Sources for plus-sized hiking/travel/comfortable pants for cycling?
March 23, 2013 11:30 PM   Subscribe

I live in jeans and on my bicycle. I don't mind biking in jeans for short distances, but I'm finding myself doing a lot more bike riding in situations where I need something more presentable and versatile than bike shorts, skorts, or yoga-type pants, but more comfortable than jeans. (And it's not my bottom that's the issue, so wearing padded liner shorts under my jeans is not the solution I'm looking for.) The obvious answer here is pants designed for traveling and hiking, but I'm having a hard time finding any in my size (2X). I found some cargo pants at Old Navy that looked promising, but even though they're in my size they don't fit because they're super low-rise. REI has exactly one pair of plus-sized adventure travel pants and I have them, but I'd like more options. Do you have a recommendation for comfortable hiking/travel pants in plus sizes?
posted by rhiannonstone to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (11 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
This might be easier if you divulged your sex and what exactly you dislike about wearing padded shorts under jeans. What would be sufficiently presentable? Do jeans chafe in places other than your bottom? Are they insufficiently warm? Do they show your bottom when you bend over the bars? There are a lot of ways to interpret "more presentable and versatile."

I've had good experiences cycling in Propper EMT pants. They're high-waisted with a gusseted crotch and a hard-wearing nylon (possibly even cordura?) fabric. They are not comfortable to wear with a belt. However, you can also take them to any tailor to get suspender buttons sewn into the waist and that is quite comfortable; also, I wore them on a 5 mile ride once with neither belt nor suspenders, and they stayed up just fine.

Also, I often wear padded shorts on the bike and carry a pair of pants to put on over them at my destination. It's a lot easier to find good bike clothes and good off-bike clothes if they don't have to be the same clothes.
posted by d. z. wang at 11:43 PM on March 23, 2013

Best answer: LL Bean! I just bought some in an 18 and they're fantastic.
posted by youcancallmeal at 12:01 AM on March 24, 2013

Response by poster: I'm female, and size 20 in pants. I'm looking for a solution other than padded shorts under jeans because I get sweaty after awhile, and jeans don't handle perspiration well, and that gets very unpleasant very quickly.

By "more presentable and versatile" I basically mean "does not look like cycling clothes or athletic wear" and therefore a) are OK to wear into slightly nicer places than my bike shorts are and b) don't set off the irrational lyrca-induced rage that some people have in some of the areas I travel through. Hiking pants are sufficiently normal-looking as to not count as looking like athletic wear for my purposes. Those EMT pants look like they'd also work.

I do often wear my bike shorts for the ride and then change into regular clothes at my destination, but that only works when I have a destination, and one where I can easily change.
posted by rhiannonstone at 12:06 AM on March 24, 2013

I'm a guy, but I occasionally get mailed classy catalogs of bike clothing for women, and there are options other than shorts/skorts out there. Something like these "urban bike pants", maybe? That said, you're not alone in your frustration, but there seem to be some new things cropping up lately like Nona Varnado's line, and the Betabrand commuter pants. Sorry, I haven't looked at sizes, since as a guy I'm genetically incapable of interpreting them properly.
posted by dhartung at 12:35 AM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: They're ridiculously expensive, but Tilley has some excellent travel wear in sizes up to 20. I have these, and they are great.
posted by theredpen at 3:30 AM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

try the men's section
posted by brujita at 5:10 AM on March 24, 2013

REI online has a much larger selection than a local store. I think they go all the way up to size 24.
posted by TestamentToGrace at 5:30 AM on March 24, 2013

Best answer: Zappos might be a good place to check. Although a quick search for "hiking pants plus size" returned two results, these Columbia pants might fit the bill?

Often, if they have a size listed but it's "sold out", you can be notified when it's back in stock. I swear Zappos uses this metric to find ONE of the thing you want and then put it back in stock online so that you can buy it. It's freakishly smart on their part if that's the case.

Or these from Eddie Bauer? Actually, be sure to check out their entire line of plus size pants options; there are a few! Lands End is another option... more relaxed/resort wear, but might fit the bill for local cycling with comfort.

(Always want to help out a fellow commuting cyclist!)
posted by absquatulate at 5:36 AM on March 24, 2013

Are you familiar with Junonia? They do plus-size activewear. I peeked, and they have some zip-off style hiking pants and bike leggings.

I wore some lightweight capris from Making It Big to work out for a long time. You might be able to find something there, though they don't make hiking pants per se.
posted by not that girl at 6:03 AM on March 24, 2013

You might look at NYDJ, but you'll have to try on a lot of pairs before you find one that works. A lot of their stuff is as hideously unflattering as you'd expect some marketed as "mom jeans" to be, but it is all made out of a very comfortable fabric. I have one pair that are cut almost exactly like my Outlier Daily Riding Pant (without the crotch gusset, unfortunately, and without the water-wicking) but which were about half as expensive. They both have a higher rise, but not old lady high waist.

Travelsmith might have some options, as long as you're not looking for a technical fabric or althetic-wear seam placement.

I feel your pain, though. There's about a dozen men's regular-looking technical bike clothes manufacturer's for everyone that makes a single women's item. And bike clothing designers think everyone who rides a bike is a tiny size. Have you tried cycling in skirts? My wardrobe is about 9 skirts to 1 pants and I bike commute.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:23 AM on March 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

Fleece pants, available at REI.

UnderArmour pants, available almost everywhere.
posted by yclipse at 1:31 PM on March 24, 2013

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