October 11, 2015 / Comments (27)

Hike in a Skirt

Most women agree that shopping for hiking clothes can be a real bummer. Tops are too short, shoes are too loose, and pants… well pants have a dozen issues. I personally have never quite found a pair of hiking pants that fit just right. They’re either too long, too short, super low cut, too tight on the thighs or bum, and I haven’t even talked about zip off pants.


Why do they make low rise hiking pants?

With zip offs, I can typically feel the zipper and they’re not as versatile as you would think. I have to carefully line up the zipper to put them on which I can’t do under five minutes while I’m wearing the shorts portion. I am always paranoid about losing the leg portions and find the shorts an awkward length.

It wasn’t until I was planning to hike the John Muir Trail that I discovered hiking skirts. I wanted an insulated skirt for winter hiking for a while but hadn’t invested in one. I decided that a skirt would be perfect for a thru hike. It was so great that I haven’t looked back since!

Smartwool Maybell skirt

Five Reasons I Hike in a Skirt

1) Versatility

As I mentioned above, hiking pants and even convertible pants aren’t very versatile in the field. With a skirt I can wear it by itself or pair it with some leggings for some added warmth. On the JMT I typically kept my leggings I slept in on and rolled them up. You bet I looked good on the trail! In all seriousness, this combination was much better than dealing with zippers or even cold, damp pants when it rained. I actually don’t use rain pants or a rain skirt. I keep my upper body (my core) dry but let me lower half get wet. Once the sun comes out I dry very quick and because I continue to hike, I’m not cold when it’s raining.


2) Modesty

For many modesty goes out the window on the trail, but if it’s a concern, a skirt is actually a great option. If you ever went to overnight camp, I bet you know how to get dressed without exposing yourself while in a towel. It’s kind of the same concept with a skirt. You can change your underwear and even add or remove shorts or leggings without showing the world your hooha.

3) Bathroom Breaks Are a Cinch

You can bet that every time you use the “facilitree” (see what I did there?) someone will be coming up the trail. With a hiking skirt you won’t be caught with your pants around your ankles. If you get real good, you can even pee standing up. I’ve found skirts to be extremely beneficial for using the bathroom in winter. I may have an irrational fear of getting caught in a spruce trap, mid pee. Now with a skirt if I do sink into the snow in a dreaded spruce trap, I won’t be showing every hiker my goods.

Carter Lakes

4) Airflow

The best thing you can do for your lady bits on a long distance trail is give it some air (and wipe front to back). No easier way to do that than with a skirt.

5) To Be Stylin’

I would totally be lying if I didn’t like how a skirt looks. It is nice to feel feminine even when you haven’t had a proper shower in over a week.


Are you thinking of making the switch? Here are my tips for skirt shopping:

Buy a quality skirt made of synthetic material or wool.

Try different options and check out different styles. Make sure it has a waistband that won’t ride up on you

Avoid buying a skort. With built in shorts you won’t have as much versatility as you would with a full on skirt. You can always add bike shorts to the mix

Invest in Bodyglide. If you experience thigh chafe, you may need some glide. Others find bike shorts to fix the problem as well. It’s all a preference and some gals don’t have this issue at all.


Skirt Recommendations:

All Season Skirts:

Purple Rain Adventure Skirt

Icebreaker Villa Skirt

Mountain Hardwear Butterlicious Skirt

Ibex Petal Skirt

PrAna Daphne Skirt


Insulated Winter Skirts:

Smartwool PhD SmartLoft Skirt

PrAna Diva Skirt

Smartwool Corbet 120 Skirt


If you’d like to incorporate a hiking skirt into your gear list, check out what I pack for various types of hikes and adventures.

Last modified: October 11, 2015

27 Responses to :
Hike in a Skirt

  1. Kaitlin says:

    What kind of versatility do you lose with the skort? It seems like the skirt becomes unnecessary when you wear shorts with it.

    1. allison says:

      That’s the problem I find with skorts- less versatility. With a skirt you don’t have to wear shorts under. I never have 🙂

      1. Kaitlin says:

        Yes, but what is it that you can’t do in a skirt vs a skort? I was leaning towards skort because then I could ditch the undies. Less chafing. But I would assume that’s not an option in a skirt? If you are wearing underware or shorts with the skirt anyways than it’s basically a skort, right? I am just trying to weigh all the options, nail down this versatility that you are talking about so I can figure out what all I would be missing out on with the skirt vs. skort.

        1. allison says:

          With a skirt you have to use the shorts potion at all times but with the skirt you don’t have the shorts in the way. Pulling underwear to the side is much easier than the built in shorts and I may sometimes go commando if I know I don’t have big climbs 😉

        2. Constance says:

          Shirk is ernstiger dan welke bezetting dan ook. Erger dan welk leed je ook doomkaart, het leed dat je met shirk te wachten staat is groter. Vraag dit maar aan de Gazanen.

  2. Inga Aksamit says:

    You offer some excellent suggestions. Which skirt is pictured?

