As with any sewing project, the first place I tend to start – after I have a general idea of what type of garment I want to make – is a search for possible patterns. I’m confident that I’ll be able to make some shirts for myself using patterns I already own and love (as long as I find some good wicking fabric) so the pattern search is mainly for hiking pants.
How to Make Hiking Pants from trails.com
I honestly love this. It doesn’t help me AT ALL, but I am amused by the idea that someone outdoorsy with no sewing experience might read this and think, “Oh it’s so simple!” (FYI their steps are: buy a pattern, alter it to match your measurements, buy fabric, cut it out, sew the pieces together, and VOILA! Which, honestly, is a straightforward explanation of how to sew your own clothes. I just think most people would want more details.)
Women’s Korouoma Hiking Pants by Shelby Outdoor
These are a fairly classic hiking pant – elastic waist, cargo pockets, articulated knee, reinforced cuffs. Unfortunately, their technical drawing and product photo are EXACTLY THE SAME as for the men’s pants. (After clicking around, it appears that these same pants are also for sale as a custom-made product, so I’m slightly more interested having seen them on a body.) Other considerations: They’re only available in printed version, which ships from Finland. And based on reviews I found, there are no instructions – just the pattern pieces, which you still have to tape together like with PDF patterns.
Women’s Wind & Rain Pants by Green Pepper
These pants came up a lot in my searching. It seems that Green Pepper has been around for a while, and has a good reputation. However, I’m not sure whether they’ve updated any of their patterns since the 90s. These fit into that theory – they remind me of the “wind-proof” pants that ice skaters and gymnasts slip off right before their routines.
This brings up another thing I’ve discovered – a lot of brands that make patterns for outdoor gear tend to focus more on winter sports. There are a LOT of patterns for hats and gloves and overalls, and honestly it made me wish I lived somewhere colder so I’d have an excuse to try sewing some of them! If you want to peruse the collection of patterns I found, The Rain Shed seems to carry the widest assortment.
Sequoia Cargos and Shorts by Itch to Stitch
I found these on a Pattern Review discussion board, and they seem to have a lot of great features! I’ve purchased a few Itch to Stitch patterns, so I can confirm that she has well-designed instructions. (I’ve not sewn up any of the patterns, but you can find a lot of blog reviews if you search.) These could be a winner for a lot of people, though I’ll admit that the pocket shapes are all of my least favorite.
Trousers 3035 by Patrones Y Moldes
I can’t even figure out HOW I found these, but they popped up on Pinterest and I was fascinated by the technical drawing. I liked the slash pockets, the interesting seaming, and what looks like some reinforced cuffs. (Of course, I have no idea what this company is. I didn’t even find the English language version at first! I had to use google translate to figure out what size might fit me, and it’s very strange to me that they sell the pattern as a single size. But I took a risk, and I ordered one, and the next day they sent me a PDF pattern with no instructions. Interestingly, I think the pattern is designed with no inseam, which would be great for reducing friction. Will I ever sew them? Who even knows!)
At this point I was also browsing a number of outdoor gear websites – especially in Europe, because I was convinced they were better at this – and I realized that my favorite pants had a shape similar to the high-waisted, skinny leg sweatpants that are super-trendy right now. So I though, could I find an indie sweatpant pattern that I love, and then sew it up in a more technical fabric? The No Sweat Pants by Seamly are one great option, but they weren’t as exciting to me as…
Ruri Sweatpants by Named
Look at the technical drawing! They have a half-elastic waistband! They have a faux fly front! They have an on-seam pocket (which could be easily sewn up, or could be changed to look like something more outdoorsy). They have that interesting pleat on the cuff, which means the leg opening can be larger! These might not work, but I’m very interested in trying. And, unlike most of these other pants, when I make a test pair in a non-technical fabric, they’ll be something that I’ll likely want to wear in real life. (Lounge pants FTW!)
Confession: while I was doing this research, I also discovered that Eddie Bauer offers a number of hiking pants in tall lengths. I ordered a few, assuming they wouldn’t fit – because of my history with hiking pants – but I ended up liking them! And they were on sale for $50-60. So I’m feeling less urgency to pursue this path. BUT, I still have 10 months until the trip, and I think the lounge pants are going to happen sooner than later.
STAY TUNED for more lists: of online sources for technical fabrics, and various techniques I’ve discovered!