About two years ago I started a quest. A quest that should have been simple, but a quest that to this day I have failed.
What’s this quest?!’ I hear you cry. Well, it was the seemingly simple task of finding a technical waterproof jacket that had pit zips, zipped up across my hips and my bangers, and was NOT pink or black.
On this quest I’ve searched high and low across two continents and four countries. I’ve looked here in the land down under, back home in England, in Norway, and whilst living in Switzerland. Even the cocky World Wide Web has consistently failed to close the deal.
But I’ve come close so many times…
– The few-and-far-between non-pink or black women’s jackets available have no pit zips. Yet… lift up the arms on the male version of the very same jacket and lo-and-bloody-behold, the great, zippy goodness of an air vent. BREAKING NEWS: women sweat too.
– Flip it and reverse it: the coveted ‘I have pit zips’ jacket exists, but it’s only available in black or pink. Black is pretty useless if you want to be seen in the bush (safety first people). And pink? Seriously, what are we, a sorely misjudged gender reveal party?
– The perfect-on-paper bright blue jacket that I ordered in extra-large seemed to have nailed it. Yet when it arrived I couldn’t do it up over my hips. For reference, I’m a size 12 with E cup bazookas; I’m no Barbie Doll but if an XL won’t do up around my derrière then there is something seriously wrong with outdoor gear clothing sizes.
– I’ve even tried a lot of men’s jackets on, but the arms were inevitably too long and the hood didn’t work on my (apparently tiny) woman head.
Finally, with a trip to it’s-definitely-gonna-rain-and-be-hella-windy’ Tassie in the pipeline, I accepted my fate. I headed to the nearest outdoor shop in Sydney, told them I needed a decent, reliable rain jacket with pit zips, in whatever the hell colour they can muster. And I am now the owner of a Patagonia Women’s Torrentshell Jacket in Roamer Red.
I love that it’s made from recycled material and I’ve always trusted the quality and craftsmanship of Patagonia. I know it will last me for years and if I’m going to spend some cash, I like to spend it with these guys.
It also has pit zips and room for the boobs (though it is tight around the hips and I have to leave the zip open at the bottom if I wear a sweater underneath).
But don’t be fooled by whatever made-up colour Patagonia is pretending this jacket is. It’s pink people. It’s most definitely fucking pink.
I can tell because every time I wear it a friend looks at me, head tilted, and says ‘Huh, you’re wearing pink’. Roamer Red? More like Palpable Pink.
On writing this article, I’ve delved into the world of waterproofs once again and I can see that the Torrentshell is now available in various other colours including a bright yellow and blue on the Patagonia website. Paddy Pallin – where I bought my jacket from – only has it in Palpable Pink, Black, and ‘Smokey Violet’. No guesses what that hue might look like in real life.
And the kicker? The colour that’s sold out is the bright blue. This surely shows that women are seeking more than 1980s baby shower stereotypes when it comes to colour selection.
It’s Not Just Jackets
Now I get it, my rapid Googling is no scientific data analysis. So I decided to call a few mates and stick a post on Instagram. You’re welcome. Turns out I’m not the only one annoyed by women’s outdoor gear. And waterproofs are just the beginning.
Ever watched enviously as a guy delves into the waist belt pockets on their backpack? Keep an eye on it next time. Men’s pockets are so large they could fit 10 tonnes of trail mix in there.
Women’s pockets meanwhile have just about enough room for some lipgloss and a tampon.
Pockets in general are an issue. While guy’s clothes have more pockets than I eat jelly snakes on a multi-day, women’s are sorely lacking in stuff-holding, hand-warming goodness. Maybe it’s my fault for not taking my handbag with me on my week-long jaunts in the wilderness.
Looking for ski pants and happen to be on the taller side? Head to the men’s department for some ill-fitting second-choices and a side of ‘not our problem’.
As for the rest of the gear – think base layers, t-shirts, zip-up sweaters – it’s the same frustrations from everyone I spoke to:
Pink, pink, and pinker, with a touch of turquoise or purple if you’re lucky.
This article’s been bubbling away in my mind for a while now and I’m pleased to see some exciting new additions to my Google searches, including a funky blue and yellow RAB jacket I now have my eye on. Plus, we’ve definitely, 100%, come a long way already from the ‘shrink it and pink it’ strategies of the past.
But if my experience – and those of the adventurous women I surround myself with – are anything to go by, there’s still plenty that can be done to help women feel like they’re more than just a walking reminder of their sex or gender.
Listen Up Outdoor Brands!
Here are four things that’ll make your outdoor-loving, female-identifying customers love you just that little bit more:
– Offer more sizing options and don’t assume all women are shaped the same
– Be brave with your colour choices; we want more than just 50 Shades of Pink
– For the love of cheese and crackers please give us pockets – as many as you can muster
– Any functional addition you make to men’s clothing – like pit zips – we probably, definitely, need it too
Alright, rant over. Me and my pink waterproof are off to bond in the bush. See ya!