    1. allison says:

      I have two different ones pictured- The Smartwool Maybell skirt is the one I’m wearing a black shirt and hat in. The other photos are in a Purple Rain Skirt. It has great pockets and is super comfy!

  3. Reststep says:

    As an avowed tomboy growing up, I almost never wore a skirt. Okay, there was senior pictures day, and prom, but other than that, not. I’ve been hiking for quite a while, and the thought of hiking in a skirt was anathema. Then I tried it.

    I’ve always had problems with a high coefficient of friction on my pants (translation: they grab). Any extra effort on the legs costs far more energy than on the upper body. So I started doing research.

    This summer’s PCT section wardrobe included a Purple Rain Adventure Skirt which fell above my knees, a pair of light compression shorts, and a Lightheart Gear rain skirt which fell just below my knees. It’s a great system, which allows for easier visits to the “facilitree” (love this). It’s more flattering, and with the exception of howling winds, makes for a much drier hike in the rain.

    I especially loved the Purple Rain skirt, because it has pockets which are useful off of the trail…they easily fit an iPhone, wallet, and/or a Delorme inReach (important because you need to keep it with you while walking around camp).

    1. allison says:

      I am so happy you found a clothing system that works for you! I do love the pockets on my purple rain skirt!

  4. Molly says:

    I’ve started hiking in a Purple Rain Skirt just this year. It’s perfect! I’d really like to keep using it this winter, any recommendations on leggings for snow travel?

  5. Erinn says:

    I’m 4’9″ tall and, for obvious reasons, I always had loads of trouble finding hiking pants. Enter the Purple Rain Adventure Skirt. I had one custom-made and I’m in love. The skirt is just the perfect length for me, it dries quickly, it has pockets (pockets!) and it’s cute. I thought I’d never, ever hike in a skirt and now I’ll never go back! Long live the hiking skirt!

  6. I have had shirt and pants problems as well. I hate shirts that are too short because they can ride up while you hike. I’ve had problems with my backpack chafing me on my back. So now I always buy longer shirts for hiking.

    I’ve had pants problems as well. A lot of baggy unflattering pants. And pants with seams/tags in the back which again cause chafing. I did find one pair of pants with an elastic waistband. I like that they are quick to pull down and up. Last year I tried a skort. The liner was so annoying on them. They kept riding up. No fun to hike with a wedgie! I felt like just cutting out the liner.

    I wear leggings all the time for gym workouts and love them! I have seen Purple Rain skirts and want to give them a try. The pockets sound great! I’m also curious what types of tights / leggings you wear.

    1. allison says:

      I really like Icebreaker’s Everyday Leggings! They’re wool so they don’t stink like synthetic would and mine still look great even after the JMT and many days on the trail here.

  7. I placed an order for my Purple Rain skirt last night. Now I’ll have to check out Icebreaker leggings.

    I never thought I’d like wool hiking clothes until I tried them. I did a coast to coast hike in England this year and everyone recommended wool for it’s lack of stench. I brought 3 Icebreaker short sleeve shirts plus a hoody and loved them! I have sensitive skin, so the idea of wearing wool seemed crazy, but Icebreaker works well (less itchy than Smartwool from my experience).

  8. Betsy says:

    I did the JMT in a smart wool skirt this summer after seeing your JMT blog. I will never go back to pants! Even in our beloved, rock hoppy White Mountains I have still been able to stay comfy and well covered in my skirt. I’m not sure how winter hiking will be, but it will take a lot of cold and snow to get me back into pants! Thanks Allison!

    1. allison says:

      For winter I wear wind resistant tights. The Salomon Windstopper ones I have aren’t being made anymore but here are some similar options: http://goo.gl/AbtFIu

      I do like to wear a skirt over the tights for some extra warmth! The tights are great because they do keep the wind out but don’t overheat you. With gaiters you keep snow out easily too.

  9. Sue says:

    Did anyone use the Purple Rain Adventure Skirt for winter hiking? Need some reviews on it or your experience with it for extreme unpredictable temperatures/weather. I want to use this skirt for my AT thru hike and wanted to hear opinions or reviews from those who actually use it for rain , cold weather, or snow. Would you recommend this skirt for 3 season or 4 season hiking skirt?

    1. allison says:

      I have only once just because I love mine so much and don’t want to ruin it. I tend to rip my bottom halves when buttsledding, but if you don’t plan to do that it would be an awesome option. I use skirts over long underwear to keep your legs warm enough. The material of mine (it’s a small company so the fabric isn’t consistent) repels rain and snow well.

  10. ann says:

    FYI, It took quite a while to figure out there was actually a link for the tights in your two comments above… the font is invisible! lol You might want to make it some color other than white?

    1. allison says:

      Thanks for the heads up! 🙂

  11. Amanda says:

    Just to say that I have travelled and trekked all over the world and my best bit of kit especially in area’s where it’s not easy to ‘find a bush to hide behind’ is a long skirt. A long skirt is also brilliant in those regions of the world where covering up is important; is cool in heat; warm in the cold (extra thermals underneath); great if you have to use a hole in the floor (trousers just drag in goodness knows what on the floor…); prevents sunburn; frostbite and above all looks good wherever you are.

