Plus size outdoor clothing models – where are they all?

Plus-size sports gear

Back in 2019 Nike caused a stir in the sports gear and fashion worlds by placing plus size mannequins front and centre of their flagship London store.

Well done Nike.

Plus-size walking trousers

Three years earlier in 2016, over on the Two Blondes Walking blog, I challenged Cotswold Outdoor to find me a pair of walking trousers that fitted my larger (but actually average) size. At the time they rose to the challenge and helped me to understand some of the issues surrounding plus size outdoor gear.

Cotswold Outdoor 2016

They also found me a pair of trousers.

And started me on my gear review writing career.

Plus-size outdoor clothing models

Roll on seven years and the situation hasn’t changed that much. Cotswold Outdoor do have a limited ‘extended size‘ range with a few items available up to size 24 but what they don’t have is something that would make a huge difference to lots of women.

They don’t have plus size models demonstrating their clothes.

At least I couldn’t find them on their website. Which is a shame because I always recommend Cotswold Outdoor to my clients.

Cotswold Outdoor aren’t alone in their lack of plus-size models. My recent searches suggest it is still tricky to find walking trousers in sizes above 18, and even harder to find brands that have chosen to represent ‘real’ bodies.

Marketing is a complicated business.

Despite being an accomplished and successful copywriter, I don’t pretend to be an expert in all areas of marketing but I do know the fashion industry’s use of body positive images has been met with mixed responses, particularly with regard to the issue of perceived authenticity.

This hasn’t stopped me warming to brands that do choose to use models who look a bit more like me.

Because my size 18 contribution to the outdoor world is just as valid as that of my friend who wears a size 10.

Outdoor brands that use plus-size models

Okay so Lucy & Yak aren’t an outdoor brand but I love their real-body models and larger sizing

In order to help my quest for fairer representation, I decided to do some research. I checked out a range of well-known and not-so-well-known outdoor brands to look at their offering and representation when it came to women’s outdoor gear.

I reviewed the online stores of ten outdoor (and sports) brands and considered the following questions.

  1. Does this brand stock outdoor gear in sizes larger than a UK size 18?
  2. Does this brand use plus-size models to demonstrate outdoor gear?
  3. Does this brand used plus-size models alongside thinner models?

Here’s how I got on. I’ve put the body-positivity stars at the top of my list.


  • Stars: 5
  • Biggest size: 22
  • Online models: Women of all sizes (actually outdoors)

If you’ve ever looked longingly at Finisterre’s range of eco-friendly swimsuits but been unable to find one in your size, you’ll be pleased hear this UK B Corp company  have recently extended their whole recycled ocean plastic swimsuit range to size 22.

Even better than that, as you browse through the online catalogue, you’ll see swimsuits on a whole range of models from super-slim to curvy.

Finisterre offered me a piece of swimwear to try and I chose the Anella Reversible racerback swimsuit because one of their models Lauren has a similar body shape to mine.

Vampire Outdoors Gear

Vampire Outdoors
  • Stars: 5
  • Biggest size: 34
  • Online models: Genuine plus-size women (actually outdoors)

I wouldn’t be surprised if you hadn’t heard of Vampire Outdoors as they are a small UK brand. They are the only UK-available outdoor gear specialists I’ve found that stock sizes (UK 18 – 34) and nothing smaller than that. Okay so their range isn’t big but their trousers are (I couldn’t resist celebrating that).

This is exciting stuff!

To my mind absolutely the best thing about the Vampire Outdoors online offering is their models. Presenting larger bodied women having fun outdoors is important and these folk do it superbly in a way that other outdoor brands should really be considering if not already implementing.

If you love the sound of merino wool (who wouldn’t, it’s fab) but can’t find a top in your size, look no further than Vampire Outdoor Gear’s Outdoor Research Women’s PLUS SIZE Alpine Onset Merino base layer. I also really like the look of their Alpine Parrot Ponderosa Pants.

Astrid Wild

Astrid Wild
  • Stars: 5
  • Biggest size: 30
  • Online models: Genuine plus-size women

With some great outdoor tips and a passion for outdoor women’s gear, Scandinavian brand Astrid Wild have put together a great collection of trousers, tops and top layers all designed for outdoor life. With individual measurements available for each garment and sizes up to 3XL (UK 30), they help you make sure you’re choosing the right garment for your body shape.

Astrid Wild use models in a wide range of realistic plus-size body shapes. We’re impressed with the hover-to-switch images and the effort taken to make sure all items are viewable on at least two different sized models.

Although I would find it hard to resist Astrid Wild’s teddy bear like Minna Wool Fleece Jacket, my product of choice would have to be their Amelia Hiking Pants, which, as well as coming in a wide range of sizes, are also available in three different lengths.

Mountain Warehouse

  • Stars: 4
  • Biggest size: 28
  • Online models: On the small size

Mountain Warehouse might be on the budget-range end of the outdoor gear scale but their gear is set at a great price point for people just starting out on their outdoor adventure journey. They have a plus-size range that covers all the basics with over 300 items in sizes 20 up to 28.

They also stock a size 22 wetsuit.

Disappointingly for such a comprehensive plus-size range, I only found one item being demonstrated by an overtly plus-size model.

I hear from lots of women who can’t find plus-size waterproof trousers to fit. Mountain Warehouse might be able to help. Their Downpour Women’s Waterproof Trousers are available up to size 28. 


