Plus-Size Winter Gift Guide (Retailers to Keep in Mind)

Plus-Size Winter Gift Guide (Retailers to Keep in Mind)

Ten days ’til Christmas in 2020 means you should have ordered last week to get it in time to put under the tree, and Hanukkah is almost over. I’m sorry! But hey – regardless of the season, you can always gift yourself for skiing and snowboarding anytime, right?!

If you are a plus size skier or snowboarder, or even thinking about learning a snow sport, you probably have had trouble finding a jacket that zips or pants that button at local shops, and have most likely found yourself frustrated while searching online for something that doesn’t really exist on Backcountry.com or other retailers. Believe me, I’ve had my own issues through the years. But, things are changing!

In the holiday spirit, I contacted two plus-size specific winter retailers and they gave me their favorite winter recommendations for both women and men. If you are looking for technical winter gear to keep you warm, read on…

Alpine Curves (USA)

“Our goal is to be your single source for plus size clothing and gear that fit the everyday woman for her outdoor lifestyle. It has been said that 67% of women in the US are over the size 14. With these kind of numbers the plus size woman IS the everyday woman. Every woman should be a be able to participate in any outdoor activity and not have to worry about what she needs to wear.” Visit Site →

Featured on Outside Online’s article “Hey, Outdoor Industry: We Need Plus-Size Ski Gear” – Read Here

Alpine Curves carries several brands for skiing: Obermeyer, DSG Outerwear, Pulse, and Arctix. However, they also offer gear for hunting, fishing, athletic wear, swimwear and more.

Kindra Roberts Recommends…

Visit @alpinecurves on Instagram

Kindra Roberts, CEO of Alpine Curves, says that she personally skis with a pair of the white Pulse Rider Pants and the Arcitx Bibs. “Last year I was on the higher end of a size 24 and these were the two that fit me really well,” she says. “I also got a super funky pair of suspenders off of Amazon for the pants because I really like having the straps to hold the pants up. When I ski, I usually do just one of those pants, my DSG Base Layer, and then my Wigwam socks. As an aside, those are my favorite ski/ snow board socks because they are the only ones that fit over my 18” calf and don’t cut off my circulation. This past year I rolled with the Boulder Gear jacket. It looked super sharp next to the white pants.”

  • BOULDER GEAR jackets are super technical and high end, although they have a unique sizing structure so be sure to do some research before purchase.

  • The DSG OUTERWEAR line is more of a Snowmobile brand but offers one of the most technical jackets Kindra had ever owned as a plus size woman. “There sizing is ON point and the quality is also amazing and worth the price.” Plus, they’re versatile! Inseams on all of DSG’s pants are adjustable and some bibs can even be converted to pants.

  • While OBERMEYER currently only goes up to size 22, they may release up to size 24 in 2021. This brand offers the latest tech, high quality and attention to detail. “The colors of the new Tuscany jackets is really incredible, the images do not do it justice,” Kindra says.

Plus Snow (Australia)

“We are dedicated to providing plus size men and women a great range of high-quality snow and outdoor gear designed to fit perfectly. We know that plus-sized snow gear is extremely difficult to find and is often poorly designed, making it a poor fit and uncomfortable. Plus Snow gear is specially designed for the plus size shape, not just those with extra-long arms and legs.” Visit Site →

Featured on the She Explores Podcast “Where is All the Plus-Size Snow Gear – Part 2” – Listen Here

Although in Australia, Plus Snow offers Free shipping on all orders over $150, including international. However, import duties, taxes and charges are still a thing. Check out their shipping FAQ here. Also cool to note they have rain gear available.

Mon Balon Recommends…

Mon Balon, Founder & CEO of Plus Snow, gives us recommendations for both men and women’s outerwear.

Follow @plussnow on Instagram
  • WOMEN’S WINTER JACKET – “My number 1 recommended jacket the Brooklyn, which is available in sizes 18-30. The high quality, beautiful supple stretch fabric is so comfortable to wear and emulates much more expensive jackets on every level. With all the high end features of ski jackets, venting, pockets, seam sealing, zoned insulation, stretch fabrics, powder skirts, the list goes on! Its to go-to jacket for recommendations, comes in a variety of colors (hello bright teal or candy pink as well as blueberry navy). It fits so many body shapes and customers are always happy with their purchase.”

  • WOMEN’S SNOW PANTS – “Cold, wet butts are a thing of the past with Cartel Canada pants available in sizes 18-30. Made from the same material as the Brooklyn jacket, the Canada pant is the same soft stretch insulated pant fabric with a 15/15 waterproof and breathable fabric with seam sealing. Designed for plus size bodies, with all the features and in luxurious fabric these pants come in a long and short style, and in neutral colors like light grey and sand to mix things up.”

