We have seen it all before, outdoor clothing brands making the decision that women over a size 14 or 16 clearly never, EVER go into the great outdoors, therefore never actually need real outdoor clothing that fits their bodies. And if you are reading this, I’m pretty certain you know first hand that this is utter bollocks. The outdoors don’t care what size we are, so please, PLEASE let us find outdoor clothes that fit us!
And I would love to say right now, stop! I have the solution! But the truth is, I don’t. After establishing the world’s first body positive hiking group for plus size women, Escaping Your Comfort Zone, over 2 years ago, I have been on the search for that elusive brand. The brand that believes bigger bodies have as much right to get outdoors comfortably, as anyone else. And although I have found some brands that are slowly expanding their size ranges up to a 20 or a 22, there is still almost nothing for those of us with larger bodies.
So here’s the result of my research on hiking pants. Yes this is an Aussie based list, but you will see theres products from all over the world, all of which can be shipped to Australia (and other places) at low cost (with the exception of Columbia).
Firstly why do you want hiking pants/trousers?
I’m often asked do I need special hiking pants for hiking? And the answer is yes, and no. Short hikes in mild weather can be done in any shorts or running leggings/trackies. But the minute you throw in cold, heat, rain, rough terrain or long hikes, then the answer is YES, you need hiking pants! But here’s our Escaping Your Comfort Zone take on it the different types of pants for hiking.
Jeans – never, EVER wear jeans for any kind of physical activity, they are heavy, can cause chafe, and are very very uncomfortable if they get wet, and can make you super cold. Denim is a no-no everytime.
Cotton/drill cargo trousers – same as for jeans above. They might look like hiking trousers, but are not. Cotton and hiking don’t mix, as cotton traps moisture, and can cause chafe, as well as making you very cold very quickly.
Running tights/tracksuit/yoga pants – these are fine in mild weather, for short hikes up to 3 hours on easy walking trails. You should not wear these on trails where there are trees/grass scratching your legs, trails where you might be dragging your butt over rocks etc, on hot days where you sweat a lot, on cold days, or in wet conditions. Most of these types of pants are cotton based, do not breathe well, do not dry quickly, and are a thin fabric which doesn’t offer much protection from scratches or sharp surfaces. They should also not be used for overnight hiking, as if they get wet, they generally won’t dry overnight.
Hiking pants – these come in range of weights and fabrics, in long pants, in pants that zip off to become shorts, and in long pants that roll up to become capris. Some may have plenty of pockets, some not at all. These decisions are purely personal. But the most important thing to look for in a good pair of hiking pants is that they are lightweight, breathable (mesh pockets help with this), and most importantly quick drying. There are also pants available that have some stretch in them, this is great for range of movement when hiking (and my personal preference), and there are also hiking pants available that have elastic waists for those that don’t like the restriction of a button. Hiking pants should be form fitting, not too loose to catch on branches etc, but not super tight to restrict movement. Don’t be too concerned about being cold in lightweight pants, you can always throw some thermals underneath, or rain pants on top in very cold conditions.
Rain pants – these are basically an outer waterproof shell pair of pants that go over your hiking pants in very wet conditions. Very cheap, basic pants will be waterproof, but won’t be breathable, so you may still get wet from condensation. The more expensive you go, the more breathability features may be included. When purchasing rain pants, make sure that you will have enough room underneath for your usual pants or thermals.
Caro Ryan from Lotsafreshair writes an amazing blog on clothing choices, check it out!
Where to buy women’s plus size hiking pants
Mountain Warehouse is a UK based, online outdoors retailer, who ship to Australia for only $14 (or free for orders over $140). They also have an Aussie address for returns, making it cheap, quick and easy. They are very budget friendly, and great for those first starting out, and trying hiking specific gear.
Their hiking trousers go up to a womens size 22, which according to their website = Bust-123, Waist-106, Hips- 131. They also have short length (inside leg 74cm) and regular length (inside leg 79cm). In addition their men’s range goes up to a XXXL, with a waist of 116cm, and short leg 76cm, regular leg 81cm.
