10 Best Hiking Skirts for Thru-hiking in 2022

A guide to hiking skirts, dresses, skorts and kilts for thru-hiking for 2022.

Updated on August 3rd, 2022

Hiking in skirts have come a long way from the full-length skirts of the 1880s. They're now lightweight, breathable, waterproof, and easy to walk in.

We tested the best hiking skirts on the market today and this is our verdict on them. First we jump into the reviews and some buying advice. Then, we cover the pros and cons of hiking skirts.

hiker using skirt
Brand Model Weight Skirt Length Design Pockets Price
Lightheart Gear Skirt with Pockets 6oz 19in A-Line Yes $98
Purple Rain Adventure Skirt 4.6oz 20in A-Line Yes $72
Lady Hike Ready, Set, Go! Skirt 10oz 15-18in A-Line Yes $55
Lightheart Gear Backpacking Dress 6-7.5oz 36.75-37.5in Princess Cut Optional $60
ExOfficio Kizmet Skort 6.17oz Mid-thigh

Slim-fit / A-Line

Yes $62
Skirt Sports Happy Girl Skort 16oz 16.5-17.5in A-line Yes $72
Montbell Superior Down Skirt 4.2oz 17in A-line Yes $79
Enlightened Equipment Rain Wrap Skirt 1.7oz 25-29in Tube No $45
Mountain Hardwear Dynama/2 Skirt 4.10oz 18.5in A-Line Yes $60
Houdini W's Duffy Skirt 3.9oz  31.4-36.3in A-Line Yes $64

Best Hiking Skirts

Lightheart Gear Skirt with Pockets

Lightheart Gear Skirt with Pockets

Weight: 6 ounces

Skirt Length: 19 inches

Design: A-Line

Pockets: Yes

Material: 100% Nylon Suplex

Price: $98

Why we like it: It has the most pockets!

Lightheart Gear heard women complain about not having any or big enough pockets and said “not on our watch!”. Featuring 6 pockets (including classic hip pockets and cargo-style pockets on the side of the leg) that are large enough for cell phones, cameras, and maps, it's great for keeping essentials easily at hand. As a bonus, the pocket size is the same no matter the skirt size.

The waistband of this skirt features a zipper and button along with belt loops, and the 2x and 3x sizes have elastic in the waistband for an even better fit. The skirt is available in a variety of colors and patterns the hem length is customizable. It also seems to be the most popular hiking skirt for men.

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Purple Rain Adventure Skirt

Purple Rain Adventure Skirt

Weight: 4.6 ounces

Skirt Length: 20 inches

Design: A-Line

Pockets: Yes

Material: 88% Polyester,12% Spandex blend, and DWR finish

Price: $71.99

Why we like it: This skirt has the smoothest and softest waistband.

Wearers of the Purple Rain Adventure skirt rave about how soft and smooth the waistband is. The yoga-style band means the skirt has a versatile fit and is compatible with any body type.

The inventor, Mandy Bland, wanted something better than hiking pants on the Appalachian Trail, and thus the Adventure Skirt was born. She tested her creation on the Pacific Crest Trail and still hand sews each skirt in her home in Oregon.

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Lady Hike Ready, Set, Go! Skirt

Lady Hike Skirt

Weight: 10 ounces (medium)

Skirt Length: 15-18 inches

Design: A-Line

Pockets: Yes

Material: Stretchable, breathable, lightweight, water-resistant material

Price: $55

Why we like it: Has excellent versatility for hiking and around town.

The newly upgraded version of the Ready Set Go skirt comes without the built-in underwear for more versatility (but you can still buy Lady Hike’s one-of-a-kind Petal Panties separately to wear under the skirt). This skirt has a casual and low-profile appearance that doesn’t immediately scream athletic gear, which is great for running to the grocery store post-hike.

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Lightheart Gear Backpacking Dress

Lightheart Gear Backpacking Dress

Weight: 6-7.5 ounces for a dress with pockets; 8-11 ounces for a non-pocket dress

Dress Length: 36.75 to 37.5 inches

Design: Princess Cut

Pockets: Optional

Material: 95% Polyester and 5% Lycra

Price: $60

Why we like it: This backpacking dress has the most colorful prints.

Lightheart gear is making their second appearance on our list, this time for their backpacking dress. The Backpacking Dress comes in two varieties: sleeveless without pockets, and short sleeves with pockets. The dresses seem to come exclusively in colorful prints, which could be a pro or a con depending on how loud you like your hiking gear.