  • Stars: 4
  • Biggest size: 2XL (24 – 26)
  • Online models: Realistic – full marks here

Committed outdoorists might not associate Adidas gear with hill walking or camping nights but, if you’re into sports, it makes climate and pocket sense to go for gear that does more than one job.

Adidas does the bigger-body thing really well with over 200 items in their women’s plus size range. Not all of these are suitable for traditional outdoor life but the range includes swimwear, leggings (great for camping nights, summer walking or under trousers), technical fabric tops and even a taped-seam waterproof jacket.

Every single item I found in Adidas’ plus-size range was modelled by an appropriately-sized model. There were plenty of curves on display and some really encouraging images of larger women enjoying being active.

This made me smile.


  • Stars: 4
  • Biggest size: 24
  • Online models: Not realistic for the sizing

Like many people, my first pair of walking trousers was from Craghoppers. They make functional gear that does the job at prices that, although not cheap, come in way below many other brands. When it comes to plus-size gear, my searches found four jackets and an impressive 12 pairs of walking trousers available up to size 24.

Rather disappointingly for such a great range of plus size outdoor gear, I spotted just a couple of curvier bottoms with no realistic, curve-celebrating size 24 bodies.

Back in 2016 when Cotswold Outdoor helped me find a pair of walking trousers to fit, they were the Craghoppers Kiwi Pro Stretch (sadly still only available up to a size 20 but a great fit).


  • Stars: 3
  • Biggest size: 20
  • Online models: No bulges on show

Rohan are very good at cutting their clothing to fit realistic body shapes. I find their size 18 trousers fit me well in all the places that matter. They don’t make clothes bigger than a size 20 but you will find this a generous 20 with plenty of stretch.

Rohan’s models do have some realistic curves on show but their model choice stops short of authentic plus-size bodies.

One of my most comfortable pairs of walking trousers ever was my Rohan Troggings. A combination of jogging bottoms and outdoor trousers, they were fabulous for all kinds of travel and walking experiences.


  • Stars: 3
  • Biggest size: XL (20)
  • Online models: Thinner and curvier models

Famous for making planet Earth their only shareholder and their popular technical fabrics, retro-loving Patagonia do have an XL and XXL range of women’s clothing, which equates to UK sizes 18 – 20. I found 20 items available in XXL, which included one pair of ‘tights’ but no walking trousers (which were available in XL).

Approximately a third of the XL women’s items I found included images of curvier models. Some items were viewable on models of different sizes.

One item of Patagonia outdoor gear I wear over and over again in hot and colder weather is my long-sleeved capilene top, which is available in an XXL.

Rab Equipment

  • Stars: 2
  • Biggest size: 18
  • Online models: A few delicate curves

I am a big fan of Rab outdoor gear and its technical ability but they fall short in my estimation when it comes to plus size outdoor gear. In their women’s hike and trek collection I found just 8 products in size 18 and none in any larger sizes.

Their choice of models reflects their availability of sizes. Whilst there were gentle curves as well as super flat figures on show, there were no models with my level of rounditure.

I do however feel myself drawn to Rab’s Women’s Alpine Torque Pants because of their four-way stretch fabric and part-elasticated waistband. In the less fun colourways, these are available in a size 18.

Columbia Sportswear

  • Plus size stars: 3
  • Biggest size: 22
  • Online models: No plus-size models

My main experience of Columbia gear is with their super-waterproof Outdry jackets, and I have to say I’ve been impressed. Sadly they don’t stock any of their waterproof jackets in larger sizes on the UK site but up to a size 22 they do have some walking trousers and shorts.

I was looking quite carefully and didn’t spot any plus-size models on the Columbia website.

One item I would like to try in the Columbia range is their Saturday Trail Skort. I love wearing skirts but do find my larger thighs can chaffe if I don’t wear shorts underneath them.

I found three other sport/outdoor gear brands that stock women’s outdoor gear up to size 24 and use realistic plus-size models.

  • The North Face
  • Nike
  • Plus Snow
  • Fat Lad at the Back

Fat Lad at the Back are a real success story with a community of over 50 thousand cyclists and 70 social cycling groups. They have been making plus size outdoor clothing for over a decade and recently undertook a very interesting survey about the impact of under-representation of larger people in online and mainstream media.

Fat Lad at the Back

They also have some fantastic real-life images of plus-size women enjoying their gear.

Under-represented groups in outdoor gear marketing

Of course there are plenty of other groups of people under-represented by the availability and presentation of outdoor fashion. During my research for example I found no models using wheelchairs and only a few models with grey hair.

So who is getting plus-size outdoor gear right?

Finisterre very kindly sent me a swimsuit in size 20 to try. Thanks team, I love it!

Finisterre’s Anella Reversible Racer Back Swimsuit – in size 20

Finisterre are firmly at the top of my plus-size outdoor gear list, not because they stock the biggest size range (they don’t) or even because I love outdoor swimming (I do) but because they have got two things absolutely right.

  1. They’ve increased their size range across ALL of their day-to-day swimwear (no more feeling second best or having less choice).
  2. They’ve used models with bodies I recognise as being realistic actually taking part in outdoor activities (for me that’s both encouraging and aspirational).

Come on outdoor brands. More of the above please!

Outdoor clothing for everybody

If you want to join the campaign for plus-size outdoor gear or are interested in more plus size gear reviews and tips, check out the website and social media pages of Every Body Outdoors where you’ll find plenty to encourage you.

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