16 March 2017

You Need a Down Skirt

Katy and little Ellinor, both very fashionably dressed.

My butt gets cold. Dare I say, I have one of the coldest bottoms in the history of womankind. I struggled for years with debilitating "cold-butt syndrome", but I'm happy to be here today and tell you that: it gets better. You need just one key piece of gear to transform your life - and your backside - forever.

The Down Skirt

My friend Katy introduced me to The Down Skirt via Facebook in 2013. Katy, her husband Ben, and two kiddoes, are that adventurous family you love to stalk on social media. I met Ben and Katy when we were in marching band at UW and have enjoyed exchanging holiday cards with them ever since. It's been fun watching their relationship grow: from getting married on the flanks of Mt. Rainier to growing their family and taking their daughter to Panorama Point when she was just 4-weeks old. These folks are the epitome of outdoorsy. They embrace any time spent outside and personally inspire me to think differently about adventuring with kids.

When it comes to both parenthood and fashion, Katy is ahead of her time. She's a visionary among women. Hers was the first bottom I ever saw adorned with The Down Skirt, and an unabashed, unapologetic bright pink one at that. I immediately messaged her to learn all about it. It's Scandinavian (of course), and was purchased by Katy's mom in Teller, Alaska (70 miles NW of Nome on the Bering Sea). Apparently, you pretty much have to wear a down skirt over your pants there all the time in winter if you want to survive (and you can buy full length version too!).

Inspired by Katy's claims that The Down Skirt was "super comfortable" and she "loves it", I set out to find my own down skirt. This did not go well for me. Apparently when you live in Seattle in March they are NOT AVAILABLE ANYWHERE (online or in stores. Teller, AK, doesn't distribute broadly)!

Naturally, like anyone who can't get what they want IMMEDIATELY, I had an adult tantrum for about 20 minutes then pulled it together and made a plan. My friend Nick is into gear, so I sent him a note asking him to weigh the pros and cons of the available models. He wrote me back with diagrams explaining grams, fill, features, and fashion. I think he wanted one himself after all the research!

Eventually I bought one and it's awesome. I'm not nearly as fashionable as Katy, and the skirt is lacking some serious bells and whistles, but at the end of the day my ass it warm and that's all that matters. Which is why I'm writing today to tell you:

You NEED The Down Skirt!

The Down Skirt keeps you warm. When you are cold in the backcountry you put on your "puffy". You know how much of a difference even a light puffy can make in terms of personal warmth. Think of The Down Skirt as a puffy for your bottom half. It warms your thighs and bum, and helps keep blood warm on the way down to your tingly toesies. For me, The Down Skirt has been a game-changer in winter camping. I used to have a really hard time falling asleep, even in the heaviest sleeping bag. Wear The Down Skirt to bed to transform your camping experience.

The Down Skirt is easy to wear and easy to carry.  It's relatively lightweight and compacts nicely, making it easy to carry for a single or multi-day trip. Most of the skirts have full zips, so you can put it on and off without stepping through. Get one a size big to make sure you can layer over your ski pants or fashionable leggings - or hell, go Scottish commando style. I don't care. 

The Down Skirt helps you stand out. While out in the wild, The Down Skirt is a pretty rare sighting (I'm sure this incredibly popular blog will change everything). Just like wearing a tutu, the down skirt is a backcountry ice breaker and gets your noticed. Can't find your friend? Just look for the bright pink down skirt or ask a stranger if they've seen someone with a warm-looking, bright-pink backside.

I believe in The Down Skirt so strongly that I advocated for it's inclusion in the 9th edition of Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills. For you fashion-forward men out there, rumor has it a rain kilt may also make the cut (here's a super lightweight version). If The Down Skirt does end up being included, I'm pretty sure that counts as life achievement UNLOCKED. But to speak honestly: at the end of the day The Down Skirt is truly a piece of safety equipment you need in your arsenal. What are you waiting for? Get one today!

Katy in her favorite place - Mt. Rainier National Park. Photo by Ben Stuart.

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