Both dresses offer wide enough sleeves and a high enough neckline to prevent the shoulder or chest straps of the backpack from rubbing you raw. The dress with pockets has recently been redesigned which will hopefully clear up an issue several wearers reported with incorrect sizing.

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ExOfficio Kizmet Skort

ExOfficio Kizmet Skort

Weight: 6.17 ounces

Skirt Length: Mid-thigh, 5-inch inseam short

Design: Slim-Fit / A-Line

Pockets: Yes

Material: 86% Polyester and 14% Elastane

Price: $60 to $61.95

Why we like it: The feminine look of a skirt with all the coverage of shorts.

If your interest in hiking in a skirt is a little less utilitarian and a little more fashion-oriented, the Kizmet skort may be the way to go. It looks just like a wrap skirt but has shorts underneath the front flap, eliminating the need to worry about thigh rub or showing more than you’d like to someone hiking uphill behind you.

Fans of this skort rave about the soft and silky material that performs well in heat and humidity. On the downside, this skort (or any skort) does not offer the main benefits of a skirt: added ventilation, and not needing to pull your bottoms all the way down when nature calls.

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Skirt Sports Happy Girl Skort

Skirt Sports Happy Girl Skort

Weight: 16 ounces

Skirt Length: 16.5 inches front, 17.5 inches back, 7-inch inseam short

Design: A-Line

Pockets: Yes

Material: Polyester/Spandex skirt with Semi Compression Mesh (poly/spandex) shorts

Price: $72.75

Why we like it: the built-in compression shorts are just the right length

This skort (which is actually called the Happy Girl skirt on the website, so don’t get confused) comes in quite a few fun patterns but also in classic black. Quite a few wearers warn that the inner compression shorts can run quite small, although most love the 7” inseam.

It features 3 pockets, but one of them is in the back, up by the waistband, and would almost certainly be inaccessible when wearing a fully loaded pack. Overall this skort seems to be a better fit for light hiking, running, tennis, etc, rather than anything involving a fully loaded backpack.

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Montbell Superior Down Skirt

Montbell Superior Down Skirt

Weight: 4.2 ounces

Skirt Length: 17 inches

Design: A-Line

Pockets: Yes

Material: 20D Rip-Stop Nylon with stretchy fleece side panels and 20D Nylon Taffeta lining

Price: $79

Why we like it: It's the warmest skirt on the list.

The Montbell Superior down skirt is not for everyday hiking. The down panels will keep your thighs and butt toasty warm, while the stretchy fleece panels on the side allow for freedom of movement. This skirt is useful as an active layer in very cold temperatures, or for slightly less active endeavors such as skiing or hanging out in camp. It’s worth noting that down will not function if wet, so this skirt is not a good layer if it’s cold and rainy, and you’ll have to be careful where you sit while wearing it.

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Enlightened Equipment Rain Wrap Skirt

Enlightened Equipment Rain Wrap Skirt

Weight: 1.7 ounces

Skirt Length: Mid-calf length (25 to 29-inches)

Design: Tube

Pockets: No

Material: Waterproof 15D Silnylon

Price: $45

Why we like it: This rain wrap skirt has the most convenient rain protection.

Anyone who’s ever had to stop and take off their pack and shoes to put on rainpants or suffered from sweaty legs after hiking uphill while wearing them will immediately see the benefits of the Rain Wrap Skirt. A simple sheet of silnylon with a drawstring and snaps to allow for varying degrees of ventilation, the Rain Wrap Skirt provides rain, wind, and bug protection and can be put on without even removing your pack.

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Mountain Hardwear Dynama/2 Skirt

Mountain Hardwear Dynama/2 Skirt

Weight: 4.10 ounces

Skirt Length: 18.5 inches back

Design: A-Line

Pockets: Yes

Material: 96% nylon and 4% elastane

Price: $60

Why we like it: The most versatile skirt on the list! Can be worn on trail or dressed up.

A simple skirt with a slim fit and a yoga-style waistband, the Mountain Hardwear Dynama Skirt seems to be a crowd pleaser. Wearers praise its versatility of appearance (wear it hiking or out on the town!) and the soft, stretchy fabric. The fit is very flattering while still leaving room underneath for leggings or compression shorts. It has a DWR water repellent finish, so a little rain won’t get in the way of your outdoor fun.

It’s durable enough for a thru-hike and is sure to garner compliments everywhere you go. One thing to keep in mind with this skirt is that the placement of the pockets might mean you can't access them while hiking if your pack has a hip belt.

