A guide to hiking gear for women
The past decade or so has seen a huge increase in the range and designs of hiking gear for women. Gone are they days when women needed to suffer men’s clothing in small sizes because these days the choice of kit for women is excellent.
Women are a different shape, on average to men. They have slimmer shoulders and waist, wider hips, longer legs and, of course, a bosom. Other differences include narrower feet and smaller hands. It’s great that clothing brands have noticed this and now make products that better fit women, as well as looking flattering.
Research shows that women also have other differences that can affect how their walking kit suits them. For example, women sweat less in hot weather but get colder than men when exposed to the wind or lower temperatures. Many more women, compared to men, suffer with very cold hands and feet, too.
Many brand snow pay attention to the differences and create clothing that helps women to stay more comfortable in the great outdoors.
But where do you start when choosing the right hiking gear for women? Of course, it will depend on your shape and your budget. his guide suggests some general tips.
Because the average women, when compared to a man, has a shorter torso, bigger chests narrower shoulders, and waist and broader hips, a one-size-fits-all rucksack is unlikely to be comfortable for walking longer distances.
It’s important to choose a backpack that is designed for women. Look for adjustable torso length and shoulder straps. Make sure the pack is not too wide for you at the shoulders or the waist and hips, too.
The waist strap should sit at the top of the hips for the best comfort. The sternum strap should be adjustable so that it can sit above your chest if you are larger chested.
Also, if you have the budget, buy a pack that is lightweight because, on average, women weigh less and carrying a heavy pack will be demoralising.
Look for female specific boots from reputable brands, because they are more likely to fit well. A good fit and comfort is vital for walkers.
Women’s boots will be narrower at the heel and forefoot. They should weigh less, too. Also pair with good quality walking socks. Again, you should choose walking socks that fit the female foot because a walking sock that is too large and baggy will only lead to blisters and irritations.
Research shows that hiking or walking poles aid the distance that you can walk for. Using walking poles decreases the impact on your knees, legs, ankles and feet especially during descent. A pair of walking poles will help with balance and all-over-body fitness as well. While you can choose a unisex set of poles make sure they can be adjusted to suit your height.
An essential item for walking is a waterproof jacket. You could choose to buy a men’s jacket in a size small but why do so when they are so many well designed and far more flattering female-specific jackets?
Look for pockets that are above the line where a rucksack waist belt will sit because pockets that are too low will be inaccessible. Whether you choose a more feminine colour such as pink or light blue or look for women’s jackets in other colours is up to you. many brands now realise that “pinking it and shrinking it” is not the way to a serious walker’s heart.
A women’s jacket will be designed to suit the different shape with narrower shoulders and waist, wider hips and volume at the chest area. It is important that the jacket is long enough on the arms and torso, too, to keep out the wet.
Tips about personal hygiene
Periods and are fact of life but when you’re walking or enjoying the great outdoors they can be a bit of a hassle. Many women prefer to use menstrual cups (mooncups) instead of tampons and towels. It can be a good idea to think about underwear as well. Choose underwear specifically designed for active wear, which is breathable, quick drying and prevents microbial build up, rather than cotton which can be sweaty and uncomfortable.
Choose the right hiking gear, making sure it fits your physique and is not too heavy, and you will have the benefit of comfort and protection from the weather for many years to come.