Rob Greenwood and Emma Hill look at a range of casual cotton climbing clothing ideal for the wall and the crag alike.
Wild Country have undergone something of a transformation in recent years, going from being a British brand, based in the heart of the Peak District, with a very distinct 'traddy' feel, through to a European brand with a different vibe altogether. The Flow Clothing Collection reflects that, with a casual and relaxed cut and a fresh feel that will likely appeal to its new fanbase. The colours are bright and bold, but not so much so that they're in your face or garish. We've looked at a few pieces from the range for men and women.
Wild Country have definitely made something that looks good and feels comfortable to wear, but also a range that's quite tricky (or very easy) to review, as there's only so much you can say about cotton lifestyle w ear versus technical mountain clothing. I've tried to comment on how it fits, feels, and how well made it is.
It is worth addressing the elephant in the room right away, which is that the Flow collection definitely isn't cheap; and I suspect that this is the first thing that the Forums will pounce on upon publication. You can obviously get cotton clothing a lot cheaper elsewhere, so why buy this? I suspect for many, it's simply because they will like the look of it, but if you want something cheaper there are plenty of other options available. The fact its made within the EU, and of organic materials, means that there is (perhaps unsurprisingly) a premium attached to it.
Flow T-Shirt - £35
Rob: There is only so much you can say about an organic cotton t-shirt. This one has a nice relaxed fit, nice colourful design and high quality feel. There are a few different colours/designs available, but the Half Dome one featured here is (in my opinion) the best.
Movement Tank - £35
Emma: The material is beautifully soft, and it has worn well, with no stretch after tonnes of washes and wears. I think the cut is nice, sitting well on your chest and under the arms - not too high to be unflattering, but not too low to be showing off more than you might want! The back is nice with a cross detail, though it sits a bit low and there's not a lot of hope for your sports bra not to be on show. But a simple crossed back one seems to work well. The body loose fitting, with enough length to sit well under a harness.
Flow Shorts - £80
Rob: As someone who has a fairly large set of legs I tend to have trouble getting legwear to fit, but there's plenty of room in the Flow Shorts. This is partly as a result of their cut, but also their composition, which consists of 97% cotton and 3% elastane. The former provides them with a nice robust feel and the latter gives them just enough stretch. Durability-wise they feel like they're able to cope with quite a lot too, courtesy of the ripstop fabric used. The only thing that's faded with a few washes is the logo that's printed on it.
They feature four pockets, two on the front and two on the back - all of which are a good size and depth. The waist is fully elasticated, with a drawstring for further refinement, although I haven't found this necessary.
When it comes to sizing they feel true to size, with Men's Medium feeling like a fairly standard fit.
Emma: Of the shorts I've worn going back quite some time, these have been my favourites. They sit comfortably around the waist, with a wide elasticated band that isn't too tight - which I think is quite rare to find! There's also a drawstring to tighten a little, which adds a nice detail to the front. They don't slide about when climbing in them and there's no embarrassing builder's bum.
They sit mid thigh, and are a great pair of leisure shorts. However, due to the wide leg, they are very 'gapey'. I've enjoyed wearing them bouldering, but they don't sit well under a harness at all sadly. Made from the same rip stop material as the trousers, they feel well made and ought to last well.
Flow Pants - £100
Rob: The Flow Pants follow in the theme as the Flow Shorts, only they are (perhaps quite obviously) a lot longer. They feature the same composition of materials (inc. ripstop), same number of pockets, same elasticated waist, but a slightly different fit. They feel a little bit tighter around the quads and taper towards the base. As a result, they've got quite a fitted feel, and are definitely not baggy. In spite of this, they've still got good freedom of movement - and this is speaking as someone with large legs! In terms of overall leg length they sit on the shorter side of standard, although I have quite long legs, and still tend to turn up the ends whilst climbing.
Emma: Made from lightweight ripstop material, the women's version of these trousers are great all round climbing legwear. High-waisted, with a gentle elastic band that's comfortable and flattering, they've got a drawcord to make them a little snugger around the waist if needed, with drawstring tightening at the ankles too. The women's cut is good, not too baggy in the lower leg, and with good articulation there's no need to constantly hoik them up to high step. They're a good length too and I've not felt the need to roll them up to keep them out of the way whilst climbing.
The fabric is so far wearing and washing well. The attractive colour options are good to wear with most things - though the blue shows up the dirt a bit easier than the green version. For casual (rather than technical) crag clothing I do think the price is high though.
Movement Hoody - £90
Rob: The Movement Hoody, much like the Flow T-Shirt, has a nice relaxed fit. It's probably at the roomier end of the spectrum, particularly the hood, which is Obi-Wan Kenobi-esque, being so huge it can cover your face. If anything, it's probably too huge, but it is nice on cold days. The hand warmer pocket on the front is a similarly nice touch for when it's cooler.
Overall it feels like a quality product, made of organic cotton, and with good, solid stitching throughout.
Emma: Much like the men's equivalent the women's Movement Hoody is roomy. On the downside it has a peculiar pocket on the front. I'm not convinced by this for a women's hoody, as it would be quite unflattering putting anything in it. But empty and zipped up, the hoody has a good shape and hangs nicely. It has a nice oversized hood and feels very comfy on. The material itself is light-mid weight, making it quite a nice autumn/spring layer.