Women’s Hiking Clothing – Missing the Mark?


I recently went in search of some new gear (yes again) … among other clothing challenges I have a pair of lightweight pants with a hole in the backside and another pair that were taken off the market years ago. I have struggled to find a decent collared shirt – again to replace an ageing item. I have searched, and searched but nothing appeals or meets the need.

Now I don’t mean there is nothing available, I mean it doesn’t motivate me to buy.  And this is from someone who has an impressive range of designer heeled shoes that match my corporate wardrobe. So what’s the problem with hiking gear?

Just in case you were questioning what I mean by style!

Let's start with the Colours

I am not going undercover on some secret mission so my hiking gear does not need to be khaki or drab green. I don’t mind dark grey but steel blue is an absolute no-go. And the fixation with pale pink and pale blue mystifies me. I won’t wear those colours in street wear and I have to say, I don’t see many other women wearing those colours either perhaps with the exception of when they’re attending a garden party!

Maybe this explains a comment from a French guide on the slopes of Mont Blanc that you can pick out the Aussies and New Zealanders – they’re the ones wearing black. And maybe that’s because the only other choices are pale blue or pale pink!

I appreciate the increasing trend for white hiking gear – its to reduce the environmental impact during production by not adding dyes and reducing the amount of water needed in the manufacturing process – however I do wonder what has to happen to make it sooo white! And after a couple of wears, that gear is going to look really bad and you’ll want to replace it sooner which inevitably defeats the purpose.

And then there is the ubiquitous ‘check’ hiking shirt. Checks? Really?

Oh and don’t get me started on the T-shirts with printed flower motifs. Are we ten years old?

Women’s clothing available in Europe is available in a wide range of colours with this pair of pants being a good example

And now the Styling

I am a pretty observant person and I would be confident in saying that the latest ‘new’ gear is not really that new. Its a redo or a tweak of what we’ve seen before. The racks and racks of women’s clothing in outdoor stores all look the same to me. And maybe that’s OK – there’s only so much you can do – but lets not pretend.

I don’t buy loads of clothing for work or hiking, but I do want it to fit well, flatter and have a bit of style.

And while I’m at it, not everyone who hikes is in their 20s – you can stretch the styling into your late 30s but after that it doesn’t end well!

I will acknowledge that women’s clothing generally is poor in this regard as this challenge also applies to street clothing. You wander around shopping malls desperate to buy something that looks good and go home empty handed – at least I do!

This is definitely looking like a missed marketing opportunity to me.

Design for Women

This may be a surprise for some, but men and women are different! They have different needs, shapes and expectations. There are a few companies that design specifically for women from the ground up – what this means is they begin with the needs, shapes and expectations of women.

And then there are those companies that say they do this but we can tell the difference. Just in case they didn’t realise, ‘pink it and shrink it’ went out of favour in the 90s! Running shoe brands are particularly bad in this regard.

Last Words

I have been a bit out there with my comments and while there has been a (little) embellishment, the point remains that I would really like to buy some new hiking gear but I am very underwhelmed by what is currently available. While I realise that Australia is a small market and that some companies are doing their best to provide a descent range of clothing for women the range is limited. I don’t think I am that unusual in my experiences – just because we’re wandering around in the bush doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look good too!

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