Article on Women's gear

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Harlen
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Re: Article on Women's gear

Post by Harlen » Fri Oct 19, 2018 5:06 pm

Mrphil writes:
...what I'm most curious about is in how the quality and function of women's clothing differs from men's,... Is it fit, pockets, zippers, construction...?
Here's one example: Lizzie and I noticed that the parka/rain gear selection at our local Outdoor World was high on fashion, but low on function. Most of the women's parkas, which is one's outermost layer, were designed with a tapered waist; chic and flattering for a curvy figure, but useless if you need it to fit over your down puffy with airspace for warmth.








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longri
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Re: Article on Women's gear

Post by longri » Fri Oct 19, 2018 5:39 pm

I asked my wife about lack of functionality in women's gear. She couldn't think of anything major, just that some stuff is frilly or cut too tight. But in those cases she said she just buy's the men's version.

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Re: Article on Women's gear

Post by Wandering Daisy » Fri Oct 19, 2018 7:25 pm

Not sure who posted, but 4 mph is a feasible "hiking" rate for a very athletic woman. Of course, that would not count rest stops, so may not qualify for an all-day pace nor does it factor in elevation gain. "Hiking" rate is not the same as backpacking rate. I have clocked 4 mph on 5-mile walks (no stopping) with my dog, urban hiking on sidewalks. Even at my age, I often backpack at 3.5 mph on the flat if the trail is a really well maintained trail.

I could care less about color. I actually have a lot of hideous colored gear because the color that never sells well, ends up on sale! My daughter gave me very expensive ArcTerx pants she will not wear because they are pumpkin orange. I do not mind that there is all that fashion fluff out there, AS LONG AS serious, functional woman's alternatives are also available. For many items, you could make them both functional and flattering. For a few items, making them flattering destroys functionality. Color does nothing to destroy functionality. So I was a bit confused with all the emphasis on color in the commentary. Honestly, men who think women are less capable outdoors, are still going to think so whether I wear a pink jacket or a black jacket.

Function and fit are more important. I also own several REI kids items because they just fit better, are simple design and cost much less for the same quality. And YES, lack of functionally sized pockets!

Shoes are a big problem for me. Inevitably I find the shoe I want, but it only comes in men's sizes. The equivalent woman's shoe is too tight, toes to narrow and not built as tough. I cannot just buy men's shoes because my foot is too small.

Although not clothing, sleeping bags are an example of manufacturers finally getting it right. Simply sizing down a man's bag does not make it a woman's bag. Fortunately, now they recognize that women sleep colder, are actually shaped differently, and need more insulation in different parts of the bag. Interesting side story here- after researching sleeping bags for my 10-year old grandson, I decided that a small woman's bag would best fit him. But, alas, I found the perfect bag at a great price, but violet just was not a color that I could buy, because he would be teased by the other boys.

Unfortunately, what is considered good looking, is skewed towards the non-functional for women. Hey, guys, do not feel so smug- have you looked at some men's fashions nowadays? They are also getting quite non-functional. Those tight suits that are not popular with younger men? Just wait, your day will too come.

It is also my opinion, that some of the non-functional aspects are simply due to price competition. Manufacturers are always trying to cut corners to save costs and some really good features get axed to save a few pennies. But we also drive that, when we are not willing to pay for what truly functional clothing costs.

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Re: Article on Women's gear

Post by mrphil » Fri Oct 19, 2018 8:41 pm

Thanks Daisy. That was awesome.

It would be interesting to hear about your clothing wishlist piece by piece. Maybe even stitch by stitch. What would complete perfection be to you? All the crappy stuff gone, all the great stuff made better, all the bells and whistles that should be there, there, everything that would make buying what you sometimes have to find in men's unnecessary, because it's redesigned to be right and available as a woman's piece? What would make it "womanly" in your opinion, and enough for mass appeal, but specialized enough to be serious and functional as a true piece of women's outdoor clothing that meets the demands and requirements it needs to?

Like if you were going on an important backpacking date and wanted to look stylish and good, but still had to be able to move and fully operate as a serious backpacker? :D

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Re: Article on Women's gear

Post by balzaccom » Sat Oct 20, 2018 7:09 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 7:25 pm
Not sure who posted, but 4 mph is a feasible "hiking" rate for a very athletic woman. Of course, that would not count rest stops, so may not qualify for an all-day pace nor does it factor in elevation gain. "Hiking" rate is not the same as backpacking rate. I have clocked 4 mph on 5-mile walks (no stopping) with my dog, urban hiking on sidewalks. Even at my age, I often backpack at 3.5 mph on the flat if the trail is a really well maintained trail.

I could care less about color. I actually have a lot of hideous colored gear because the color that never sells well, ends up on sale! My daughter gave me very expensive ArcTerx pants she will not wear because they are pumpkin orange. I do not mind that there is all that fashion fluff out there, AS LONG AS serious, functional woman's alternatives are also available. For many items, you could make them both functional and flattering. For a few items, making them flattering destroys functionality. Color does nothing to destroy functionality. So I was a bit confused with all the emphasis on color in the commentary. Honestly, men who think women are less capable outdoors, are still going to think so whether I wear a pink jacket or a black jacket.
I had the same reaction to longri's post about hiking speed. I have certainly with women who hike at 4mph. Day hiking, not backpacking. And I hiked...behind them rather than WITH them really. Not sure why the instructor gets a pass on that one.

And I loved Daisy's comment about some men who will always think women are less competent outdoors. Reminds of a story a hiking leader told me. She was out with a group of five other women who were professional guides and outdoor/employed women on a backpacking trip. Along come two mansplainers who asked if the women were "all alone" in the Backcountry.

