Outdoor Gear – a Tall story

I’ve actually been wanting to write a post along these lines for quite a while, but just haven’t managed to find the time. I managed to get a few spare minutes this weekend, so I’ve decided I might as well put fingers to keyboard.

Anyone who reads this blog regularly, or follows me on twitter will know that I’m a larger than average person. I’m 6’4” (about 195cm for metric users), and, well, let’s not beat about the bush… I’m a chunky kinda guy. That means I tend to need either an XL or XXL in most of my gear.

My issue is that the larger folk, whether that’s people who are wider than average, or those who are taller than average – or, like me, those who are both, can struggle to get outdoors clothing at a reasonable price.
Then there’s the fact that all of the companies seem to have completely different size charts from each other, and sometimes, completely different sizing within their own range. Berghaus, for example, have different ‘styles’ – technical, for the super slim athletes, active, for most ‘normal’ people, and relaxed for a looser cut.

For the wider person, I guess you’re going to need to look for styles such as ‘Comfort’, ‘Relaxed’ or ‘Free fit’

As an example of how size guides vary, Haglöfs have XL at 43-45” chest, Mountain Equipment quote 44-46” and Berghaus quote 45-47”.
If, like me, you’re a 45” chest, what do you then go for? If I go XL in Mountain Equipment, it’ll fit… but in terms of layering, I can’t really fit much under there (unless I’m layering up with thongs!). So, both my Mountain Equipment jackets are XXL.
On the same vein, I gave away my Berghaus Cornice jacket in XXL, because it had gotten too big for me (yes, I used to be larger than I am just now, if you can believe it!)

Admittedly, the different sizes charts from different companies ain’t a problem specific to larger people. Everyone has that particular problem!

The problem for me isn’t so much the size ranges, but more that when I have to go XXL, which I have to do a fair bit, it can be incredibly difficult to find the items at the same sort of prices that people would pay for say a M or L

As an example, let’s take a look at the Mountain Equipment Supercell, that I purchased recently.

After doing a quick search online, I’ve found 1 store that has it in stock in Red at Size XXL (at £173.80), and 1 store that has it in Black or Blue in XXL, at £164.99
In my particular case, I bought my jacket from Gaynors, at the £164.99 price. In this particular case, I got lucky, in the sense that it was the cheapest place I could find it… it’s not common for XXL to be available, and even less so at a cheap price. Admittedly, when I ordered mine, they only had the Blue in stock – they’ve now got Black back in stock.

For only two stores to have the jacket in size, out of over 20, does serve to highlight how challenging it can be to find clothing that is suitable.

Sleeping Bags

I recently made the jump to a down sleeping bag for summer use. That was a really challenge, particularly in terms of finances!

A whole lot of companies don’t offer a long length in sleeping bags, and sadly, this is especially true of budget brands… A long length Alpkit Pipedream or Vango Venom simply doesn’t happen (In their defence, Alpkit do long length in their Skyehigh range, but that’s not exactly lightweight summer bags)
Those brands that do offer a long length in sleeping bag, tend to be the higher end of the quality/price spectrum, which is less than pleasant. To make matters worse, these companies charge extra for a long length sleeping bag (with the exception of Golite, who are cheap, and don’t charge more for a long length… If you happen to buy direct, and live in USA or Canada, which I don’t). I can accept that a longer length sleeping bag requires more materials, so is, in truth, more expensive to make. However, since clothing manufacturers don’t charge extra for an XXL compared to an S, and the difference in material (in terms of % difference), in that scenario is almost certainly more significant, then I think the extra price for a long length sleeping bag is a bit much!

In the end, I got lucky with my sleeping bag purchase. I managed to get a brand new Mammut Ajungilak Sphere Spring off eBay for £150. When compared to the RRP of £290, It turned out to be a bit of a bargain!
Still, had a Vango Venom 300 been big enough for me, I’d have probably gone for that, and could have got it for as little as £80.

Tents

Really… How hard is it to make a tent big enough for tall people?!

So many tents are advertised as having lengths of 220cm, yet when you try and lie in them, you’ve either got a face full of fabric or your feet are touching the other end. The only real trick to a decent tent for Tall people is to keep an eye on the steepness of the walls. The steeper the walls, the more likely you’re going to be able to fit in it.

My Tarptent Scarp 1 is perfect from that perspective… With near vertical walls, it feels roomy and spacious. Again, though, at just under £300 (when postage and customs are included), it’s not a cheap option!

Conclusion

I guess this was really just a bit of a vent, more than anything else. I hate that I feel as though I’m being forced to pay more for reasonable gear because companies don’t make gear big enough, charge more for bigger stuff or that retailers simply don’t stock it at reasonable prices when they do.

There are a few exceptions to the rule. For example, in trousers, Craghoppers do their Kiwi trousers in an Extra long leg (35″), and they can be bought at a reasonable price. From the same people, there’s the Bear Grylls Survivor Trousers, which also come in XL leg. They’re not cheap, though… And if I’m being honest, I’m not a fan of either. It does, however highlight that some manufacturers will cater for larger folks at reasonable prices.

Does anyone know of others that cater for us larger folks? If so, feel free to comment below. I’m sure I’m not the only big guy who struggles to find reasonable outdoor gear at a reasonable cost!

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4 thoughts on “Outdoor Gear – a Tall story”

  1. A tent for tall people is a rare beast. Sleeping bags is not an issue if the wallet is big enough as Western Mountaineering do ones up to 7′. In Australia we are lucky with backpacks thanks to One Planet. But tents, the range is almost non existent if you want a four season one. The only option is the Hilleberg Kaitum but that needs some serious space to pitch it.

    1. The Tarptent Scarp 1 is my tent of choice right now… it’s easily long enough for someone up to about 6’6″, I’d say. Probably the most spacious 1-man tent going. The Scarp 2 is on my wish list, too, for when the girlfriend comes camping with me.

      The only drawback to them is that you have to order them direct from Tarptent in the US, which makes it quite expensive when you add delivery and customs into the mix.

  2. MSR Hoop 2 Man Lightweight Tent is the main one on the internt I have found to be 2.4M long which is 12cm longer than the tarptent Scarp 1 or 2 and has the “high walls” you suggested. I havent actually purchased this tent but I think I will. Simply for MSR have a very good rep and also for the pain of buying the Tarptent from America …..
    anyway good thread thanks.

    1. Yeah, MSR tents do have quite a good reputation for being suitable for tall folks.
      Price seems comparable to the Scarp (including shipping from the US), if you find the right dealer… I guess you also get the advantage of having UK support if things go wrong, too.

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