Author: Will Rice
Mountain Khakis originated in Jackson Hole Wyoming in 2003 and they have been on a wild ride ever since. The next time you stop in the shop you are going to find a whole array of Mountain Khakis pants, shirts, and lifestyle clothing that we’re really proud to carry. We’ve worn and product-tested this stuff and we believe you are going to be as satisfied with the results as we are.
Trouts Fly Fishing had a chance to sit down and talk with Noah Robertson who is Co-Founder and Director of Product Development at Mountain Khakis. We talked about technology, research and design, product durability… and most importantly, fly fishing.
Trouts Fly Fishing: Tell us about how fly fishing helped inspire your designs and approach to manufacturing excellence early on?
Noah Robertson: Mountain Khakis represents a Mountain Lifestyle and the adventure those seek when heading to the mountains or equally those who live in the mountains seeking what the coast/tropics can offer. Jackson Hole represents one of the greatest fly fishing cultures in the west. It is a destination for some learn and for others who want the excitement of catching a native Snake River Fine Spotted Cutthroat. Hop in your car and spend a week being a trout bum - exploring Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Oregon, etc and you will not be disappointed. Jump on an airplane to hone your skills to land a Rooster off the beach in Baja or take on the flats of the inner coastal waters of Florida in search of the 150+ lbs Tarpon. The adventures, no matter what you choose, are part of MK's DNA. Fly fishing is a part of us and we design clothing to accommodate you on these adventures. As we like to say...MK is a culture that represents "why" you want to be out there...we also make clothing that makes you feel comfortable, confident, and performs when you need it most. MK is a brand the fly fisherman can connect with as every day wear as well as being on the water.
Trouts Fly Fishing: MK is quite a bit bigger 10 years later, how have you evolved and where does fly fishing fit into the overall MK portfolio?
Noah Robertson: We believe in making products that are versatile. We want a collection of products to be sun protective, quick drying, wicking, and stylish. Fly Fishing is fortunately part the design teams passion and this is a category we want to be a part of because it represents our lifestyle. These styles are also great for travel and trail, showing they're versatility. Rivers, Lakes, and Oceans are part of our culture and as a result we believe in having collections to support the activities. Fly Fishing is on the very top of our activity list., it's who we are, and what we love.
Trouts Fly Fishing: Comfort and function seem to be two themes across the MK clothing line. What technologies are you working with today to help you deliver this type of function built clothing?
Noah Robertson: MK basically has three categories of textiles in our line today: Cotton, Nylon/Polyester, and Merino. All categories represent a comfort, style, and performance we believe represents our Mountain Lifestyle. Cotton: Our Canvas and Twill products are the core and foundation of our brand. These styles: Original Mountain Pant, Alpine Utility Pant, and Teton Twill Pant anchor our customers allowing them to look and feel great. Whether you are a fly fishing bum, ski bum, carpenter, business man, or rancher...our cotton products are simply the best. We have developed some new lightweight nylon products in the Equatorial Pant and Short that are a very high density 3.7oz nylon with a 80% DWR after 20 washes and 50+ UVA/UVB protection. This results in a very strong but lightweight garment standing up to any test whether if be in the mountain rivers or in the tropics. We have followed this up with a two Equatorial Tops (LS and SS) made of 100% Polyester, 3.8 oz, 45+ UVA/UVB, venting, and a unique space dye that allows our customers not look like a fishing guide all the time. Great on the water and stylish for the story time at the local bar after a great day out there. If you are looking for something a little bit heavier look to the Granite Creek Collection - a great collection for the Rocky Mountain Region. Finally, our Merino program - Rendezvous - is a lifestyle collection that can cross over into performance people expect from this fiber but a fit/style that allows it to be worn casually too. We make functional clothing people can wear just about any where/any time while also making sure it performs when you need it the most.
Trouts Fly Fishing: Mountain Khakis has a pretty deep bench of brand ambassadors. How does this program work and how can customers take part?
Noah Robertson: From a Product standpoint this is a critical program for us. We look for people to be out there wearing and testing and providing feedback. Our brand is driven and built by our customers. We are only as good our customers and owe everything to them. We may have the vision, design skill, and business sense but we need great people to support us and the Ambassador Program helps us market, sell, and improve our products every season.
Trouts Fly Fishing: Our customers are pretty tough on their gear and their clothing – but MK has a pretty bombproof guarantee on what you make. Tell us about it and what our customers can expect.
Noah Robertson: We design and develop products to last. We believe in what we do and how we do it. We simply stand by this. We expect our customer to be 110% happy with their purchase of any MK product and we want them to feel great being a part of our brand culture. Our styles are built to last and while we cannot control every customers actions/expectations/abuse when in the field or at work we are driven to make sure they remain a Moutain Khakis customer. We take an enormous amount of pride in our Customer Service for it is the root of our success. When you purchase something from Mtn Khakis we are guaranteeing you have made the right choice.
Trouts Fly Fishing: How’s fishing been? Any good stories to share with the Trouts Fly Fishing contingent?
Noah Robertson: Oh, man...wish I had more time to be out there but I have certainly had a few good trips this season. Starting with a Tarpon tournament in Florida where I was unable to land one but took home the honors after jumping three 125+ lbs fish. I am totally committed to landing one of these monsters.
I took a friend down the Green River in early June and timed the Grey Drake hatch perfectly. He landed a 21" Cuttbow and looked at me and said "I think that is the biggest trout I have every caught". It just so happens he landed another 4 of the same size and was totally blown away with what happens when you stumble upon perfect timing.
I was recently back in Maine and really wanted to get my son, who is 7, onto a striped bass. The last 3-5 years have been tough in Maine for striper fishing...but we marched up and down the rocks throwing flies and plugs. After a long few hours of trying to explain to him we were not fishing the right tides nor could I control where the fish were, I grabbed the spin rod only to have my plug snagged by a seagull. This was a major turn of events, reeling in Jonathon Livingston Seagull, getting bit several times, and then being able to free him unhurt...it was a very traumatic event.
The next morning I got up at 5:00am left my son behind and landed a nice 28+" Striper on an 8 weight. Needless to say, he was extremely upset when he woke up to find me not there.
Noah Robertson with an East Coast striper
Stinks being a young and passionate fisherman when your father selfishly takes on his passion alone. He would get his revenge at our family camp in the Rangeley Lakes Region, where he honed his fly fishing technique to catch native brook trout and a massive amount of chub and perch. He now loves fly fishing and wants a landlocked salmon. Now that we are home he now asks me every day when are we going to float the Snake in our South Fork skiff...he doesn't have to ask me too often...the first free day I have we will be on the river. Nice having a fishing buddy for life.
And there you have it.... if you want to check out the new line of Mountain Khakis stop in the shop today.