fitness · gear

On the complexities of relationships with gear

This year– Anno Domini 2022– I took the plunge and finally bought myself a kayak. Then I took another plunge and finally bought myself an e-bike. That’s a lot of plunging.

This woman is post-icy-water-plunge. Her expression suggests mixed emotions, which is fair.
This woman is post-icy-water-plunge. Her expression suggests mixed emotions, which is fair.

It’s a privilege to be in a financial position to purchase these items (even used, which the kayak was, but in very fine shape), and I’m grateful that I was able to buy them.

Now that I own them, everything is hunky-dory, right? Well, as any of you who deal with active gear (like bikes, boats, skis, tents, stoves, hiking accoutrements, computer-assisted tracking doohickeys, etc.), the purchasing is just the beginning of the relationship with the gear. There’s also the following:

  • the storage
  • the transporting to and fro
  • the cleaning
  • the maintenance
  • the organization of accompanying bits and bobs
  • the response and troubleshooting when things go wrong
  • the repair
  • the inevitable replacement of parts and the gear itself

Honestly, I have no idea how people manage the above-mentioned tasks, as well as others that I never even thought about. I do as much as I can and hope for the best…

But I have to say this: if the next time I’m trying valiantly to figure out how to attach bow and stern lines to my kayak for transport on top of my car, one more person says, “oh, it’s so easy!”, I’m going to blow a gasket.

There are a lot of reasons why I fear, loathe and avoid dealing with gear other than buying it, using it, cleaning it occasionally and maybe storing it.

  • I come from a long line of non-outdoorsy non-gear using folks.
  • My above-mentioned ancestors are also famously non-handy; I mean really non-handy. I don’t recall seeing any relative of mine ever using a hammer, much less a drill.
  • So, I didn’t grow up doing anything with any gear, ever. I think we once had flashlights, but then the batteries died. And that was that.
  • I have generalized anxiety disorder and ADHD. This double-whammy diagnosis brings with it many difficulties with complex and multi-part tasks. Among other things.

I have learned how do basic maintenance on my bikes, but anything beyond that I entrust to my local bike shop, so I don’t have to deal with complex bike gear finagling. Winning.

I am in the early stages of my relationship with kayak. Yes it’s lightweight. But it doesn’t do knots itself. That’s right, I never learned how to do a) trucker’s hitch; b) bowline; c) other knots that I googled and have never heard of, but which some of you probably use all the time. And, yes, I know: “it’s so easy!” Recall prior gasket-blow warning.

I’m not saying I’m sorry I bought the kayak. I love kayaking and love this kayak. But I am saying that I find dealing with all of the above-listed tasks really stressful and shame-inducing. The feelings of shame come from not knowing what to do, feeling like I OUGHT to know how to do… whatever it is I need to do, seeing other gear owners who DO know what to do, and being seen by them as not knowing what to do. It’s a thing: a thing to recognize, a thing to deal with, a thing to get support around. I know this. But it is not an easy thing.

I also have another fine and complex piece of gear: my new e-bike, purchased 23 days ago. It’s peppy and lightweight (lightweight is a thing with me these days) and I’ve been dreaming about this bike for more than two years. Now I have it. Yay!

Of course, there’s the usual break-in period where you have to make adjustments to bike fit (e.g. throwing away the saddle it came with and getting one that works for you), tweaks to the gearing assembly, and such like. I’ve ridden almost 50 miles on the bike so far, and that process is humming along.

Or at least it was, until today. The fancy electronic assist computer interface (i.e. the button on the top tube) and the connected bike computer went… well, I think the proper term is kaflooey. The computer showed me riding 0mph, with 0% battery and level 0 of assist. At least it was consistent.

