Hey, Mara, I knew you were tall (from the pct-l and a response to a
similar comment I made...) but golly, you make me count my blessings. I'm
barely 5'-6" (but not twiggy, narrow waist & shoulders, short torso, wide
hips...yep, I've been called a pear before by someone who shall remain
nameless) and I usually have no trouble with sleeve length ;-) or
shorts/pants inseams. I've actually opted out of all the conventional
"hiking shorts" and stuck to a 1/2 - split microfiber running short for hiking
and climbing - thus no seam chafing & no ride-up. Most of
the "hiking" shorts in women's sizes I've experienced have been (1) too narrow
in the thighs (especially Sportif); (2) bad waist-hip ratio (too narrow in the
waist & too big in the hip or the reverse); (3) pockets in locations where
they conflict with hipbelt; (4) inseams sewn with nylon filament thread which
chafes by its very nature.
I'd love to see a pair of convertible nylon pants with zip-off legs that
are made with a soft tape or other liner material to shield the zipper placement
from the inner thigh. I've never been able to wear this style of pant -
husband does & carries the pant legs rolled up in his socks.
His ankles look a little strange, but when the wind comes up he can convert
to long pants in moments, while I have to remove my pack to retrieve my wind
Trail shoes, boots, etc: These items are so individual that I don't have
great expectations for manufacturer support, but here's my .02: I'm always on a
quest to find trail shoes & mountaineering boots to fit my dainty size
7, low-volume, bony feet, with narrow heels & wide toes.
(quack...) I use orthotics to support my arches. Most boots &
shoes I've tried are either uniformly narrow or uniformly wide - I've worn New
Balance shoes but it took me a while to get the toe box to feel
comfortable. Brooks tend to fit better than any other but I still have to
shop within the brand to find a toe box that doesn't aggravate my
hammer-pinkies. What I want to see in a boot and trail shoe is:
wide, high toe box without exterior stitching/applicques in the lateral
toe region (applique stitching seems to make the toe box "pull in," narrowing
the space available for the "pinkie" toe (there HAS to be a better label, I'm
just not aware of one....). In addition to a wide toe box, the shoe should
have a narrow heel and an ability to hold the foot in place so that it doesn't
slip forward on downhills.
My current boots (for general Sierra mountaineering) are Zamberlan Civetta
GT "Lady" (size 7, even!!!), gore-tex, ~ 3lb -2oz for the pair; I also
have a pair of Koflach Lady Viva Soft plastic mountaineering boots for
winter/glacier use. Boots that don't fit ME are typically those made
by Merrill, Raichle, Technica, Lowe, Vasque, and probably some others I'm
forgetting. But that seems to cover several of the major
Socks: Unisex socks are always TOO BIG AROUND for my low-volume
feet. The concept of sizing socks by length alone, not by gender
structural differences, doesn't work for me. I always have too much sock
and have to adjust them to make sure there are no creases anywhere before lacing
my boots. The more sock, the more chance for creasing....
Shell pants: A lightweight goretex shell pant in a women's fit for
mountaineering use, similar to Patagonia's "super pluma" line would be much
appreciated for use where something like Froggtogs are too fragile. I've
used the Patagonia super-pluma pants for about 8 years but it would be nice if
the crotch length was longer, the waist narrower, the hips wider and the thighs
Mitts/gloves, especially wind/overmitts, scaled down for a woman's smaller
bone structure. Wild Roses seems to offer such product but I haven't
gotten around to ordering from them yet.
This is probably enough already!
FWIW, Christine (who started out mountaineering in 1977 wearing Air Force
surplus wool paratroopers pants...)