The Hiking Dress (And Other Clothing)

So remember that whole post I wrote about getting a hiking dress? About how I wasn’t sure, but maybe it would help me feel more beautiful while hiking? Well I think it is time to review the dress (and other important clothing items while I am at it). 

The Hiking Dress:

So, I have an Ice Breaker dress but I think this review of my hiking dress will do for any hiking dress as long as it is wool or synthetic material. Right off the bat, I am just going to admit that my hiking dress has not made me feel more beautiful. That is not to say that wearing a dress wouldn’t make other people feel more beautiful. I am just not sure the hiking dress is the ideal flattering outfit for me when I am hiking. On top of that it is filthy, it has sap and holes all over the butt from sitting on the ground, there are permenant stains on the shoulders and across my waist where my backpack straps sit, it is disgusting. Other than being vaguely pink at this point there is very little about it that is cute. On top of that, it has been covered up by a sun shirt for most of the hike thus far, so most people haven’t even appreciated it for what it is: a dress. Just because it hasn’t made me feel beautiful doesn’t mean I don’t love it. I do. Turns out hiking in a dress is often freakishly practical. First of all, peeing has taken on a whole new level of ease and the dress continues to provide butt coverage so you can pretty much feel comfortable peeing anywhere, anytime, in mixed company or all alone, it doesn’t matter because you are fully covered. It is also amazing when it comes to throwing on pants. I can get to camp and immediately pull on long johns, outside my tent, in broad day light. What a treat! There are some things you have to get used to when wearing the hiking dress. Number one: you are going to flash everyone constantly. There is no way around it. I am just not dainty enough to keep my legs crossed at all times. I am more of the linebacker sort, legs flopping this way and that, with no regards for what lady bits I am showing off. So I have just had to accept that and get a lot better at actually washing and rotating my two pairs of underwear every day. TMI? Problems with the hiking dress, other than a serious lack of modesty? None that I can think of. I seriously recommend trying them out to all humans. 

Sun Shirts: 

Kyle and I got Patagonia sun shirts, with hoods, for the desert. We tried to get rid of them at Kennedy Meadows but after our no-show box debacle we are still hiking in them. They are amazing. Full sun protection was a serious must in the desert and the couple of times I tried hiking without them I discovered it was actually much hotter to have exposed skin. The other great thing about them is the hoods, which act as bug shields for your ears. In fact, recently we decided we needed a little bit less sun protection (our hand tan lines were getting out of control). I got rid of my sun shirt all together, it was covered in stains and permenantly dirt marks. But Kyle loves the hood of his sun shirt so much he decided to just cut off the sleeves and keep going. So now he has a hooded tank top. It is quite the look. 


I started out in the Altra Lone Peaks and at Kennedy Meadows South switched to Altra Superiors. As you might remember I had problems with blisters at the start, but those problems had basically gone away by the time I got the Superiors and no new problems arose from wearing them. I switched the the Superiors because the pair of Lone Peaks I had before them were getting too small, and when I went online to get a bigger size they were out of what I needed. So I switched to the most similar thing I could find. Now that I am hiking in the right size the Superiors have been great. My first pair actually lasted a surprisingly long time, and the uppers were still in good shape when I got my next pair, the tread was just worn out. Kyle started in a pair of Brooks, which he quickly outgrew, and then he attempted to switch to a pair of Pearl Izumi M2V2s, but his efforts were thwarted at every turn. In Wrightwood he received a pair of N2s instead of M2s, which simply means they were zero drop shoes which he didn’t want. He sent them back and continued to suffer in his too small shoes until we got to Hiker Heaven. At that point he went to REI, but it turned out the best option they had was Hokas. So Kyle wore a pair of Hokas to Tehachapi, which destroyed his feet. In Tehachapi he finally received the Pearl Izumis he had wanted, in both a size ten and a ten and a half. Since then things have been okay with his feet, although his shoe size seems to be between a ten and a ten and a half. And then, in the last couple of days, he has started getting blisters again. He thinks it is just a sign of the impending doom of the Hat Creek Rim area, which promises to resemble the desert in more ways than one. Also if you are confused about me saying our feet have grown, I actually mean it, our feet are bigger than they were before. Kyle started wearing nine and a half and now he is wearing a full size bigger. 

