Hiking Skirt

Why Would a Man Wear a Hiking Skirt?

I’ve wanted to wear a skirt for a while. My wife will back me up on this, but not for the reasons you think. And to be clear, I have Scottish blood (clan Dixon) so I get to wear a kilt which is pretty much a skirt. But the main reason I wanted to wear a hiking skirt/kilt was for comfort and hygiene hiking in the hot and humid summers on the east coast.

Hiking Skirt

As a man, I had some concerns about people’s reaction to me wearing what is essentially a skirt—especially from other men. But it turns out other hikers are pretty chill about it. I’ve had zero negative comments and more than a few compliments.

A Man’s Take on Wearing a Hiking Skirt (er, Kilt)

I guess I’m at an age where I am comfortable with who I am. I am not going to let societal stereotypes deter me from checking out a possibly more comfortable and efficient way to hike.

And it’s clear that there are many women hikers kickin’ some ever lovin’ ass on the trail—like my fabulous wife and the record setting Heather (Anish) Andersen who is besting the men. If they see benefits and efficiencies in hiking in a skirt, I am interested.

It took a lot of courage to take those first steps on a public trail

As a man, I had some concerns about people’s reaction to me wearing what is essentially a skirt—especially from other men. But it turns out other hikers are pretty chill about it. I’ve had zero negative comments and more than a few compliments on my kilt (all women) but that’s just fine!

Bottom line: I liked my hiking kilt enough that I’ve added it to my most popular  9 Pound – Full Comfort – Lightweight Backpacking Gear List. Both “men’s” and women’s versions are listed.

 

The Breaking Point – My Decision to Try a Skirt

What finally made me man-up and wear a hiking skirt, was a late spring section hike on the AT. My wife and I were covering 25+ miles a day in the first sweltering heat-wave of the season. It was so hot and humid that the rocks on the trail were sweating and slippery even in the heat of midday. It had been a cold spring and we were in no way heat adapted. So, if the rocks were sweating, us warm-blooded humans were gushing the stuff. Alison was literally wringing sweat out of her hair.

Our main complaint was with our sweat drenched underwear. By day 2 our soggy underwear had become so unpleasant we stopped wearing them and went commando (fairly common practice). We washed as frequently as we could, but even not wearing underwear, our light nylon shorts trapped too much heat and moisture below the belt to give us complete relief.

By day 3, we vowed to buy hiking skirts. So when we finished the section hike I emailed Mandy at Purple Rain Adventure Skirts, a hiking clothing company. I ordered an Adventure skirt for Alison and an Adventure Kilt for myself. We are both very glad we did.

Hiking Skirt

Hiking skirts work in cool weather too. Alison wearing her Purple Rain Adventure Skirt on a crisp fall morning.

What’s Good About a Hiking Skirt or Kilt

Hiking skirts have advantages over shorts. Heather (Anish) Anderson, who currently holds the unsupported records for the PCT and the AT hikes in a dress or skirt most of the time.

  • Bio breaks are faster with a skirt. Dramatically so for women who also use the “pee rag system.” But even for men, bio breaks are faster and more convenient.
  • They are more comfortable than shorts. In warm weather, there’s a ton more ventilation.
  • Hygiene. There’s a lot more below the belt ventilation and drying going on. This equals better hygiene. When used without underwear there’s even more ventilation and less environment to breed bacteria.
  • There’s far more range of motion that you might expect in a skirt. Neither of us had any problems taking huge strides over large trees blown down on the AT.
  • A very nice pocket arrangement. Two on each hip (one Velcro security pocket, one drop in pocket) with the drop in pocket being the perfect size for your smartphone.
  • For women, you can look more upscale for a town visit and/or at a restaurant. (Men maybe not so much)

For all these reasons, Alison and I have added the Purple Rain Adventure skirt and kilt  to our 9 Pound – Full Comfort – Lightweight Backpacking Gear List.

Hiking Skirt

Bio breaks are faster with a skirt. Dramatically so for women who also use the “pee rag system.” The red cloth on the right side of Alison’s pack is a pee rag drying out.

Downsides for Hiking Skirts and Kilts

  • Men only: Depending on the local town, you may need to change into light shorts to be “socially acceptable.”
  • Little mosquito protection. But then that’s true for shorts too. Unless mosquito pressure is insanely bad, you can usually get by with a skirt in the middle of the day while you are moving. But you’ll likely need some light legging or pants for evenings in camp. Alison and I have sometimes used our light rain pants to save the weight of carrying pants just for this purpose. If mosquitoes are horrendous even midday you’ll likely need to abandon both skirts and shorts.
  • For Purple Rain skirts: get the correct fit. If the waistband is too loose, heavy objects in the pockets may cause it to slide down a bit. (But once the waistband is secured under you pack hip-belt, this is not a problem.)

