even had pockets for memory cards…
For years I’ve used Stealth Gear products. Although I never used its original Extreme Photographers Jacket or any of its initial jackets, which I found to be too warm for the weather conditions in my country, I fell in love with their original trousers, Stealth Gear Extreme Photographers Trousers which could resist everything, even a downpour, as I had the chance to experience in multiple occasions.
This dedicated photographers brand offered high quality waterproof trousers with features designed to help aid photographers in operating and carrying their photography equipment. These photographer’s trousers are stylish and full of practical features for outdoor photographers from amateur to professional photographers, and include something I really appreciate: removable knee pads that are essential for outdoor photographers spending a lot of time on their knees… something I do!
In 2013 Stealth Gear launched a new version of their trousers, the Extreme Photographers Trousers 2N, with expandable pockets (designed with elastic inserts to carry your lens). Although I bought them, I soon found myself preferring the first version, with smaller pockets, as I do not usually carry lenses in my trousers pockets.
One year later, during the Summer of 2014, Stealth Gear introduced its new line, Ultimate Freedom, much lighter than previous models, but with an exciting pair: the Condor jacket and the Falcon trousers. The trousers are completely wind and waterproof, offer 6 pockets and easily removable external knee pads.
I immediately bought two pairs of the trousers, and I’ve been using them ever since, the year long. These are some of the best trousers I’ve had, and not just for being outdoor capturing images: they are great all-weather trousers that are comfortable and look smart.
Their new jacket convinced me as well, so I bought one. Not only is it light, a stylish and usable in all seasons jacket which is completely wind and waterproof, it also allows you to unzip the arms turning the jacket into a vest. And it has a zipped hood that can also be removed. With three external and two inner pockets, the Condor jacket is brilliant! So brilliant in fact, that after searching online for an alternative I decided to buy another one, just recently, because I don’t see myself wearing any other jacket/vest in the near future.
The problem is that Stealth Gear is no more. The brand vanished from the market in 2015, so it is difficult to find their products and it is only going to get worst. I managed to buy the Condor jacket at JAMA, a French online shop that sells gear for photographers and videographers working outdoors. I’ve bought from JAMA in other occasions and in a few days I had my Condor jacket delivered at home, in a very professional way.
With the Falcon trousers the story is very different. Since the Summer of 2015 that I try to buy some extra pairs online, without success. JAMA does not have my size any longer, so when a couple of months ago I found an online store, KameraExpress, in the Netherlands, offering them, I decided to order two pairs. I contacted the store, had confirmation that the trousers were available, and used my credit card to pay. The following days I was contacted by the people from the online store stating that the deliver was delayed because of different reasons each time: holidays, weekend, and in the end because the trousers were not available at one of their stores but at another one. In the end they assumed that they did not have the Falcon trousers my size, and I had to wait for one month to get my money returned to my account… less the taxes and commissions that the bank charged me.
This was a lesson on online shopping. Even with a direct contact with sales people from KameraExpress, I was mislead and ended paying from my pocket for the mistakes made by the KameraExpress people. What’s even more strange is that three months later they keep advertising the same product with a note that it is available in stock (I grabed the image from the website today), when in fact it is impossible to get the trousers anywhere in the size I asked for. A reason to be careful when buying online…
When it comes to outdoor clothing, I like green/brown tones, so I blend with the environment I am usually in. This makes it difficult to find solutions to my taste, as many brands offer clothing in bright colours. I finally found a suitable solution in a Swedish brand, Fjällräven, which offers multiple clothing solutions for outdoor activities. I went for their original Barents trousers, which, although not exactly the same fit as my Stealth Gear Falcon trousers, will have to do for now.
Fjällräven, which means Arctic Fox, has a new version, the Barents Pro, which are durable trekking trousers for adventures in the mountains and forest. Made using durable wind and water-resistant G-1000 fabric with a double layer over the rear and knees, the trousers are available in regular waist (mid waist) and regular fit with pre-shaped knees. The Barents Pro offer six practical pockets including a map pocket and an axe pocket, and are equipped with knee pad pockets (an accessory), something that is missing on the original Barents.
The Barents trousers – and some other brands from Fjällräven – come with raw-length leg endings that can be easily adapted for your own height, something I found rather interesting and works well in my case. I’ve been using the trousers for a while now, and I am satisfied with them, although I still feel that the Falcon are more comfortable. But as Stealth Gear is gone, Fjällräven, which offers a large selection of models and different clothing, which I intend to explore, is a brand I will choose in the future… as long as they keep offering the colors I like. I just wish someone would pick the designs Stealth Gear offered on their ultimate collection and keep producing them. I would be a happy client!
As a final note, let me state that Fjällräven is available in the USA, with physical stores, so you might want to check them if you need to gear up for Winter.