  • MEN’S WINTER JACKET – “In men’s jackets I recommend the Bankso in army green with a highly waterproof and breathable rating, stretchy fabric and cool styling which will last years as a wardrobe staple. Also available in the black called the Baldy up to size mens 9XL.”

  • MEN’S SNOW PANTS – “The Cartel Arctic pants are perfect for men who’s pants always fall down! They have waist tabs and elastic around their waist in a cool wider leg style and stretchy soft fabric available in 3 colours!”

As I’ve been living on Instagram this year, I’ve stumbled across some great brands. Other size-inclusive retailers for all seasons are…

20-21 Covid Guidelines & Operations for Local Resorts

20-21 Covid Guidelines & Operations for Local Resorts

Latest Update: Tuesday, December 22, 2020
After the first couple weekends open we are hearing some changes happening at resorts: limiting the amount of people skiing. Let’s face it, lift lines are long and it’s just impossible to mitigate a holiday crowd trying to ski. The good news is you can still have a beer… with food. And make sure to wear a mask!

Skip to: Blue Knob PA, Boyce Park PA, Canaan Valley WV, Hidden Valley PA, Holiday Valley NY, Laurel Mountain PA, Liberty Mountain PA, Peek’n Peak NY, Roundtop PA, Seven Springs PA, Snowshoe WV, Timberline WV, Tussey Mountain PA, Whitegrass (XC) WV, Whitetail PA, Wisp MD

I always do a Lift Rate Roundup around this time, but you know… 2020. As this dumpster fire of a year wraps up, I am sure it has a few more crisis to dole out. In an effort to avoid that, I am going to try and help my fellow snow people to get out there safely this year. I don’t do this for the resorts, I do this for you (and me). We needed an easy place to see all the ski area guidelines in one place.

The question remains: Can we ski and ride this season? Do we need a special pass? Yes, and kind of yes. Read on! I got you covered…

The good news is every single one of these resorts have stated they are following enhanced sanitization protocol and social distancing will be enforced. Face coverings are required in most areas of the resorts, including lift lines and on the lift.

*Note that ALL of the below information is subject to change and definitely did after the first few weeks of the season played out. I’ll try to update this post through the season if I get wind. If you decide to go, please make sure to check each resort’s policies in full – I have a real job, y’all.


Southwestern & Central Pennsylvania Ski Resorts

Baby Pennsylvania mountains ❤

Currently, indoor space capacity for PA is 50% for all spaces including dining, lobbies, bathrooms, etc. Expect to see staff regulating this. You also cannot drink at a bar, must be consumed if dining only.

Boyce Park | Southwestern PA – Open!
This is a small hill in Monroeville/Plum, PA. I highly recommend learning to ski or ride here. To comply with covid measures, only 50 people are permitted on the mountain and the lodge is closed. Online lift ticket sales are mandatory – Visit Site

Blue Knob (Indy Pass) | Central PA – Open!
Walk-up ticket sales are OK, but online purchases are encouraged. Warming up in your vehicle instead of on public spaces is also encouraged. But, “Blue Knob All Seasons Resort has no plans to require skiers or riders to make a reservation [to ski or snowboard].”

  • All lessons and snow tubing must be reserved at least 24 hours in advance
  • All food is available for take-out only. 12/10/20
  • Unless skiers/riders have traveled together, they must ride the chairlift as a single.
  • Groups will be scheduled at staggered arrival times to increase distancing.

Blue Knob Winter Operations Plan

Seven Springs, Hidden Valley and Laurel Mountain (Highlands Pass) | Southwestern PA – 7 Springs & Hidden Valley Open!
LM not open yet, but offering a season pass price “rollback” offer.
7S was the first resort that I researched, and all this came as pretty shocking to me, but just wait…

  • All purchases have moved online for these 3 resorts, including purchasing lift tickets, rentals and lessons.
  • Lift ticket availability will be limited as of 12/21. Their online system has been down a lot so be sure to purchase like Tuesday or Wednesday if you want to go on a weekend – Lift Ticket page.
  • No strangers will be placed on a lift together, and if you prefer to sit as a single, they will do that. They’re going to work to space out the line including side by side distancing.
  • *No indoor dining as of 12/10 Utilizing their base area for outdoor dining and adding new walk-up/takeaway options around the resort.
  • Masks are required. Including in the lift line and riding the lift. There will be staff at lift reminding you of this.

