Size inclusivity has been a somewhat controversial topic in the hunt/fish world. But more brands are stepping up to the plate when it comes to people of all shapes and sizes getting into the outdoors.
Hunting has never been a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Hunters can be generalists, multidimensional, or focused in one area. They can be men, women, and children. And the body diversity within humanity is represented in the millions that do hunt.
For many of us that fit into the average size range, this isn’t an issue. This lack of problem is something that the sociological world refers to as “privilege.” In this particular case, it’s simply the advantage of being average. When we want clothes, we can find them.
But for many hunters of all shapes and sizes, that privilege is lacking. Luckily, multiple brands are stepping up to the plate. We highlight a few here.
Prois Hunting came to be due to a need for women’s-specific hunting gear that performs in the field. With many women wearing ill-fitting men’s gear in the field, the time was ripe for a female-focused brand.
“Engineering gear specifically made for the female form is very different than a men’s company downsizing their gear to fit a woman,” Prois founder Kirstie Pike explains. “For example, creating a waistline that is adjustable but still flattering really helps accommodate more body types.” Prois has expanded its line to not only include women’s sizing from XS to XXL, but it’s making tall sizing in pants — which hits an oft-missed demographic. And with its recently released Cumbre camo pattern, Prois debuted the first camo I’ve ever seen exclusively used in women’s apparel, which makes for a very cool niche in the market.
One of the biggest industry pushbacks is that creating variable sizing is too difficult, too expensive, and just not profitable. To that, Pike says, “We try to forecast our production to make sure we do have the full range of sizes. It’s extremely important to have the sizing available. Failure to do so results in a lack of trust and support with our customers.”
Mystery Ranch Backpacks
Mystery Ranch Backpacks’ highly inclusive line came out of the professional need for fit rather than simple intent. As the brand outfitted fire teams with various packs, it found itself working to create belts, pads, and straps that would fit the biggest wildland firefighter all the way down to the smallest.
This mode of operation has changed the way the design team looks at a pack in progress. Product Developers Erin Moffett and Alex Rich have taken this to an extreme when trying to build comfortable harnessing for women. Its development team brought in over 100 women for measurements to get an aggregate set of numbers. It used that data to develop the new harness, resulting in a fresh take on how it’ll build future harnesses.
“People come in different shapes and sizes; short torso with long legs or long torsos with short legs is typical in the pack world,” Marketing Director Ryan Holms said. “We design our harnessing to overlap to the in-between sizes.” And beyond that, if a customer has an issue with fit, Mystery Ranch can customize packs for a nominal fee. All good things.
Sitka Gear has proven itself to be a leader of the industry when it comes to creating lines that not only favor multiple hunting disciplines but also multiple body types. Whether you’re a woman looking for a whitetail-specific line, a man looking for a pair of tall, burly pants for the backcountry, or a parent looking to outfit your kiddo for an upcoming hunt, Sitka has an option.
Its sizing runs deeper than most as well. With women’s pant sizes up to 40R (between sizes 16 and 18) and options up to 3XL for men, Sitka is building a line that is not only inclusive but varied. And as a woman who’s been testing various Sitka Gear this past season, I’m consistently impressed with its tendency to keep pushing the boundaries of the type of gear made available for both genders and kids. You’ll definitely pay more money for Sitka Gear, but it’ll be the last money you spend on that piece for a long time coming.
As one of the few companies offering a wide range of plus sizes in both the outdoor recreation and hunting worlds, Alpine Curves notched out a space for itself focused on sourcing attractive gear that is functional in the field.
It covers snowsports across a broad range, as founder Kindra Roberts found herself having trouble finding clothing that worked for her on the ski hill. But its hunting line specifically comes from the woman-owned and Wisconsin-based DSG Outerwear.
“The quality and fit of their clothing are hands down some of the best I have seen in the industry. They truly understand how to fit a plus size women,” Roberts told us. DSG’s sizing indeed covers a hard-to-find range, with gear that fits women up to a 5XL.
Another thing to note about the gear on Alpine Curves is that its team does a really great job offering a diversity of styles that are also affordable. And beyond hunting, it covers base layers, skiing, and snowmobiling for winter-loving women.
A really great source for the men’s big and tall crowd is one of the biggest names in the business. Cabela’s has done a great job not only sourcing men’s big and tall clothing but making it easily accessible through its own separate webpage.
The brand covers the gamut. From casual wear to hunting bibs to outwear, it offers sizes up to 3XL and size 50 in pants. The nice thing about having a page sourced like this is that the customer can easily narrow in on their size and what’s available.
Brands like Nomad, Drake Waterfowl, RedHead, and Cabela’s house brand are represented. Bibs, hunting-specific outerwear, and hunting pants for all disciplines are easy to find, making Cabela’s a great go-to for the technical needs of the bigger fellas in the field. Plus, there’s a pile of really affordable gear available here. The brand’s collection does a great job of filling the gap between availability and affordability. It’s worth checking out.
After having conversations with multiple professionals in the field working to provide options for all hunters, it’s apparent that the winds of change are upon us. Yes, the practicality of making different sizes and options available does not always make the most sense when it comes to profit. But customer loyalty and the big need for variety are absolutely apparent for consumers, and these brands have risen to that challenge.
As hunting demographics continue to shift and decline, gear shouldn’t be a stopping point for anyone trying to get into the field. And the need for representation of the whole human experience is necessary. Even finding pictures for this article that covered the gamut proved to be a challenge in itself. But awareness is growing, as are the options. And this adds up to a great thing for all hunters.
Do you have a brand that you’re loyal to because of inclusivity? Let us know in the comments.