Women's Trail Running Gear Design and Marketing

Femme Den Outdoor Retailer ShowLadies and Gentlewomen, are trail running companies designing gear and apparel with your needs in mind or are they just throwing pink and flowers on their men’s product? Are their advertisements speaking to you? Are they providing you with all the information you want or are they just throwing lots of useless information and technical data past you? Read on for more on women’s trail gear and a chance to win a Skirt Sports MarathonGirl Ultra running skirt!

We were going to launch into a long post inspired by the Femme Den designers at ORSM, but those questions pretty well sum up what we’re thinking about and, seeing as how the editorial staff at iRunFar is chromosomally-challenged, we won’t offer up any opinions of our own. Instead, we’ll offer just a few more questions:

  • Which companies or products are really dialed into what a woman needs or wants? Which companies aren’t?
  • Is there any trail gear that you’d buy in a minute, if only it was properly made for a woman (i.e., a watch band is too big or a torso length is too long)?
  • As a woman, are any of your trail running needs completely unfulfilled by current gear?

Contest/Review Opportunity

MarathonGirl Ultra skirt by Skirt SportsThe folks at Skirt Sports have been kind enough to provide iRunFar with a Skirt Sports MarathonGirl Ultra running skirt in small (those with other sizes read here). (Skirt Sports sizing info) If you’d like to review the Skirt Sports MarathonGirl Ultra for iRunFar, just leave a substantive comment on this post (iRF will be liberal in its interpretation of “substantive comment”) and mention that you’d be interested in reviewing the MarathonGirl Ultra skirt. We’ll add an extra “ticket” for each additional substantive comment you leave. Next Monday morning, we’ll randomly draw a winner from among the interested women.

* * * * *

[* iRunFar must note that its inspiration for this post came from the ladies of Femme Den, a group of designers from Smart Design some of whom gave a presentation at ORSM. While we missed the presentation, Yvonne and Whitney were kind enough to speak with us. Thanks ladies!]

[Skirt Sports promised iRunFar the MarathonGirl Ultra skirt in a size small. We are attempting to contact Skirt Sports to see if we can choose the size after this contest is complete. If we are successful, we will update the post to reflect that the winner can be of any size and retroactively add tickets for any comments that you make.]

There are 10 comments

  1. Kim

    I would be glad to wear a Skirt Sports Skirt again for a review, but then again, I'm no small. I'm a hearty robust trail running goddess.Running skirts for me need two things: compression shorts that won't ride up, and pockets, two on each hips. I get this wearing the Commitment Skirt from Atalanta Atheletic Wear.

  2. Maureen Benitz

    I have 2 of their skirts and definitely prefer one over the other. One has a longer compression short and the other is a bikini cut (and does not have a very strong elastic at the waist) – the longer one is definitely better for me. About 4 months ago I went on a skirt buying bender – Adidas, New Balance to name a few. I did not try this particular model, but would be glad to! I'm a skirt convert and can't see myself ever wearing a pair of shorts to run in again! Strictly skirts for me!

  3. Miha

    I am on the men side and I will coment only their international activity. They have a chance to do a very good business in Europe due to extremely high demand on this products. As far as I know here women buy tennis skirts just to have it. So, get some int. distributor or lower the shipping cost (there is always the customs problem) and you will have lots of orders.

  4. Meredith

    I have not tried that model of skirt from them, but have tried two others. I have not tried that Atalanta skirt that Kim mentions, but I can tell you, Kim is the queen of rocking skirts at ultras! I'd test the skirt for ya, especially if it is hot pink! lol. The other next one on my list is the Brooks skirt. Have not seen a lot of information on that one. Hopefully the Zensah one arrives in time for my long run this weekend. As far as other gear, the Garmin is the most ridiculously huge thing. I do not have one, but my husband does and it is just ginormous on my wrist, and i am a pretty tall gal, that i cannot imagine a smaller woman wearing one. A lot of women's trail shoes do not come in sizes above 10 or 11 and when you are running 100 miles, sizing up can be hard. This is a HUGE beef of mine and one reason why i am Brooks loyal. I recently tried the women's Nathan hydration pack and thought it was pretty nice. I am still not sure i like it better than my Camelback Charm, but the front pockets are super convenient and the fit is not bad.

  5. Holly

    I would love to review the skirt! I run in the Gym Girl version from Skirt Sports. In response to your questions:Salomon is where it is at for female specific gear. Hydration packs that fit, shoes that are tailored to a woman's foot, you name it and they make it.Patagonia is a big disappointment in the trail running department. Most notably their synthetics and base layers – they feel short in the torso – no joy for the taller ladies.I would consider buying a wrist GPS if it came in a practical size. They're huge.I can't think of any needs that can't be fulfilled with gear – but I am a bit of a minimalist. I like to spend more time thinking about snacks and treats and how I can carry chocolate in my bag without it melting :)

  6. Kiry

    I'd love to test this skirt. I have two skirts already and find an issue with them falling down. This could be due to a lack of hips on my part. But I'm always on the lookout for one that will stay up.I really like the shorts and tops Saucony has right now. SkirtSports' marketing is definitely making an impact with women who take pride in being women athletes and like the fun aspect of having people do a double-take at a woman running in a skirt!