Conclusion

So yes, I guess I can now say that I’m man enough to wear a skirt (er, kilt). And am better off for it.

Hiking Skirt

A new trail look for me

 

9 replies
  1. Lon
    Lon says:

    I started wearing skirts to reduce chafing on hikes, and they work great. They’re also convenient. One time, I had a couple of high school or college girls giggle at me, but, other than that, it’s met with curiosity.

    What I’ve found is that a good skirt for hiking (for men to wear) needs to have no center-front seams. Wrap-style skirts need to have enough weight to not stick and move in humid weather (example later), and be long enough (unless you’re going to wear underwear). Non-wrap skirts need to be shorter than wrap skirts to preserve freedom of movement if you’re ascending in steep terrain.

    Key benefits is that skirts are light and they breathe well. Depending on the skirt, I feel the need to wear underwear, which is typically a Jockey Seamfree Thong. (Best underwear ever, IMO. When you’re trying to wick moisture out of your crevices, you want fabric in those crevices so that wicking can happen.)

    I’ve used the following:
    – Mountain Hardware Mountain Kilt (no longer available) – No complaints at all, apart from being too long for me (I’m short) Starting to fall apart, so I tried other things.

    – Purple Rain Adventure Kilt (wrap-style, but permanently sewn) – very light. In humid weather, the underlayer will slowly migrate across my bits such that a breeze to blow the outer layer up, exposing things. A safety pin on the right to hold the under layer helps, as does underwear. The button uniting the two halves works to some degree, too, but it sometimes lets go in stiff enough winds.

    – Royal Robbins Jammer – slightly less freedom of movement. I wear this with underwear, but can go without if not climbing steep things.

    – Kuhl Splash – Looks great, but not a good choice for men for hiking, actually. The fabric is actually a heavy / rugged cotton and there’s a center-front seam, which can rub on things if you’re not wearing underwear. Gave it to my wife.

    Thins I haven’t tried but would like to:

    – Outdoor Research Ferrosi wrap skirt – short; would definitely need underwear.
    – Purple Rain Adventure Skirt – Stretchy fabric. Might email to see if I could get a narrower waistband.

    Reply
  2. Mike Woodward
    Mike Woodward says:

    Alan,
    You are a lifesaver! For many years, I have been looking for a lightweight skirt to wear hiking, and to do yard work in the summer. Unless you’ve lived in the Southeast, you have no idea how bloody humid and uncomfortable it can be in traditional shorts — even shorts of advanced, lightweight material. A skirt is the answer. Men should have been wearing them a long time ago. Amen for your help! Hello Purple Rain!

    Reply
  3. Kristin
    Kristin says:

    Do you not find chafing to be an issue? For me (as a woman) hiking skirts=major thigh chafing, unless I opt for a hiking skort or wear spandex boxers underneath. Comfortable, but it unfortunately cancels out most of the hygiene/ventilation/ease of biobreak benefits.

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Kristin, its a personal thing. Alison and I have been hiking commando (shorts/skirts/kilts) for many, many years with zero chafing issues. I have many friends that also hike commando without chafing. But yes, if you do chafe and need long boxers or nylon compression shorts, that does somewhat negate the “hygiene/ventilation/ease of biobreak benefits,” but not entirely (assuming you would wear a similar garment with shorts). On the other hand, if you can get by commando with shorts that would likely be the better option. Happy hiking, -alan

      Reply
  4. Howard Parsons
    Howard Parsons says:

    A few observations: I’ve worn a kilt for over 30 years – about 1/2 my life. I’ve worn kilts at restaurants, concerts, on public transportation, shopping, etc. Very few places where I haven’t. Anyone makes a smart-ass remark, I simply reach for my sgian dubh. Works every time.

    The kilt looks great though it’s a bit long for me. I prefer my kilts to fall to the top of the knee or just above. The front apron opens from the left. This is the way ladies kilts are made. A man’s opens from the right.

    The blue colour is nice but it’s the only colour for the kilts. I’m a sucker for teal but only the skirts have it.

    HP

    Reply
  5. Ellen Zaslaw
    Ellen Zaslaw says:

    Looks like shorts anyway. I tend to wear long pants even in hot weather because of the bugs. But then if it’s really awful I stay in!

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

    Leave a Reply

    Want to join the discussion?
    Feel free to contribute!

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.