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Hiking Kilts for Men

Hiking Kilt
Hiking Kilt

I’ve met a few hikers who prefer wearing kilts instead of hiking pants. Hiking kilts are a practical hiking garment for men and it’s surprising that more hikers and backpackers don’t use them. They’re great way to avoid moisture build-up and chafing in those sensitive areas. Plus, wearing a conversation starter, especially in mixed company.

When purchasing a kilt, look for models that have pockets and close with a zipper or button so you don’t lose items stashed in them. Kilts made of nylon are best because they dry very fast and don’t get as funky as hiking pants. A built-in belt is also important, especially since you’re likely to lose some weight on your hike.

Mountain Hardwear Elkommando Kilt - Men's
Mountain Hardwear Elkommando Kilt – Men’s

Needless to say, it’s important to wear some form of underwear when wearing a kilt, even though you may tempted to go a natural. Bikini briefs or short leg compression shorts are best, to protect your package and for the sake of modesty when you sit down in company.

Mountain Hardware manufactures a kilt called the Elkommando which retails for $75 that has side pockets. This kilt is very popular with long distance hikers, but only comes in one color.

Have you tried hiking in a kilt? Would you?


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47 comments

  1. You know, I could be tempted. But it would have to be one of the tartan SportsKilts. The others are just a bit too close to the kind of thing my grandmother favours…

    • I am finally convinced after meeting a group of hikers wearing kilts. I have placed orders for two styles from different manufacturers. I may shorten them to just above the knee. They look great for driving, very cool. I do a lot of local hiking. I have been tempted for a long time.

    • Agreed, if you’re gonna wear a skirt, do it in style!

  2. I have a SportKilt in my family tartan but I've never worn it hiking or backpacking. It's pretty comfy and pleated so it doesn't look like a skirt. It's synthetic as well which makes it good for outdoor trips. These are what a lot of the Highland Games competitors wear.

  3. I can definitely see wearing a kilt for tossing the caber. Those deep squats are murder on shorts!

  4. You wont find me wearing one any time soon! I can see the appeal in it, but definitely not something for me. I prefer to keep my legs covered, even in warm weather hiking to help keep out the bugs and give a layer of protection from sticker bushes, etc along the trail.

  5. You hit the nail right on the head – moisture control. I got a wicked case of chaffing on a 30 miler this week and was pretty much ready to wear just about anything (or nothing for that matter). I know a few people who wear these and swear by them. Yes, they look unconventional and will get some serious stares, but the reality is that backpacking equipment should be selected for functionality and performance – not fashion. One of my personal favorite pieces of gear is the ULA Rain Wrap. It is lighter than rain pants and does the same job. It also breathes better, can be used as a ground cloth, and even as something to put on top of a sleeping bag or quilt in a leaky shelter. It is also a large piece of fabric which can be used as a sling or any number of other things. In short, don't knock on skirts or quilts for their utility because they are far better than pants!

  6. Never heard of this before but damn it's appealing! I'm really considering getting one. My son's not too keen on it though. I'm Scoutmaster of his Troop and I think he's pretty worried I might wear this on the Troop's next hike.

    I agree though, it would have to be a tartan one.

    • Sport Kilt has some kilt tartans specifically for BSA, though they are not “official”. It seems there’s an underground kilt following with the scouts.

  7. Thanks for this entry! I am fascinated. One of my favorite articles of clothing when I was a teenager was a beautiful red tartan kilt. It was confortable and warm and provided great coverage in the time of mini-skirts. I wore it and rode my bicycle in a worry-free state.

    I recently saw a large bearded man wearing a kilt shopping in the camping department at REI and I wanted to ask if he wore it hiking. Most likely he does!

  8. I have worn kilts on the trail for many years. Depending on the season either wool, acrylic, or microfiber, and all of them give complete satisfaction. The bald truth is that the lack of friction, excellent ventilation, and complete freedom of movement combine in a way that will convert any man with the stones to just give it a try.

  9. This is this what I was serching for (Hiking Kilts for Men | Section Hiker ~ text)!! Thank you

  10. hey now! these aren’t just for the men folk. women’s hiking skirts tend to be very short, which, if you are like me, is too short for modesty when you’re hiking up. I bought the elkommando earlier this spring and LOVE it.

