More and more women are eschewing ill-fitting and unflattering convertible hiking pants in favor of the freedom of movement offered by a hiking skirt. Several companies offer skirts suitable for hiking but one name that comes up consistently on internet hiker forums, especially thru-hiker forums, is Purple Rain, a tiny company tucked away in Oregon. Purple Rain can be classified as a cottage industry so their skirts won’t be found in mass retailer racks.
Founder and seamstress Mandy Bland created Purple Rain skirts after her Appalachian Trail thru-hike in 2012. Frustrated by not being able to find a skirt that worked she decided to create her own. Created for real hikers, the skirts are designed for comfort and durability. Made from a sturdy 95% Polyester/6% Spandex blend, the skirts feature a wide, stretchy, moisture-wicking, anti-microbial waistband that doesn’t bunch up or roll over. The waistband has a higher proportion of spandex (17%) for added comfort and is actually a hip-band, designed to ride below the natural waist.
The skirt itself is sewn to the waistband and falls straight down. On either side are two pockets cleverly designed to hold multiple objects. Hands can be slipped in easily but the outside of the pocket has an additional layer so a cell phone or snacks can be contained. The outer pocket is secured with a Velcro tab that folds over. The skirt material drapes over contours and stretches easily with movement. On the reviewer’s 5’8” frame the skirt hit just above the knee so it wasn’t too short. The skirt feels like it weighs nothing though it weighs 4 oz.
The benefit of working with a small company was immediately evident when the owner was contacted with questions about the fit of a medium skirt that had been ordered as a review sample. A medium was described on the sizing chart as fitting a 34-38” waist and 36-40” hips.
The reviewer is almost always a medium in tops and bottoms but the medium Purple rain skirt was a bit snug over the lower hips and thighs, though the waistband was perfectly comfortable. Mandy explained that the skirt is designed for a straight up and down body and the reviewer’s body is curvier. After discussing options the standard medium was returned and Mandy created a custom skirt with a medium waistband and large skirt. The skirt is necessarily a little more gathered than the original design but was a perfect fit. The medium waistband was still comfortable but now the skirt draped nicely over the hips and thighs and there was no constricting feeling. Mandy said she has made this combination of one sized waistband and a different sized skirt for other clients who don’t have a straight body shape.
The skirt is flattering and comfortable to wear. In warm weather it can be worn bare legged and when the temperatures drop it can be paired with ¾ or full-length leggings or tights. The waistband is so flexible that even when worn with leggings the two waistbands together don’t feel like it’s too much. The freedom of movement compared with pants is immediately apparent and when nature calls it’s a cinch to zip into the woods, take care of business and be back on the trail without having to let it all hang out.
Purple Rain skirts are comfortable, practical and best of all, come from a proprietor who really cares about her product and customers. Mandy is easy to work with and custom orders are possible. Thru-hikers and casual hikers will both appreciate the quality of the construction, flattering fit and utilitarian features developed for hikers by a hiker.
Purple Rain Adventure skirt
Available in Black, Olive, Pacific blue and Sandstone colors and contrasting waistband colors of gray or purple in some colors. Sizes include small, medium, large and XL.
The skirt is available from Purple Rain for $60 and custom orders are $70.
Weight: 4 oz
A unisex kilt is also available.
Disclaimer: Disclosure of material connection: A sample was received for testing purposes, but the opinions expressed are solely those of the author.