Does women specific gear really impact your outdoor adventures? It's a question that is becoming increasingly prevalent in an industry swelling with the fairer sex. The answer may be more complicated than you think. Years ago, us ladies had to ride alongside the boys and sport the same gear and outdoor clothing as they did. Was it flattering? Absolutely not. Was it functional? Depends on who you asked.
Women rightfully lambasted brands for dragging their feet in designing women specific gear that fit and worked with our natural anatomy. Some responded with the gag-inducing "pink it and shrink it" approach, but others took a more serious approach to crafting pieces of gear and articles of clothing to help women take the outdoors by storm in gear they could feel comfortable and confident in. If you ask me, outdoor brands still have leaps and bounds to make before we achieve equal representation and a diversified selection in these markets but it's a definite start.
So, what women specific outdoor gear truly matters in terms of conforming to your natural anatomy? We comprised the top four below:
We deserve a solid nights rest in the backcountry after a long day of hiking, snowshoeing, biking, etc. Our bodies also run colder than our male counterparts. Women's sleeping bags and pads offer additional insulation and protection from the elements in the areas of our bodies where we tend to lose heat the most, notably around the hips and feet. Make sure you're swaddled up nicely by your bag and there's very little room to spare, especially around these cold spots. Remember, sleeping bags, male or female, are not meant to generate heat, rather, retain your own body heat.
Hiking and Climbing Shoes
I have to preface this by saying I am the proud owner of a pair of women's Vasque hiking boots and men's Black Diamond climbing shoes. Outdoor footwear is a grey area for many, choose your pair according to what you feel fits best regardless of what gender label is attached to it. Women's hiking boot, trail runner and climbing shoe styles include narrower heel cups, higher arches and more slender ankle holes. This provides more support and reduces the chance that you’ll turn an ankle on the trail or crag.
Daypacks and Backpacking Packs
You need a pack that will help carry you the distance without awkward gaps, uncomfortable chaffing, and pressure being applied in all of the wrong areas. Women’s backpacks are designed to contour around a woman's natural anatomy and curves, taking into account the major physical variations between the bodies of the average man and woman. Women’s specific packs have a narrower shoulder base on the harness, narrower padding on the shoulder straps, and smaller, contoured hip belts to accommodate women's unique frames. In regards to load-hauling, women’s packs usually have smaller capacities compared to similar men’s styles. Men and women carry weight differently based on their anatomy, and gear brands have taken this into consideration in their designs.
Similar to the backpacking packs, women’s harnesses are designed to contour with our natural figures. Our specific harnesses boast a smaller waist, higher rise and larger thigh loops. Additionally, these harnesses offer a more secure fit, absolutely crucial for when you’re crushing it on the crag.
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