Dakota Grizzly strives to create durable clothing fit for adventure and “have embarked on countless expeditions to the furthest corners of the world in search of the highest quality materials.” Furthermore, the company states, “We weren’t born craftsmen. We were born explorers,” and in my experience, the best products in any sector are born out of real-world experience. I had the opportunity to put their Axton Shirt and Jude Shorts through their paces, and after a week of continuous use, here’s my shakedown.
The Axton (“Midnight”) shirt is designed for the great outdoors, showcasing classic Ombre Plaid patterns and thoughtful features to enhance durability. Constructed using a blend of cotton (55%) and polyester (45%), the Axton features a Herringbone neck tape, zig-zag hem stitch, asymmetrical flap pockets, microsuede placket finish, and edge-engraved buttons. It incorporates a signature bow-back yoke with a Dakota Grizzly embossed patch. It’s important to establish that the Axton is marketed towards the “outdoors” and is not a “technical” shirt with the more advanced fabrics and intricate design cues associated with exploration-specific clothing. However, at $58, it’s a fraction of the price and is still suitable for general outdoor use. It performs as intended as a rugged lifestyle shirt rather than a sport-focused garment. I wore it taking photos, hiking, working, spending time in the garden, and it was comfortable throughout, albeit definitely better suited to casual than activewear. The Axton is reassuringly weighted and feels premium to the touch, the embossed buttons are chunky and secure, whilst the overall fit is loose casual.
The Jude shorts are made from ripstop weave, a material originally used for parachutes. As a result, they are lightweight, tear-resistant, durable, and thus perfect for summertime adventures. The Jude, like the Axton, showcases some nice features, such as riveted and bar-tacked pocket corners, a hidden zippered thigh pocket, and a durable belt loop with a Dakota Grizzly badge on the rear. The Axton may sit firmly in the lifestyle category, but the Jude shorts do feel more at home during strenuous activity. Thus, I decided to put them through their paces with a week of continuous usage: hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, and general lifestyle activities. I have fairly large upper legs (don’t be fooled by my matchstick calves—thanks, Dad!), and I found the shorts to be well-fitting but not too snug to restrict movement or cause any unpleasant tightness when seated (even on a 14-mile sea kayak along the coast).
The polyester/spandex ripstop blend provides featherweight 4-way stretch at 135 GSM (grams per square metre), and it has to be said they feel both weightless and superbly breathable (not dissimilar to a light swim short). I matched the Jude with a pair of chamois for a day at the mountain bike park, and they were very comfortable, offering plenty of stretch on technical trails as well as fantastic ventilation. The Jude is primarily an everyday lifestyle product (that I’m wearing right now as it happens), but they’re also a capable active short, and I wouldn’t hesitate packing them for an off-grid adventure.
Dakota Grizzly offers a sweet spot between recreational clothing and premium technical apparel. It’s clear that the company’s primary objective was to create comfortable/affordable rugged lifestyle clothing that’s manufactured to last. The designs are tasteful and range from “classic” to a less busy and more modern aesthetic. Dakota Grizzly isn’t activity-focused, but I think that’s part of the charm. The Axton and Jude can be worn in the office, on the weekend, road tripping, meeting friends, or simply as relaxed leisurewear. I appreciate the attention to detail at this mid-level price point and was impressed by the quality.
Axton Shirt/$58, Jude Shorts/$68 | dakotagrizzly.com
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