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Houdini W's Duffy Skirt

Houdini W's Duffy Skirt

Weight: 3.9 ounces

Skirt Length: 31.4 in - 36.3 in (increases with size)

Design: A-Line

Pockets: Yes

Material: 89% Polyester and 11% Elastane

Price: $63.99

Why we like it: The side slits allow for total freedom of movement

Made of incredibly light and quick-drying fabric, it’s hard to find a skirt that compares to hot weather. The slit in the side allows for total freedom of movement and lots of airflows, and the loose fit leaves plenty of room for shorts or leggings underneath.

The elastic waistband makes this skirt a good fit for those who are in between sizes, and it’s the only garment on this list that can be stowed in its own (zippered) pocket. Like any skirt with hip pockets, it may have limited compatibility with backpacks with hip belts.

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How To Choose Your Hiking Skirt

There are several key features you should consider when purchasing a hiking skirt. Here are some of the most important...

hiking skirts

STYLE

Skorts or "Built-Ins": Not every hiking skirt is an open skirt; some come with built-in shorts (called skorts). Not only do these built-ins save you from facing an awkward Marilyn Monroe moment (no underwear anyone?), but they also protect your inner thighs from chafing

happy girl skort
The Happy Girl Skort from Skirt Sports' built-in short

Dresses: Hiking dresses have all the advantages of a skirt along with the added benefit of being seamless. Unlike a skirt that has a waistband, a dress fits smooth against your back and hips. As a result, wearing a dress allows you to do away with the pressure points and irritating rubbing that could be caused by your backpack's hip belt.

backpacking dress
Lightheart Gear's Backpacking Dress is not your everyday cocktail dress; it was designed for hiking.

Kilts: A kilt is a wrap-around, knee-length skirt made out of pleated tartan cloth that's known to be thick and warm. Hiking kilts are common on the trails for both men and women and offer the same benefits as a skirt. Men rave about the ventilation and the unrestricted movement they experience when they swap their shorts for a kilt.

kilts
The Lightheart Gear Skirt with Pocket's kilt style makes it popular with both men and women.

MATERIAL

Summer: You'll want a stretchy form-fitting nylon or synthetic fabric for a summer hiking skirt. These synthetic fabrics are lightweight, dry quickly, and stretch to move when you are climbing. Stay away from cotton skirts as they dry slowly and don't have as comfortable of a stretch. Some synthetic skirts also offer UV protection and a DWR finish that repels rain. 

dynama/2 skirt
Mountain Hardwear Dynama/2 Skirt has a DWR water repellent finish, so a little rain won’t get in the way of your outdoor fun.

Winter: Skirts can also be worn in the winter over a pair of athletic leggings for example. Wool is definitely your best bet when shopping for warmer skirts. For extra protection from the cold, look for skirts that come with polyester or down fill.

montbell down skirt
This Superior Down Skirt from Montbell is made from materials suitable for the winter season.

FEATURES

Flare: Most hiking skirts have a slight flare at the bottom to allow for unrestricted movement when walking. Other skirts fall straight from the hip, providing a slim fit some people prefer.

flare

Pockets: Another essential element to consider when shopping for a skirt is storage. Not only should you pay attention to how many pockets the skirt comes with, but you should also make sure those pockets are deep enough to be useful to you.

pockets

Adjustable Size: If you are a hard-to-fit size, you may want to search for a skirt that has an adjustable velcro waist or drawstrings.

Snap Closure: Some skirts also include snap closures for comfort.

rain wrap
Enlightened Equipment's Rain Wrap Skirt has a drawstring and snap closure.

WAISTBAND

Hiking skirt waistbands serve an extremely important function: keeping the skirt on your body. When trying on shorts or pants, the placement of the crotch dictates where the waist of the garment will sit on your body, but this is not an issue with skirts. You can wear any skirt as low, medium, or high rise, depending on what feels best to you and works the best with any gear you might be wearing (especially backpacks). Of course, this is not true for skorts, as the crotch of the inner shorts will dictate where the waistband falls. There are a few different types of waistbands:

wasitband

Yoga Style: this type relies entirely on the stretch to fit the wearer — no strings, buttons, or zippers.

yoga style

Drawstring: uses a string mechanism that can be tied tighter or looser to adjust the tightness of the waistband

drawstring

Fly Front: uses some combination of buttons and zippers to enlarge the waistband enough for the user to pull on the skirt. Often paired with belt loops.

