Athletic skirts come in all shapes and sizes. Some are best suited for activities like tennis or running, short in length with minimal pockets designed to fit a credit card, key and maybe a few energy gels. They are made of lightweight, breathable and stretchy materials and often have a built-in liner. I’ve used a cute Patagonia skirt for years, mostly on weekend hikes and more regularly, as a poolside bottom. Although quite attractive, where the heck are you supposed to fit important things like maps, compass, cellphone, wallet, chocolate bar(s) and the occasional sip of whiskey? Little Miss Tennis Skirt, I don’t think so.
Meet Purple Rain. A thru-hiker herself, Mandy Bland has created skirts best suited to hiking—especially long-distance hiking. Sewn in Ashland, Oregon, these skirts are lightweight, functional and still look cute. They are made of a polyester/spandex blend that is treated with DWR(durable-water-repellency) to help wick moisture while shedding off rain and snow. They come with a soft, stretchy waist band that allows for comfort and movement. And the best part of all, is the skirt’s pockets. At first glance, there are two pockets, each located on the outside thigh, but close-up you will see that the drop-in style pockets double as a second pocket, one that secures belongings with two sturdy tabs of velcro. And these pockets are roomy rectangles, suitable for maps and…cellphones!!! Fit that into Little Miss Tennis Skirt, I dare you. But Purple Rain skirts fit phones with ease, maps with ease, and all the other important things like wallet, knife, chocolate bars and that occassional sip of whiskey.
These skirts can be customized too, as she can cut the length longer or shorter depending on our unique bodies. And for men, she even makes kilts.
I have to say that I wasn’t initially convinced on the idea of hiking a long-distance trail in a skirt. (Personally I like running shorts best, but with the upcoming thru-hike set in winter, I choose a pair of pants instead.) But two things changed my mind. First, upon visiting family in NY for the holiday, I started my training on a cool day that was forecasted with 100% rain. My windproof, stretchy running pants, although very comfortable, were soaked by the end of 10 miles. They sagged a bit too, and the minimal pockets were useless to hiking. Secondly, besides that first day, NY has been experiencing warm, record-breaking temps. As I hiked along the rocky nature of the NY/NJ Appalachian Trail, I rationalized the likelihood that I might want to wear shorts on rare occassions. Wanting increased adaptability, and noticing the carrying potential of the Purple Rain Skirts, I decided that this skirt layered over a pair of Under Armor tights (the same ones I used 10 years ago on my first thru-hike) was an ingenious idea. Done and done.
For more information, check out Purple Rain now.