Why You Might Want to Hike in a Skirt!
The clothes you wear on your back can make a big difference in your thru-hiking experience, so I’ve done a good amount of research on what I want to wear while I attempt to complete the Appalachian Trail. One item I know I’ve settled on is a hiking skirt. I first heard of hiking in skirts while doing research for my thru hike. I found out that a lot of she-hikers preferred hiking in skirts for a myriad of reasons.
So far, I’ve tested out quite a few options, and while some of them work for me better than others, I have found my life in the backcountry has improved since I started hiking in them. Which is what we’ll talk about now.
Reasons to Hike in Skirts
You don’t like to pee/poop in the woods with your butt hangin’ out for the world to see.
come on, you know it’s true! It’s happened to you. You think you’ve found the perfect spot to take care of the call of nature and suddenly realize that the trail comes back around and you’re stuck mooning strangers who you assume are perfectly nice. A skirt takes care of this! I’m all for letting your freak flag fly but I do like a little privacy during these delicate moments. Just a little bit. .
One word. Ventilation.
Who doesn’t like to get some fresh air?
The act of undressing
maybe you’re a little modest, and you’ve been making do changing in your sleeping bag for the last however many years. Maybe you’re a little tired of the obnoxious dude who has been following you for the last 5 miles and don’t really feel like changing into your camp clothes right in front of him. Maybe you’re hiking with family members. Maybe it’s just how your mama raised ya. Changing can become so much more modest/easy if you’re wearing a hiking skirt. You just pretend the skirt is a changing room and voila! You’re in your camp clothes in no time. Or let’s say you just spied a truly excellent swimming hole. Guess who will be undressed and ready to splash in first? That’s right. It’s you. Because you’re wearing a skirt.
Above all, I love hiking in my skirts because they are non-restrictive to my leg motion. I used to hike in pants, which I thought were pretty sweet (and I stand by that if you’re going to be doing any form of hiking through thick manzanita… seriously), but the pants would always get a little harder on the big upward steps. They were stretchy, but not quite stretchy enough. And if I had gone any stretchier I would have been moving into the realm of yoga pants, which are great for sitting on the couch and eating ice cream, or… I mean… doing yoga, but They tend to either get pulled up way too high or pushed down way too low by a pack. The hiking skirt is a great compromise! I’ll admit, I wear skirts in day to day life pretty frequently. I like how the look and feel, so results may vary here.
Making total strangers give you a weird look. (AKA how freakin’ cool you look!)
What’s not to love about freaking out some strangers on the trail. They don’t get it! But you’ll get lots of compliments. Women will be jealous because they didn’t think about how badass they would look hiking in a skirt until it was too late! Men will be jealous because… refer to point two (ventilation). Maybe you’re worried about looking like a pioneer woman heading west in a covered wagon. I’m here to let you know that (1) pioneer women were totally badass and to look like one would be awesome but (2) hiking skirts are not going to make you look like a cast member on Little House on the Prairie. Skirts constructed for activity are rugged and modern in cut and build, and there are about a million different style options to chose from. The skirt I’m currently loving (I’ll talk more about it later) doubles as a real-life skirt too. I’m currently wearing it at work (in my very casual office.)
Some people claim that they like hiking in skirts because they don’t chafe when they wear them. Well this is NOT true for me. I get that chub rub, so I normally have a pair of compression shorts to wear under the skirt if I’m starting to feel uncomfortable. In cold weather hiking I like to wear a pair of capilene or merino silkweight leggings under the skirt for warmth, though I think you’ll find this is only necessary when it is really actually cold.
Now maybe you’re thinking that it’s high time you get a hiking skirt. There are a lot to chose from. I have tried a few and here’s the input I have to give.
Don’t get a hiking “skort”
Here I am doing an awesome day hike in my skort. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Skirtsports Gym Girl Ultra with it’s pockets and built in spandex. In fact, I LOVE the built in shorts more than any other spandex shorts I’ve worn. But I don’t want the skirt and the shorts to be attached to each other. It kind of defeats the whole purpose of hiking in a skirt for me (although you still look very cute). These are GREAT for running in though, and are my go-to’s when I’m heading out for a jog. Skirtsports also makes some skirts without shorts, and also sell the shorts separately. It’s a pretty athletic, “running pants” material, so if that’s what’s good for you, this would be a great option.
Don’t just buy the cheapest synthetic fabric skirt you can find on Amazon
Or do, I mean I’m not the hiking skirt police. But when I did this the skirt ended up being heavy, too flared, and the fabric started pilling after only one day. Plus no pockets. That being said, this skirt was cheapish and definitely could be a good option if you want to try hiking in a skirt but don’t have the capital for the upfront investment of an extra $40 bucks. Plus it has a ton of really cute color options! Just keep in mind that the person who made these skirts didn’t make them for you to hike in, which you will quickly realize as the wind picks up your skirt’s super flare and makes you sing praises for the fact that you chose to wore spandex under the skirt on that particular day. (aka, if your skirt has too much flare it will blow around in the wind, get in the way, and potentially cause you to flash strangers)
Do try to find a skirt that is stretchy, lightweight, but durable fabric, fits you well, sits on your hips, and has pockets
Skirts that fill these criteria are the ones that hit the hiking skirt sweet spot for me. I love having pockets to store my phone or snacks in, I also like having pockets I can put my hands in if I’m just standing around. I definitely want a skirt with some stretch and some flare to enhance my range of motion, and I want it to sit on my hips (or just above them) because the fabric on skirts that sit higher tends to ride up when you are wearing a pack.
