How Technical Outdoor Gear Changed my Experience of the Outdoors

How Technical Outdoor Gear Changed my Experience of the Outdoors

By Steph Wetherell

Recounting a solo hiking and camping adventure in Norway, highlighting the challenge of finding suitable gear for larger sizes.

Four years ago I did a two week solo hiking and wild camping trip in Norway. I wore supermarket leggings and sports tops, cheap sweaty fleeces and an ill-fitting mens waterproof, because that’s all I could find to fit my size 20 body. The lack of kit didn’t stop me doing the trip, but it did make it a lot more challenging - none of my clothing was lightweight, meaning my bag was heavier than it needed to be, and my waterproof barely lasted an hour before wetting through. So carrying extra dry clothes was also necessary. As none of the clothing was wicking or designed for what I was doing, I alternated between overheating and feeling cold, rarely finding a comfortable point.

A year ago, I got my first technical waterproof jacket that actually fits my body, and it’s been a game changer. I can now rely on my coat to keep me dry during rain on the hills, and no longer worry about the extra dry layers I always needed to carry to stop me from getting chilled. My clothing repertoire now includes merino base layers, grid fleeces and quality insulating layers, so multi-day trips come with a lighter and smaller pack. And not just that - I have choices; I can pick whether to pack a down jacket for a chilly night of wild camping, or a synthetic layer for a showery winter walk.

Hiker with trekking poles on Snowdon

The difference this has made has been huge. I recently did a day hike in a local mountain range where the wind chill on the ridge was significant, but thanks to the technical layers I was wearing, I stayed warm. And best of all, the same layers saw me through the whole hike, without a constant need to adjust and change what I was wearing.

For most people, this clothing is a given, and I now understand how the people I hiked with always seemed so much more comfortable than me - at the time I thought it was that as a plus size person, my body temperature fluctuated more than everyone else - but now I realise they were just wearing clothes that wicked, breathed and insulated them better.

While my outdoor wardrobe has begun its upgrade, it’s worth noting that there is still no technical outdoors clothing above a size 20. That means anyone larger than me (and there’s lots of plus size people doing outdoor activities) is still without access to these options, and is still making do with non-ideal clothing options. While change is slowly happening, with Alpkit at the front of this, the wider outdoor industry needs to centre size inclusivity so that everyone has access to the clothing and kit they need to enjoy outdoors activities safely and comfortably.

Women's Waterproof Jackets and Windproofs

Durable, lightweight and packable performance shell for all activities
£99.99 £119.99
Lightweight waterproof half-zip jacket with a slim cut designed for fast and light movement
£74.99 £149.99
Lightweight, fully recycled, 3-layer waterproof jacket
£118.99 £169.99
Hillwalking waterproof cut for maximum protection and coverage
£179.99 £199.99
Waterproof mountaineering jacket for high altitudes and Scottish winters
£229.99 £279.99
Warm and waterproof Primaloft® insulated jacket
£128.78 £249.99
A natural fibre alternative to the modern mountain shell
£179.99 £349.00
Lightweight, packable 2.5-layer waterproof trousers
£67.99 £79.99
Lightweight waterproof trousers with a breathable 2.5 layer fabric
£95.99 £119.99
Warm and waterproof all-day walking trousers
£99.99 £129.99
3-layer waterproof overtrousers for hiking and serious mountain use
£119.99 £149.99

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