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I remember the exact moment my love for insulated skirts began…It was a the registration packet pick up line for the 2014 Loppet. A gal working at the outdoor volunteer tent had the MOST STYLISH winter outfit on… It was probably close to zero degrees, and she seemed really warm without looking like Ralphie’s little brother in a Christmas Story. She looked downright svelte in a black, full length winter skirt.
“What is this mysterious and fashionable covering?” my brain asked.
I HAD to ask her…
“It’s a down skirt” she said.
She would go on to tell me that the skirt she was wearing was made by the Skandavian company SKHOOP. I went home and found one like hers on winter clearance, and snapped it RIGHT UP!
That was in 2014, and my classic down SKHOOP skirt is still one of my favorite pieces of winter gear, and going strong! Since then, I’ve picked up a couple of other lengths made by different brands, that range in price, and wear those too! Letting go of bulky snow pants has been freeing and less drafty than you’d think.
Why not just wear snowpants?
Pants are cool – if you love em, wear em! But I have found, as my body shape changes with age and new hiking and biking muscles, that pants are not the well fitting friend that they once were. Skirts and kilts provide a freedom of movement and fit that pants do not. But the bigger reason for adding an insulated skirt to your closet is that you can target areas that tend to get colder and add a new tool to your layering toolkit. I find that that the fronts of my thighs, rear end and middle get the coldest first, so having another layer over these spots keeps me happy. Why not just get a longer coat? Sometimes its hard to find the right fit over the hips and waist…and its also really easy to overheat if you don’t need the extra insulation or are exerting yourself. Having a separate, targeted layer of protection provides options for different conditions. AND there’s NO RULE that you can’t wear your skirt over your pants! OR TWO PAIR OF PANTS! Its all about figuring out your best system for staying warm.
So here it is! And ode to my insulated skirt collection. Some of them are no longer available, but I’ll include links to help you find one of your own.
The long and short of it – Skirts Rule!
The SKHOOP ORIGINAL skirt is my go-to secret-weapon, and favorite piece of winter gear. It was an investment, but has been worth every penny. I have used this full length skirt every winter since 2014 at the bus stop, winter camping, walking the dog, situations where I have to stand around in the cold, and chilly sporting events for the kids. Commuter tip: The Skhoop full length skirt is also great as a quick layer over dresses and work clothes.
The 2 sided zipper design makes it easy to get in and out of with your boots on, and allows it to be converted to a good sized blanket/poncho. Features: Ankle/shin length, light weight, full side zipper one one side, 2/3 zipper on other side allows more leg room if you’re taking long strides or need extra venting. Other features: semi-tailored fit, (2) zippered pockets, elastic backed waist, and belt loops. Shop other insulated skirts at Backcountry, REI and Moosejaw
This is my most affordable skirt in the fleet. I bought it 5-6 years ago back when I had a Costco membership.
Features: Down fill, knee length, light weight, full side zipper allows it to be used as a small blanket, partial zipper on other side allows a little more leg room if you’re taking long strides, packs small. Each year’s design changes a bit, and I’ve also seen photos of synthetic insulated skirts popping up at other discount retailers, so keep your eyes peeled and you might find a deal. Shop other insulated skirts at Backcountry, REI and Moosejaw
Snow Wrap or Kilt
Long after a few of my guy friends commented and tried on my Skhoop down skirt, I visited the Enlightened Equipment HQ as a new Brand Ambassador. I toured their facility in 2018, learned how their highly respected gear was made, and suggested that they “insulate” their rain wrap design to make an ultralight, unisex wrap. I sketched it out on a post it note in the marketing managers office and bought a SNOW WRAP for myself almost a year later.
*edited* It appears that EE has stopped selling this lovely wrap, but I’ll keep the features up in case you want to get crafty and try to make one of your own!
Features: Simple, ultralight, wrap design can be converted to a blanket or poncho, with adjustable elastic drawstring waist, and lower snaps. Constructed of water repellant fabric on one side, Climashield APEX insulation and a custom color inner. I like this wrap because of it’s versatility, and that it is constructed out of the same, lightweight insulation as my Torrid APEX jacket. That being said, I mostly use it cold weather backpacking or as a back up layer due to it’s fit. I prefer a women-specific or more tailored cut, but appreciate that the lack of contour in the pattern allows it to lay completely flat as a small blanket and can be used on more body types.
I didn’t plan on getting another skirt…or a white, quilted one for that matter, two years ago. But this sweet little layer was marked way down at REI, quickly becoming my #2 favorite and is good for vigorous winter activities like cross country skiing. It’s great for milder temps over leggings or as a targeted layer over pants. Other features include: DWR repellant outer fabric, sherpa-lining, wide knit waistband, zippered pockets, snap at back hem. Shop other insulated skirts at Backcountry, REI and Moosejaw
Last but not least, shout out to fleece skirts and another cottage gear company- Melanzana! This skirt has been a great addition over leggings, and is the only insulated skirt in my collection that I wear indoors as well as out. It’s thin fleece construction is just enough for a little extra coverage and warmth, and I love the color! You’ll have to go to Leadville CO to get a Mellie (or get an online lottery spot like I did). But supporting small, cottage gear companies is a cool and helpful thing to do, if you can. If you are crafty, a fleece skirt isn’t incredibly difficult to make, and I have friends that have done so without needing a pattern, so…get resourceful and creative! Shop other insulated skirts at Backcountry, REI and Moosejaw
We’re half way through a two week, record-breaking deep freeze, here in Minnesota. It was -37 with the windchill when I woke up today and I think it got close to 50 below up in the North, so staying warm is top of mind. Now is a great time to check for end of season sales, thrift store finds, online gear swaps or even make your own gear if you’re crafty. Finding good winter gear can be a great way to extend and enjoy your outdoor adventures. If you upgrade, remember that donating cold weather gear shares that warm access with someone else.
Last week I had fun rounding up some of my favorite winter posts and busted out the BIG SKIRT at a sub zero kite festival on a frozen lake yesterday (check out my IG for more pics). It saved my booty in -23 degree windchill and I was once again, thankful for it. I also rocked my ‘screw shoes’ on the ice and am happy to report that my feet stayed warm and ‘rubber side down’. This DIY boot hack has become my new fave just because they are so easy and effective. Have you read how to make your own screw shoes in my Winter Foot Traction post?
Got any good tips for staying warm to share? I’m staying inside and drinking home grown tea by the pot today. Lets hear how you’re staying warm!
Stay toasty, everybody!