It’s true! As someone who is plus sized, I find it really frustrating that I cannot find decent outdoor clothing to fit comfortably. I know there is an argument for losing weight and then it won’t be a problem, but that’s a conversation for another time. The point is the outdoors should be freely accessible to anyone, regardless of weight/size or ability. There are nice relaxing walks, paved paths for people with mobility difficulties, hikes, horse riding, water sports, climbing etc. the list goes on. However, to do any of these activities, you need to have the right clothing and equipment. Where there may be weight restrictions obviously I wouldn’t want to argue the health and safety points as to why heavier/larger people cannot participate, so, I am going to stick with what I know, walking/hiking.
I could spend hours in outdoor shops looking at all the clothing and accessories available, but I would struggle to spend any money. Most companies tend to make clothes up to a size 20 for women and a 44 inch waist (trousers) for men, but what about those of us who are bigger?
My husband has found it fairly easy to get comfortable combat trousers to walk in, but it’s more difficult when it comes to waterproof trousers or jackets. I have really struggled though. I have lost 2 1/2 stone in the last year and hover at a size 24 in trousers. However, due to my shape (big bum, large thighs) that can vary quite a bit. I can shop comfortably for day to day clothes, the plus size industry appears to be booming at the minute, but when it comes to functional exercise or active wear clothing, it seems to be lacking. I have been wearing thin 3/4 cotton leggings to walk in the summer but in Winter I always struggle as jeans are just not an option (heavy in the rain, doesn’t allow for great flexibility etc). In shops where I can by everyday clothing including supermarkets, the active wear stops at an XL which is roughly an 18, and in the plus size shops, proper functional active clothing just isn’t an option. I have scoured forums and essage boards looking for a solution with no joy until someone mentioned a company called Ulla Popken. I was pleasantly suprised to see that not only do they have an outdoor section, they go up to a size 34!
Now I have been bitten by this before, where it says a size, but it turns out it meant inches (slightly awkward), so I was a bit dubious, but I really wanted to get some trousers to walk up Loughrigg in so I ordered a pair of their Waterproof rain trousers, currently in the sale for £35.00 (and by subscribing I got a further £10 off my order). When they arrived I was chuffed. Not only are they comfortable (they dont look particularly fashionable but we’re after functionality here), they fit perfectly and even had zip pockets. They have a slight stretch to them which was perfect for scrambling over some of the larger rocks on Loughrigg and a comfortable inner lining. I will definitely be using Ulla Popken again, and not because my options are limited (did I mention there is a menswear section too?).
I have never understood why it is so hard to find exercise/active clothing in larger sizes. The best way for people to lose weight is through a balanced diet and regular exercise, but the clothing to help isn’t easily available so where does that leave larger people? If they are feeling self concious, working out in ill fitting clothes that don’t suit the activity isn’t going to help them, making them less likely to continue.
In shops that sell a range of sizes in every day clothing such as supermarkets, why do they limit there active wear so much? I would understand if they didn’t go up to a size 22 or 24 normally but when they do, why not sell it across the board?
Anyway, if you are after some comfortable walking trousers in a plus size (or even standard size) you now have somewhere to consider.