Plus sized hiker

Blonde female hiker (30s) looks off into the distance while on a mountain hike.

File photo. Photo credit: Melissa Kopka. (istock)

Speaking from experience, taking the first steps of getting involved with outdoor recreation as an overweight person is tough. Apart from the physical challenges involved, there are also obstacles in finding gear that is comfortable and functional, because not all mainstream hiking apparel stores carry inclusive sizes. 

The important thing to remember is that outdoor spaces and natural areas can be fun for everyone and there are resources available to support adventurers of any size. 

Here's a round-up gear recommendations for plus-size beginners:

Pants

When deciding on a reliable pair of hiking pants, you should consider comfort, durability, and functionality over style. Also keep in mind how well the pants will keep you warm, as fluctuating temperatures can mean big changes during an adventure. 

One of the challenges of finding pants or leggings that will work well when you are plus-size is finding a material that won't rip or appear see-through as it stretches.

In my experience, REI Co-op Taereen pants for women go up to a size 3X and are fairly stretchy without being transparent. They also have zippered pockets, which comes in handy. 

If you are more comfortable in an active legging, Torrid has a great active wear line for plus-size women. My go-to active legging is the Black Wicking Capri Active Legging. I would not recommend these, however, as it starts to get cold. 

With pants, you should always try before you buy, but if you can't at least make sure you read reviews and do outside research. 

For men REI and Columbia have extended sizes, though I cannot advocate for the quality of the pants myself. 

Footwear 

While researching footwear, be thinking about weight, breathability, durability, and the water resistance-nature of the shoe, as well as how your needs may vary depending on the trail. Keep in mind that waterproofing can be great, but can also make footwear warmer and less ventilated on a hot day.

Footwear really isn't an issue for all plus-size people, but if you're like me and require wide sizes, it's a bit more difficult to find something comfortable.

REI, Merrel, and Solomon all carry styles in wide sizes on their websites.  

For more information on choosing footwear, visit this Outthere Colorado guide.

Backpacks

Depending on the length of the hike and how much you want to carry, the backpack you use will vary. Regardless, having a comfortable and reliable backpack can really make a big difference. 

Something to think about is that typical hiking backpacks have both a chest and waist strap for support. 

If you are wider through these areas, men sizes are typically more comfortable and tend to look the same.  

REI has a really helpful guide on how to measure yourself before buying a pack, that you can find here

Gregory Mountain Packs are one of the few mainstream hiking brands that have an entire plus-size line of backpacks. The sizes range from 2X to 6X and have great reviews. More information visit their website

Tents and Sleeping bags

If you are planning any overnight trips, items like sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and tents might be a concern. 

Making sure that you are comfortable overnight can be the difference between a positive and negative overall experience. 

There aren't necessarily brands that carry these items in "plus sizes," but thankfully, finding extra large tents and sleeping accessories is pretty simple. 

Amazon is a great place to start, but make sure that you read the reviews and do your research before purchasing.

Try to remember that everyone was a beginner at some point. Be safe and try to have fun!

Click here for an OutThere Colorado list of beginner trails around the state. 

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