The Heavy Hiker

Sharing Hiking Experiences in Western Australia

Plus Size Hiking Apparel as Common as Unicorn Tears

Choosing what to wear when you go hiking can be a bit of a task. It’s worse when you’re overweight.

The reality is that hiking wear is not readily available if you happen to be over a size 14/16. The big brands just don’t stock it.

So what do you wear?! I’ve resorted to basic polo shirts which are (if I’m honest) still about a size too small around the arms for me and a pair of old jeans. I simply cannot buy high quality, functional hiking gear in my size.

For all intents and purposes, it doesn’t exist.

I am on a couple of mailing lists for the big name stores and while I love browsing the catalogues I dare not invest myself in the idea of purchasing that awesome ‘quick wick’ purpose-made shirt or those stylish canvas pants because they do not stock my size. Instead, I find myself on the last page of the catalogue eyeing off the various multi-tools and torches.

Apparently, my hard earned dollars don’t buy me the right to feel good in what I wear.

Apparently, it’s not palatable for a size 24 to be seen slogging it in the bush wearing branded clothing. It would seem that active hiking wear brands think their clothes look better on smaller people and so they refuse to increase the sizing range of their apparel – either that, or they truly believe there is no demand for the product… though I’m pretty convinced that is not the case!

Truthfully, I don’t want, nor need high fashion apparel to do what I do BUT I would enjoy the opportunity to wear functional and fit for purpose clothes that offer the latest “moisture-wicking technology” or those super funky looking polyester, quick dry hiking pants- preferably in bright pink!

I found some on Ali Express and got a bit excited only to realise that to get them in my size at the waist I need to order a 9XL MENS (which they don’t stock) and even then I’d have to get them taken up considerably as clearly anyone who is overweight in the middle must also be a giant. Furthermore, the men’s waist to hip ratio wouldn’t work for me either!


The big K… because I don’t want to sound like I’m ‘Mandu-Bashing’ stocks ladies tops up to a size 18… supposedly. All the reviews I have read suggest that the sizing is a snug fit, meaning that the 16 actually fits comfortably on a size 12/14. So, on the VERY rare occasion you could find an 18 in store… it’s really a 16. Interesting!

Upon advice from a friend I checked out Colombia’s range and they do have larger women’s sizes on their sizing chart which is comforting. However, every listing that I clicked on had only up to size 2x which basically converts to approximately a size 16-18 still some two sizes below what I need! Plus, they don’t ship direct to AUS…

Am I alone in this? Does anyone out there know something that I don’t?

I have no magical answer for this problem but imagine how nice it will be when retailers realise they need to stock clothes for the size that we are, not the size that they think we should be.

In other news, I have just bought a pair of purpose-made hiking socks in my size… so I guess that’s a win.

Happy hiking.

Tell your friends


  1. Hi, always i used to check weblog posts here early in the
    break of day, because i enjoy to find out more and more.

  2. Hi HH,
    I’ve just stumbled upon your site and I’m devouring it — wonderful! I’m a fellow HH in Sydney (size 20-22) and I completely and utterly GET what you are saying. 100%.

    I’ve found a couple of sort-of-effective solutions in the plus-size hiking gear world…
    Sign up to Shipito (pay as you go works just fine), and from there you can order Columbia stuff from REI or Amazon in the US (but not direct from Columbia as they track IP addresses and any order from outside the US gets cancelled by their system, grrrr). The Columbia 16-18W stuff (i.e. AU size 20-22) works for me and I have a couple of pairs of these pants, which I adore: (they go up to Australian size 28). For shorts, try these guys (again, sending via Shipito) — These exact ones are my current hiking shorts — they’re quick dry, wicking, and super comfy. They also do a bunch of other ‘full figure’ multisports stuff, none of which I’ve tried — so let me know if you find any other goodies there 🙂

    While you’re on the REI or Amazon site, look at Ex Officio quick dry undies. The full brief (ugh, but effective) in 2XL is quite generous on me, so might also work for you. I have two pairs of these, and as they wash and dry in lightening quick time, that’s enough even for multi-day hiking/camping trips. One pair on, one to wash and hang from the outside of the pack to dry (hey, I’m already shameless, what’s a pair of giant black knickers?!) You *can* get these in Australia: but it’s hit or miss as to what sizes are in stock.

