Professional triathlete Nicole DeBoom wanted a functional piece of clothing that could help her without sacrificing style. It was 2003 – the height of the pink-it-and-shrink-it era – and she got tired of sacrificing femininity to train and race in men’s clothes. “I’ve seen the power [skirts] were athletes like Venus and Serena Williams on the courts, ”she says,“ I thought that’s what I want. I want something that makes me feel good, and when I feel good, I’ll be more confident. “
DeBoom took matters into his own hands. She began working with the moisturizing, quick-drying, silky fabrics she knew well from years of triathlon training, and worked with a designer and manufacturing facility to create a prototype “race belt skirt” for Ironman Wisconsin To be developed in 2004. “It felt a bit like a loincloth,” she says, “but the truth is, I just wanted something to cover my bum and that did the trick.” DeBoom won and invested the $ 5,000 wallet in Skirt Sports, the first running-specific rock company.
At the Austin Marathon 2005, DeBoom presented two models with integrated compression shorts that had pockets on the thighs and were specially designed not to boot up. Race participants crowded their booth. Within a year, Skirt Sports had developed five models and sold thousands of units. Not long after that, a handful of bigger brands like Nike and New Balance added run-specific skirts to their product lines.
Eight years later, a hiker woke up wearing her own skirt. Endurance athlete Mandy Bland wanted a skirt with no liner shorts that she could wear on the trail for months. So she went to her sewing machine, hacked up prototypes of economical hiking pants, and eventually began selling them from her Oregon home under the brand name Purple Rain.
In the past decade, active skirts have made their way into the mainstream. Aside from aesthetics, skirts have many practical advantages in the open air. Former unsupported speed record holder Liz “Snorkel” Thomas of the Appalachian Trail appreciates the humility and efficiency of the skirts. Changing long underwear, especially with other people, is much more convenient with a skirt than with hiking shorts. Storage is more important. Thomas remembers hiking with maps and guidebooks in her bra. “With skirts, it was like, oh my god, someone finally made something that has lots of pockets that fit on a map or a small travel guide,” she says. “That totally changed me.” Triple crown hiker Tyler “Prodigy” Lau has been hiking in skirts since 2019 and points to another important advantage: hygiene. “Ventilation just keeps these areas clean and ventilated.”
From skirts to skorts to kilts, there are more options than ever. (“Skort” technically refers to a skirt with built-in shorts, although many products with built-in shorts are labeled as skirts. “Kilt” is represented as a gender-neutral term across the industry. The number of choices is overwhelming, so we’re overwhelmingly combined the advice of Product designers, hikers, and runners with a series of field tests to find the best performing skirts for a variety of activities.
Best everyday running skirt
(Photo: Courtesy of Blyss)
Blyss Running Blyss Rock II ($ 81)
A high-waisted fit, secure pockets, sweat-wicking spandex, and a flattering cut made the Blyss Skirt II the one we kept coming back to. (An alternative award for this rock: “Best Twirl.”) On a high alpine excursion outside of Bishop, California, we put a phone in one thigh pocket and snacks in the other and secured it Our car keys are in the back zippered pocket. Elastic stitched around the thigh openings means the 5-inch compression shorts didn’t slide up and everything we wore stayed firmly in place.
Best ultra running rock
(Photo: Courtesy of Ultimate Direction)
Ultimate Direction Hydrolight Rock ($ 85)
When the training miles go up or the temperatures go up, the Hydrolight skirt offers efficiency and comfort. Two provided 300-milliliter water bottles are in pockets on the back of the hips. They are made of a stretchy stretch mesh that holds the bottles in place without bouncing or slipping. An expandable zippered pocket at the bottom of the back allows you to stow a phone, snack and even a light jacket. Five-inch compression shorts and lighter fabrics kept chafing at bay and kept us from getting too sweaty on an 80-degree run in Boulder, Colorado.
