One of the biggest things about the great outdoors? It’s largely free. It costs nothing to walk your dog, hike a trail, or run in a park. But that doesn’t mean everyone has equal access. There are barriers. Some are cultural, others physical (are there even trails nearby?). And then there are economic barriers, such as the often prohibitive cost of high-quality outerwear. There is no easy fix, but Free Country is doing something about the latter. The family business has been producing quality technical clothing at an affordable price for over 30 years, helping to make the outdoors more accessible to everyone.
Ironically, outdoor gear can be too expensive and too cheap. The market is saturated with waterproof rain jackets that work well but cost as much as a car. On the other end of the spectrum, you can find plenty of inexpensive clothes that can’t stand the real weather and will leave you cold and damp and ensure that your first trip outside is your last. This is exactly the problem that the founder of Free Country, Ira Schwartz, set out to solve three decades ago. While skiing in Colorado, Schwartz was appalled at the prices of ski jackets in retail stores. So he decided to do something about it, making a puffer jacket and shell that he hoped more people could afford.
Affordability is an even bigger issue today. The gap between the needs of people who want to go out and the cost of clothing needed to enjoy the outdoors comfortably has never been so obvious. Millions of people are discovering or rediscovering the outdoors thanks to a global pandemic. And they need clothes that won’t disappoint them.
âWe don’t want to climb Mount Everest. We want to bring out the ordinary person.
Free Country offers water and wind resistant softshells that have four-way stretch quilted puffer jackets loaded with synthetic down, fully waterproof jackets, all at prices that other brands typically charge for t-shirts at long sleeves. And Free Country is dedicated to sustainability, offering cutting edge technology like recycled poly shells and insulation that keep water bottles out of landfill. When it comes to versatility, look no further than Free Country’s reversible vests, which offer women a water and wind resistant outer shell and an ultra soft and comfortable inner shell. Flip it over and you will have a completely different look. Or the Systems jacket, which is really two jackets in one, with an inner puffer jacket and an outer shell that can be worn separately or zipped together for those particularly cold days.
This commitment to performance, style and affordability spans the brand’s entire lineup. âThe general public might not have $ 600 to put in a jacket to go skiing,â says Ronna Wolf, vice president of merchandising for Free Country. âBut people are still looking for quality, value and versatile layers. It’s not about climbing Mount Everest. Our goal is to get the regular person out, to circle the block, explore the trail, whatever the weather.
To that end, everything Free Country makes is entry-level. “Why does everything have to be so expensive?” Wolf wonders. âIt really isn’t. Our puffers are just as hot as the competition for a quarter the price. And our jackets last just as long. The brand’s most expensive item is around $ 250.
Free Country’s commitment to accessibility goes beyond price. The company is partnering with the Fresh Air Fund, which helps underserved youth enjoy the outdoors by hosting a summer camp experience near Sleepy Hollow, upstate New York. Free Country staff help prepare for summer camp for children and volunteers as counselors (Covid notwithstanding).
âWe really believe that ‘the outside is ours’ and we want that to resonate with a lot of people,â Wolf said. âWe don’t see this new interest in the outdoors as a trend. We see it as a movement. The way we see it, Free Country is set to democratize the outdoors.
Free Country is an American lifestyle brand that values ââfamily, friends, and shared experiences. We embody the spirit of adventure and empower our community to lead a fun, active and outdoor lifestyle. From peaks to parks, woods to backyards, we all belong to the outdoors. Discover the best value on quality outerwear, sportswear and accessories at FreeCountry.com