  11. I could totally see myself in kilt. I’m not so sure if Robin or the big kiddo would hike with me though. Robin might not be bothered by it so much, she already puts up with me as it is. :P

  12. His trail names are “Princess Buttercup” or “Mad River”. I’ve hiked with him and he’s definitely experienced and great company.

  13. I wear kilts all the time. The freedom of movement is unsurpassed. I plan on making my own for hiking cause I don’t really like the sportkilt set up, the elkommando does look interesting and maybe better. I currently mainly use an old Mocker from Utilikilt, it is lighter and dries faster than the survival model I have.

    I don’t worry about the modesty issue, cause if your looking that is your problem. But people do look, I’ve had people look up under stairs and glass elevators…

  14. When I hiked the Grand Canyon in shorts, my hiking partner kept referring to my legs as my pearly-whites. I don’t think other hikers could stand the glare if I showed up in a kilt, not to mention, my grandkids would never hit the trail with me again. I can see the appeal, but my RailRiders eco mesh work just fine.

  15. I wore a kilt for the first time about a month or two ago. It was interesting, but I didn’t really enjoy it all that much and doubt I would like it hiking. It is definitely a conversation starter.

  16. I just got in an Elkommando kilt this week and I’m looking forward to hiking in it this weekend. I gave fair warning to my hiking group and so far no one has cancelled. Hopefully it won’t be such a novelty that they can’t keep their focus on the trail.

  17. The kilt worked out great. It was above 80 degrees for the entire 4 hours we were on the trail. I was much cooler and more comfortable than I would have been in my hiking shorts. The surprise of my fellow hikers passed quickly. I’ll probably continue to wear it hiking in warmer weather.

  18. I would definitely like to try hiking in a kilt or skirt, but wouldn’t want to be the only one. I am sure it would be very comfortable, especially stepping over rocks and logs, plus wading across streams.

    Pants were invented when men began riding horses. A lot of cultures wear some sort of skirt, wrap around, sarong, or pareo.

  19. I ended up hiking all summer and fall in a kilt. I used the Mountain Hardware elkomando kilt until the high temps dropped below 60. Then I switched to a Stillwater acrylic kilt, until the temps dropped below 40. Then I used a stillwater 8-yard wool kilt unoitl the temps dropped below 30. then I went back to pants.

    It was by far the most comfortable and enjoyable hiking I have ever had. I started backpacking in 1973 with a mid-winter climb of Marcy, Colden and Algonquin so I have a lot of seasons under my belt.

    The kilt hiking experience has made me more aware of how uncomfortable it is too keep my package gathered up and restricted. It seems certain to me now that women wear skirts for fashion, men need kilts for comfort. the kilt is design for comfort and function. women’s skirts are usually design for fashion, and therein is the important difference

    I hiked with a lot of meetup groups this year. Most of the women in these groups seemed attracted to the presence of a man in a kilt – either they found it “sexy” or maybe just unintimidating, I don’t know which. Most of the men I hiked with would were curious about the kilt. The fact that I’m an experienced hiker and licensed NYS outdoor guide probably helped with my credibility with these groups.

    The oddest remark I heard was a young guy in his 20’s who said he would like to wear a kilt but his wife wouldn’t let him. I didn’t reply but I was thinking “if she ever gives you back the things that make a kilt most appropriate for a man, then perhaps you’ll try one….”

    A few women remarked that they thought a kilt would be uncomfortable because of the constant rubbing of the thighs together without cloth to protect against chaffing. I was surprised that they didn’t know the basic anatomical differences between men and women. Guys’ thighs don’t rub together when we walk.

    I could wear the wool kilt in temps below 30 and still be comfortable, but in cold, wet, snowy weather I believe full leg coverage is necessary to avoid risk associated with exposure. So for the next few months I’ll wear pants with my snowshoes, but I’m looking forward to returning to ultimate comfort this spring.

    I’m too old to give a damn about what others might think. I’m focusing on my comfort rather than fashion.