Decathlon is an Aussie based (but has been in the UK and Europe for many years) outdoor retailler, mostly online, but has recently opened a massive warehouse in Sydney, near the airport. Theres plans in the works for 10+ more warehouse stores across Australia. The gear from here is very budget friendly, and mostly good quality for the cost. No, you may not want to take it to the summit of Mt Everest, but for the majority of your 2-3 season hiking needs, it fits the bill. Delivery is between $5-$10 to Australian addresses.
Their womens hiking trousers go up to a size 22 Aus (2XL). I will say that they are a small 22, my usual Kmart/Target size is 18/20, and the size 22 as Decathlon fits me comfortably. Their men’s sizes go up to around a 48, with is around the same size as a womens 22 in the waist. Their size guide says size 22 = 103-108cm waist. Mine is 112cm and 22 fits comfortably, so there is some give.
These are my absolute favourite trousers at the moment, the Forclaz 500 Women’s Mountain Hiking Trousers. They are quick drying, and super stretchy, so fit nicely over my hips, and provide a large range of movement for stepping up/down, squatting etc. And they are a steal at $45AUD a pair. I have 2XL (and Im usually a 18/20 at Kmart/Target).
I also have a pair of their rain pants, which are like a rain coat for your legs, in a 2XL, which fit over my hiking trousers or tights comfortably, with room to spare, again a steal at $19. Women’s Rain Hiking Overtrousers Waterproof.
Colombia is a brand known for high quality, outdoors gear, based in the US. In the past few years it has released a line of plus size women’s outdoor gear, the first of the major outdoor brands to do so. Many stores in Australia stock Colombia gear, but unfortunately not the plus sizes (watch this space, we are trying to get that changed). In the meantime you have 2 options for purchasing online – use a US based online store (but you will need a US dropshipping address, as they can’t send Colombia products to Australia. This is to protect our retailers who stock the brand, even though they don’t stock the plus sizes, go figure!). Or you can purchase via Amazon Australia (but its quite expensive)
They have a decent range of hiking trousers in different designs, their measurements are B – 129- 134cm (51-53in), W-112-116cm (44-46in), H – 134-139cm (53-55in)
Anaconda is a large Australian retailer with stores throughout the country, you can also purchase their products online. Whilst they stock many of the major outdoors brands, the only brands that even think about being plus size are Gondwana, and their in-house brands, Cederberg and Cape.
Cederberg/Cape/Gondwana all have hiking pants up to a size 20, which in their case have the following measurements. – B-116-121, W- 97-102, H123-128, Length inseam 83.6.
L.L.Bean is a US based retailer that has been a stalwart for all the basic clothing for many years. They now ship to Australia for around $30, or for free if you spend over $125.
Their Comfort Trail Pant goes up to a size 26W, which equates to B-133cm, W-112cm and H-139cm.
PlusSnow is a fabulous local Aussie retailer who stocks awesome plus size ski gear. It’s mostly insulated pants and jackets (not usually ideal for hiking, as they get too hot), but they also stock waterproof over trousers, which are just a shell. Their sizing is the best so far, stocking brands like Raiski (W – 130cm, H- 146cm, with short and regular leg options), Aggression pants up to 9XL (W-148cm, H-162.6cm, Thigh – 94cm, inseam 97.8cm) and Cartel up to a size 28 (W-111.8, H – 130.8, Thigh – 76.2cm, inseam 81.3cm).
I must say the Aggression Bolivia Plus Size Shell Pants that go to a 9XL are the best sizing we have seen, with the best features, being both breathable and waterproof.
I have summarised all the sizes and measurements for the biggest for each brand in a table form. If you know your measurements, you can see at a glance which brands should fit, and those that don’t.
|Mountain Warehouse||Mountain Warehouse||22 aus||106cm||131cm||-||74cm or 79cm|
Do you have a place where you buy your plus size hiking pants that you want to share? I’d love you to comment in the comments section, as the more options we have the easier it is to get outside!
Or do you struggle to find hiking pants in your size, please, PLEASE comment as it will arm us with further proof to outdoor retailers that we are here, with money to buy hiking pants, if only they came in our sizes!!!