Gear Guy

Where can I buy hiking knickers?

Where can I buy climbing/hiking knickers? I used to wear them in the '70s, but styles have unfortunately changed. Now I don't know of a single outfitter that carries them. Anything from European sources, perhaps? David West Monroe, New York

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Strangely enough, I was just talking knickers at the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City. A Mountain Hardwear rep was showing me their spring lineup and pulled out a pair of women’s “Capri-cut” pants. Basically, knickers. I’d seen this style, for women, from several makers. “Why don’t you make knickers?” I asked her. She said they’d think about it!

Otherwise, you do have a few options. Ibex makes a wool knicker called the Gnarly Knicker that sells for $145 ( A version made with Schoeller fabric is called the Alpstar and sells for $165. Woolrich made a good, heavy knicker for years but, alas, discontinued them five or six years ago. I think a few European companies still offer knickers, but it would take some sleuthing to find them. I spent some time searching myself, and came up empty. Even some of the big U.K. outdoor retailers no longer stock knickers.

Which is too bad. Knickers make great sense—I often use a pair of cycling knickers when it’s cool out. They’re especially good for hiking and climbing because they don’t bind at the knee. But, I guess fashion and the move toward wearing shell pants over long underwear, or shorts over long underwear, did them in. I’d love to see a gear maker offer a pair of knickers made with one of the new high-tech fabrics such as Polartec Power Shield. I think that would be a winner.