7 Springs Winter Operations Plan | Hidden Valley Winter Operations Plan

Tussey Mountain | Central PA – Open!
A little hill out by Penn State, which I don’t think has the capacity to go all online. I think that you’ll be ok showing up and purchasing a lift ticket at a Point of Sale. Two singles can sit on opposite sides of their quad lift, too. Lessons will be restricted to 6 students.

Tussey Mountain Winter Operations Plan

Whitetail, PA

Whitetail, Roundtop, Liberty Mountains (Epic Pass, Vail Resorts) | Central PA – Open!
I looked up Whitetail only. I previously worked at Liberty when Peak Resorts acquired these three, and moved right before Peak Resorts was purchased by Vail Resorts. Ah, consolidation. Epic pass resorts all have the same operations plan.

It looks like you will have to reserve a spot to ski or ride at these resorts. Pass holders will get priority access to reservation days. This is probably for the best and will make lift lines amazing, but… wow! Take a look at Whitetail’s Reservation Details.

Also, these resorts are cashless everywhere including hotel and restaurants.


West Virginia Ski Resorts

One of these fun WV resorts!

Canaan Valley (Indy Pass) Open!
I have not found any ski-specific outline of Canaan Valley’s operation. It is a West Virginia State Park and they will be following guidelines such as required face coverings and 6-ft distancing. There is a note that they are “updating our online booking capabilities” and to call to make a reservation at this point.

Canaan Valley Safety Guidelines

Timberline (NEW!)Open!
After some turbulent times, Timberline is OPENING! This WV resort has some of the best terrain our area has to offer… and then it closed. In comes snow angels from midwest to resurrect this amazing spot with $10M in NEW everything! “Opening for winter 2020/21 with 2 NEW lifts, a remodeled lodge, 2 new terrain parks, a new beginner area, and increasing snowmaking!” Read More*Note for Christina to ski this immediately and post about it.

Anyway, here’s some quick bullets, and it looks like ticket sales will operate as usual for now.

  • Masks and distancing required and enforced
  • Group reservations are limited, Lesson capacity limited
  • Latest HVAC UV sanitization is installed
  • Season Passes will rollover to next season if they have to close the resort
  • The lodge will be pass-through only for tickets, passes, and rentals.
  • Foodservice with a limited menu will be available outside on the deck, with outdoor seating only.
  • Lessons will be available, but beginner terrain will be limited and hike-able only.
  • Both chairlifts will be open.

Timberline Opening Winter Operations

Western Territory views at Snowshoe, WV

Snowshoe (Ikon)The Shoe’s BEEN open!

Buy online. Capacity limits will be in place, so walk up lift tickets are not guaranteed. Snowshoe sold out holiday weekends prior and after the Christmas holiday. So they mean it! “We strongly encourage our guests to purchase their tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.” Here is where you buy Snowshoe lift tickets online. I recommend you do this early in the week prior to weekends and holidays.

If you have a Season Pass or advance purchase a package, you will be good to ski and ride.
“At this time, Ikon Pass, Ikon Base Pass, Snowshoe Unlimited Pass, and Early Season Pass holders will not need reservations to ski and ride during the 2020/21 winter season at Snowshoe. Guests who advance purchase a package (including lift tickets/passes and lodging, etc.) are guaranteed mountain access for the dates of their booking.”

  • Reduced Lesson Capacity
  • Camps are cancelled
  • Expanded outdoor dining, no restaurants are closing but will be monitored by capacity.

Snowshoe Winter Operations Plan

Whitegrass (XC)OPEN for XC!
Canaan Valley is one of the greatest places to cross country ski. Right on Whitegrass’ home page: coming soon – online reservations for passes, rentals and lessons, plus reduced access to lodge and cafe pickup-only. Visit Site


MARYLAND SKI RESORTS

Whales at Wisp Resort, MD

Wisp Resort Open!
I hope you got the Mission: Four’dable ticket pack if you don’t have a season pass. Although I have a Snowshoe season pass, I regret every time I miss out on this because it’s a much faster drive to get out on the mountain. Four’dable is $229 for a four pack of any-time tickets, which comes out to $57.25. A regular ticket is $89, so you save almost $32 each time. That’s a dozen wings and a couple BL smoothies!

This is another fully online set up with all products and activities to be purchased in advance.

  • Indoor capacity in MD for all spaces is also 50% – includes restrooms, lobbies, etc.
  • Nice bonus: Wisp will pro-rate a credit to your pass if they have to close due to COVID.

