Is Nike ACG Really Built for All Conditions?
The brand's outdoor line continues to push the boundaries of design and functionality
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Nike relaunched its All Conditions Gear (ACG) line in 2014. At the time, streetwear was full steam ahead, but the outdoor industry hadn’t quite figured out how to capitalize on looser fits and more technical designs that could appeal to everyone. The ACG relaunch was about two or three years ahead of the Gorpcore trend. Brands like Patagonia and Arc’teryx have become equall popular in streetwear and on the crunchiest of hiking trails. The Gorp trend has brought a newfound interest and breathed new life into the Nike ACG line.
Although ACG might not feel as cutting-edge as it did in its initial inception in 1989, it has a loyal cult following that has stayed dedicated over time. It has a real place in the cross-over between streetwear and outdoor gear, similar to The North Face. Whenever a brand falls within the outdoor space, it still needs to perform. And with a name like “All Conditions Gear,” we were naturally curious to see if the newer crop of the Swoosh’s outdoor label could truly stand up to a variety of elements.
Between the sunny shores of Baja California Sur, a damp Pacific Northwest and the rugged terrain near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, we tested several pieces to see if they were truly up to the challenge.
Design and Materials
The major advantage of ACG is that it takes inspiration and design from 50 years of Nike engineering. These are outdoor-focused pieces but with Nike’s unique spin.
The Air Mada has an air bubble in the sole — a key Nike component featured in the Nike Air Max — and combines traction and a sneaker-like silhouette often seen in the brand’s less outdoor-focused offerings.
The core of ACG is combining city style with outdoor functionality, and there’s no denying the heavy streetwear influence with bold colors and oversized fits. The Storm-FIT ADV “Chain of Craters” jacket is made with GORE-TEX; it’s a classic outdoors piece that you might find on a climbing trail but also fits well in a more casual fit.
Perhaps to adapt to the times, the modern edition of ACG feels more gender-neutral and middle-road than past collections. The design reflects a willingness to be progressive with a more boxy fit, but it would be hard to see older outdoors people gravitating towards these modern cuts.
I planned testing around a couple of trips and some general trekking around my home in Oregon.
In Los Cabos, I wore the shirt and trail pants regularly throughout the day and for dinner. Both performed well, with the heavier weight of the shirt keeping me surprisingly cool. The pants have a climbing-inspired metal clip that acts as a belt clasp, which works well, and there are multiple zippered pockets for secure storage.
I took the Air Madas out on several walks — more than once in rainy conditions — and found the shoes kept me dry and comfortable. I will say that they did have a bit more bulk than I like in a walking shoe, but they are spot on as far as current style trends. I would turn to these shoes if I needed something with a bit more grip in rainy weather. The Nike ACG Moc 3.5 is a hybrid walking shoe/outdoors slipper. It has a thick sole for comfort while camping or on a trail, but it also includes a collapsable heel for an easy slip-on.
I was especially excited to put the Craters Jacket and Therma-Fit to the test in the early-season conditions in Jackson Hole. Not surprisingly, the 3L GORE-TEX stood up to the snow and kept me dry. The only gripe I have is with the magnetic zipper closure Nike decided to use on this jacket. It’s a bit clumsy and not that intuitive. It takes a bit of practice to get right, but once you figure it out, the zipper manages to stay in place.
I wore the Therma-Fit crewneck as my mid-layer both on the slopes and on a snowshoe, and I was surprised at how much moisture the material picked up. It did regulate my temperature well, but it’s not something I would carry on a hike as it would be a heavy layer to carry in the warmer spring months.
Pros and Cons
Style and durability: ACG is giving a head nod to its past but is still looking to modern design sensibilities. All of these looks are made for the times and with the athletic feel Nike is known for. The accents, zippers and pulls are why people are so dedicated to the ACG line. Those details are apparent in the Craters jacket. There are several little features that make it feel like a unqiue piece of clothing. Each piece is well-built and something you can take comfort in wearing. The technical design and fabrics mean that you can throw this in the laundry with little risk of fraying or decay.
Price: ACG isn’t the most affordable Nike line, but you can snag some items on sale. It’s also a good bet you can find options on the resale market.
Sizing: Most of ACG’s offerings are oversized cuts. It can work for certain people, but at times I found it draped awkwardly over my small frame.
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