My favorite hiking skirt (and the one I am planning on hiking the AT with) is the Purple Rain Adventure Skirt. Here’s why
- Pockets. the pockets on this thing are off the hook. They fit my iPhone 6, or my hands very comfortably. My Kindle even fits in the pocket, though I won’t do that regularly. Each pocket has an outer compartment that velcros shut, and an inner pocket that doesn’t have a shutting mechanism.
- Material. The skirt is made from a really cool material that is lightweight and rugged. I was sawing on it with my serrated pocket knife (on accident) while cutting a piece of sausage this weekend and it didn’t even scuff the fabric. Now that is scary durable. I also did lots of rolling around on granite (only kind of on accident) and the skirt looks basically as good as new (a few sausage grease stains which washed right out, but… I really shouldn’t be cutting sausage on my skirts anyway. The waist band is soft and stretchy. Seriously soft.
- Manufacturing. This skirt wasn’t made in a sweatshop in Southeast Asia. It was made, by hand, to order in the USA. This company is owned/operated by an AT/PCT thru hiker who made her very first pair by cutting up a pair of pants while hiking the PCT. That’s badass. Seriously.
If you’re not convinced the purple rain hiking skirt is for you though, there are tons of other options! Just take a look around the internet!
Oh also: No one gave me stuff to write this. I bought everything with my own moolah. All opinions are my own, etc.
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Looking forward to reading about your adventures!
I COMPLETELY agree with you about every point. I’ve been wearing a skirt I bought online at Title Nine this summer. It was a skort, but I tore it out for exactly the reasons noted. I had some chaffing issues in 80 degree humidity on a two-day 22 mile hike and now paired them with IceBreaker merino zone shorts. That seems to be solving that problem plus gives me a short option for camp too.
I’d highly recommend looking into men’s hiking skirts/kilts rather than a woman’s hiking skirt. they tend to be longer, have more pockets and some even come with snaps on the bottom so you can snap them up like shorts when you need to (and you will want them when you’re sprawled out on the ground eating dinner and stopped wearing underwear weeks ago because they chafe).
Thanks for the tip! I will definitely look into that. I know that Purple Rain makes a kilt with just such an option!
I’m a guy who likes hiking in a skirt, not a kilt. Excellent ventilation and unlimited stride. Great for long distance driving too. No pressure or sweaty “you know whats”. No one notices, no one cares, no one comments, no one stares, and I feel great. I stop to buy gas, go to restaurants, shop in stores, just nowhere where anyone knows me. I like to buy skirts with no pleats and have them shortened to just above the knees. They look like I am wearing shorts and allow lots of freedom. I have tried with and without underwear. I prefer with. They wick away moisture.
My wife wears Purple Rain Adventure Skirts. I like the lighter weight fabric in plain colors. One skirt is camouflage pattern. I have denim, a tennis skirt, swim suite cover up.
Guys, you should try it.
I’ve been seriously thinking about buying one of the Purple Rain skirts for hiking and specifically for an upcoming thru hike on The Camino de Santiago. Thank you for addressing thigh rub. I was going to wear a pair of lighweight lycra shorts that I normally use under my wetsuit when scuba diving (so that I’m not naked when I take it off on the boat or wearing a skimpy bottom). I was starting to think that maybe that defeated the purpose but I really want a girly skirt to wear on some days and not just hiking pants. Thanks for you great review!
Short skirts are getting harder to find. More and more are skorts. Simple solution, get out the scissors and cut out the built in shorts. Be careful that you don’t nip the skirt. I have shorts which came with mesh liners. Same thing, cut them out.
Chub Rub problem? Try Jockey skimmies. Buy them larger than you need. They will protect the inner thighs. I bring them just in case I need to put them on. As a male I don’t like frontal friction. Wear women’s stretch underwear or if you prefer commando, get a short half slip. I am sensitive in that area as I had an operation a few years ago. Panties are fine, so are short half slips. Yes, the sales ladies know who you are buying for and will ask whether you want gift wrap, an exchange receipt, or ask what size are you. They already know but are looking for your reaction. They sell lingerie to men all the time and enjoy talking to us. They say we are nicer and lots of women customers are crabby. I have had them ask if I would like to try them on and some wanted me to model for them. It is fun shopping for panties and skirts.
I wish someone would make a wrap skirt for men. It should be a cylinder above the knees. It would allow additional stride and would be more convenient to take off and put on while wearing boots. I usually change in to a skirt at the trail head, and a wrap skirt would be great. My wife has a khaki short skirt of rip stop fabric and they are no longer made, or at least I can’t find any. I would like camo, khaki, military green, gray. I think it would be a good idea.