The computer interface on the bike kept cycling through 3 levels of pedal assist: zero, one and two, indicated by flashing circles of white, green and orange. I could even feel it on the bike. Weird. And not what I had in mind. My friend Rachel, a very experienced cyclist and level-headed person, helped me do some diagnostics, which included:

  • pushing the bike interface button both for longer and shorter durations, a whole bunch of times;
  • pushing buttons on the bike computer in similar fashion;
  • disconnecting the cable connecting the motor to the battery/computer internal assembly;
  • reconnecting the cable after waiting a few minutes and futzing with the connectors;
  • recommencing button pushing.

None of this resulted in resetting the electronic assist computer. Oh, well, it’s still a bike. So we did the only thing we could do: ride to our favorite coffee shop. At least the espresso machine there was in good working order. Whew.

Here’s the thing: I want to be more chill and more sanguine and more confident around gear, especially MY gear. I get anxious about the possibility of things going wrong, and I get extremely anxious when things actually go wrong. I fear looking incompetent in front of others, and actually being incompetent.

Today was a good lesson for me. The new fancy gear went kaflooey, but nothing bad actually happened. It may be easily fixable or a big pain in the butt to deal with. Either way, I’ll move through it.

Readers, what would you say is your relationship like with your gear? Are you best buddies? Do you tinker with it all the time for fun? Do you delegate gear maintenance to others among your family and friends? Do you ride a single-speed bike because you don’t want the complexity? I’d love to hear from you (just don’t tell me how easy some task is… 🙂

gear

Wordless Wednesday/Public Service Announcement

Please note: the following is NOT what it says it is:

Strappy high heel sandal described as "bike shoe in espresso". No.
Ceci n’est pas une chassure de cyclisme. This is NOT a cycling shoe. No.

Consumers beware. It’s a marketing jungle out there. Be warned…

cycling · fitness · gear

It’s not you, it’s the valves: gear maintenance and learning curves

This week, a FB friend reported some problems with a deflated tire on their road bike. They didn’t know that there were two kinds of tubes and valves (FYI: Shrader and Presta) and accidentally deflated the tube by using the wrong attachment from the pump.

They said, “I’m feeling like an incompetent novice”.

Oh, no…

Sympathetic pink creature, saying "oh no".
Sympathetic pink creature, saying “oh no”.

When I read this, I immediately thought: this is a perfect example of the gear maintenance learning curve.

It’s not us– how would we know that bike tires come in two different forms (and, btw, multiple sizes, for which appropriate tube selection may be a non-trivial process)? The answer: experience. Experience with gear involves a lot of steps, including

  • buying basic good tools
  • watching youtube videos
  • occasionally buying specialized gadgets (like a presta valve extender depending on how deep your wheel rims are and how long your tube valve is)
  • watching friends do repairs and maintenance tasks
  • getting help from friends in learning how to do tasks ourselves
  • trying things ourselves and then asking for help from friends or a friendly local bike shop
  • taking a class, maybe one for women in our sport, on common maintenance and repair of our gear

Of course, before checking off anything from the above-mentioned list, the natural thing is to just get out there– ride or skate or swim or paddle or sail or whatever it is that is filling us with joy in movement. Which is great. Once out there though, things will happen. Rigging breaks, tires get punctures, screws come loose. That’s life. That’s gear. That’s what activity friends and cell phones are for.

One more thing: we can choose how much we want to geek out on gear and its care and feeding. I freely admit that I don’t change my own rear cassette or do my own bike tuneups. For me, knowing how to change a tire, pack and unpack my bike for travel, do a few side-of-the-road adjustments with tools in my saddle bag, and clean my chain stands me in good enough stead. But it took a long time for me to get there. And I’m still a little anxious with dealing with through-axles. Luckily, there’a a youtube video for that.

Readers, are you gearheads or devoted mechanics for the activity gear you own? Is your mechanic on speed dial? Do you make a point of avoiding gear as much as possible? Do you just walk or run, avoiding most of the gear debate entirely (except for shoes, I guess…) Let us know in the comments.

gear · inclusiveness · normative bodies · swimming

All people vary in size? Really? Shocking!

