Finding the perfect insulated skirt wasn’t a past-time for me. It was full on obsession. Take this Jan. 21, 2014 Facebook update as evidence: I've been on a mission to find an insulated skirt ... seriously a mission ... my husband can often be heard saying "are you looking at insulated skirts on the internet AGAIN." It all started with a frigid winter run. Not the kind where your toes and fingers get a little numb. The kind where you’re whole core gets chilled. The kind where you wonder what the #*&# you’re doing out there, and you pray earnestly that you don’t twist your ankle, because if you were to stop moving for even a moment, you really might die of hypothermia. From that point on, my mind was made up. If I was going to run (or skate ski or ice skate) in those types of temperatures, I wanted to be wearing a mini-sleeping bag – insulated vest on top and insulated skirt on bottom. So I started scouring the internet for just the right one. And, surprisingly, the insulated skirt phenomenon had only sort of caught on. I struggled to hit the “buy now” button because the choices were:
- too fashion-oriented, or
- too expensive, or
- not the right color, or
- out-of-stock (more than one brand of insulated skirts sold out during the holidays last year).
The outdoor industry, which usually designs products 18 months to 2 years in advance, has finally caught up, with a dozen or so brands now offering some version of an insulated skirt. Among the big-box brands, there are a few independent standouts. And, that’s what I discuss here.
Skhoop Short Down Skirt (the original insulated skirt company)
- Super high-quality
- Fits well
- Has enough down to actually keep your buns toasty
- Zippers on both sides open, allowing you to wear it while skate skiing and running
- Doubles as office attire, at least in the tiny rural Idaho town where I live
- It makes me feel bad @$$ and feminine
- Made in China
- A bit pricey, retailing at $159
- The full-length, two-way zipper digs into my waist (ie a tucked in shirt is a must)
- The company has a lukewarm personality, contrary to its exceptionally warm clothes
Skhoop was the first to design an insulated Skirt. The company got its start in Sweden, and its US distributor is based out of Anchorage, Alaska. Skhoop has expanded into a full line of women’s fashion, but its insulated skirts are still its centerpiece. This time last year, my biggest complaint was that color offerings for insulated skirts were drab and boring. I must not have been alone. This year the color choices rival a package of Skittles – bright and cheerful, just the way I like it. I’ve reached out to Skhoop a few times and I’ve never received an exceptionally warm reception, but they do make a damn fine product.
Ruby Jupe Maxi (Made in the USA)
- USA made with love
- Company founded and run by two Wisconsin women
- Fits well
- Insulation is lightweight but still keeps you cozy
- Zippers on both sides let you bundle up or air out
- Reasonably priced, especially for being USA made. The ankle-length skirt costs $128 and the knee-length $108.
- The ankle-length “maxi” skirt can be hard to move around in; I wouldn’t use it to exercise outdoors and I’ve had a few awkward moments trying to get my two-year old into a car seat while wearing it. I’d be interested to try their mid-length Midi (currently sold out except for XS).
- Only offered in black; a variety of color choices is always good, but if you have to pick just one, Ruby Jupe was wise to go with black, because it looks good on everyone and goes with everything.
DIY Insulated Skirts
Photo by backcountrywiththekids.com
Want an insulated skirt, but don’t want to shell over the doe? Or, like Alyssa, have the post-holiday weeks left you wondering about your levels of consumption, even when it comes to outdoor gear? Check out this DIY upcycled insulated skirt made from a vest. It’s awesome and genius. I have to admit I don’t have the patience or skills to pull off making one, but I wish I did. And maybe you do!
Canada Goose Hybridge Lite Skirt (made in Canada)
The other insulated skirt that’s worth a mention is the Canada Goose Hybridge Lite Skirt. I just discovered it. From the photos (what few are available), it looks like it you could wear it both for outdoor play and around-town style. Plus, it’s made in Canada! I’d spring for the plum purple color in a heartbeat.
November 2016 UPDATE:
Someone left a comment on this post about Heim-Made insulated skirts from a small company in Northern Minnesota. (A huge thanks to the person who left that comment). I've been in touch with the founders of Heim-made, Rose and Gretchen, and have been testing one of their skirts for the last year. I just published my review last week. You can check it out here.
The BIG question ... do insulated skirts keep you warm?
Last, but not least, I want to touch on the big question I get asked repeatedly: does an insulated skirt actually keep you warm? What about the fact that there’s a big hole, ya know, letting in the air? It really truly does. An insulated skirt is all about keeping the bootie toasty, and in that area it’s skin on down contact. In many ways, it’s no different than a long jacket in that it adds just that right amount of extra warmth. But don’t take my word for it, here’s what others have to say ... “I have a down skirt from Skhoop in Alaska. I kick myself every time I forget to pack it on a trip. My butt is always cold. This is the only thing that has worked to keep it warm. I’m already wearing long underwear and good pants, and still get cold legs.” – Tanya Koob,www.rockiesfamilyadventures.com “They definitely keep you warm. I wore one in Zion back in November with just tights and I stayed warm. It was 30 degrees and I was surprised I didn’t get cold. I’ve never worn mine with pants, just fleece tights. I can only imagine how toasty you would be.” – Melissa Edge, www.adventuretykes.com
A few thoughts on sizingThe other big question mark with insulated skirts is whether you should size up, if you plan to wear them over layers. With both my Skhoop and Ruby Jupe skirts I’m right on the cusp between a size small and medium. After taking my measurements, I opted for smalls with both brands. I can wear my Skhoop skirt over jeans, but not my Ruby Jupe. Sometimes both skirts can feel a bit tight, but I prefer a form-fitting look and feel to an excessively bulky one.
Is there anyone else out there as obsessed with insulated skirts as I am? Tell me your thoughts by leaving a comment.
This is my first-ever attempt at a video. It's not art, but it is a fun 12 second slow mo of jumping off a rock in an insulated skirt...