Review: We Tested Lululemon’s New Hiking Collection
Lulu's recent foray into outdoor-ready gear looks great. As it turns out, it holds up in a concrete jungle, too.
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Maybe the unexpected energy of a pandemic puppy has ushered (see: forced) you outdoors. Maybe your newfound love for running — and the deceptively large amount of gear it involves — has translated to the trails. Maybe you, like us, just long for the days when there was nothing to do in your small-ish town but hit the local summit for some miles and brews with your buds. Regardless, we’ll say it: hiking is in.
Also in? Lululemon. The Vancouver-founded workout label has gained immense traction since its 1998 inception, with the rise of athleisure and the unanticipated demands of a global pandemic driving the brand to new heights and expanding the audience into a multi-gender, multi-generation base of fanatics united by the desire for comfortable, good-looking clothing.
It makes sense, then, that these interests would collide; if anything, we’re shocked it didn’t happen sooner, as other premium athleisure labels have long since taken the outdoor plunge. But much to our delight — we, too, have been won over by the power of wonderfully stretchy boxers — Lululemon announced their inaugural Hike collection in July, an abundant, 33-piece unisex capsule designed as a “comprehensive collection of adaptable pieces — convertible, packable, and water-resistant — intended to make it easier than ever to spend time outdoors,” as explained by athleisure giants.
To see how their first foray into the world of outdoor exploration holds up, we’ve gotten ahold of a full Lululemon kit — Packable Anorak ($168), Convertable Hiking Pants ($198), Ventilated Hiking Shirt ($88) and Power Stride Crew Socks ($28), to be specific — and put the gear to the test over the past few weeks. We’ve hiked, biked, moved and come away with a series of concretes: there’s was a whole lot of good, a few concerns worth mentioning and some unexpected benefits of wearing zip-off pants in public. Below, our review of Lululemon’s Hike collection.
Design and Materials
18 months in the making, Lululemon’s Hike Collection is a departure from previous endeavors by the brand. While the premium materials, attention to detail and that much-needed stretch are present throughout the collection, new features — a utilitarian-focused design throughout pockets and zippers, as well as a new “abrasion-resistant” fabric crafted to keep you safe on the trails — highlight Hike. There’s an emphasis on convertibility, with numerous pieces featuring rugged zip-off sleeves and customizable cinching. Dynamic ventilation helps regulate heat as temperatures spike, with reinforced seams protecting against the rougher conditions that your normal bodega bottoms are used to.
While my Lulu did brave the daring trails of Connecticut, the majority of testing was done in a different kind of jungle. My aforementioned kit went through a barrage of catch-the-subway sprints, dusty dog park trips and even out for one of the best beers of my life (but we’ll get to that). Through the bustle of city life, I’m happy to report that the collection held up admirably — with my testing was mostly contained to the Ventilated Hiking Shirt and an adapted version of the Convetable Hiking Pants (CHP) — I had few complaints. The former performed admirably in an NYC heat wave, making downtown excursions a bearable task, and, as I quickly learned, I greatly prefer the CHP in sport mode (i.e. zipped off into shorts). There are few more pleasurable experiences than crashing into a shaded patio on a 99-degree day, ordering a Stella, and converting your pants into shorts. The cargo pockets even allow for easy storage, another unforeseen benefit.
For the on-trail experience, the Lululemon Hike Collection performed perfectly fine, more than a match for easy trails. Some notes from the trail test: that the heavier layers (Anorak and CHP), while solid, weren’t as breathable as one might hope; while the top and socks provided lightweight, cloud-like cush, I’ll probably opt for a traditional short on my next summer hike. Likewise, I can’t speak to their weather resistance. I experienced nothing but heat, but will again note that, for their substantial heft, they felt surprisingly delicate.
What We Like
- Versatility: Yes, you can wear Lululemon’s newest offerings on your next trek, but its possible use-cases aren’t contained to the trails — rainy errands, training sessions and the occasional hang all fall under the preview of Luluelon’s stretchy and comfortable collage of movement-forward gear.
- Styling/Look: The Hike collection looks good, plain and simple. The maroon, grey and black color palette that runs through the unisex capsule feels appropriate for the approaching seasons, and the cuts skew trim and modern.
- Detailing: Lululemon is so revered, at least in part, because of their attention to detail, and said attention really shines through in the Hike collection. Clean metal snap closures (as opposed to cheap velcro), a smartly-designed hooded lip to keep water away from the face, discrete pocket stitching for maximum support — it’s details like these that differentiate Lulu from the competition.
- Customization: With a bevy of cinches, zippers, and ties to customize to your liking, the fit, feel and look of Lululemon Hike is in your hands.
What We Don’t
- Durability: Less of a total issue and more of an individual gripe, the mesh lining of the Packable Ripstop Anorak, especially when cinched, feels dangerously thin, a question mark for a water repellant style.
- Price: There’s no way around it; Lululemon’s Hike collection (much like most of their athleisure offerings) is priced at a premium. We’ll argue that most of the capsule is worth the hefty price tag, but if $20 for a pair of socks puts you off, then this is not the gear for you (especially with the aforementioned durability questions).
Should You Buy It?
For those already inducted into the cult of Lulule-men or those swayed by prestige labels and equally innovative tech, the Lululemon Hike collection is a must-have. Chic and sporty, it’s a perfect option for traipsing around the city and the trails in style, regardless of the elements, and while the outdoorsy language might oversell the collections merit as heavy-duty gear, the capsule does indeed offer a variety of utilitarian, hike-ready apparel and accessories — granted that you have the funds to snag the premium duds.
The Hike collection retails at $28-$198 and is available for purchase now at Luluemon’s webiste and select locations.
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