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Holigay Gift Guide: For Queer Hiking Babes of All Shapes and Sizes

The hardest part about getting into hiking, for me, was figuring out what the heck I was supposed to wear and what I should bring with me. It can feel intimidating to go on even a short hike when you’re not familiar with the activity, and wading through online advice to decide what is a necessity can be super overwhelming. And for me, as a fat girl, there was the added layer of feeling stressed that most athletic clothes didn’t fit my body and feeling vulnerable to ask for help and guidance because I was worried I would be judged or ridiculed for my size and beginner capabilities.

That’s a lot to unpack when you’re just trying to take a short stroll on a nice trail!

From the very beginning of my hiking journey (which has included 450 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail, 500 miles on the Camino de Santiago, and many many many day hikes in between!) REI Co-op was a place I knew I could go and get attention and care that felt affirming. Recently, REI has committed to stocking extended sizes in so many of their clothing products, which is a huge deal to me and other fat babes and has made the co-op my go-to place to shop for plus size hiking clothes that feel good on my fat bod. These items are currently available online at rei.com/plus, and in 2020 REI will have women’s sizes 16 – 3X available in 32 locations, and growing. It’s honestly dreamy to walk into an REI store looking for hiking gear and know that I won’t have to leave in tears because nothing fits me, and I’m so excited for REI to stock these items in even more stores in the upcoming year. In the meantime, their online store is extremely user-friendly and the return and exchange process is painless, making it easy to experiment with buying plus size clothes online.

This holigay season, with the help of REI, I’ve put together a gift guide for hiking as a fat girl! This guide will work if you’re not plus-size too, as REI stocks clothing in a huge diverse array of sizes, but it feels particularly exciting to include clothes that extend to 3X. I’ve also included hiking accessories and an abbreviated list of the 10 essentials. Your particular hiking needs may differ than mine – for example if you’re in Southern California you’ll probably be wearing a t-shirt and maybe skipping the gloves – and you may find your personal essential items aren’t the exact same as this list, but this is the guide I wish someone had pressed into my hands when I was first starting to explore cold weather hiking many moons ago.

And I will say this – I have never ever walked into an REI or browsed their online shop and found that I had trouble finding things to buy…so if you’re an outdoorsy babe or looking to become an outdoorsy babe and nothing on this list speaks to you (nothing?? Really?!?!) I would encourage you to pop into your local REI or check out their online store…I promise I won’t tell that all the items in your shopping bag are really for you, not the friends / lovers / family members on your holigay shopping list!

See the full gift guide on Autostraddle's website here.

LAST UPDATED

May 8, 2022

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Autostraddle

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Founded in March 2009 and still run by a dedicated team of indentured masochists, Autostraddle is an intelligent, hilarious & provocative voice and a progressively feminist online community for a new generation of kickass lesbian, bisexual & otherwise inclined ladies (and their friends).

Autostraddle is a serious labor of love -- a personal dream that one day became a start-up and then somehow became the world's most popular independently-owned lesbian website with over 400,000 unique visitors and 2 million views per month. We sport a healthy online community (Autostraddle Social), sell merch, host events, and just launched our first of what will hopefully be many "A-Camps."

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My only complaint is that eventually, backflushing won’t be enough. These can clog up after some time and no amount of back flushing will fix its low flow. I went through 2 on the AT. However, it will attach to Smart Water Bottles and most bladders!

Anna Hamrick

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Built for backcountry reliability and portability, the Sawyer Squeeze filter is our pick for the best portable water purifier.

Pete Ortiz
Writer

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The Sawyer Squeeze was (by far) the most common Pacific Crest Trail water filter this year – for the fifth year in a row. It’s a $39, 3 oz / 85 g hollow fiber filter that rids your drinking water of protozoa and bacteria (and floaties). It can be used with Sawyer bags (included with the filter) or with compatible water bottles (Smartwater is the bottle of choice for many hikers).

Halfway Anywhere
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