Wisp Resort Winter Operations Plan



Southwestern NY Ski Resorts

Peek’n Peak Open!
Another strong recommendation to purchase tickets and activities online in advance. And lessons reduced to 10 people.

This is interesting, and unique to this resort: Season Passholders will need to check in for use in contact tracing efforts. Ticket buyer info is collected at purchase. These records will be retained for a minimum of 28 days.

Once more, outside food will not be permitted to be brought into resort dining facilities, including at The Main Lodge. (Believe me, this policy is great for the resorts. I’ve seen crock pots at the dining halls at Liberty… LOL!) Grab n go will be made available as well as takeout for those staying in condos.

Peek’n Peak Winter Operations Update

Holiday Valley Open!
The WAS most relaxed one yet, but it didnt last very long. HV has a very lengthy section on cleaning protocols, and yet again, another “we strongly encourage you to purchase your tickets online in advance… we may not be able to offer walk up tickets.” However, passholders are still free to come and go as they please. To ease the potential strain during peak periods, we are planning to open Yodeler and Mardi Gras lifts for Classic passholders at 8 am every Saturday between December 26th and February 27th.”

Holiday Valley Winter Operations Update

Well, good luck. It’s all pretty straight forward at this point. Do what you need to do. Get some blankets for the car, and increase your data plan if you can. As Tussey Mountain says, “Don’t be the reason there is no season.” Be safe. We got this. Snow love to you!

TL;DR: Buy your lift tickets online before you visit any resort this winter.

Holiday Valley, NY – some other year…

A Pair of Pants: How Outdoor Clothing is Keeping People Inside

A Pair of Pants: How Outdoor Clothing is Keeping People Inside

I am a lucky woman. My mother instilled a love for being outside in me when I was young. Horseback riding, skiing, and camping were regular events that happened in my childhood. My Girl Scout leader was a biologist, and we learned things that other girls in scouts didn’t get to—we set up tents, cooked our breakfasts on tin cans, hiked, and investigated wildlife with more science behind it than a 7 year old needed. We camped multiple times each summer. We spent our time riding bikes on the Great Allegheny Passage and paddling kayaks across local lakes. There are so many memories that I am privileged to have. These were the experiences that shaped my passions long before I was shaped by a society that told me I needed to be thin.

Four girls stand on skis with a mom. Faded picture of a printed photo.

The Coveted Beginner… But Only If They Fit

The National Ski Area Association (NSAA) focuses greatly on converting beginners into a core winter sports audience. I am sure we can see similar goals across all outdoor sport associations. This is an effort that I am passionate about, from not only a professional standpoint, but personally, as well.

Christina Skis smiles in a red jacket.

Countless studies have been conducted to figure out how to grow participation in outdoor sports. Out of the entire ski and snowboard demographic, only 8% are classified as beginners and a mere 17% of those beginners continue to enjoy it, according to the NSAA. “In order for the ski and snowboard industry to grow… it is necessary to overcome unfavorable demographic trends, time poverty, increased alternative leisure activities and an overweight population needs to be addressed.”

I’ll address the last part: Within the outdoor industry, it needs to be acceptable to get outside and try something which encourages movement in the outdoors regardless of weight.

It is common knowledge that “the Average American Woman wears between a size 16–18, with greater distinctions found when considering race and ethnicity.”

I would love to try and ski and feel it’s something [my fiancé] and I would bond over because he loves it, but I went to a ski shop last year and tried on every pair of pants I could find that I thought would fit me, and nothing did. I would’ve had to resort to men’s bibs and I felt so bad about myself and still haven’t gone skiing because of that experience.

@genakeebler

For some reason, outdoor retailers continue to ignore the facts when it comes to providing appropriate sizing in their clothing options. Through this, we are excluding a major percentage of the “never-evers” that everyone in the outdoor industry is working so hard to acquire and convert. Why can’t that include a plus size skier… or snowboarder, or hiker, or climber, or kayaker?

My Own Experience… I Don’t Fit

Let me note that this does not affect only beginners. I’ve had multiple experiences like Gena, quoted above. I am your Average American Woman, size 16-18. This usually converts to an XXL. Classified as a “fat girl” in just about any industry, and obese in the medical field. I’m fat… but I ski, I hike, I lift, and I do yoga. I am fat and I try to shop at REI, Backcountry, Patagonia and local retailers. I’m fat and have spent more money with the outdoor industry before the age of 30 than I care to calculate. And maybe one day I will be lucky enough to spend even more money getting my future children outside. I am your ideal customer, yet I still can’t find my size.