Six of them, mind you ..
Balzaccom

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Re: Article on Women's gear

Post by longri » Sat Oct 20, 2018 9:10 am

The question was "typical" hiking speed, in the context of backcountry travel. I agree that 4 mph is an attainable pace; most active people go that fast at times. But it's unlikely to be one's typical hiking pace.

Suppose it were true that this woman really does normally walk that quickly. She could have explained how she arrived at that conclusion, citing the distances and times of particular walks she has done. But she didn't. Instead of defending her estimate she instead went off on a tangent.

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Re: Article on Women's gear

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sat Oct 20, 2018 9:16 am

Size for me is the biggest issue. For both women's and men's clothing, there really needs to be more sizing options. The "sm-md-lg" sizing just does not work for most people, unless you happen to fall exactly in the middle of each size designation. With today's technology, I do not see why custom sizing cannot become a reality within a price range that is more expensive then s-m-l but within reason for most people's budget. Minimally, lets get back to real number sizing- such as inches in waist, hip, neck, arm length etc. I hate the arbitrary, for example "size 6". It is a wishy -washy size that is changed regularly to make women "feel good" about their size. I am the same size I was at 16 years old, and size 10 used to be my size; now it is size 4. And each manufacturer's measurements are different. It makes internet shopping difficult. At least men's sizing is more objective, such as neck size. There also needs to be fit for both skinny people and stocky people of the same height. And outdoors people are mostly athletic. Men's clothing represents that with wider shoulders. Women's outdoor clothing has a long ways to go (except technical rock climbing clothing seems to recognize this).

I have sewn all my life. Pockets, especially side pockets, are actually difficult to sew and I suspect advertising has convinced women that pockets make them look bad, but the real reason for no pockets is to save costs of manufacturing. Fishing outfitters are a good place to get a woman's shirt with descent pockets. My Orvis long sleeved shirt is perfect! I also like Sportsman Wearhouse clothing, but unfortunately, they size everything for "big mamas"! Again the perception that women hunters and fisherwomen are large sized women. For most big manufacturers, it is all about sales and profits and the small quality manufacturers are being driven out of business. And slick advertising can convince us that what is bad is really good, particularly for the younger demographic.

I think guys suffer more with respect to clothing color. Women are "allowed" to wear any color without nasty comments; there still are a lot of homophobic men out there who label any man wearing "woman's" colors negatively. As for pink, that color has become a symbol of women and a lot of women really like it- are making a statement about woman-power. Personally, I hate both pink and red. My color vision is very sensitive to red- it just glares at me. I have to photo-process out red in all my photos for it to look natural to me. Now, bluish-purple, that's OK.

Unfortunately, until real outdoors people become the major purchasers of outdoor clothing, mostly what is out there will be inadequate. And I do not see that changing. I think the best we can do is buy from the cottage industry manufacturers so they can stay in business.

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Re: Article on Women's gear

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sat Oct 20, 2018 9:24 am

Longri- having done a lot of backpacking in Desolation Wilderness (just did a trip this week), I am absolutely amazed with the athleticism one sees on the trail. There are some very competitive speed backcountry hikers there who do crazy high mileage day-hikes, including 1000-2000 elevation gain. I would say that an experienced guide in the Tahoe are CAN absolutely do 4 mph regularly. I also see a lot of UL backpackers- carry sub-20 pound packs for several day backpacks. I consider myself a fairly fast backpacker, but those Tahoe folks leave me in the dust! Even if the woman were to give statistics of her hikes, I doubt the male instructor would have believed her anyway. His mind was already set; women hike slowly.

I see the same athleticism in outdoors people who live in Mammoth Lakes. There are some really tough dudes out there, both men and women. Both Tahoe and Mammoth Lakes are serious outdoor communities. Also found that in Durango Colorado when visiting my daughter. Her husband, who is a orthopedic surgeon, makes a good living fixing all the tough dudes who crash.

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Re: Article on Women's gear

Post by longri » Sat Oct 20, 2018 9:35 am

The author is not a guide. She works in the outdoor industry. Again, not saying it's impossible she usually walks that fast, just unlikely.

And it isn't the truth about her typical hiking pace that got me. It was that instead of defending her claim she made an unrelated, bogus assertion. Maybe she couldn't have convinced the eye-rolling guide. But she might have convinced the readers of her article.

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Re: Article on Women's gear

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sat Oct 20, 2018 10:15 am

Her estimated speed was calculated for a "backcountry navigation class", the instructor was not a guide, and the speed was specifically for HER, not anyone else. There was no stipulation that the pace was for backpacking, just "backcountry" which means trails, not sidewalks. For her "typical hike" may be that fast. The point she was making was the immediate "eye roll" from the instructor. Had a man given the same answer, one wonders if there still would be an eye roll. Was anyone else in the class asked to offer proof. I do not see her as an angry feminist, simply a good athlete who is tired of being second-guessed regarding her abilities. She was simply tying this behavior of the instructor, to perceptions typical of designers of outdoor clothing for women. My only criticism would be that those designers are tasked to create clothing that sells to the broadest market and make the most profit, and they simply are doing as told. Otherwise they would not have a job. I do not think putting down women is in the picture.

Turn the tables, and put an article in a men's magazine, about how men get discriminated against if they want to buy pink outdoor clothing and all that is available to them are those drab colors. I think you would get the same tone- men defending their feminine side!

Granted Elle magazine is not known for balanced journalism. There is a article in Atlantic this month that critiques an article in Elle on the Me-Too movement. Like outdoor gear, Elle's objective is to sell copy and make a profit. Nowadays, an "us-vs them" lean tends to sell. So I take the article with a grain of salt.

I think what we all agree on, is we want our clothing to be 1) functional, and 2) descent looking insofar as it does not impact function and 3) sized to fit us. Also would not hurt if it were reasonably priced and well made.

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