Why I'm switching to skirts!
(Western North Carolina)
So I've decided to switch my entire lower-body system from pants to skirts. Here's why.
1. Modesty. My last group backpacking trip was in winter, and there were no leaves on the trees anywhere except for the occasional rhododendron or hemlock tree. Every time I had to use the restroom (or as some call it, the "facilitrees") I was half terrified that one of the guys in the group would walk up on me. This was especially true for those breaks while hiking, when I didn't have time to go walk a long way to get away from the group and trail. Even if no one from my group walked up on me, how was I to know that no one would come walking from the opposite direction of the trail? But with a skirt, those worries can somewhat be put to rest. I can use the restroom while still maintaing some coverage. If someone walks up on me, they'll see my skirt and not my bottom.
2. Laziness. Also on my trip, I sat around for several hours after dinner wondering when everyone would finally stop talking so that I could go get warm and get in bed (spoiler alert: it was a long time). I was sitting there with a warm torso, but my legs were definitely uncomfortable and cold. I had more layers that I could have put on, but I kept thinking to myself that I should just wait because we would probably be going to bed soon. You see, walking back to the tents, digging out my layers, finding a private place to change, taking off my boots, taking off my outer layers, putting on more layers, then putting my outer pants and boots back on and finally returning to the group at the kitchen tarp is a lot of work to go to when you aren't even sure how much longer you'll be out there, outside of your warm tent and sleeping bag. Heaven forbid I go to all that work just to get back to the group just in time for the leader to dismiss us for the night (and then I have to go take all those layers off again to get into my sleeping bag). So I just sit there for hours, cold, waiting and hoping that we will be dismissed soon. But with a skirt, I don't have to take anything except for boots off to put more layers on. Even if I'm wearing a rain skirt over it to block the wind, I can just lift both skirts up to pull layers on. Moreover, I can do this incrementally and modestly so that I don't have to find a hiding place in order to layer up. I could do it right there in front of the group if I wanted to! I also like the idea that I can add an insulated skirt to keep my bottom extra warm and toasty, and it's still super easy even if I'm wearing a rain skirt as a wind layer (it would definitely not be that easy if I was wearing rain pants). I hope to have many more warm evenings with my new skirt system.
3. Rain-Wearing. Rain skirts have long been lauded as a much more airy, breathable alternative to the traditional rain pants. I also like the idea that I can just pull it on quickly and easily. I'm that girl who got her boots and pants soaked last time because I was putting off putting on rain pants because of how difficult it is (pack off, shoes off, pants on, shoes on, pack back on). But a skirt I could just pull up easily, I suspect without even having to take my pack off. I will also be pairing my rain skirt with gaiters, because I am also that girl who always winds up splashing mud and dirt all up her calves every time she walks through a mud puddle. I am planning on trying something new called Zubits, which will hopefully make the act of taking my shoes on and off for putting on the gaiters a bit easier. The Zubits are a set of magnetic closures that attach to your shoelaces and hold them together as if your shoe was tied. Moving your foot in a certain way is supposed to make them easily come undone, hands-free, so that you can get your feet out (from what I've read, they don't come undone at all unless you're trying to make them do so). I haven't tried them yet, but if they work I'll be able to easily pop my foot out of my boots, put on the gaiters, and then quickly put my boots back on without even having to tie laces! Another bonus of the zubits: no more having to fiddle around without multiple attempts at lacing due to tying them too loose or too tight the first time. Figure it out once, and it should stay that way.
4. Fashion. On longer trips I often wear men's underwear with the legs down to mid-thigh in order to prevent chafing. I'm hoping that the skirts will look considerably more fashionable and less frumpy over these than my previous choice of sophies or nylon running shorts. (In all of my pictures, these paired together look decidedly 80's--not exactly a look I'm going for.)
So here's to hoping my new skirts will change the world and make life a little bit easier while on the trail.