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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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.
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!
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!