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#200777 - 04/23/10 02:34 AM Women-Specific Gear & Concerns
rebwa Offline

Registered: 01/25/09
Posts: 295
I'd like to start a discussion as well as hearing what other women on the forum might recommend in the way of clothing, footwear, backpacks and what goes in them, bicycles, vehicle kits, etc, as well as security issues unique to us.

#200779 - 04/23/10 03:44 AM Re: Women-Specific Gear & Concerns [Re: rebwa]
Art_in_FL Offline

Registered: 09/01/07
Posts: 2432
Female friends who hike and camp a lot swear that they can put up with a lot of the minor issues as long as they have a good sports bra.

#200780 - 04/23/10 05:57 AM Re: Women-Specific Gear & Concerns [Re: Art_in_FL]
MostlyHarmless Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/03/09
Posts: 982
Loc: Norway
Not being a woman, my experiences are somewhat irrelevant, but I'll toss in a couple of cents anyway.

If you're into backpacking - or for other reasons want to prepare yourself for having to haul a big pack - the two items you need to make sure really have a good fit are hiking shoes and a backpack. Backpack designed for men are quite often not that good for women because of different physiology.

In principle, the process of finding a backpack is the same for both genders: You try a lot of different backpacks until you find one that really fits YOU. Both in men and women there are lots of individual variations in shape, curves, strength and so on. It is just that as models are made for the male body, the search process usually goes quicker for the male. (Or would be quicker if not for the fact that most males are gear junkies...)

Invest time in searching. Ideally, you should try it going hiking over the weekend, but your local store may not be that forthcoming. At the very minimum, load it up in the store and walk some stair. And be sure you learn how to adjust it properly, otherwise the pack will never be comfortable.

Finding hiking shoes is similar: There are fewer female than male hiking shoes. Search and Thou shall find...

As for bikes, those are not gender specific. Unless you happen to ride a lot with long robes and such there is no need for a "female" kind of bicycle (the horizontal bar of the frame is traditionally lower to accommodate long skirts. When was the last time you ever saw someone biking with a long skirt?) Just get a good bike of a type that fits you and your needs.

#200789 - 04/23/10 10:36 AM Re: Women-Specific Gear & Concerns [Re: MostlyHarmless]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7326
Loc: southern Cal
With backpacks, "try before you buy". My store rented me a model and I used it on a trip before I finally purchased it. That was twenty years ago - comfortable then and comfortable now. You might have a friend who will loan one for a trip....
Geezer in Chief

#200791 - 04/23/10 10:52 AM Re: Women-Specific Gear & Concerns [Re: MostlyHarmless]
Am_Fear_Liath_Mor Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/03/07
Posts: 3078
As for bikes, those are not gender specific.

Actually they are gender specific. Women have longer legs and shorter torso's than men, so for correct posture the top tube of a bicycle frame is generally shorter in comparison to a frame designed for a male. Generally, lower gearing is required and a lot of smaller women would benefit from smaller wheels such as 650C over 700C wheels so as to ensure the correct head and seat tube angles. It may be very worthwhile for a women to go directly to a bespoke frame builder to get a frame designed to fit properly. The extra cost may be very worthwhile for long term comfort and cycling efficiency.

My main large backpack (a Lowe Alpine Crossbow ND70, long since discontinued), after trying out many at the local outdoor store ending up being a women specific model. Apart from the girly colours, most kit is basically the same being just marketed as gender specific. Going for lightweight (more expensive) kit is always recommended for women as well because being in general less strong than men they will have a harder time hauling gear.

Although saying that it was a woman that eventually won the TV show, 'SAS are you tough enough' wink


#200793 - 04/23/10 11:28 AM Re: Women-Specific Gear & Concerns [Re: Am_Fear_Liath_Mor]
Dagny Offline

Registered: 11/25/08
Posts: 1916
Loc: Washington, DC
Thank, Rebwa, for this thread.

I hope the few ETS women will chime in with their first-hand female perspectives. I'd prefer the fellas sit this one out unless they'd like to relate their personal experience using women's outdoor gear (no lingerie accounts, please), wearing women's clothes or designing either for manufacture.

When I first started hiking and camping as an adult, I don't recall hearing anything about "women-specific" gear. But then I went shopping for a bike a few years ago and, sure enough, bought a women-specific because it fit so well. I've since become fond of non-women specific Rocky Mountain bikes -- turns out that manufacturer generally has shorter top tubes, which is a major issue for most women in choosing a bike, because of our generally shorter reach.

