An increasing amount of hikers are turning to skirts and kilts for greater mobility and versatility in the backcountry. I felt it high time to give it a try. I reviewed the Purple Rain Adventure Skirt in size small.
Purple Rain was founded by Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker Mandy “Purple Rain” brand after she was unable to find a hiking skirt that matched her needs. She hand sews each product in Oregon.
Features and Specifications
- Yoga style moisture wicking waistband
- Dual double-access pockets
- Quick drying
- Minimalist design
- Wrinkle resistant
- Anti-microbial finish
- Available in sizes S to XXL
- Currently available in purple, black, and sandstone (note: different colors come in different fabric blends)
- Skirt body material: 74% polyester, 22% nylon, 4% spandex
- Waistband material: 90% polyester, 10% spandex
- Waistband dimensions: 4 in (10 cm)
- Skirt body dimensions: 16 in (41 cm)
- Skirt length: 20 in (51 cm)
- Measured weight: 4.3 oz (121 g)
Wearing a skirt can feel like less protection when compared to shorts or pants. While testing this piece of gear I was considering the following: bugs, brambles, abrasions, brisk temperatures, and modesty.
Choosing a skirt requires more careful consideration of layering. I layered mine with an IceBreaker Siren Bikini, Colghan’s Mesh Pants, MEC Women’s Watchtower Pants, and Outdoor Research Women’s Verglas Gaiters. I also used Sawyer Permethrin (insect repellent) on the skirt and mesh.
Description of Field Testing
I tested this skirt while hiking up the Marvel Pass Trail to Mt. Assiniboine, an exposed Canadian Rocky environment, and along the West Coast Trail in British Columbia, a coastal rainforest. All told, I wore the skirt for fifteen days in two different sets of conditions.
Construction and Fit
The skirt is a simple A-line tube design with five main pieces: a waist, two side pieces, a front panel, and a back panel. Two double pockets grace either side. The blended synthetic fabric feels sturdy with just the right amount of stretch. The waistband is soft and smooth against the skin and wicks moisture effectively. The skirt is flat and low-profile under my pack.
The double-sided pockets are generously sized and especially nice for storing photography equipment. The inside pocket lacks an enclosure while the outside pocket velcros shut. I could slide my lens caps, filters, and small camera accessories into the flapless pocket when not shooting. The velcro flap pocket was handy to keep small fast-access items like a GPS, gloves, compass, or phone comfortable and secure.
The stitches are tight and even, the hems and seams are straight. This is a well-constructed garment.
Staining, Soaking, and Drying
I began testing the Purple Rain Adventure Skirt by accidentally spilling bacon grease on it. I didn’t give the stain (or the scent) time to set in, I immediately began soaking the skirt in a creek. The upshot was I was able to get a solid idea of what it takes to fully soak and dry the skirt.
It took three full submersions to soak the skirt. During the first submersion, the durable, waterproof repellent fabric shook off ninety percent of the water. After wetting the skirt down, I took it back to the campsite and began scrubbing it with biodegradable soap flakes from my mess kit. I rinsed the soap out over a cat hole about an hour later. I hung the skirt up to dry in my vestibule and hunkered down in my tent for the night.
After two hours, the skirt body was damp but almost dry, while the waistband was slightly moist. Ambient temperature was about fifty degrees Fahrenheit. I was not able to gather any humidity data.
The fabric held a mark from the bacon grease even after machine washing at home, but that is to be expected.
Weather Resistance and Protection
I spent a full day in the rain wearing the Purple Rain Adventure Skirt, during which the precipitation ranged from heavy showers to light sprinkles. The fabric resisted soaking well, even during heavy showers. It took several hours to gain significant moisture but never actually soaked through. The seams and areas where gear stretched the fabric of the pockets seemed to be slightly less water resistant.
What little moisture the skirt did absorb was quickly shed (within forty-five minutes) once the sun came out.
It would have been easy to pull on rain pants underneath the skirt, but I never felt the need. The skirt provided enough protection from the elements.
Bugs, Brambles, and Bushwhacking
The Adventure Skirt held up well when bushwhacking through dense underbrush. It provided adequate protection from brambles and bugs, especially when paired with full-length gaiters and bug pants. After multiple days of scrambling, I was far less scratched than I thought I would be when I first picked up the skirt.
I found the skirt to be an ideal length for my thirty-two-inch inseam. The skirt fell to just above my knees. Everything above my knees was covered adequately, even when ascending hills. I would be careful when doing yoga or intense scrambles, though, as the skirt tends to “creep” in these situations.
That being said, I had no problem staying covered while crawling and climbing around in search of good photographs.
The Adventure Skirt far outstrips pants or shorts when it comes to backcountry bathroom-breaks. You don’t have to remove it, and it is easily adjusted back into place in a hurry when necessary.
Warmth and Temperature Control
I would wear the Purple Rain Adventure Skirt at any temperature that would normally require shorts. Unlike shorts, regulating temperature by adding and removing layers underneath the skirt was simple.
That being said, I did find myself carrying a heavier insulating layer than I normally would, while wearing long pants. Other users may find they do not need a heavier layer, but my winter layers routinely make their way onto summer backpacking trips in the Canadian Rockies.
- Durable construction
- Comfortable fabrics and design
- Highly water-resistant
- Easy layer transition compared to shorts and long pants
- Large, versatile pockets
- Smooth, soft waistband
- Easy access to open top pockets
- Secure access to Velcro flap pockets
- Weather resistant
- Versatile layering options
- Requires bug deterrent (spray, Permethrin or mesh pants)
- Mid-weight base layer recommended
- Gaiters recommended
I would wear a Purple Rain Adventure Skirt instead of shorts on any trip. I found the skirt comfortable, durable, functional, and versatile. Increased privacy while changing layers and using the bathroom were unexpected but considerable benefits. I will likely never wear shorts again.
The only reason I cannot give the Purple Rain Adventure Skirt a Highly Recommend score is because of its limited functionality when scrambling over rocks.
I have tried a few other types of skirts in addition to the Purple Rain Adventure Skirt and found their wider A-line cut or pleated cut an asset for scrambling. A slightly roomier profile or pleating across the hip might give more flexibility and freedom of movement when scrambling. For frequent scramblers, I would recommend the slightly longer and wider profiled Purple Rain Adventure Kilt.
In every other area, I found the Purple Rain Adventure Skirt exceeded my expectations. I am a dedicated skirt convert, and the Adventure Skirt tops my list in this category.
Where to Buy
- Buy the Purple Rain Adventure Skirt from the manufacturer.
- Our community talks about skirts quite a bit. Check out conversations on wearing kilts on the PCT, the JMT, and a DIY Hiking Skirt.
- Emylene suggested a poncho or rain kilt for use with a skirt. Here’s a conversation on cottage brand rain kilts.
Product Review Disclosure
Updated September 15, 2018
- How we acquired these products: Product(s) discussed in this review were either acquired by the author from a retailer or otherwise provided by the manufacturer at a discount/donation with no obligation to provide media coverage or a product review to the manufacturer(s).
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