I have been skiing for over 25 years, and rode close to 30 days from December through April in Pennsylvania this year. And I almost couldn’t even find pants this season.

Skier doing a happy dance.

It’s not that I didn’t try endlessly to fit into how I am supposed to look. But I realize—how much longer do I have to stomp my own self-worth into the ground because I don’t fit into a specific standard pair of pants? My relationship with food and perception of my body’s size are going to be things that I have to continuously work on, and I envy the confidence of the body positive movement on The Gram. For now, the goal is a life of self-love and body acceptance and health. That’s where this post is coming from.

For the last 8-ish years, I’ve worn Men’s Bonfire pants and an XL Men’s Burton jacket. I looked pretty fly although the jacket ends halfway down my thighs, tight on my chest, and I ski with my pants unbuttoned (they fit when I bought them!). Looking at Bonfire’s sizing chart, Men’s XL pants would most likely just fit me without having an inseam to my knees. But the Women’s XL waist measurements cut off right before numbers are even is in my range. They don’t offer Women’s XXL. Unbuttoned is literally how I’ve skied the past few seasons because I knew it was going to be difficult and depressing to find a new pair of snow pants. But it was time to enter the shopping minefield again.

Fast forward to November 2018. I needed black snow pants for work. Determined to find a women’s cut, I looked all around and decided Burton might have stylish pants that could fit me. They had women’s XXL after all! But come early December, any XXL Burton women’s snow pant in black was sold out across the Internet. Thankfully, a customer service rep found a brick and mortar store that had them. Supporting a local shop was for the best, but the chances I could walk in to one and actually find pants were rare. The closest shop that had women’s XXL black Burton pants was 3 hours away from me. And while I had great customer service, XXL sizing doesn’t ever guarantee me a fit that will allow me to move the way I need to ski, so naturally I was nervous. But Lo and behold! I ripped a page out of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and they magically buttoned.

Where do we go from here?

Part of me feels like the only limits we have are the limits we place on ourselves and fat people shouldn’t depend on stores to get their sh*t together, but the other part of me feels like not having a warm down packable coat that fits me is rude and I want to rage about it…

@fatgirl.hiking

I’ve been trying to comprehend and write about this for a while now. The feelings have always been there, but I’ve been sitting in semi-silence. Thoughts whirling in my head. Drafts written and ignored. Some chirps here and there on Twitter. But mostly I sit with quiet breath, holding it in. Sucking it in.

Follow and support plus-size outdoor advocates. Share their message. People like @samortizphoto are making waves in the outdoor industry. @unlikelyhikers‘ Jenny Bruso wrote an incredibly detailed post regarding Plus Size Activewear and mentions all sorts of brands that can get you outfitted and outside. @fatgirlshiking also has a detailed Resource Guide that supports smaller companies that support plus-size hikers.

I want you to experience winter on a mountain. I am excited to get you out on the snow with me next season. Here’s why: “More than 85% of all women surveyed believe the outdoors positively affects mental health, physical health, happiness and overall well-being, and 70% reported that being outdoors is liberating.” I want this for everyone.

It’s been obvious that REI is working diligently to expand available sizing. “It takes time to balance the science and art needed to create products that truly fit every active woman; designers need to work with developers to create blocks, or patterns, that take into consideration the nuances of the human body.” I hope that with REI taking a stand to work on this, this will inspire more popular outdoor brands to do the same.

A post shared by Sam Ortiz (@samortizphoto) on Apr 9, 2019 at 11:18am PDT

We’re here for the outdoors in all shapes and sizes. We’re asking to be recognized as a part of the demographic, because, well, we are part of the demographic. Get out there and tell your story, even if you have to do it with your pants unbuttoned. The industry is taking a look, we just need to show them that people bigger than their mold are also a big part of it.


References:

Deborah A. Christel & Susan C. Dunn (2017) Average American women’s clothing size: comparing National Health and Nutritional Examination Surveys (1988–2010) to ASTM International Misses & Women’s Plus Size clothing, International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education,10:2, 129-136, DOI: 10.1080/17543266.2016.1214291

Model for Growth. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.nsaa.org/growing-the-sport/model-for-growth/

Parris, A. (2019, April 08). What Is REI Doing About Extended Sizing in 2019? Retrieved from https://www.rei.com/blog/news/what-is-rei-doing-about-extended-sizing-in-2019

Stritzke, J. (2017, December 29). Force of Nature: Let’s Level the Playing Field. Retrieved from https://www.rei.com/blog/news/force-of-nature-lets-level-the-playing-field