    Wicking polyester tops — this one is easy. Best & Less do a plus size range, and each season they have at least one all poly vest (=singlet) t-shirt, either in their active range or in their general plus stuff. This is exactly the fabric used in the fancy hiking stuff, but at 10% of the cost. After a bit of sweating/washing, it starts to stink, but is cheap enough to then chuck and replace it. Spend a bit of time in B&L looking at labels and you should find something that works. This year I’ve been hiking in this: that came from here: ($7, don’t mind if I do!) Last year’s one is a poly top from their general range:

    Next, merino thermals. Target goes to size 20 and they’re forgiving, especially the bottoms. They might work — and they’re often in the undies sale. Marks & Spencer offers local delivery and returns to/from Australia, and again they often have good deals on thermals, and they go to size 22 (also very forgiving). I bought these in a 20: and wore them throughout my Larapinta hike in July this year (brrrr!)

    So that’s your summer and winter base and mid layers covered 🙂

    As for rain wear — trickier. But not impossible. I tried buying men’s giant rain pants and hacked off about 30cm from the bottoms, but tbh they got so sweaty that I was just as wet as if I’d gone without. So, inspired by this: — I bought some waterproof fabric and made myself a rain kilt. Surprisingly easy. You can get a similar fabric here: Or you can fuse garbage bags for the real crafty DIY thing: (I have yet to do this plastic bag trick, but it appeals enormously… I’m such a craft nerd). Cuben fibre would also work. Tyvek might as well but would be very noisy until it gets creased down to soft, I’d imagine. But I hardly ever hike if there’s rain forecast, so I actually don’t often take this out with me. A rain jacket is usually (more than) enough.

    Rain jacket — REI and also, weirdly, North Face, do plus size ones. I bought this NF one: which goes up to size 22 (AU). It is so good and so non-sweaty — I love it, truly. I could seriously stand in the shower in the thing and not get wet. Here’s me modelling it (in fabulous pink) in wild and wet Tassie last month: It’s snug (as in, not stretchy at all), but do-able. I also bought an REI one online a while back and it’s much sweatier but also roomier, which is good if I’m wearing a ton of base and mid layers: This one goes up to size 26 AU and is MUCH cheaper.

    I also bought a Columbia 3XL down jacket, which I wore in Norway and Estonia in winter and it was warm and lovely, but it’s heavy (650g) and although it packs down super small, it’s honestly unnecessary for even the wintriest of Australian hiking. But it exists, if you do super cold stuff. Again, REI/Amazon and Shipito — although I actually bought mine in Europe.

    Then, warm mid layers — you can’t go past a no-brand fleece, IMHO. Plenty warm enough for everything I’m willing to do in Australia (!), and cheap too. And then there’s the extremities — socks, hats, buff, and the likes. I buy these in straight sizes and it works fine.

    I hope this helps 🙂
    Happy trails xxx

    • TheHeavyHiker

      November 8, 2016 at 7:55 am

      Wow! Just wow! What a comment! I had a bit of time this morning to sit and read it and MAN do you have this shopping thing sorted out!! My goodness! I’m going to be spending some time working through your suggestions to see what I can find. Funnily enough i had a scout in Best and Less yesterday and their activewear range isnt too shabby!! Hard to look properly with The Restless Hiker in tow but will certianly go back for a better look. I’ve had a look via REI before but been too scared to order anything but per your advice I will have a look at it again. I did hear that Amazon are on their way to Australia in 2017!!! Which might make accessing US Brands a bit easier for us in the coming years. I’m on the hunt for decent lightweight hiking wear to extend my season as I just cant handle hiking in the warmer months in ill-fitting, constricting and too thick clothes! So thanks to your suggestions I’m in with a shot! Thanks so much for your comment, I’m sure other readers appreciate it too! Happy hiking.

      • OMG!!

        I have been searching for sooo long for appropriate clothing for our prospecting adventures! I can’t wait to check all the links out!

        I am totally astounded that the larger women are left off the menu for outdoor wear. I just don’t get it. In fact it’s downright discrimination against being overweight without understanding why many of us are actually the way we are….its not as simple as a diet and a bit of exercise for many (major injury for me did the job).

        Anywho….Thank you so very, VERY much for the info!

        Perhaps it’s time to start a plus size outdoor wear clothing shop…..something in shall be researching for sure.

        • TheHeavyHiker

          March 3, 2017 at 4:33 pm

          Tanya- woman after my own heart. Seriously been thinking the same thing. It seems like there is definitely a market for it! Partnership anyone?!?! Best of luck with all the links

          • Have the same issue, and I teach outdoor ed! Drives me crazy.
            Loving the name – Heavy Hiker.
            Thanks for making me feels not so alone in this.

