Is there a call for more research to be put into women outdoor clothing and equipment?
It has always been clear to me that as a women myself, that we need more variety of clothing and equipment to ensure that our outdoor experiences are always enjoyable.
For starters I am 5ft tall with muscle and when looking for outdoor equipment and clothes I find it very hard to find the right fit for me, which usually results in trousers dragging along the floor giving me more chances to trip up or my rucksack so big, that even on their lowest settings still causes me to be pulled in wrong positions.
Am I the only women?
Well, after speak to a lot of other women, it is apparent that I am not the only one. One lady told me how, she not only buys the trousers, but then has to pay to have them taken up to be the correct fit. With many other ladies having issues over the waist belts of rucksacks being too long, which biomechanically defeats the object of the rucksack putting the weight into the legs and not so much on the shoulders.
So let’s see what issues do us women have?
Lets start with clothing:
The standard leg lengths are not really standard at all and more variation is needed. As its hard enough picking your way through difficult terrain in the rain on slippery rocks, then adding an enter few inches of material slipping under your boot. Clearly this is a recipe for disaster.
More depth in the pockets is needed, as women’s trousers seem to lack deep enough pockets for your essentials as unfortunately I’m sure some designers think we only carry lipstick up in the hill with us, instead of our compass, map, tissues, snacks, phone etc…
Continuing with trousers waist sizes. If you have small hips then make sure you wear the correct underwear, otherwise they are just going slip off and whether you are out in the hills for the day or a few days this is so frustrating. When you go over a stile you’re exposed and it can make us women feel very concious about it. Or when you stop for lunch you can’t sit down which is not ideal.
On the flip side of this, if you have very large hips you will then find that they may not even stock your size which one lady told me that they don’t make them above a size 14 which is awful to think that someone is wanting to get outdoors and they are unable to find the right gear for them to help them enjoy and experience the outdoors in comfort.
After talking to women who find that they have to mix and match between women clothes and kids which isn’t always ideal but it means that they are able to get the basics of what they need. As for tops they can be cut in a very unfitting ways and make you look like you have received a hand me down top from your big brother, which a big gust of wind will flip it right over your head.
Other women told me about how they have had to do a lot of shopping round to find the right rucksacks that fit them. Understandable there are many rucksacks out there but it is so hard and very overwhelming when in a store and not knowing where to start and which ones are made for women and you can’t always just go by what the colour is.
Some rucksacks have changeable backs which is good to support a wide variety of people to find the perfect fit but what if you need a certain size to put your equipment in. For example I was looking for a 45 – 50L rucksack for expeditions as my 65L bag was far to big for me, as was pinching at the shoulders and the waist belt being as tight as it would go with the strips swing around in the wind, nearly hitting you in the face. This is not ideal at all.
One lady I spoke with was looking at brands from America and companies that do bespoke rucksacks but this adds on more costs again to our ever growing outdoor kit.
With other women telling me how they look for youth sizes but how this is not always an option, but there seems to be a call for rucksacks to have a cross over in sizes from youth to women and women to men to help support the different sizes.
What have the companies said?
So after sending a lot of emails off to different companies this was the responses that I got back, firstly I was impressed that Osprey do one of the larges data collection from the US military where they provide a collection data on the different human sizes and shapes on active people. They try to ‘cover 95% of the bell curve of sizes with every range’. They are said that ‘the functions and features do not differ from mens and women’s’. Although they do make comparisons for men and women during a more focused group.
This is good and shows that extensive research goes into the Osprey packs for both genders which shows that they are supporting both genders. So when buying Osprey packs it is important to consider that it is a US company and based on shapes and sizes of people in the US and not for UK. If there is a difference, this I don’t know the answer to.
I also hear of Mountain Warehouse which told me that they have ranges we have specifically to fit women where they sent me a couple of links, these links can be found at the bottom. Again this shows that the company are investing in women designs and needs.
I unfortunately had no response from some other companies, which it quite disappointing but clearly shows that this is and area that needs more research in so that us women can comfortable enjoy the outdoors with the correct kit and equipment.
Look out for my own review on the kit and equipment that I use in the mountains and in the outdoors.
Mountain Warehouse product links:-
If you enjoyed reading this don’t forget to check out my other blogs such as New DofE after COVID 19 or 8 ways to motivate you in to the outdoors as well as the Outdoor Cafe and Jo Outdoors on facebook