GEAR | Inclusivity Outdoors – The Best Plus Size Active & Walking Clothing

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Whether it’s walking, open water swimming, cycling, running or climbing, with many active clothing brands stopping at a women’s size 18 or a men’s size XL, narrow sizing means that more than 25% of women and more than a third of men face significant barriers to getting active outdoors.

Plus Size Active & Walking Clothing For Outdoor Lovers
Me out walking in a size 18 Craghoppers top shortly after my accident

Although currently a size 14-16 with large hips and boobs, I usually have to size up when it comes to jackets which can result in limited choices and after a direct request to cover plus size outdoor clothing, I thought now would be a great time to do a round-up of some of the brands who stock active and outdoor clothing in larger (XXL or 18+) sizes.

Craghoppers

Craghoppers clothing

Size range

  • Women’s size 8 – 22
  • Men’s size XS – 4XL

Representation

Craqghoppers are a UK brand specialising in active and travel clothing and accessories. My first walking set up was purchased from Craghoppers and since Autumn 2020, 70% of their clothes are made using recycled materials.

Their ladies clothing goes up to a size 22, but they have only a few items in a 22, so really it feels like their current range stops at a 20. There are far more options for men, as their range goes up to 4XL

Shop Craghoppers »


Lucy Locket Loves

Lucy Locket Loves

Size range

  • Women’s size 6 – 26

Representation

If like me, you find bright colours and patterns energising, you’ll love Lucy Locket leggings! Ideal for running, wearing at the gym and for warmer weather walking, the leggings fit brilliantly (choose from capris, full length, loungewear or activewear versions).

Thick waistbands make their active range of leggings truly squat proof and many are made out of recycled materials. Available in sizes 6 to 26, they really are worth a look.

Shop Lucy Locket Loves »


Nike

Nike plus size clothing

Size range

  • Women’s size 4 – 32
  • Men’s size XS – 2XL

Representation

Nike has been trailblazing in terms of diversity for the last couple of years. Just think back to the controversy in June 2019 that arose from their decision to use plus-sized mannequins in their stores.

As well as a really excellent choice of sizes, you’ll also find good representation on their website and whilst their plus range isn’t as vast as their regular range, there are plenty of options up to a size 32 for women and up to a size 2XL for men.

Shop Nike »


Regatta

Regatta

Size range

  • Women’s size 8 – 22
  • Men’s size XS – 4XL

Representation

Regatta gear offers solid performance that’s good value for money and no matter what your preferred activity, you’ll find something for you. From heated jackets for cosier winter walks through to cycling and fitness wear.

Regatta ladies clothing goes up to a size 22 whilst their men’s range goes up to a size 4XL.

Shop Regatta »


Tog24

Tog24

Size range

  • Women’s size 8 – 24
  • Men’s size S – 6XL

Representation

Tog24 are another UK brand that designs active outdoor clothing. Their walking and ski and snowboarding ranges are good and they have a vast range of sizes available.

Women’s Tog24 clothing goes up to a size 24 whilst their men’s range is among the largest we’ve seen going from a small right up to 6XL.

Shop Tog24 »


Trespass

Trespass

Size range

  • Women’s size XXXS – 5XL
  • Men’s size XXXS – 5XL

Representation

Scottish brand Trespass stock a great range of gym and active clothing with a vast range of sizes to choose from for both men and women. Although they do go up to 5XL, not all of their range is available, but they still have a great selection to choose from.

Shop Trespass »


Decathlon

Decathlon

Size range

  • Women’s sizes tops 6 – 26
  • Women’s sizes bottoms 4 – 22
  • Men’s size XS – 4XL

Representation

We are already fans of Decathlon camping gear, but they also have a great range of hiking and active clothing that goes up to size 3XL for women and 4XL for men.

Decathlon active gear focuses on practicality and performance without a heavy price tag with everything from base layers and fleeces to waterproof hiking trousers and technical ski gear.

Shop Decathlon »

Decathlon

Berghaus

Berghaus

Size range

  • Women’s size 8 – 20
  • Men’s size XS – 3XL

Representation

Although their sizing stops at a 20 for women, Berghaus is still worth a mention, especially for some of their technical outwear which is ideal for serious outdoors enthusiasts who demand high performance.

Berghaus also have some unisex clothing including fleeces up to 3XL, extending the choices open to women a little further.

Shop Berghaus »


Mountain Warehouse

Mountain Warehouse

Size range

  • Women’s size 4 – 22
  • Men’s size XS – 3XL

Representation

Always excellent value for money, Mountain Warehouse clothing is ideal for hiking and snowsports. Their ladies’ sizes go from a 4 up to 22 whilst their men’s range starts at XS and goes up to 3XL.

Shop Mountain Warehouse »


Closing thoughts on representation

It’s been great researching this feature, seeing the wider range of sizes offered by some outdoor and activewear brands and the racial diversity of models used, but the thing that struck me is the continued reluctance to show average size, let alone larger models in clothing and the fact that wetsuits in anything bigger than around a 14/16 are difficult to come by.

Zone 3 Agile wetsuit size XL designed for 73kg-83kg weight range
I was delighted to finally buy an open water swimming wetsuit in my size!

Wetsuits manufacturers need to get in touch with who their market really is

The one area that remains severely lacking is watersports with brands like Orca, Zone 3, Huub, DHB and others have sizing that stops at around 75-85kg. For this reason, I had previously been open water swimming in a surf wetsuit which I find far too buoyant and it puts my body in an unnatural swimming position, but it was better than nothing.

The narrow sizing of open water swimming specific wetsuits in particular, means thousands of men and women can’t be properly kitted out for activities like winter open water swims.

I spent most of 2021 trying to find an open water wetsuit in the largest size that would suit my weight and measurements but had no luck until the end of September 2021, when the Zone 3 Agile finally came back into stock in a size XL (73kg – 83kg) so I snapped it up and am delighted with the fit. I’m currently, closer to a size 16 than a 14, but anyone larger than me would really struggle and that’s just not right.

I’ve found that the largest sizes always sell out early in the season and yet late in the season, very small sizes are usually still available. This shows a very clear demand for larger sizes, so why aren’t those needs being catered for?

Representation matters

Plenty of women larger than a size 10 are active outdoors and whilst lack of representation doesn’t exclude larger bodies, it does reinforce the perception that open water swimming, walking up mountains and other outdoor pursuits are the domain of the thin.

Nike does an amazing job of showing standard models (typically size 8-10) as well as showing plus-size models in the same garments and Decathlon have plans to show greater diversity on their website very soon.

Using larger models absolutely does not ‘glamourise’ or somehow promote being curvy or overweight, which is an argument I saw in response to the Nike plus-size mannequins.

Using larger modes does however provide more varied and realistic representation and shows us how garments fit and look on a larger frame, which stops us feeling quite so excluded and alienated.

Greater diversity can only be a good thing, so please brands, wake up to the fact that bigger bodies are also active and need technical gear too!

Over to you…

Have you come across a great active or outdoors clothing brand that I’ve not mentioned? If so, we’d love to know what other brands are catering for more diverse body shapes.

Let us know in the comments below or on our socials.

Where to next?

Shell Robshaw-Bryan
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