I have heard a lot of talk recently about how the outdoor industry doesn’t do a good enough job producing women’s gear, such as in this
Appalachian Trials article. Or more particularly, the women’s gear they do produce primarily comes in colors like pink, purple, and teal. I’m not against having girly gear by any means, but I do recognize that not all women want to wear those shades.
Furthermore, companies sometimes try to pass off gear as women-specific when there is little difference between the men’s version. I was shopping for a pack over the winter, trying to veer away from my usual brand Osprey (Osprey is awesome by the way). After browsing one particular brands website, I could see little difference between the men’s version of a pack and the women’s version. I called the company to see how the two packs were made differently, and they told me they were exactly the same except for a slight difference in the curve of the hipbelt on the women’s pack. Why even bother advertising it differently then?
My biggest issue is not the girly colors available or the wider selection of men’s gear. My biggest issue is the limited sizing in women’s clothing.
I typically just hike in yoga pants because I think they’re more comfortable. However, I recently bought a plane ticket to Nepal. I read that Nepalese culture is more conservative and it is advised to dress modestly. So I thought I would buy a pair of hiking pants in order to be respectful of the local culture.
I know it’s usually frowned upon to talk about your clothing size, but I’m going to do it anyway. I usually wear a size 12 in women’s pants. The average woman is a size 14 or 16. While browsing for hiking pants, I found lots companies who don’t go above a size 14 in what they offer. Seriously, that means that only someone about my size or thinner can shop for pants at the most popular outdoor clothing retailers.
I knew this was a problem at mall retailers, and that’s why I usually boycott the mall. In my normal life I think I look great. I hike up mountains and eat healthy food. I’m in great shape. But when I go to the mall and I can only wear the largest sizes in most of the stores, that makes me feel fat. So are my beloved outdoor retailers no better than stores like Hollister or Abercrombie & Fitch? It would seem so.
There is plenty of selection for the half of women who are thinner than the average. But what about the other half of women who are larger than what’s considered average? Where can they shop for hiking clothes?
I recently read an article titled “I Was the Fattest Hiker on the Mountain.” It was written by a woman who identifies as overweight and wanted to hike Mount Kilamanjaro. She wrote about how her hiking pants were actually two pairs sewn together. I thought that part was crazy, but browsing for pants I have realized that it’s not crazy at all. Sewing two pairs of pants together might be the only option for lots of hikers.
Although I can fit into the average pant size, it does not make me feel good to have to order the largest size available. So I am not going to be ordering from companies with limited sizing selection anymore. This presents a problem because most of the companies seem to have limited sizing.
Ladies, I am wondering, what outdoor companies offer sizes above the average? Where can a girl get a pair of hiking pants around here?
Wow, guys. This is my most commented on post ever, and I thank you for that! To show my appreciation, I’m going to make an ongoing effort to post links to plus sized hiking clothes here. If you find plus-sized outdoor clothes that work for you, please share a link in the comments so I can add it to the list.
Columbia Just Right Straight Leg Pants (sizes 16-24)
Columbia Just Right II Capri Pants (sizes 16-24)
Lucy Get Going Pants plus size (sizes 1x-3x) and Lucy Get Going Pants (XS- XL)- I have these pants in size large, and I’m typically a size 12. They are more yoga pants style, which I appreciate because of the stretch and comfort. The Lucy brand seems to have quite a variety of plus-size clothes available.
Purple Rain Adventure Skirts (sizes S- XL) These sizes are more realistic in that the XL size fits a 46″ waist. I have one of these skirts in a size M, and it fits well.
Lucy Fitness Fix Tank Top (sizes 1x- 3x)
REI Co-Op Tech T-Shirt (sizes XS- XXL)
Lucy Workout T-Shirt (sizes 1x- 3x)
Lucy Dashing Stripes Top (long sleeve, sizes 1x- 3x)
REI Co-Op Quarter-Zip Tech Shirt (long sleeve, sizes XS- XXL)
Columbia Arcadia II Rain Jacket Plus Size (sizes 1x- 3x)
Marmot PreCip Rain Jacket (sizes XS- XXL)
Columbia Optic Got It Fleece Jacket Plus Size (sizes 1x- 3x)
*I typically only add links to clothes and gear I’ve actually bought and used. I don’t have the budget to buy all of these clothes and I wanted to provide a variety of options to you readers. So unfortunately I have not tested everything on this list.
**There are affiliate links in this post which means that I make a percentage off of purchases at no cost to you. It helps me out to keep hiking and blogging.