It’s already 25 degrees when I hit the trail at 9 a.m. The lush, sprawling wilderness of Golden Ears Provincial Park, located an hour east of Vancouver, is carved with endless hiking trails—and Evan’s Peak is one of the toughest. The 11-kilometre route follows a dirt path braided with gnarly roots and flanked by pine forest up a mercilessly steep incline. The summer temperature doesn’t make the 1,000-metre elevation gain any easier, but I’m braving the heat to put lululemon’s new Hike collection to the test.
The retailer started by designing yoga apparel in Vancouver in 1998 and quickly gained a cult following. Over the years, the brand has expanded to include training and running gear, as well as streetwear. Venture out on any West Coast hike, particularly in the Vancouver area, and you’re guaranteed to spot weekend warriors in lululemon tights and tees. Now, the company has launched a hiking-specific, 33-piece women’s and men’s collection that marries the stylish colours and silhouettes of the clothing casual hikers already know and love with technical, multifunctional upgrades designed with the outdoors in mind.
I’m drenched 20 minutes into the grind, but the Cargo Hiking Short and Lightweight Cinch Hem Hiking Tee are cool and breathable from the get-go. The shorts are crafted from an abrasion-resistant version of their signature four-way-stretch, sweat-wicking, quick-drying fabric, perfect for the dusty scrambles across boulders I encounter on the way up. Fun, technical features like a drawcord waist, front carabiner clip, side drop-in pocket and side zippered pocket make for easy, on-the-go adjustments and quick storage. The tee’s mesh fabric is light and soft, and an adjustable drawcord hem keeps the breeze flowing when I need it.
After completing two near-vertical rope sections near the peak, it’s a final scramble to the top. Breathless and ready for some lunch, I drop the 25L Hiking Backpack to the ground and guzzle some water. The size is ideal for a longer day hike, with room for a rain jacket, layers, lunch and a 2L hydration bladder. The water-repellent pack is designed with proprietary LiftOS™ technology, a design philosophy comprised of features that work in tandem to help disperse weight, including internal organization, strapping systems and a curved back for lumbar support. It’s pretty comfortable and I love that it’s streamlined enough to wear off the trails, too.
I’ve packed a couple of extra convertible pieces that I don’t end up using today, but that I can see coming to my rescue during the summer’s buggy months. The Convertible Hiking Jogger goes from pants to shorts in a quick zip to regulate temperature, and as one of those unfortunate people that draws mosquitoes like bees to honey, I can also see hiking in the shorts and then zipping on the bottoms at the peak to keep pesky bugs away. The Convertible Hike Bucket Hat similarly keeps the sun off my face and neck with a removable neck gaiter, and a detachable face mask snaps to the gaiter to keep dust and wind away.
The best part of the collection is that on first glance, the pieces look like my favourite yoga clothing, but each one has durable, utilitarian details that can handle the elements. I chatted with Ben Stubbington, SVP of design at lululemon, to dive into the inspiration behind the line.
Chloe Berge: People already love hiking in lululemon. Why did you decide to create a hike-specific collection?
Ben Stubbington: Our design process always begins with two questions: what unmet needs are we trying to solve and how does our guest want to feel? We know our guests have always taken lululemon products outdoors, so it was a very natural next step to curate a collection tailored to everything our guest has come to love, expect, and feel from our gear, yet customized with adaptable pieces—convertible, packable and water-resistant—intended to make it easier to spend more time outdoors.
CB: What kind of features will we see on hiking pieces that don’t appear on other products?
BS: Every feature of the 33-piece collection was intentionally designed to ramble with the guest throughout their daily activities on the way to, from and during trail adventures: from a pant that zips off into a short so you don’t overheat as you climb, to t-shirt seams and pockets created to move with the pull of wearing a backpack, and water-repellent shorts that are amphibious for diving into a cool lake along the trail.
With comfort as our north star, each piece has a range of specialized features, such as abrasion-resistant seams to reduce friction for a chafe-free climb, cinchable waistbands, mesh fabrications, double-duty and transformative sports bras and shorts, as well as proprietary tech innovation with LiftOS™.
CB: What was your creative inspiration in designing the line?
BS: The concept of ‘Stray Awhile,’ which is about a life rooted in balance, immersing yourself and experiencing a type of lightness only found in the natural world, is at the core of this collection. We felt inspired by our guests who seek out the more playful and communal aspect of hiking. lululemon Hike is designed for the “day tripper” that’s up and back in a day. It meets them where they are and supports them on where they aspire to be.
CB: What makes this hiking collection uniquely lululemon?
BS: We wanted this collection to be about the functionality lululemon is known for, elevated with adaptable details for outdoor adventures, like packable, lightweight layering systems, abrasion-resistant and highly breathable fabrics, with a fashion-forward aesthetic and colours.
CB: What gets you most excited about this collection?
BS: I personally identify with the “day tripper” mindset inspired by regular hikes near my home in Santa Monica. It was these hikes—the experience, the colours, the smells, the people I met along the trails—that inspired this collection. I’m excited for our guests to try it for themselves.
Note: This article was not sponsored; the author did receive sample pieces to test.