  7. Tammy

    I am a big fan of Skirt Sports! I wear marathongirl skirts exclusively for training, running road races (5 km's to marathons) and have run all my ultra-marathons since 2006 in my marathongirl skirt. This includes: Umstead 100 (in 07 ad 08), Vermont 100 (08), JFK 50 (in 06 and 07). I also occasionally wear my skirt hiking but my only issue is that this makes it hard to carry my camera in my pocket ready for use in a moment.I always wear moving comfort seamless underpants underneath (any seam against my skin just spells trouble). The pocket is big enough to hold a credit card, keys or a goo/gel pack. I think as others have commented the waistband is not supertight highly elasticized so I would not think carrying much more would be advisable.I carry an Ultimate Direction strider fanny pack and thus can carry everything (including essentially the kitchen sink) in it. When I go longer I use a Nathan hydration back pack again ensuring I do not need much in my pockets.I like the fit and the comfort of the MarathonGirl Skirt. The choice of built in biker shorts (gym girl) or spankies or undies (marathongirl) is really a personal preference since the other features of this skirt remain the same.The skirt length covers just enough of my leg to make it so I am very comfortable posting pictures of myself to co-workers, family etc. The A-line mini-skirt is flattering to most figures. I am an average sized runner (the weigh in at VT100 suggests I am 130 lbs and I am about 5 foot 6; with these stats I wear size medium, thus I would suggest the sizing is fairly accurate. I find having "skirt power" makes me happy to run (regardless of how I do in any race or training run at least I know I am looking pretty good:-) Happy Running!Tammy

  8. jeannie s

    I haven't tried any of the Skirt Sports yet — mostly because I've been pregnant since I discovered them. However, I can highly recommend Born Fit as a maternity fitness brand. I love their running skirt (in fact, I am wearing it now – 10 days post-delivery – because it is the most comfortable item in my wardrobe & because it just makes me feel like a runner despite not having run in 9 months). I do wish that some of these companies catering to women would offer a few styles of tops that are built for those of us who left our flat bellies behind 1, 2, 3…kids ago! I would love to see something with a little support on top & an empire waist w/a more forgiving (and longer) torso.

  9. Trail Goat

    Ladies,My (and other readers) thanks for sharing your thoughts on women's trail gear design and all the info on athletic skirts. Kim,It seems like there is a wide split between those who love the shorties and the spankies. In speaking with the Skirt Sports folks at the OR show, they seemed to think that the spankies running skirts were more popular among the ultrarunning crowd. Pockets can be a big asset.. though I got by with pocketless running shorts for ages. Women, do you prefer the spankies or the shorties?Maybe I'll have to have a running skirt specific post in the near future. It seems like they are the next new thing…. if they aren't already the thing. Meredith,I agree that the Garmin thing is ridiculous. I can hardly believe that shoe companies would miss out on such reasonable sizing. I guess it's hard to get retailers to stock such a specialty item – women's trail runner in a large size… however, it would seem like they could offer larger sizes exclusively through their website or a chosen online partner.Holly,That's great that Salomon has it dialed in. I'll be hanging with Salomon folk at the TransRockies Run next week and will be sure to see what they have to say about their women's product design.I was just up in Leadville, CO where they make Melanzana skirts and noticed they now have a tall option for their skirt that is 3" longer. I wonder if other trail wear designers will start offering more tall options. I'll be the first to admit, that the cut of the Patagonia clothing can be quite cute, but obviously it's fit to an average height woman. It should be easy enough for the designers to translate the same design for longer torsos or legs.Kiry,I agree that Skirt Sports does a great marketing job… and I'm not even in their target demographic. That said, I can see how their campaign is meant to be empowering for women. At they same time, they keep the men in the loop with events such as their skirt chaser races.Deep breath… time to post before I lose all of this! More in a second. Y'all are great!

  10. Trail Goat

    Ok, a bit more now that I've caught me breath. Tammy,Thanks for the in-depth analysis of many features of running skirts! Great stuff – from liner, to pockets, to cut and length. Jeannie,Great point. Female runners come in all shapes and sizes. I think it can be easy for designers to have a very small (literally and figuratively) when designing athletic apparel. I'm in Boulder, the home of skirt sports, right now and there's not a whole lot of variety in body type. Even if I feel more at home, the demographic here does not reflect America or even athletic America.

Post Your Thoughts