    • Wow thank you SO much for all this fabulous information, I’m now onto it!! Xxx

  3. Late to this discussion, as I was googling after unsuccessfully looking for a full zip soft shell jacket for early morning walks and hikes. I will admit I just ordered a “K” size 18 puffer jacket, though already had doubts that, despite the measurements looking ok, it won’t fit.

    A couple of tips: Sara by Ezibuy do a roll up cargo pant in a fabulous lightweight fabric right into plus sizes. Ezibuy in general have a bunch of merino track pants and long sleeve tops that are fabulous cold weather hiking wear, and cozy at home on a cold day also.

    In the past I have bought excellent light weight fast drying active wear (tshirts and compression tights) in plus sizes from Old Navy in the US, not sure what their range is like right now.

    I have also bought excellent plus sized fast drying long sleeve tees and fleece jumpers from

  4. Sharlene Abela

    July 23, 2017 at 9:15 pm

    I’ve recently bought some Columbia plus size from Amazon via ShopUSA. I bought a few sizes of items so I could figure out my size. I’m about to package up what I don’t want, but happy to post on here to see if they’re suitable for anyone? I’d just charge what I paid for them and postage (I’m in Melbourne, Australia). Let me know if any of you are interested.
    On another note, I’m going to purchase more of the items I like. Will have to use ShopUSA again on account of Columbia not delivering to Oz grrr.

  5. Catherine Scott

    July 29, 2017 at 1:50 am

    Such relief to find I’m not alone. So sick of crying with humiation trying to shoehorn myself into large sizes from the regular outdoor shops that feel more like 12-14.

    Just about to give up and get my ranty daughter to make me some.

  6. This is awesome. What is wrong with these companies. I’m a larger lass and I love the outdoors! Just because I’m curvy doesn’t mean I’m unfit and lazy! Give my hips and thighs some room to move in pants. Thank you so much for all your tips, I’ve been finding it difficult to find anything my size – AUS 20. I did get some great zip off hiking pants from Rivers in a sale last year, but stumbled across them by accident! I had to take the waist in on a larger pair so they fit nice, but they are light weight and quick drying. Jackets are a problem, so I’ll have a look at the links provided. Thanks again, and happy hiking!

  7. I like Michelle Bridges MB active wear plus size range at Big W has some great light weight moisture wicking tops. Decent prices too. And thanks for the tips already mentioned ?

  8. I was literally just pitching the idea of creating a label for plus size adventure gear to my partner during our hike yesterday. Sounds like it is not such a bad idea after all.

    I have had a few wins on Ebay.

  9. Thanks for all of these posts – spot on! I will look out for some of these ideas. We heavies do actually do outdoor stuff. Thank you HH and everyone else!

  10. Try Juno Active fantastic wicking tees and hoodies. They also have tights and pants and deliver direct to Australia.

  11. Hi – Eddie Bauer also go up to a 3x and ship to Australia, not cheap as prices are in USD but beautiful quality I usually wait for sales to buy.

    • I bought one pair, then three more, shorts from Aerotech, as recommended here, and I love them. Fit and quality. For bushwalking or just “around”. Women’s Urban Cargo., the mid length ones.

  12. I buy a lot of my casual cloths from Lands End Clothing in the US. They have a good plus sized ranged, generally up to a 26. Good fleece clothing and moisture wicking pants (although not so good mud summer). They have a thicker fleece and a thinner fleece range. They have petite, tall, standard and plus. Postage is expensive, sometimes I wait for Black Friday in November when everything eventually goes to 50% off.
    I’m looking for some very plus sized waterproof overpants for a trip to wet and can be 4 degrees. I’m not having much luck.

    • Hi Sarah,
      My large ex-husband would ride his motorcycle in all weather and would get wet-weather overpants from workwear stores pretty cheaply (the places that sell high-vis and safety gear). I think they’re also available in motorcycle shops but sizing might be more limited and prices definitely higher.
      Good luck!
      Sarah A

  13. Awesome news thanks. Will be doing the follow up.

  14. Hi Sarah
    I finally found some mens Nike ones on ebay that someone within Australia, was selling, new.
    A friend also found some on ebay from the UK, the brand is Baum Country, not sure what they are made from but the description is durable waterproofed fabric, I think they will be pretty warm but for where we are going I think that will be ok.

  15. Has anyone tried this UK store – I see they deliver to Australia – have ordered some of their stuff in a 20/22 to see if it is any good

    • What was the verdict? I was looking for a down jacket and they had some that looked decent

      • A friend bought some trousers on eBay. I’ve not purchased from them. I have successfully bought a lightweight down jacket from Lands End in the US although the postage can a bit expensive.

