Friday, March 16, 2012

The action kilt

When browsing through photos from the Iditarod Trail Invitational, my friend stopped at a snapshot of Beat and Anne at the finish in McGrath. "What's he wearing? Is that a skirt?"

"It's not a skirt!" I said with mock offense. "It's an action kilt!"

It's totally a skirt. This ingenious piece of gear insulates body parts that don't make their own heat while preventing sweat from the ones that do. Insulated skirts took off in the women's outdoor gear market a few years ago after women discovered they were the ideal way to keep their tushes toasty while avoiding the thigh chaffing and sweating that often accompany insulated pants. Plus, you can just wrap these skirts around your waist whenever a chill hits, no shoe removal required. In addition, they're pretty cute — especially the models offered by Skhoop.

I acquired a Sierra Designs Gnar down skirt a few months ago, then wore it on our New Years trekking trip in Alaska. When I raved about its abilities to ward off "cold butt syndrome," Beat noticed other potential benefits. Beat, like many guys, often has trouble keeping his man parts warm in cold temperatures. He has tried many things, from windproof tights to sewing a piece of neoprene to the front of his briefs, and still cold air manages to find its way in. Our friend Anne let him borrow one of her skirts during a day hike, and Beat was sold. He decided he needed one for the ITI.

Beat sewed his own skirt from scratch. Weirdly, insulated skirts are only sold in women's sizes, and tend to be tight in areas that Beat didn't want it to be tight, and not as protective of the areas he wanted to protect. He designed a skirt that was high in the back, loose in the front (he doesn't like having his torso constricted), with waterproof zippers for movement and venting, strategically placed on the sides to keep the front secure. He used a Gortex-like waterproof material for the shell with Primaloft insulation. Beat has become quite the seamstress with his $79 sewing machine, and the skirt — ahem, action kilt – came out really well. Not only did it survive 350 miles of the Iditarod Trail, but it survived with style.

I think there could be a commercial market for men's action kilts if men could only get over their hangups about the whole skirt thing. I guess it's just a matter of what's more important to men — asserting their masculinity, or protecting it. But I can already imagine the ad campaign: "Action Kilt — Warm enough for a woman, but made for a man."

22 comments:

  1. This will be a tough sell to the boys until we hear of a story where two dudes were out playing in the cold, one wearing an 'action kilt' and the other not. The one without the 'action kilt' loses his 'twig and berries' to a serious cold injury. Then watch these things sell like hot cakes!

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  2. Look to the east. Was just up in Edinburgh Scotland 2 weeks ago...dudes wearing kilts EVERYWHERE! And it was QUITE chilly out. There must be something to it...as they've been around over here for quite some time, and talk about a wet and cold climate!

    I admit I've never worn one, but it must be counter-intuitive cuz you'd think it would be pretty cold to wear. History and an entire culture says that's not so. Of course, the Scottish Highlands and the ITI are somewhat different climates. But in the end, I'd think even guys would be more into function over fashion.

    Go for it Beat...make it happen! A new adventure clothing line. Call it something catchy like a "Beat Down"! "Yep, wearing my Beat Down on this one". (I hereby bequeath you the name idea Beat if you like it).

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  3. Klättermusen used to offer a kilt called the McKilt, sadly they stopped selling it years ago. I would love a kilt, there are few things as wonderfully liberating as wearing a kilt on a breezy Summer day. I can imagine Mosquitos could be a problem though.

    http://www.friluftslageret.dk/images/pdf/Klattermusen-catalogue-07.pdf

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  4. This should be an easier sell over here where our male national dress is a skirt!

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  5. I see enough dudes wearing actual running skirts (some made-up) and they also talk about benefits, and I live in TX. So, cold or hot, it works. I agree, he could use his name as a trade-mark and have a blasting business:)

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  6. I just wonder how I ever lived without one!! LOL

    Okay, I admit, Kilts are cool.

    Watch Samuel L. Jackson in the movie "The 51st State".

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  7. Anonymous9:33 AM

    Well, for myself, I want to assert my masculinity while protecting it. Cod piece anyone?

    I've seen Scots rugby players wearing kilts before and after games - one would do well not to challenge those dudes.

    -JimD

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  8. Back in 2001 when I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail there were quite a few other male hikers that traded in their hiking shorts for a short wrap skirt they were calling sarongs. The big selling point was less chafing in hot weather. I didn't experience any chafing, so I stuck with the shorts.

    There's a market for men's skirt, always has been, but it's small.

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  9. Get me one with my family tartan and I'm in.

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  10. He has the whole Angelina Jolie pose down pat!

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  11. Lots of males on their AT thruhikes wear hiking kilts/skirts. Almost none on the PCT due to the wind.

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  12. Anonymous7:26 PM

    Or, the ad could say, "Warm enough for a man, MADE by a man."

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  13. Anonymous8:37 PM

    Looks like a great way for a man to "Beat" the cold.I'm thinkin about trying it myself.

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  14. Has the thought that cross dressing is the first step down a slippery slope crossed your mind while your laying awake very late at night? Just askin'.....

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  15. I think you can buy running kilts so why not a winter one?

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  16. Check out Utilikilts.com, they're made here in Seattle and have been experiencing major growth over the last decade. There are also several options for winter kilts, running kilts, everyday kilts, etc...I spent several years working in the outdoor retail world and was kilted for most of that time!

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  17. And you thought the indians were just wearing loin cloths! (-;

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  18. Anonymous9:44 PM

    Love the come hither look and great smile. Great effort. I love reading your blog and look forward to the recap on Be Ultra

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  19. Poor Beat. First you had to call his Extreme Weather Layer System a skirt. But you also had to accompany the post with a goofy picture that makes him look like he's pulling up a skirt!

    Seriously, the coolest guys I know sow their own gear. And with what Beat's been pulling off lately, I'm sure he's pretty secure about his machismo level.

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  20. Thanks lot for this useful article, nice post

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  21. Anonymous2:06 PM

    You must have not heard of a utilikilt. http://ulitkilts.com

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  22. Anonymous6:15 AM

    Men have worn skirts far longer than women throughout time and a Kilt IS a Skirt by definition so call it what it is ..a skirt. Guys need to get over their homophobia and hangups.. a skirt is warmer than pants. (One tube has less area to transfer temperature than two tubes). It traps heat from both legs instead of radiating it through the surface area of pants. Just try the SKHOOP down filled long skirt and see for yourself. Who cares if made for women...legs are legs and skirts fit men just as well as women anyway! No need to design something special for men. (your not cross dressing unless trying to look like a woman and you will be perfectly fine in a skirt as a man....someday....

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