By Drew Rohde | Photo/Video Brian Niles

Shortly before Outdoor Research launched their mountain bike apparel line, we had the opportunity to visit their Seattle, Washington headquarters for an inside look. Founded by Ron Gregg, a nuclear physicist with a passion for mountaineering, Outdoor Research sold their first product in 1981. Their X-Gaiter was designed to prevent others from suffering the same frostbite injuries that Ron Gregg’s climbing partner suffered while on expedition of Denali. That first product and the process of using a research-led approach to developing products solidified Ron’s drive to commit to Outdoor Research, leaving his old career behind. In the decades since, Outdoor Research has grown, product lines have expanded and with that, new people have been exposed to this popular and highly respected brand. Even I, as a non-techy “outdoorsy” type had seen the OR logo and knew of the brand. While I didn’t know the extent of their history, passion of their fans and legacy behind Outdoor Research, I was excited when I learned they were bringing their expertise in high-tech gear and manufacturing knowledge to mountain bike apparel. So, let’s step inside the doors at Outdoor Research’s Seattle HQ and meet with the people, personalities, and ethos behind the brand.

Behind the Brand: Outdoor Research

For the fan or shopper looking for a deal, Outdoor Research has a nicely discounted selection of goods in their ground-level retail space. If you’re passing through the Seattle area and could use some fresh gear, we’d definitely suggest a stop by.

After spending some time (and money) on warm jackets and gifts, our tour guide and VP of brand, Chris King showed up to give us a very special tour.

Moving beyond the retail outlet and getting into the behind the scenes access, the juxtaposition from older parts of the building to renovated office spaces where creative minds work was fun to experience. Rounding a corner and opening a door into a brightly lit office area with the hustle and bustle you’d expect from a high-tech Seattle-based company was always a fun surprise. It made for a great, “What’s behind this door?” sort of experience.

It was also great to see some of the manufacturing and product creation that take place on two of the floors here in their Seattle HQ.

When we go visit brands for these features, we always seek out the hidden rooms, unique flavors and other oddities.

Outdoor Research’s climbing room isn’t just to let them research outdoor products inside, it’s for employees to step away from the desk, get some exercise and mental stretching done whenever they need a break.

In the several weeks since our visit to Outdoor Research, we’ve distributed a large box of goodies to our crew and everyone has been extremely impressed by the fit, quality, comfort and practicality of their new mountain bike line. We’ll be dropping some reviews over the coming months on a variety of their products, but so far some of the standouts have been their super comfy Freewheel Half Zip hoodie, Freewheel MTB Ride Short, and Freewheel Leather Palm Glove. It’s been years since I’ve ridden a leather-palmed glove and even after a week in 90-degree temps and humidity in Costa Rica, they may be some of my favorite MTB gloves at the moment.

For more info and to check out OR’s awesome new MTB line, head over to:


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