An Affordable, Sorta Fashionable, Shell

An Affordable, Sorta Fashionable, Shell

Toren Fundamentalist Shell 2We’ve seen more than a handful of small-scale apparel operations that attempt to shoulder their way into the crowded outdoor gear market by plying the best practices of innovative design. But most tend to also carry a boutique price tag that can cause sticker shock. Toren, however, has taken a more direct approach. Rather than charge a premium, their small roster of products are designed to be affordable without sacrificing any of the high-tech requirements. Plans like not creating any sort of robust retail presence help keep the prices down. Take the Fundamental Shell, a lightweight mountaineering jacket, now available for pre-order for $195. The shell boasts three-layer fabric that Toren made with Toray, one of the bigger players in the tech textile game, to deliver waterproof/breathable protection, complemented by waterproof zippers, fully taped seams, an internal chest pocket with a clear poly screen that’s smart screen touch-friendly. They claim their three-point adjustable, helmet-compatible hood design to be revolutionary, an adjective that we hear far too often; testers will be weighing in soon on that front. If Toren delivers, the price point seems close to First Ascent, introduced several years ago by Eddie Bauer, which also offers solid price-to-performance advantages. But Toren’s more humble approach—and their willingness to interact with their sure-to-expand community of interested potential customers—offers a nice, personalized touch. As for the fashion-forward claim, the Fundamentalist has a tailored fit, but to us they still seem to tip the scale toward tech function rather than a full-on fashion/tech hybrid. But we’ll let you decide whether this jacket belongs in all environs, or just the backcountry.
—Nathan Borchelt

Toren Fundamentalist Shell 1

Toren Fundamentalist Shell 3

Toren Fundamentalist Shell 4

Toren Fundamentalist Shell 6

Toren Fundamentalist Shell 5