For some women, access to the outdoors begins with the right fit.
If you’ve ever scoured retail racks for hiking pants that actually fit, you’re not alone. According to a May 2021 article in Outside Business Journal, recreation-focused apparel brands have been slow to bring plus-size clothing to market, which advocacy groups say hinders equity in the outdoors. Enter Alpine Parrot, a Denver-based online clothing shop that 36-year-old Raquel Vélez founded with the mission to make outdoor apparel solely for women sizes 14 to 24. Fueled by her own retail woes, Vélez’s two-year-old company designed its debut offering, the Ponderosa Pant, to be both fashionable and functional. As Vélez sees it, making britches in more inclusive dimensions makes the outdoors more accessible, no matter your size.
1. The Ponderosa Pant ($139) features a carabiner loop and adjustable cuffs at the shin, allowing for a quick change from pants to capris to pants again.
2. The high-rise, curved waistband is designed to reduce pesky waist gape (that weird bunching at the back of your trousers). A built-in belt takes things a step further, making the waistband easy to adjust on the go.
3. Is that a phone in your pocket? Probably, because each pair of pants includes five of them, all big enough to hold whatever size of smartphone you’re packing.
4. Each pant is made of a fabric blend—94 percent nylon and six percent elastane (aka spandex)—that’s breathable, quick-drying, abrasion-resistant, and UPF 40. All fabric is made in the United States and dyed using a process that relies less on toxic heavy metals and minimizes environmental impact.
5. Vélez accommodates multiple shapes with two styles: The Mountain Fit is for folks whose hips are larger than their waists; the River Fit is for folks whose waist-to-hip ratio is closer to equal.
This article appeared in the September 2021 issue of 5280.
Philip Clapham edits the Compass section.
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