Learn Skills OutdoorHer | Outdoor kit guide for women

OutdoorHer | Outdoor kit guide for women


Over the past decade, women's outdoor clothing has made leaps and bounds from the ‘shrink it and pink it’ years, where women's clothing was made smaller and pinker. Brands are now delivering features tailored to a woman's physique that address the unique needs of female adventurers. There is a need for female-tailored clothing and equipment to enhance comfort, performance, and safety in the mountains.

From specific materials that make you feel great, to sizing and style options to boost confidence, Cotswold Outdoor dive into the details with their Kit Guide for Women:


When hiking, it's important to monitor your temperature and manage moisture so you feel comfy and confident on the trails. And this all starts with the right clothing.

Breathable Fabric Is Your Best Friend

When shopping for sports bras, underwear and base layers, consider choosing a fabric that will leave you feeling fresh after your activity.

Merino Wool is naturally antibacterial and odour-resistant. It is warm in winter (even when wet) and dries sweat easily in summer.

Nylon & Polyester is cost-effective, quick-drying, and perfect for workout kit, sports bras and technical layers.


Finding the right sports bra is down to personal choice. Unlike everyday bras, sports bras offer extra support and comfort for outdoor activities. Commonly, sizes can run small, so try different brands in-store to match your breast and upper body size. For people prone to sensitive breasts during menstruation, consider bras with soft padding or adjustable straps.

Recommended women-specific brands:

Icebreaker, Patagonia, Brooks and Nike

The Importance of Layering

Carefully selected layers are your ticket to comfortable outdoor adventures. They give you more control over your body temperature as you can remove or add as you please.

Base Layers: Over your undergarments, opt for a long sleeve, stretchy or loose fitting (all dependent on preference) merino wool, bamboo or polyester layer and wool leggings under your active trousers for colder months.

Mid-Layer Insulation: If you need quick temperature regulation, opt for a mid-layer with a full zip for extra ventilation or for colder temperatures, add a goose-down or synthetic insulation jacket.

Outer Layer: This could be a hard shell rain jacket which protects from UV and rain.

Remember the comfy essentials - a hat, thermal gloves and merino wool walking socks.

Hiking Trousers & Shorts

Find a pair that allows for ample freedom of movement. Look for stretchy waistbands for comfort, especially when your tummy needs space. Drawstrings help adjust as you go. And pockets with zips are perfect for essentials like sanitary products, snacks or lip balm.

Recommended women-specific brands:

Fjällräven, Patagonia

Plus Sized Kit

Getting kit in larger sizes can be a challenge. There are a few brands who stock sizes 18 and 20 but almost nothing in a size 22 or above. Every Body Outdoors are an organisation who are fighting for clothing, gear and representation for plus size bodies in the outdoor movement. They are working with brands to improve the size inclusivity of clothing.

DISCOVER: The great work of Every Body Outdoors

LISTEN: BMC Podcast Episode "Plus sizes and Good Kit" with Every Body Outdoors

Hiking Boots

Women’s hiking boots tend to fit a lot narrower than men's. Getting a professional boot fitting appointment at your nearest Cotswold Outdoor store is a good idea to find the perfect fit for your unique feet.

Long hikes: Sturdy boots offering stability, ankle support, and solid traction on loose ground.

Short hikes: Lightweight trail running or walking shoes let you pick up the pace without sacrificing traction.

Keep your feet happy with quick-drying Merino wool socks - they fend off blisters. And always bring a spare pair in case of a surprise puddle!

Backpacking Packs

Finding the right backpack is crucial for comfort and weight distribution. Osprey offers a helpful guide for female-specific body shapes to help you consider back length, harness, and hip belt fit. If you'd rather have 1:1 support, Cotswold Outdoor's kit specialists provide expert advice and professional in-store fitting appointments.

Recommended women-specific brands:

Osprey, Deuter

Sleeping Bags

Selecting a sleeping bag involves finding the right balance between weight, cost and comfort to ensure a restful night outdoors. Due to more evenly distributed body fat, women tend to regulate heat differently, prioritising the core while leaving extremities colder during sleep. This can lead to women feeling colder, especially at night.

Tailored fit: Find one wider at the hips and narrower at the shoulders for a better female fit, enabling efficient air warming inside.

Insulation efficiency: Check the EN rating for more insulation. Although it might seem similar to men's sleeping bags, the smaller size means more insulation per square inch for women.

Strategic insulation: Choose one that distributes insulation to the feet (foot box) and chest, as women often feel colder at the extremities.

Recommended women-specific brand:

Mountain Equipment

Climbing Harnesses

Female-specific climbing harnesses offer higher waist rise, larger leg loops, and tailored hip angles for a better fit. Ensure your harness fits over heavier layers and seek expert advice at Cotswold Outdoor for brand-specific sizing. Adjustable leg loops are great for accommodating different waist-to-leg proportions. If possible, hang in the harness at the shop for comfort testing before choosing!

Recommended women-specific brands

Arc'teryx, DMM, Black Diamond

Weatherproof Hijab & Niqab

Trekmates has launched a new Hijab and Niqab Collection featuring:

  1. Haya Hijab: Offers wind and rain protection while ensuring breathability around the neck.
  2. Amira Niqab: Discreet, high-density mesh fabric covering the nose and mouth, enhancing breathability during high-output activities.
  3. Silk Hijab Liner: A lightweight, stretch fabric that provides added warmth underneath the Haya Hijab.

Get expert kit advice at Cotswold Outdoor

For more personalised guidance on finding the right outdoor kit, sizing and styles, visit your nearest Cotswold Outdoor store and chat with a kit specialist. They'll guide you toward the right brands for your needs so you can confidently enjoy the outdoors. Don't forget BMC members and Mountain Training Skills Participants get a 15% discount online and in-store at Cotswold Outdoor and MTA members get a 20% discount.


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