LL Bean's women-specific version of the Bigelow daypack has been terrific. In backpacks I always seek out a women-specific.

Clothes-wise, women-specific outdoor clothing -- especially jackets -- too often means a pastel color palate that to me is loathsome. There is usually an acceptable color or two but I've often envied the men's choice of colors. Men's jackets also seem to have a greater array of pockets. I've bought a couple men's LL Bean coats because of the pockets and color.

Security from a woman's perspective is a discussion I look forward to having with ETS women.

Again, thanks for this thread. I'm going to give it further thought and chime in again later.

#200796 - 04/23/10 01:07 PM Re: Women-Specific Gear & Concerns [Re: Dagny]
rebwa Offline

Registered: 01/25/09
Posts: 295
Thanks Dagny, that's great info on the bikes and packs. Both of which I need to upgrade.

Pockets are something that we seem to always get shorted on. I too have a couple of men's jackets because of more and better pocket design as well as better colors. The shallow pockets in most of our pants really bugs me, especially in the summer when not wearing a jacket with lots of pockets. I've been wearing the Royal Robbins Field Guide vests in the warm weather as it has lots of nice secure pockets.

I too will be interested in what other's have to say re security and how they deal with it. My two Dobes are a big part of at least the feel good part of security for me. They go almost everywhere with me and I'm confident they would give me early warning if someone with ill intent was around.

#200797 - 04/23/10 01:23 PM Re: Women-Specific Gear & Concerns [Re: rebwa]
JohnN Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 10/10/01
Posts: 966
Loc: Seattle, WA
Originally Posted By: rebwa

I too will be interested in what other's have to say re security and how they deal with it. My two Dobes are a big part of at least the feel good part of security for me. They go almost everywhere with me and I'm confident they would give me early warning if someone with ill intent was around.

Web site on firearm carry put together by a lady here in Washington:


Also, defensivecarry.com is a good concealed carry forum, and although it is not female specific, there are a number of active female members.


Edited by JohnN (04/23/10 02:56 PM)

#200801 - 04/23/10 01:42 PM Re: Women-Specific Gear & Concerns [Re: JohnN]
Krista Offline

Registered: 03/03/10
Posts: 101
Loc: North Carolina
YAY- A woman specific equipment thread, lol. If only I had more experience to add something important! wink

Pockets, pockets, pockets. When I go hiking or walking I love wearing cargo pants. The more pockets the better, and they are kinda gender neutral.

As far as backpacks, I have one that is probably not specific for the outdoors, but I love it because it has about 738 pockets and sections. It's sort of expandable, and very comfortable to carry, and I guess somewhat durable as I've had it a few years now.

As for security... I will be hitting up the shooting range with the husband to practice, and hope to take a concealed carry class in the next couple months. This is something more for if I am hiking alone (I tend to retreat to the woods for my downtime). Or for when/if husband deploys. Also, my dobie pup will hopefully be a deterrent of violence once he grows up!

Something else I want to do, more for my three teenage daughters: I think most vehicles these days have a safety latch on the inside of the trunk. I really want to lock my girls in the trunk and teach them to work it in case somebody snatches them and tosses them in a trunk! I actually think about it a lot, so there must be a reason it's on my mind! Is that over the top?? LOL. I haven't done it yet because we only have a truck and a minivan, no trunks.

I would also like to add a pepper spray to my purse (not sure why I haven't yet).

That's all I can think of for now. smile

PS- Dagny: for some reason I thought you were a guy. wink
Mother love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible.

~Marion C. Garretty

#200802 - 04/23/10 02:10 PM Re: Women-Specific Gear & Concerns [Re: Krista]
rebwa Offline

Registered: 01/25/09
Posts: 295
Thanks for chiming in Krista.

I too love cargo pants for outdoor activities, just wish they made more that fit correctly with deep pockets, especially the side pockets where I like to put my keys.

The NRA has some good reading materials on safety that you might check out. They have a minimal charge for some of their brochures but well worth it in my opinion.

Good idea on teaching children to get out of a locked trunk.

I keep pepper spray in my shoulder bag. Don't normally carry it when I'm out with my dogs. My male is mature and the female is 17 months so it seems sort of redundant with them on the end of the leash.

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