Best day hiking skirt
(Photo: Courtesy Eddie Bauer)
Eddie Bauer Sightscape Horizon Pull-On Skort ($ 60)
There is simplicity in this DWR treated UPF 50 skort. Two zippered pockets easily fit in phones but disappear when empty, and the 3.5-inch liner shorts are soft and form-fitting but not compressive. A curved cut offers plenty of freedom of movement without the skirt riding up or otherwise compromising modesty. We wore it to Golden, Colorado’s Lookout Mountain, followed by post-hike drinks at a local brewery, where we fit right in with the post-work crowd.
Best walk-through skirt
(Photo: Courtesy Purple Rain)
Purple Rain Adventure Skirt ($ 72)
It’s not for nothing that the Purple Rain Adventure Skirt is popular with experienced hikers of all sizes and genders. The large cargo pockets fit everything from cell phones and hiking maps to small guidebooks and loads of snacks, while the seamless 4-inch yoga-style waistband is soft and stretchy. This design adapts to the weight fluctuations that occur on long hikes and is more comfortable than skirts with elastic cords or rigid seams. Its hemline is 19 to 22 inches, depending on size, and is designed to reach the knees. A DWR finish prevents both precipitation and spillage from stored food. The best part: Purple Rain made his skirt without it Integrated liners so that hikers can choose their own layer system or take advantage of the ventilation benefits of shorts without shorts.
Best multisport tickets
(Photo: Courtesy Maloja)
Maloja Germerm ($ 99)
This asymmetrical skort is reminiscent of ’90s playgrounds with a front that looks like a skirt and a back that doubles as shorts. The design gives a feminine flair and at the same time remains functional for activities such as cycling, hiking and climbing. Those who avoid the look or feel of compression pants will appreciate Germerm’s 7-inch lightweight shorts that hang loosely at your waist. And while the sole pocket (sewn into the skirt flap on the top of the right thigh) is not big enough for large smartphones, there is enough space under the garment to accommodate a bicycle chamois on a longer journey.
Best rain skirt
(Photo: Courtesy of ULA)
ULA Rain Kilt Skirt ($ 35)
Rain skirts offer the same protection as rain pants, but you don’t have to pull them over your shoes. Instead, wrap this ankle-length or calf-length waterproof number around your waist. There Velcro straps Closed on the side and fitted with an adjustable elastic strap to choose the fit around the waist, which can expand from 24 to 54 inches. The design compared to rain pants, without restricting movement. It also weighs less than four ounces and fills the size of a breakfast burrito.
Best camping skirt
(Photo: Courtesy Montbell)
Montbell Superior Down Trail Rock ($ 79)
This down skirt came with me on camping weekends, road trips and alpine starts in the mountains. During a bouldering mission in Bishop, California, we were able to increase our core temperature while warming up for the day or unwinding at night thanks to the 800’s down insulation and the side walls made of stretchy, moisture-wicking fleece.
Best oversized hiking skirt
(Photo: Courtesy Skirt Sports)
Rock Sport Happy Girl Rock ($ 74)
From the gym to the trails, the Happy Girl Skirt balances coverage, mobility and comfort. Loved by ultra runners like Mirna Valerio, this skirt uses a proportional fit model for the high end of the size range. In other words, designers didn’t just take their size small and expand it. Instead, the 1X, 2X and 3X offers from Skirt Sports are created with feedback from a one-year focus group with people of various body types. Seven-inch compression shorts have pocket-sized pockets on the outside of each thigh, as well as an eyelet for threading corded headphones and a zippered back pocket. The UV 50+ finish is an added bonus.
Best shortcut for men
(Photo: Courtesy Purple Rain)
Purple Rain Adventure Kilt ($ 77)
Purple Rain’s Adventure Kilt is designed for all types of bodies. On the front, two overlapping layers of fabric maximize coverage while allowing the range of motion required for those with long legs. A 2-inch yoga-style waistband provides comfort and the two cargo pockets are large enough to stow both groceries and navigation accessories. Perhaps the coolest feature: two press studs on the hem transform the kilt into shorts, which some male hikers found helpful when hitchhiking for supply runs or when traveling through more conservative areas.
Main Photo: Katherine Brooks / Courtesy of Blyss