The day Outer’s five-piece wicker furniture set, a sofa with armchairs, was delivered, there were clouds that suggested rain. I secretly hoped that the sky would drop enough water to see how well this patio furniture would stand up to the weather. Summer may be when outdoor seating gets the most use, but fall, winter, and spring are probably when it’s put to the test.
Outer produces expensive outdoor furniture that it says is built to last through all seasons, year after year. To accomplish this longevity, the company has gone out of its way to control every aspect of its products and instill a tech startup mindset, although patio furniture might seem like a problem solved.
Outer’s incorporation of technology does not involve batteries or integrated circuits in its wicker furniture. Instead, the company touts its materials, finishes, and technological advancements around their durability. I tried out one of Outer’s wicker furniture sets to get an idea of how it fared and if it looked as impressive in person as it did on its website.
Buy from Outer.
The high prices of products online (mostly) can be scary. For potential buyers, this may be the only thing stopping them from hitting the buy button. But, according to Outer, its pricing is offset by its goal of creating “future-proof designs” that can last and still be used 15 years from now. The value proposition changes with sufficient use.
The most obvious innovation for seats from Outer is the OuterShell cover. Included as part of its chairs and sofas is a rolled up cover behind each back cushion. The OuterShell is attached and just needs to be rolled up to be hidden from view. Whenever you think a dedicated cover is needed, it can be rolled out and attached with velcro under the front seat. The covered cushions can then be left in place or transported elsewhere thanks to the integrated handle.
The OuterShell cover intrigued me as soon as I saw it. In person, it works as expected. I discovered many smart product features when reviewing gadgets, but not all of them were actually useful – this one was. It took me about 45 seconds to cover five seats and about 90 seconds to uncover them and roll the cover up behind the back cushion.
Although the OuterShell is neat and useful, the most important part of outdoor furniture is the feeling of sitting and lying down. To this end, the company has developed its own all-weather fabric OuterWeave.
“Outer is a materials science company disguised as an outdoor living company,” Terry Lin, co-founder and chief design officer at Outer, told me over email. “We’ve spent years developing our own proprietary fabric that’s fade, mildew, and stain resistant, and more environmentally friendly than the industry standard. From coffee and red wine to black paint , our fabric will resist even the toughest stains.”
A few days after delivery, I was able to test the stain resistance of the fabric with melted chocolate. S’mores with the kids at night led to discovering a chocolate stain on the gray cushions the next morning. Even after over 12 hours of chocolate sitting there, all it took to remove the mark was a little soapy water on a towel. When I came back later to try to find the place, I couldn’t.
A chocolate smear isn’t exactly coffee or red wine, but it was an unmade test that I got to witness firsthand. Also, I know from experience that when outdoor furniture looks dirty, it can keep you from using it as much as you otherwise would.
Comfort-wise, I can confirm that the cushions and their outer fabric are instantly ready for your caboose. They didn’t sink in too much, but they weren’t as hard as some patio furniture I’ve tried over the years. I haven’t quite decided if I’ll trade my living room couch for an outdoor couch, but it’s a close decision. The chairs and sofa were easy to relax without any foresight.
The five-piece patio set came in five large boxes, but assembly wasn’t as cumbersome as I thought it would be. I was even able to get the seats out of the boxes on my own as they were lighter than they looked. The wicker chairs and sofa only needed four screwed metal legs each before they were ready for use. Each box comes with its own ratcheting tool, making the process less physical than it might have been otherwise.
Style is subjective but I was very happy with the look of Outer’s wicker, as well as the finish. Cheap wicker can be a disaster in form and function, but the set I tried had a straight weave and didn’t snap when I pressed hard on it. The underside of the furniture has a metal frame, which also reassured me when my children incorporated the seats into their outdoor play. The cushions moved around some but never got fluffy.