Kyle’s Underwear: 

Kyle is now on his second round of My Package underwear. He hikes with two pairs at a time and swaps them out and he swears by them. Before discovering this underwear brand he got the weirdest chaffing everywhere, on his inner thighs, around his package, and worse. I won’t go into too much detail, but it was bad. On the AT he tried hiking with underware, without, sometimes when it he was hurting really bad he would just hang his package out of his shorts, which was a disturbing sight. But now things have changed, he hasn’t experienced a single bit of chafing. So, for all you lads out there who have similar problems, Kyle and I highly recommend them.

I have had a complete overhaul of my clothing, after I tore a good sized hole in my dress. Now I am back to the good ol’ shorts and tank top look. I think our biggest disappointment has been how many pairs of shoes we have had to buy out here. At half way we are both four or five pairs of shoes deep. We certainly did not plan for that much shoe money! 

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As Edward Abbey said, "An indoor life is the next best thing to a premature burial."

17 thoughts on “The Hiking Dress (And Other Clothing)

  1. I wore a regular cotton dress on the AT whenever it wasnt supposed to rain and even that was sooo comfortable. My boyfriend was jealous. So much more airy and less bad smelling than my shirts and shorts. I also had super short hair– you look a lot like me hahaha

      1. OMG it was, it was the way the photo was cropped combined with how small it was on my phone screen, made you look like you had a buzz cut. :’D I was so sure too, haha, not sure how.

  2. A friend of mine hikes in a sun dress in the summer. She loves it, says it feels very comfortable.
    After getting some nasty thigh chafing twice on two different hikes, I switched to a kilt. Basically it’s just a skirt for men who are secure in their sexuality… The kilt with Ex Officio underwear has stopped the chafing.
    Much like you, I’ve enjoyed its simplicity. It velcros on around the waist, so it becomes a multi-use piece of fabric. I can drive to the trail in shorts or jeans. Get out, put the kilt on, and pull off the jeans right on the trailhead. The reverse works too. Put on shorts, pull off kilt, right in the parking lot. Cold morning? Start with long underwear “base layers” (those tights for guys – the manufacturers just won’t call them tights, because guys won’t buy tights. So they call them “base layers”). Walk a mile or two and when you’re hot, just pull off the long johns with the kilt on!

  3. Have you considered a hiking skirt, which you could pair with whatever tank tops, sun shirts, turtlenecks that seemed appropriate for conditions? Seems that would give you all the features you like about the dress with few of the down sides.

    Some years ago we did a trip into the Alpine Lakes, near Mt. Daniel. One day started in mostly sun, turned into spits and drizzle, then light rain, then snow. Like some of your PCT days in the Cascades. I came around an uphill corner to the sight of a fuzzy pink miniskirt, thighs, and a pink knee socks. The woman driving all this seemed cheery enough despite the gray day and the snow. Tougher than me, given that I was feeling a bit chilled in long pants and gaiters. The guy right behind her was wearing a kilt with knee-high socks. I may have to try this…

    1. I have considered a hiking skirt. The problem is I hate the look of all the skirts that exist. I actually hate all the dresses out there as well, the one I wore on the PCT was kind of the best I could do. Its a completely personal preference style thing, I know lots of other women that love purple rain hiking skirts and other brands as well, but I just haven’t seen anything yet that I like.

  4. Did you experience enlarged feet on the AT ? (I didn’t)
    If not, why do you think everyone seems to deal with this on the PCT?

    1. We did not experience our feet getting bigger on the AT (although we knew people that did). I am still not sure if Kyle’s feet will stay bigger or shrink back down? In the desert I feel like you can amount a lot of it to the heat, and maybe its jus the longer days in general leading to swelling… but it is really strange.

  5. Yea! This is so great! And exciting! I miss the PCT hard. I was really interested in hiking dresses, but ended up in shorts, which I still rock every day in the non-hiking world. One day, one day!

  6. That dress is super cute! Although for myself personally, I’d be that worried about my backpack pulling it up and showing off my knickers, snagging it on something and also… well… leg chafing (which I don’t get in leggings or trousers).

    1. Yeah I was worried about it coming up also but it never did! Clearly it got snagged on things, hence all the holes. And I am just one of those lucky people, no leg chafing.

  7. I have to know…did you ever come around a corner and surprise a group of hikers on the trail while Kyle was rocking the open-air-package look? 🙂

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