    • Excellent, nogods, and I completely agree with your post. It was the summer of 2015 when I was inspired to buymy first kilt (Elkommando) and loved it so much I watched eBay and kilt forums to — over time — aquire UT Kilts, Utilikilts, and traditional tartan wool kilts. I much prefer the latter but in warmer temps, the Elkommando and UT Kilts work the best. If I’m ever worried about damaging the wool kilts, I wear any of the machine-washable options (Elk., UT, Utili.). Here in western Massachusetts, I’ve been hiking in tall socks, hiking boots, and wool kilts down to 17F. Below that, I need to wear wool leggings but still kilted. Love it.

  20. My daughter gave me a Sports Kilt hiking kilt for Christmas after a conversation we had last August during an overnight backpacking trip in the Whites. I’m anticipating a lot of use this summer. Hardest part I think will be the first couple of trips until i see how the general reaction is from other hikers. I don’t need any trouble on the trail.

  21. I have wondered what it would be like to wear one hiking. I have been looking for some trails for when spring gets here.Good to see positive feedback.

  22. Well, I wore it several times last year while out hiking. Sometimes traditional sometimes not. 95% of the people I encountered were neutral or positive, the 5% who seemed negative never said a thing, just gave me a look. I couldn’t care less.

    Functionally they are outstanding. They’re a lot cooler and dryer than the baggy shorts I’ve also worn. When I have to hike a leg up high to get up a rock or something there’s no clinging or restriction at all. I wouldn’t wear it in the winter but that’s because I have a system that works for that. The kilt works for the other three seasons. I’d rather wear the kilt than anything else.

  23. It does seem appealing when hiking. Next to hiking I like music festivals(sziget) where temperatures can get pretty high when you are all day in the sun. I hope I will have the balls to order one, but really are in doubt which one. It does need to be a little bit fashionable. Could be definitely a conservation starter which can lead to a lot of fun.

  24. Just purchased my first utility kilt for walking, hiking & general use in warm weather here in the UK. A few stares but with this level of comfort – who cares. Zero sweaty buildup, no chafing & ultra comfortable. Unlike hiking trousers which always seem to need ‘pulling up’ or re-adjusting every few miles, this just stays on my hips & doesn’t budge, even with pockets filled.Yes, its my first but it certainly won’t be my last

  25. Spring has sprung. I have been out hiking a couple of time. The comfort and freedom of movement in a kilt are unsurpassed. I did not feel tired after either hike. The use of OFF puts any bug issue to rest.

    • I ordered a kilt that was the wrong size and returned it. I couldn’t resist, so I went to Target to find a skirt that looked like a kilt with the help of a young sales lady. She approved and said she would try to get her husband to try one. As a test I decided to wear it to the cashier and out to my truck. No one noticed. I wore it hiking in a nearby national park, then a beautiful nature reserve, and to a canyon very popular with tourists. The freedom is priceless and the ventilation is superb. I have no idea why more hikers haven’t tried a kilt. It is great for driving as I can pull it up to be even more comfortable. I have worn it in an ATM line, a fast food restaurant, pushing a cart around in a grocery store, a gas station, and in line to buy a lottery ticket. Either no one noticed or I am invisible. The kilt is a chick magnet when hiking. There are a lot of female hikers, in groups, pairs, and by themselves. They ask me to take pictures of them and we start a conversation. Their comments are highly positive. They are all ages and they tell me how comfortable I look.

    • To: JoeBro: It might be a good time to buy stock in a kilt company. I think we found a real winner. I think truck drivers should make the discovery. My wife loves it and can’t keep her hands off of me.

  26. I’ve been hiking in a Purple Rain Adventure skirt lately. Sure, it’s for women… But I won’t tell, if you don’t!

    • I bought a simple skirt with an elastic waist band at Target for $19 and tell people it is a “hiking kilt.” Most people don’t notice or if they do they don’t say anything. I wear it hiking, but have also worn it in several public places, restaurants, stores, etc.

      • I wore mine into a brewery/bar after a hike the other week. Also grocery/convenience stores. The gym once… That’s the only place anyone ever pointed it out.

