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Plus-Size Travel: Adventures in Outdoor Gear Shopping

Plus Size Outdoor Gear

When I was planning a trip to Switzerland last spring, I knew I finally needed to invest in a good rain shell. Though I called notoriously-damp Seattle home for seven years, I somehow managed to go all that time without owning a decent rain jacket.

I had always been rather discouraged by looking for things like rain jackets in plus-sizes, since it’s just plain difficult to find good women’s outdoor gear in my size. I practically gave up on the search before I even started. All I wanted was a good, waterproof (not water-resistant) jacket for a reasonable price, and lucky for me, I was pleasantly surprised!

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REI

While I had purchased travel gear like backpacks and packing tools from REI before, I had never considered looking for clothing, as I had come to expect ‘outdoorsy’ retailers not to have much to offer in the way of plus-size options.

But, while combing their site, I found the straight-size REI Rainwall Jacket*, and from there was led to the plus-size version. I not only found the perfect rain jacket*, but also found that REI has a pretty decent, though not particularly extensive, selection of plus-size options.

They have everything from rain and snow jackets, to fleeces and hiking pants. This also includes items from not only their in-house brand, but from big outdoor companies like Columbia, and travel clothes from HPL favorite ExOfficio.

Columbia

After exploring the items available at REI, I began to wonder what other outdoor gear I had been missing. It turns out that Columbia has some pretty solid plus-size options, with hiking and outdoor clothing that could kit you out for all seasons. Some is even pretty cute!

I’m loving the color options and packability of the Arcadia II Jacket*, and this moisture-wicking striped shirt would be perfect for travelers.

L.L. Bean

While the majority of their plus-size items are pretty frumpy (something I so resent about many plus-size retailers), L.L. Bean does offer some decent technical clothing, mostly in the way of outerwear. This Lambswool Duffel Coat* comes in nice colors and is rated to -25 degrees Fahrenheit, and the H2OFF Rain Jacket* is both waterproof and warm, rated to -15 degrees.

Though there’s not a very wide variety of outdoor gear available in plus sizes, it’s nice to find that most of the necessities are available. This experience has taught me not to give up in finding what I need, because if you keep digging, the right thing will likely come your way!

Written by Katy

Hailing from Seattle, Washington, Katy is a travel addict constantly seeking her next destination. Fresh off a two-month summer trip to Iceland and The Faroe Islands, she is now embarking on a year-long working holiday in Australia. Katy’s future dream destinations include Southeast Asia, India, Scandinavia, and Antarctica. When she isn’t writing about plus-size travel gear for Her Packing List, you can find Katy blogging about her travels at Six Bones. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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Comments

  1. Sarah says

    Eddie Bauer has some good stuff too. Even if they don’t carry them in stores, much of their straight-size clothing goes up to an 18 or 20 online, and to cap it off, a lot of it has a decent amount of stretch to it, too. They also have some plus size options online as well.

  2. Christy says

    I bought the White Sierra Trabogan Rain Coat. I love that it’s light-weight and packable. Plus, I got it large enough to fit over other layers, so I didn’t need to carry around a huge, heavy raincoat on my travels. It has served me well on a 2+mo trip around South America that had some pretty heavy rainfalls.

  3. Catherine says

    Thank you SO much for this! I’d stopped looking at Columbia, et al, because it seemed tehir idea of plus size stopped at size 14. I’m glad to see that it is changing!

    • Brooke says

      Yeah it’s a drag! There are shipping services that let you shop like you’re in the US and then forward on to you in Oz. It would be difficult though if you needed to exchange something.

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