There are outdoor brands for every body shape, but rarely is there a brand that fits every body.
When I got married, my husband was blown away by how difficult it was to shop for pants with me. I think we both dreaded it more than the dentist. And when we found something that worked, we’d buy two or three pairs. In fact, we still do.
Over the years I’ve noticed that some brands always work for me, and some always don’t. This post is obviously based on my opinion and experience…therefore I intend for it to be more of a discussion. I’ve drawn from a large pool of experienced outdoor athletes, every-day-joes, bloggers, and even an Olympian to round out my perspectives, but please add your tidbits in the comments section! My hope is that this post will be a resource, taking the “brain kill” out of shopping for outdoor gear that fits right, but also is a reference when gift shopping for others.
Not everything is straight forward in terms of the fit and cut of clothing. As fellow outdoor writer Corey King from Backcountry Parenting said, “Mtn Hardware is also more full cut for us larger athletes. Arcteryx and Mammut are very slim athletic cut. As for sleeve length it depends on what the garment is tailored for. If it is designed for climbing there will be more allowance in the shoulders and sleeves for overhead work, where as clothing for skiing or boarding will have shorter sleeves because you don’t have to lift your arms overhead.”
Now obviously the chart above isn’t a silver billet. I am neither long nor slender, and yet my favorite pair of pants are Prana zip-offs! And while Patagonia fleece/jackets are almost always a few inches long in the arm and a little tight on the chest, I’ve decided I’d rather deal with the imperfect fit than forego their R1 fleece (I practically live in the thing.)
Linda Bernardi, from A Nature Mom, says, “I wear just about all brands of outdoor clothing, but love Patagonia best. I’m the long and lean type. Patagonia jackets are the only ones both skinny and long enough for my frame… especially in the arms.” Another long and lean woman, Rebecca Bradford Plath (2010 Olympic Speed Skater, training for 2014) loves Under Armour, who makes a sweat pant with a 34′ inseam.
Sometimes it is just a size issue. Tanya Koob from Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies said, “I’m very small up top and often shop from the MEC children’s department. I buy size 16 youth and find it fits my body type better. I love my Patagonia youth hoodie and my MEC light puffy. The youth model of jacket even came with a hood which the women’s didn’t. I save money this way too which is a bonus.”
Heather Balogh from Just a Colorado Gal said, “My three faves these days are Columbia, Outdoor Research and Arc’teryx. They all have slim fits that are flattering yet efficient!
Matt Fischer (height 6’7″) said, “I think Eddie Bauer is the best, or Bass Pro Shops. They have the best quality. I would only order online, and make sure returns and shipping are free. The online reviews for each item will also tell you if the fit really matches how it is described.”
Now obviously there is a ton of cross over! Many brands fit many different people but some stand out, at least among the women. For example, both Linda Bernardi (described as tall and slender) and Melissa Edge of Adventure Tykes (short and curvy) raved about the perfect fit of Athleta clothing.
In fact, a few brands were mentioned over and over as fitting ALL body types (female that is). Athleta, Stonewear Designs and ISIS for Women topped the list!