Given that most people don’t usually associate gaming with going outdoors, some of the items in the lineup actually seem decent. Xbox’s camp chair looks like a clone of the design popularized by the Helinox Chair Zero (to be fair, so does pretty much every other camp chair), but electric green and twice as heavy. Given that it’s significantly cheaper than the Helinox, though, it’s hard to complain about weight.
The hammock also seems fine — again, people who count every ounce probably wouldn’t want it, but it seems perfectly suitable for slinging up between two trees at a campsite. And while I love that Microsoft is trying to get people to drink more water with this Nalgene water bottle, I just wish it wasn’t charging double normal retail price for it now that its admittedly very cool topographical branding has been slapped on.
As an outdoorsy person myself, though, I’m not sure Microsoft’s “camper” marketing lines up with how some of these products are actually made. It says that its T-shirts, hats, and sweaters are for “exploring the great outdoors,” but they’re made of 80 to 90 percent cotton, according to their spec sheets. If you’ve ever even been within spitting distance of an REI or other outdoor shop, you might recognize that’s a bit of a problem — the phrase “cotton kills” is probably one of the most-cited pieces of advice in the hiking and camping community.
It is, to be clear, an overdramatic slogan. Cotton clothing has been implicated in a few deaths from exposure over the years, but it’s not like you’ll immediately die if you step foot on a trail wearing this ABXY heather tee. However, if you get caught out in bad weather, you could have a real problem on your hands — cotton doesn’t keep you warm when it gets wet. Making matters worse, it dries out very slowly, so even if the rain stops, your sopping cotton shirt may keep sapping warmth from your body. And while that probably won’t kill you unless you’re in a pretty remote area, in the words of Sans Undertale, “you’re gonna have a bad time.” Also: moisture won’t necessarily come from precipitation. I’ve had plenty of hikes where a cotton tee soaked up all my sweat and then proceeded to chill me to the bone once I got to a shady section of trail.
I don’t want to overstate the danger here. You don’t need a shirt made of wool or fancy athletic fabrics to go hiking; you’ll just have a more enjoyable experience if you do. (And for the prices Microsoft is charging for these shirts, you could definitely get a nice hiking shirt if you’re going to be spending a lot of time outdoors.) What’s weird, though, is that other pieces of clothing in Microsoft’s collection, like this nylon windbreaker or these nylon shorts are made out of a material that is actually suited to hiking.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t buy any of this gear — I’ll even admit that the Xbox-y outdoors-y patterns look pretty cool. But if you do pick them up to add them to your Microsoft clothing collection, perhaps leave the shirts at home on your next camping trip, unless your definition of “camping” is sitting near a spawn point in Call of Duty. You monster.