Founder's Design Spotlight: Hardscrabble Jacket

By Stio Mountain on
High Range Utility in the Hardscrabble Jacket

Stio’s retooled Hardscrabble Jacket is our founder Steve Sullivan’s go-to pick for everything from work meetings and weekend travel to helping out a neighbor with a big outdoor project or sneaking in a tram lap at Teton Village. To him, the crux of the design challenge with the Hardscrabble came from fusing clean workwear utility with technical softshell fabric and subtle hits of western character. We went directly to the source and asked Sulli to tell us what inspired this piece and what makes it his daily driver in Jackson.

What was the inspiration for the Hardscrabble?

In my skiing and climbing bum days, I didn't have the ability to buy jackets for all the different activities that I loved. So each year I bought one utility jacket that was functional around town and on the mountain. The sentiment of that simplicity is what inspired the Hardscrabble.

The goal was to make a utility jacket that had real technical capability—in this case a densely woven softshell exterior—with a very lightweight functional  insulation. The combination had to have the versatility to be used for daily wear and the utility to use it in real outdoor applications whether working outside or skiing or whatever. The result is a design ethos that is clean and sophisticated, but has a little dash of western influence. The one, do-all fall/winter jacket.

What's the purpose and ideal environment for the Hardscrabble?

The intended use of the jacket is similar to workwear jackets. Imagine your warm work jacket meets outdoor meets ski meets mountain town. The word utility fits really well for this style.

The crux here is that you could go off and buy yourself a classic Carhartt® workwear jacket and it would essentially serve the same purpose, but...it wouldn't have the durability, it wouldn’t have the wind and water resistance, and it wouldn’t have a sophisticated insulation that's super pliable and comfortable. The Hardscrabble jacket crosses the boundary of utility and function, keeping the comfort quotient really high and keeping the technical capability really high so that it covers multiple bases in your wardrobe.

Why was softshell the right primary fabric for the piece?

I've been working with softshell since 1997 and it just fit the bill for comfort and pliability. The beauty of the textile we're using in the Hardscrabble is that it is super densely woven, wears and washes really well. It doesn't stain easily. It has a really solid, durable water repellent. It can be worn over and over again. That’s the first part, but the fact that softshell is a woven textile it is just so durable—and that made it a natural choice for this piece.

What's different about the character of the Hardscrabble?

The cool thing about the piece to me is that within its ultimate utility and technical capabilities, it has hints to our outdoor and western lifestyle without being overt; a few of the subtle details are a nod to western jackets of old. We followed that up by making the piece in two really great, super wearable, primary colors. We wanted it to be neutrals that you could also pair with almost any kind of layer underneath whether that's a flannel shirt or a dress shirt as you're going off to work, or with a more technical base layer if you are planning a day outside.

Why is that connection between mountain culture and western heritage so important to Stio?

If you drive 20 miles in any direction from our home base of Jackson, you're deep into ranch-land. Land that also has some of the best fly-fishing, mountain biking, kayaking and backcountry skiing. That cross-pollination of Wyoming ranch culture and an outdoor brand is one of the reasons that people have migrated to Stio. It’s that little hint to the western sensibilities that we live within that helps define us and a really unique part of our product ethos.

Where are you going to be wearing the Hardscrabble this fall and winter?

It’ll be my daily wear jacket for sure, the jacket I throw on every morning. It will be with me helping a friend work on an outdoor construction project or if I want to just go catch a quick lap at Teton Village. All I have to do to change it up is throw on my Environ ski pants and away I go. I don't have to change out my entire outfit. So I'll be wearing it daily. And for traveling. It'll be a great travel piece, too.

What do you think people will love most about the jacket when they wear it in their towns?

I think the coolest thing about it is going back to that word utility. It's just that one go-to piece that’s the first thing you grab off the hook in the morning because you wouldn't look out of place in almost any business or social setting and yet it has the utility for a full day of work outside.

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