Pa'lante is a Salt Lake City-based company created by and for design-focused ultralighters. Based on a Spanish phrase for "onward" or "let's go," Pa'lante centers on function, aesthetic, and clean lines to develop a premium product for ultralight backpackers and thru-hikers.
We sat down with the brand to learn more about the design process, how they develop fabrics, and get a sneak peek at new products they are developing.
Function and Beauty
Pa'lante was built out of a desire for products that are not only functional, but also beautiful. Their gear is created so that when it is touched, you can feel the quality, see the seams come together in a nice way, and appreciate the craftsmanship.
Like most ultralight packs, their most popular pack, V2 Pack, is designed following the principles of the classic Ray Way design. Pa'lante's take on these packs is to be mindful about access points and aesthetics, which you'll see reflected across the brand in everything from its products to its photography. Pa'lante tells me they push back on the "look" of the outdoor industry, and make a conscious effort to not do what they see from the major brands.
Ultralight Fabric Design
Cottage companies used to rely on sailcloth made for sailboats to make their lightweight gear. Now fabric manufacturers are listening to smaller brands like Pa'lante and asking what ultralight backpackers need. As a result, there's been an explosion of good laminates and wovens developed for ultralight backpacks. Now that they have started manufacturing in Asia, Pa’lante has been able to take advantage of this revolution and develop fabrics specifically for their products.
For Pa'lante, one of the most exciting parts of being in the ultralight community is developing certain fabrics for very specific uses. For example, stretch mesh has been standard on ultralight packs for years. But the community had more or less accepted that if you rub it against a rock or tree, it'll rip. No matter the brand, hikers know that mesh pockets are delicate. Pa'lante recently worked with a Korea-based fabric manufacturer to develop a grid mesh with good stretch that solved this issue at a very minor weight penalty.
Although it was developed from scratch just for Pa'lante, the uhmwpe grid mesh is also available under the name “Venom UL Stretch Mesh” at Ripstop by the Roll for home Do-It-Yourself-ers.
A Different Spin on the Fleece Hoodie
Now, Pa'lante is taking their design-driven style to apparel with their take on a microgrid fleece. Pa'lante noticed that with a lot of fleeces, the waist is too low and goes over the hips too much. Pa'lante placed the waist higher for a more flattering look, which meant positioning the pocket to rest above a pack hipbelt, higher than most fleeces on the market. They also added good thumb holes–not always a given in the outdoor apparel world.
The most challenging aspect was finding a good weight for the fleece that wouldn't feel too hot. They took inspiration from the popular Patagonia R1 hoodie, but wanted something less clammy and that wouldn't overheat. The 170 grams/m2 weight they chose allows it to be a shoulder season layer or for cooler conditions when you're still generating heat, like night hiking.
Ever innovating, the first round of microgrid fleece had a more tapered base-layer fit. Now, the second run of the Pa'lante Grid Fleece Hoody has a relaxed fit where it works as a standalone piece.
What the Future Holds
Pa'lante is also jumping into the field of shorts and skirts, which they have spent years developing to solve common issues thru-hikers face. Up until now, most thru-hikers use running shorts on long-distance trails. Running shorts have worked because they are a good length, not too long to get in the way of knee articulation. But running shorts are designed for shorter distances. They are made of thin material. The waistband will wear out or the shorts will rip in the crotch.
The new Pa'lante hiking shorts solve these issues using a lightweight durable 4-way stretch woven material and placing Ultra mesh in the crotch for durability. Pa'lante shorts are designed to be durable, stretchy, really comfortable, and to sit at mid thigh so they aren't too long.
Skirts have always been part of the ultralight community, from utility kilts, to rain gear, to Purple Rain Hiking Skirts. Pa'lante partnered with Kseniia from Functional Clothing Lab to design a skirt for hiking. The skirts have clean lines and are made of the same material as the shorts.
Pa'lante isn't at a loss for new ideas and is already thinking years ahead about new gear categories — even new outdoor activities — where they want to take their ultralight mentality. Stay tuned and keep watching this fresh brand to see what they'll come up with next.
Liz “Snorkel” Thomas is a thru-hiker with 20+ long trails on her feet, including the PCT, CDT, and AT, for which she held an FKT. Her trail experiences led her to co-found Treeline Review, an outdoor gear review space dedicated to buying right the first time to reduce waste on the planet.