  27. My two cents on men in hiking kilts: It’s hot and a chick magnet, because it shows a grown-up men who his over his “this is to girly”-issues. Go for it! :-)

  28. A big thanks to all the kilters here for your comments. It encouraged me to take the plunge and order one from Sport Kilts. While they did not have my own clan’s tartan, still I got a good design that looks quite authentic.

    The air circulation and comfort when hiking are phenomenal. I even had it out on a sub 40F degree morning a few weeks ago and it did fine. No problems with rain under my poncho, either.

    Only issue I have had so far is that of scrunching into my sleeping quilt so it actually covers my bottom and does not ride up and expose my buttocks to the pad. That will take a bit of practice I think.

    So far, I have had no real comments on the trail from people about it, but then it’s Portland (the Oregon one), so men in kilts is not an unusual site.

  29. Wishing Mountain Hardware would make one in a traditional Scottish plaid, but same style as their Elkamando. Public would perceive that more as a kilt and not a skirt, not that it should matter…

    • I completely concur with you. I have bought three different kilts and prefer a “stealth” skirt. I have a denim skirt that looks like cut off jeans. There is a seam front and rear and makes it look like pants. I have never been discovered wearing a skirt. I also have a camouflage one and a khaki one. They are great for driving for the same reason; comfort and ventilation. I had the skirts shortened to above the knees and the only problem is when I am sitting. I solved it by sitting on a tee shirt while driving and bringing it with me inside a restaurant or other place I will be sitting. I put it on my lap like a napkin and don’t worry about it. I have been in convenience stores, gas stations, grocery stores, and of course, hiking. I like wildlife photography and set out game cameras. No male could believe how comfortable they are and unrestricted stride. I have spoken with women about skirts and they are very supportive. I have never been noticed or no one has stared or commented. I really wish more people wore them and more would accept them. Men began wearing pants when they started riding horses. I don’t have a horse. I consider my skirts to be shorts with only one leg hole.

  30. I thonk the pros of pants, at least in the northeast, are worth considering. Protection from abrasions, dirt, and most importantly ticks. Kilts amd shorts both fail in these regards.

    • Jonathan Kennedy

      That’s true, but I’ve been wearing kilts since summer of 2015 full-on and as long as I check myself (or my wife checks me … out!) after every outing, I’ve yet to have a tick stuck in me. Yes, we find them but they’re hard to avoid out here in the western New England forests. It’s also a good habit: checking everyone after every hike. Damn ticks!

      • I have never had a single tick on me when wearing a kilt. There are fewer ways a tick can attach. Use repellant on legs around waist line, and in crotch. I have no cons other than from those who haven’t tried one. No one has said while wearing a kilt, I only hear negatives when discussing the advantages with friends or colleagues. I enjoy the freedom and comfort.

      • Good man, Gerard. Honestly, I don’t know if the ticks attach themselves to me, the kilt or instead my dog which then transfers them to me when we sit on the couch together. Like you said, if one is intelligent about repellent use, then I don’t see a bother. For me, the kilt is the way to go!

  31. I use OFF for the ticks, gnats and whatever else is flying around me. I wear khaki kilts and also knee high kilt hose to best observe for ticks. PA has had ticks in every county. Some areas seem to have a bad reputation in particular and are posted. I wouldn’t hike those areas in pants and the rest of the regalia that is recommended. Clothes are washed promptly upon return home. Shower as well with orange Dawn.

  32. Id like to use one on a multi day winter hike in Australia Tasmania (snow wind and rain). my assumption is that the micro-fiber would not be suitably warm, i know the woolen kilts would be much warmer but given the weight and maybe a tendency to carry water would this be a good option for hiking? likewise, regarding trousers and tops i general stay clear of cotton but from my searches it seems winter kilts are either cotton or wool?
    any tips would be great, thanks in advance

  33. I think this is great, many cultures worldwide have similar garments for men. Unfortunately I would never use one of these because in the Unites States at this time it is DANGEROUS to be different. Our society is one of violence and misunderstanding. A Buddhist monk in my area was beaten badly because people don’t get it, and won’t allow it.
    I am in the process of emigration. Not that the grass is greener, etc, but at least one can live cheaply in other countries. Sad.

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