Which skirt should I choose? Hands down, this is our most frequently asked question. The answer is always the same: it depends on what you want to do, and when and where you are doing it.
Arctic Horse All Weather skirts offer so much versatility: wear them teaching/taking lessons, working outside, running errands, hiking, and going to dinner. These skirts are gorgeous and do their job so you can do yours. All skirts are made in Alaska by women making a living wage, and we use American Made materials as much as possible.
Although choosing one skirt can be difficult (imagine choosing only one jacket for all seasons/activities?), being specific about your comfort preferences, and your local environment can really help narrow it down.
All of the skirts add a degree of warmth, all are waterproof or water-resistant, and they all serve multiple-functions. That really narrowed it down for you, didn't it? Not to worry, below is a guide to Arctic Horse All Weather skirts, and some of the conditions to consider when choosing your skirt.
All photos credited to Gutierrez Photography.
Cold-Weather Riding and Working
Living in Alaska, the first skirt I dreamt up was insulated, because, did I mention I live in Alaska? We have four seasons here, Almost Winter, Winter, Still Winter, and Construction. See, along with better being able to choose a riding skirt, you now know an Alaska joke, thanks to this post. You're welcome.
For very cold conditions, our two warmest skirts are the Full Arctic skirt, and the Narrow Arctic skirt. Both skirts are waterproof, and are equally warm- thanks to 6 ounces of super light insulation that doesn't require quilting to stay in place, is American made, is used by the US Military for soldiers, and is machine washable.
The main differences between the Narrow and the Full Arctic lie in their construction. The Full Arctic has no rear zipper, and serves as a quarter sheet on your horse's back.
The Narrow Arctic skirt does have a rear zipper, which splits the skirt to only cover the rider's legs while riding. The picture below shows how differently the two skirts look on the horse's back.
So, first consideration should be whether you want the skirt to cover the horse's back. My Appaloosa loves the extra warmth on his back, but doesn't need to have it. My friend's Rocky Mountain mare absolutely always requires a quarter sheet for cold weather riding, so her Full Arctic skirt cuts out the need for the quarter sheet, and saves her a step. I prefer riding in the Full Arctic, it's a warm cocoon that captures my horse's heat and transfers it to me. Can't beat that heater!
For sheer looks on the ground, the Full Arctic and Narrow Arctic insulated skirts have very different profiles. The Full Arctic has more material, and is more, well, full.
The Narrow Arctic has a sleeker outline, because it has less material and has a rear zipper.
Both are very pretty and flattering. Like all of our skirts, these skirts are easy to put on and take off, thanks to our front two-way zipper that unzips at the top (oh yeah, you can take it on and off while riding your horse, no need to dismount). You can zip the front zipper down to step into it, if you don't feel like completely undoing the whole zipper. Ladies, we made these things easy for you (don't you have enough to wrangle without wrestling with your clothes?).
For working around the barn, I prefer the Narrow Arctic, because it has less material. However, a friend who spends a lot of time on her 4-wheeler around her farm loves the Full Arctic because she doesn't have to split the skirt to sit down, and uses the excess material like a cocoon around her legs. Your call, you can work/play/ride in both.
Once you wear an insulated skirt you are going to wonder why you allowed your legs to freeze all these long years. Total life changer.
The Short Narrow Arctic skirt is nearly the same as her big sister, the Long Narrow Arctic, except it's shorter- 19," and has less insulation (3 ounces instead of 6 ounces). This skirt ends just above the knee (on an average 5'6 woman), has a rear zipper so you can ride in it, and is such a hot little skirt. Literally hot as in toasty warm, and, figuratively hot, as in the "so good looking" meaning of the word. It's waterproof, machine-washable, and available in great colors.
I'll admit, the first time I saw a short insulated skirt, I was skeptical that it did anything for the wearer. Ohhhhhh, but it does- that extra warmth on the thighs makes a HUGE difference. I am converted. I'll throw this on over riding pants or leggings and take on the chilly world.
Ladies, last but not least on the cold weather skirt train is the Outlander Wool skirt. Lined with micro-fleece (did you really think I'd put wool against your skin?), this medium weight American wool from humanely sheared sheep will make you feel like you've been transported into 1700's Scotland.
It's romantic, it's gorgeous and feminine, it's real, and it will keep you so cozy warm. I mention it's real, because it is so hard to find a true wool skirt these days. I've tried, believe me. Hence, now we make them.
The Outlander skirt is the Full style, designed to cover the horse's back like a quarter sheet (no rear zipper). Wool is naturally water-resistant, and as a natural fiber, has the ability to breath. The Outlander is so versatile, you can do chores and ride in this skirt, then wear it to the office or out to dinner (not necessarily recommended in that order). You'll turn every head along the way.
The fact that you can canter across a field in it can be your little I'm-so-Gone-with-the-Wind- secret. No one at the office is going to believe you that it's a riding skirt anyway (take pictures for proof). Unless you forget to clean it, and you smell like a horse. But, then, that's their problem, because horses smell amazing.
It's raining, it's pouring, and you have to ride or work...