  12. Jeff says:

    Skirts for hiking are good for men too, and for all the reasons mentioned. I have a couple of light weight skirts, one in camouflage, one ind denim, and one khaki. Unless anyone looks close, it looks like I am wearing shorts. I have them shortened to just above my knees to look as much as possible like shorts and to allow unlimited stride. I have tried with and without underwear. I prefer with as it prevents sticky sweat. I prefer cotton string bikini women’s panties. They allow plenty of freedom and don’t get sweaty.

    No one has laughter, stared, commented, and nearly everyone doesn’t even notice. It’s a great outfit for driving long distances, walking, hiking, and I have gone to restaurants, stores, gas stations, etc. I am not feminine or a cross dresser, just comfortable and practical. I am a nature and wildlife photographer and am out at least one day a week, sometimes longer.

  13. Musella says:

    Does anyone have suggestions for the humid southeastern US in the summer? My legs are plaster white and I don’t want to have to wear sunblock, plus I frequently stop to photograph insects which has me squatting AND I walk through thorny, tick infested areas. I hate wearing hiking pants though and long for the comfort of a skirt and having an easier time of peeing while in the company of others.

    1. patagoniakid says:

      Not as effective in humid areas but instead of pants wear compression pantyhose. The hose will wick moisture from the skin allowing it to evaporate cooling you down like a swamp cooler. Men and women are largely unaware of this. The pantyhose will also prevent tick bites and other insect but not mosquitos which do get to you through trousers or tights. A “Utility Mini Skirt” or “Cargo Mini Skirt” is perfect at any age. Stretch materials will help a lot and there are many pockets for your camera, phone, gun, etc.
      Try 50 or better 70 denier compression pantyhose or higher (higher the number the tougher they are up to being opaque). Wearing a short skirt is necessary because it will allow evaporation which is greatly diminished under pants (Under pants the effect is opposite). Also the pantyhose will give you a SPF factor 50+ without the cream! The hose billed as “Graduated Compression” will seriously give you more energy all day and are preventive for forming varicose veins (Great legs at old age). Blood returns up the leg much easier with the compression!
      The only downside is pantyhose breaks (runs) easily when snagged (avoid those thorny areas) and men will find you irresistible in the hose. Being comfortable will counter all that! Good luck…

  14. Martin Ystenes says:

    I am Norwegian, and I am a man. Quite grown up, but all my life I have loved this mountain. In particular the alpine mountains near Ålesund, Norway.
    Two years ago I suddenly got the idea that I wanted to try how it felt to wear a skirt. As I expected, it was very comfortable, but I would love to try them outdoors. But where could I do this without risking being seen. Only one possibility: In the mountains, especially in grey weather.
    I was really surprised how wonderful it felt, and decided to test them out in as many conditions as possible. I found all my skirts in ordinary shops at reduced prices, and had luck to find some very suitable for the mountains.
    This was two year ago, and after one year I decided I was fed up by hiding the skirts, so now I wear skirts almost all the time, except when I cannot because of my job.
    But in the muntains always. I have not made a hike in pant for more than two years. Also crosscountry skiing I now do only in skirts.
    I have really had problems finding situations were skirts were inferior to pants.
    1) Climbing trees, when you have to wrap your legs around the trunk, that hunrts with unprotected legs. But woolen og thick nylon tights solve this problem.
    2) Walking in low and wet vegetation.
    3) Walking in deep, dry snow. It if is just a few tenth of meters, that is no problem, because the snow is easy slipping of my nylon legs. But for langer walks in deeps snow I have avoided.
    4) One I were up in a mountain valley, and there came some very strong winds that swept along the snow. This was in the early spring, and there were lots of small ice crystals on top of the ice. When these crystals blew towards my naked legs, it hit so hard that it really hurt. So I had to sit down so the skirt could cover my legs when the strong wind gusts came.

    Heavy rain is not easy neither with a skirt or rain pants. But with a skirt, the wind will blow my legs dry winthin a few minutes when the rain stops.

    If I quit the job, I can retire in a few years, I don’t see any reason for me to wear pants at all. There are so many unexpected advantages with skirts, and I am continuously discovering new ones. And I am surprised how relaxed people react to see me in skirts. My impression is that it is completely normal for a man to wear a skirt, except that noone does.


    What leggings do you recommend wearing with the skirt? Is there a brand that you recommend?

  16. Bruce Johnson says:

    Reality Is it makes even more sense for a male to wear a short skirt hiking. No frigging crotch binding inseams, cooler than shorts, if very short freedom of movement is outstanding and unlike clothing typically worn by males. Yes wear undies because there could be an inadvertent flash now and then!

    Guarantee once a guy (without issues) makes the discovery he won’t go back to shorts. All the points in the article also apply to men. Yes, a mini skirt looks better than shorts on guys!

    My experience is look for a “Cargo Mini Skirt” or a good ol “Stretch Denim 5 pocket Mini Skirt” of about 12″ long +/- 1 inch. They fit guys perfectly! Longer just gets in the way and is more fem looking…

Join the discussion