An Honest Review: Rip Curl's New "Searchers" Range Is Bombproof, Handsome
And dripping with '90s nostalgia...
(Ed.'s Note: Celebrating this new range's release, our friends at Rip Curl are giving away a proper duffel full of gear: you can enter to win your own Searchers care package, here.)
For any surfer who came of age during the early-'90s, Rip Curl and Sonny Miller's The Search stood as the period's absolute pinnacle of surf cinema.
"An Indian Ocean Sojourn," as it was coined—presumably by the project's pater familias, wizard Derek Hynd—the film, and subsequent follow-ups, defined the era as a period of raw exploration—hard travel to now sacred places. Hynd tapped South African stylists Frankie Oberholzer as Tom Curren's right-hand man and spent a year bouncing around Mozambique, Durban, and of course, Jeffreys Bay. The surfing in that film, as well as Miller's cinematography, and Rip Curl's in-house typography and graphics made for an instant classic.
While other brands tried to match Rip Curl's effort—Quiksilver's Mentawais work a year or two later with Martin Daly might come close—The Search was cemented as the decade's most iconic film, as well as one of the top-5 all-time logos in surfing:
Show me a more iconic logo, we'll wait.
While Rip Curl has done a stellar job of revamping the legacy with their new series with Mick Fanning and Mason Ho, this season the Torquay team decided it was time to weave more of that heritage into the fabric of their travel range with The Searchers Collection, an offering of stylish, tough, utilitarian travel-ready items dripping tastefully with '90s nostalgia.
Earlier this month a package arrived from Rippy's HQ, stuffed to the brim with a hand-picked selection from the new range for us to take for a spin around the globe the next month or two.
While we were eager to dig into the softgoods, we were immediately taken with the rugged, grey herringbone duffle doubling as a backpack. The Searchers Duffel was designed for the single-minded striker in mind: One Bag To Rule Them All.
Ergonomic, utilitarian, and compact enough for the tightest of carry on requirements, the Searchers Duffel is made of damned durable fabric—"Military-grade" Cordura, in fact, with a DWR water repellant—as well as sturdy zippers and smartly designed internal stash pockets for organization.
The bag has immediately become the go-to for their entire 'CT crew. (In fact, flying out of South Africa we nearly swapped bags with Owen Wright on accident, heading home.)
Once we'd gotten our heads around the duffel, we dug in to the rest of the range: two pairs of trunks, a few minimalist tees with subtle '90s logo hits, as well as The Searchers pants and walkshorts, also comprising Military-grade Cordura fabric.
"Using the strongest military grade Cordura fabric coated with a DWR treatment and triple needle inseams, the Searchers Pant is built to last. Featuring a back left welt pocket with zipper entry for security, and an internal draw cord, stash pockets and waistband hanger loop for funtionality."
While bringing anything "Military-grade" into your civilian wardrobe runs the risk of overkill and over-engineering, the shorts and pants are exceptionally well executed. The sealed-zipper back pocket, as well as the hidden sealed-sipper side pocket, provide much-needed confidence—especially if you're sticking a passport back there—while the fabric's durability comes at no sacrifice of comfort and breathability, not to mention the hidden drawstring synch on the waistband for quick-release loosening on long flights. Needless to say, these have been dependable daily drivers ever since, the enzyme-washed Cordura is soft despite its durability, and the 19" mid-length shorts showing just enough lower thigh (although we'd prefer them shorter), while the pants are tailor-fit for anything from a proper dinner somewhere nice to a layover hang in a Platinum airline lounge.
Of course, no essentials pack would be complete without a few pairs of trusty trunks slipped in, and Rip Curl's put a lot of thought into their new Mirage 3-2-1, an update on their top-shelf trunk constructed of three fabric panels. The waistband and back panel utilizes the Cordura fabric found in the rest of the range, while the side-panels feature classic super-stretch Mirage fabric, and the front panel's marled ES4 is still soft and comfy while remaining wildly tough. The 19"ers hit right above the knee, and the fabric's durability doesn't come at the expense of thigh rash (which might be the most important detail, if we're being honest).
Rounding out the "Searchers Essentials" were a few understated beauties as far as jackets, jumpers, and tees. The tees in the line all are made from super soft, enzyme-washed Supima cotton, with a tailored, not trim fit, with our favorite being the Sea Lice Tee, with the subtle monochromatic embroidered pocket hit. The Polartec fleece Deeper Hoodie (above) begs to be pulled on, along with the uber cozy Arrival Crew wool socks, after drying off from a crisp evening session and cracking a cold one before the chill sets in for the evening.
Which brought us to the last piece in the care package: the Searchers Layover Shacket:
While we're suspicious of any bastardizations or truncations of commonly accepted terminology, the whole Shacket phenomenon is one we're perfectly OK with. The Searcher's Shacket's become a travel staple, with ultralight Poly insulation stuffed between a silky interior and a brushed smooth exterior with a DWR finish. We're fans of the minimalist coach's jacket vibe, and for its remarkable packability.