In addition to abhorring cold, I despise being wet. Doesn't everybody? Not my husband, but he's one of these hardy, tough, Alaska men. He also loves wind storms, ice on his face, and other horrible things. But, he's weird, and that's him, and I'm talking about normal people like myself who want to be dry and comfortable... back on track, now.
I hate being wet, I'm talking game over, we're done, I'm not taking another step, sit down and pout-hate-being wet-that-much. Enter the no-brainer skirt for wet weather: our waterproof, wind blocking, breathable, micro-fleece lined, machine-washable, available in so many great colors, Tongass Rain Skirt.
Stay dry on and off your horse- this skirt offers so much versatility: wear it teaching/taking lessons, working outside, running errands, hiking, going to dinner. This skirt is gorgeous and does it's job so you can do yours.
The Tongass Rain skirt only comes in the Full style (remember, this one does not have a zipper up the back and covers the horses back). The Tongass rain skirt covers the horses back, and any rear saddle bags, to keep the whole lot of you warm and dry. I loooooooove this skirt. Couple your Tongass Rain skirt with a good rain coat and you are unstoppable.
This skirt is available in long or short styles. The Short Tongass Rain Skirt is 22" long, and falls just below the knee on an average 5'6 woman. This skirt was designed to give your upper leg and saddle protection from rain. It will cover the cantle and pommel of your saddle (if you choose, you can also just drape it in front of your legs). Use the Long Tongass Rain skirt if you want to cover rear saddle bags and the horse's back.
The Backcountry is calling, and I must go
I've been dreaming up the Backcountry Trail Skirt for years. I wanted something that was an alternative to chaps- no offense to chaps, you know, I love you, but, I just needed... something... else.
I wanted all of the protection chaps offered and none of the hassle of custom ordering them, or wrestling to get them on/off. As a 5'1 curvy woman, my main gripe with chaps is that they don't fit (me), unless they're custom ordered. And then, do not gain an ounce, or you're ordering another pair. I have tried on so many pairs of chaps, too long, too tight, too loose, too-, just, the fit was never right.
Next gripe was getting chaps on and off always seemed like a chore, sometimes requiring acrobatics. Then once you were in them, Lord, don't let the weather change and have to take them off. I love chaps, I've owned them, I'll own them again, but the Backcountry skirt is a great alternative for many of the reasons listed below.
The Backcountry skirt is easy on/easy off, like all of our skirts. Put it around you like a towel, and zip it down from the top. Easy-peasy. You can also unzip it and take it off while you're mounted. We don't want to waste precious riding time changing our wardrobe.
Fitting your Backcountry skirt is so simple, just find the waist/hips measurements on the size chart that matches yours, and order your skirt. All of our skirts have a 2" stretch in the waistband to give you a little extra room for layering clothing, or for those natural fluctuations in weight that we all have. The Backcountry skirt material does have the least amount of give of all of our skirts, so measure, measure, measure, and consider ordering up a size for extra room.
Waxed canvas is tough (Barbour and Filson use waxed canvas for their outdoor gear, and canvas is used by Carhartt and other heavy-duty clothiers). Tough enough to take that brush you're bush whacking through to find your way to the trail. Your legs will be protected from thorns, sharp sticks, and everything else you don't want poking them.
And, "waxed," means water-resistant for hours (I'd say waterproof for several hours, based on personal experience, but technically, the manufacturer only claims water-resistant). Leg protection + water protection = happy, happy, woman.
This skirt usually evokes images of those old Aussie slickers for people, and they are similar. But, here's a few major differences:
- Our material is waxed with food-grade paraffin wax, the same stuff they wrap cheese with- that means it's safe enough to eat (but, please... don't). The old oil slickers were made with a petroleum based substance for water-proofing, which was pretty toxic stuff.
- Our skirts are impregnated with wax, that means, the material was soaked in the wax so it permeated all the way through, making it very water resistant. Many canvases only have the wax applied topically.
This skirt is lined with cozy brushed cotton flannel, and has deep micro-fleece lined pockets (did I mention all of our skirts have deep micro-fleece lined pockets?). Waxed canvas has this patina it develops over time, the more you use it, the more creased character it has. And, when you're all finished, you hose the skirt off. You read that right. You hose it off. This skirt is rugged.
The Backcountry skirt comes in a short style as well, 22" long, which falls just below the knee of an average 5'6 woman. It is so lovely. Made to protect your upper leg, ride/work/play, this skirt is as tough as it is fashionable. Gardeners and farmers are really taken with this skirt. This is my "oh my my" skirt, cause every time I see it, that's what I want to say...
It's hard to describe the rich quality of this fabric (especially after saying "hose it off" has you evoking images of industrial rubber). It's like, a buttery... soft... toughness. Alright, I said it was hard to describe, didn't I?
Last but not least, it's vegan. No animals were harmed to make this skirt. That feels so good. Oh yeah, and the waxed canvas material is made by a fifth generation family-owned American company.
To recap, it's warm, it'll protect your legs, and it's water-resistant. And, it is sooooo lovely.
I hope this guide helped you pick out a skirt, or two. Or seven. Ladies, we need options. Once you own an Arctic Horse All Weather Skirt, you're going to wonder how you ever did without it.