down skirt

WEIGHT

You don't want your skirt or skort or what-have-you to feel like a pair of heavy blue jeans. You want to be dancing around the woods freely in lightweight and breathable garments. Skirts range from as light as 2 ounces to 16 ounces. Aim for a skirt in the 4 to 8-ounce range that has at least one pocket. If you are worried about the cold of winter, as mentioned, add leggings for warmth.

weight

Hiking Skirt Pros

Wearing a hiking skirt has more freedom of movement than shorts or pants. Switching to it may give you just the boost you need to accomplish great things: Heather “Anish” Anderson is well known in the thru-hiking community for trekking in a dress, and she has set a record pace on the Appalachian Trail in 2015 while wearing one. She primarily gets her dresses from thrift stores.

Heather "Anish" Anderson, when asked about the skirts/dresses she wears on trails, said they are "lighter and cheaper" than branded hiking wear. "Wearing cute dresses makes me happy!", she added. Anish started wearing them while she was working at the Glacier National Park. She shared that she got her first one, a beach cover-up, from Walmart. - Cascade Hiker Podcast

skirt and dress

1. VENTILATION

One of the main benefits of wearing a hiking skirt is ventilation. Skirts are open at the bottom and provide more ventilation than shorts or pants. Keeping good airflow in the nether regions can help prevent the build-up of moisture and heat, therefore lowering the rate of bacterial growth and helping to keep things more hygienic.

The extra ventilation can also greatly increase comfort in hot and/or humid weather (and is a primary reason many men cite for switching to a skirt).

ventilation

2. BATHROOM EASE

Peeing or pooping in the woods? It is so much more comfortable in a skirt. You don't have to bare your naked butt or worry about peeing on the clothes that are straddling your ankles - just remember to lift both the front and back of the fabric when you squat. And if you are one of those ladies who uses a female urination device (FUD), then you MUST try a skirt (you'll thank us later).

new balance skirt

3. SIMPLICITY

The simplicity of layering with a skirt comes in handy while backpacking! When it gets chilly it can be difficult to fit long pants over hiking shorts, but it’s easy to just slide leggings or pants on underneath the skirt.

pros

Once the sun comes out again, just slide them off and toss the pants back in your pack without ever worrying about finding a place to change. It also makes changing into base layers at the end of the day a more modest affair; simply put on your base layer and then slide the skirt off.

easy to layer

 4. EASY TO LAYER

It's incredibly easy to layer with hiking skirts. The biggest problem with hiking skirts is that, similar to shorts, they leave legs exposed. When you are bushwhacking or hiking in a mosquito-infested area, your bare legs are vulnerable to being cut or eaten alive.

A quick workaround for that is to slip on a pair of leggings underneath the skirt. When you no longer need the extra protection, simply take off the leggings and toss them in your pack.

retro hiking skirts

Hiking Skirt Cons

1. CHAFING

As with any article of hiking clothing, chafing is a possibility, but for some people, the skirt is the solution. The lack of fabric in the crotch gives many folks relief from chafing caused by pants or shorts. However, for some people, the lack of a fabric barrier between the thighs or in the groin area can open the door for more chafing. Wearing compression shorts underneath the skirt or buying a skort instead of a true skirt may solve this issue.

cons

2. SKIRT SHIFTING

It is certainly possible for a hiking skirt to shift while hiking; the waistband may ride up or down, the back or front of the skirt may bunch up causing the hem to rise, or the whole skirt may rotate in one direction or another.

shifting

For the most part, trial and error with skirt brand and waistband placement will be the only way to address these issues, as these problems are largely dependent on body shape. Skirt rotation can be fixed by wearing a dress or a skort instead of a skirt, and the hip belt of your backpack can be used to help hold the skirt in place.

📸 Some photos in this post were taken by Dana Felthauser (@danafelthauser)

Rebecca Cook photo

About Rebecca Cook

By Rebecca Cook (aka “Pepper”): Becca is a nomad(ish) with a penchant for spending large chunks of time in the San Francisco Bay Area.  She has completed the AT, JMT, TRT and LT amongst other several thru-hikes.

About Greenbelly

After thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, Chris Cage created Greenbelly to provide fast, filling and balanced meals to backpackers. Chris also wrote How to Hike the Appalachian Trail.

Affiliate disclosure: We aim to provide honest information to our readers. We do not do sponsored or paid posts. In exchange for referring sales, we may receive a small commission through affiliate links. This post may contain affiliate links. This comes at no extra cost to you.
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