      • Pants good – went with 20 – I am currently wearing the winter weight pants on a trip through the colder parts of scandanavia – light hiking trousers also good but they have a bit of swishing noise when you walk. Fleece tights in 2 xl totally too small – have given to someone who would normally wear a tall in tights. The thermals top and bottom also a good fit and working well. Price was good enough to risk – I am 5’4” and still had to take the short trousers up a bit. Hope this helps.

  16. What was the verdict? I was looking for a down jacket and they had some that looked decent. Keen to hear your experiences

  17. Oh and it is absolutely great to finally have trousers with pockets while travelling!

  18. JuSt discovered this blog/post …. thank you for the information! And I’m happy to find you! Gives me inspiration to get ready for another hike! I fear my weight holds me back! Thanks…. off to check out the suggestions

  19. I’ve bought a few things from Land’s End and REI, which have worked well. There is a new problem. Australia has now changed the rules regarding GST on overseas purchases. I received an email this morning saying that REI would no longer ship to Australia because they have no way to add the GST onto purchases

  20. Hey there! I just stumbled upon this post in my quest for some hiking gear – size 18-20. And it’s so true! I’m heading to Patagonia and desperately need some functional multi purpose wear for hiking traveling etc. it’s impossible and expensive to be plus size. Just because we’re overweight doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the great outdoors! I’m looking forward to following your blog from now on ?

  21. I’m a plus size snow gear specialist based out of Melbourne ( &
    A few of my styles cross over into the outdoor and hiking industry. Merino thermals, and outerwear jackets and pants.
    I’m always looking to better and further extend my range in the outdoor and hiking range as many of my customers come from from this side and are looking, like you, for something based in Australia that is good quality and well made with a good and easy returns policy.

    Please get in touch with me if you have certain needs/wants and I’ll see what I can do to make it happen or what is on order for the future. Slowly but surely I’m getting there. It’s been my 3rd year as a plus size specialist and I’m learning more every day. Please get in touch and Ill see what I can do to help. I’m trying to proactively make the outdoor world more enjoyable whatever your size.

    • Hi Monica.

      I have just purchased your waterproof pants and am really impressed. Is there any chance that you would be able to source any thermals that are larger than your current range?

      • Hi Deb, sorry for the delayed reply and thank you for your order! I have just got back from a school holidays break with the fam, and I like to respond to emails personally where possible. The largest size in our current range of thermals is 6-7XL ( ) but I believe they will still fit you. The sizing of the thermals are very big and they have A LOT of stretch in them, and of course I’m more than happy to refund if they don’t suit. Please contact me on if you wish to talk further. Thank you, Monica ?

  22. Hi there, sorry I’m very late in finding this post. Anaconda stores stock up to a size 28 Australian, if that helps anybody reading this. Rays have up to a size 18. The Kathmandu range depends on the Style fit of the garment – some 16s are really a 14 in my opinion. Although I picked up a 16 tank and it’s sooooo long and loose in the back. A few years ago my friend purchased some zip-off hiking pants from City Chic, although I don’t know if they still stock them. I’ve picked up from active wear leggings from Kmart in desperate times, and they seem very okay surprising (as they we only $18). They are mosture wicking and size up to 20. I won’t let a curvy figure prevent me from hiking and I am a bit disappointed that many of the major brands are slow to offer larger sizes. Isn’t size 16 the most common size in Australia currently? Seems like they could be making money they are missing out on. Good luck other curvy folk! ??

  23. I work for a local Tasmanian outdoor store that my dad owns. I am a size AU 24 and can’t fit any of the awesome clothes that we sell. None of our suppliers make anything bigger than size 16 and a lot of the models are designed to have an ‘active cut’ which make them fit smaller. Most brands do make a ‘relaxed fit’ but sadly not relaxed enough. Not a very helpful post I know, but I loved reading through all the posts. I think I’ve found my people. I wont stop pestering companies like Mont who we have an excellent relationship with to bring out a mix a size inclusive range.

    • Hi Krista, you are in a lucky position to search for the sizes! I found some great active wear in an online store in US called Maurices. Then went I went to pay for it, found they don’t send International! I was so annoyed, because I wasted my time. Now I can’t even unsubscribe, because I am not in USA or Canada! Even their customer service doesn’t understand the problem. I am stuck with getting their emails. Judi.

  24. Bonds have bought out some lightweight crop tops in plus sizes, read the sizing label though as they go up to very plus! A bit like crop tops bras in Best and Less, just lighter. Straps seem to stay up!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


© 2022 The Heavy Hiker

Happy hikingUp ↑