No photo description available.
A photo of a women’s size guide on a wetsuit according to which XS is 5-5’2 and 95-110 lbs and XL is 5’9 + and over 155 lbs.

One of the things I love about our Facebook page is when people share things with us. Often it’s links for us to pass along on the page but sometimes it’s readers sharing their own experiences and observations. One reader, Sara Wabi Gould, was shopping for a wetsuit and was amused/horrified at this size chart and the accompanying text, “all people vary in size.”

She sent an image of the tag to us with the comment, “Wetsuit sizing strikes again. “Over 155”???”

According to this chart that variation tops out at 155 lbs. There’s also, according to this chart a strict correlation between weight and height.

Our bloggers had some reactions too:

Cate: “I remember reading once, in the 80s or 90s, some sort of “advice” in a women’s magazine that women who were 5.0 should weigh 100lbs, and for every inch after that you could add 5lbs. At the time, my not-quite-5.2 self weighed about 118lbs, the tiniest I’ve ever been — I think I was a size 4. I now weigh about 140 – 145 (haven’t weighed myself for a while) and I don’t THINK I’ve grown. I’m incredibly fit and strong and happy with my body. But I think I’ve carried that bullshit algorithm in the back of my mind for three and a half decades, with a flicker of shame every time I get on the scale that I am so much heavier than I “should” be. When I let it, that flicker of shame can outstrip the accomplishment of riding my bike 150 km in a day, running 8km comfortably on a hot day, deadlifting 200 lbs or being a super functional, fit, healthy 56 year old. These charts are dangerous bullshit.”

Tracy: “I feel oppressed by diet culture just looking at the chart and the way they assume height and weight correlate in just that way.”

Kim: “I’m 5’8 and just after I did the London to Paris challenge I was at my lightest at 155lb. This was me as endurance cyclist not lifting at the time. So does that mean I need to ride 450km in 24 hours and 14 minutes if I want to deserve a wetsuit? Bahahahaha!!!”

Sam: “Oh, FFS. I’m 5’7 and 155 lbs is a weight I haven’t seen on a scale since my early twenties. So I guess I’m an XL in a suit that’s too long for me. This brings me to one of my pet peeves about XL sizes. Sometimes they’re just a bit larger than L and other times they’re four times the size of L since they’re meant to fit everyone larger than that. It’s like the “one size fits everyone bigger than L.”

Diane: “By this sizing, my daughter (who is petite by almost any standard but very muscular) might need to get a medium as she is on the cusp for weight. What happens if you weigh 117 lb? Or 140? The answer if you weigh over 155 is generally that you learn to swim without a wetsuit. There are some slightly larger models out there, but most larger swimmers I have talked to simply gave up on trying to find one.”

You might want to also read Catherine’s post about choosing a wetsuit.

What would your reaction be to encountering this size tag on an item of clothes/sports gear while shopping?

equipment · fitness · flexibility · fun · gear · martial arts · Rowing

Rowing, Multitasking, and Positive Side Effects.

After years of planning to buy a rowing machine, I finally got one a couple of months back and I am thoroughly enjoying using it. 

I love that I don’t have to put much thought into the how and the what of exercising with the rowing machine.  I can use it at any time without having to put on specific clothes and I can choose to have a harder workout or an easier one without having to make a specific plan. 

It’s a kind of automatic exercise for me which is really good for my ADHD brain – there are few, if any, choices to make in advance and that means there are very few potential obstacles between me and my workout.

Plus, I like the very nature of the movement back and forth, the repetition has a soothing element to it.

A person in an inflatable T-Rex costume is using a rowing machine in a small living room.
This does NOT look soothing. I hope I look a little smoother than this when I row. Image description: a GIF of a person in an inflatable T-Rex costume is using a rowing machine in a small living room with potted plants all around. Because the head of the costume is so far above the person’s head, their movements look very jerky.

And, I like that I can do a very specific type of multi-tasking – watching YouTube videos – while I row.

I enjoy learning by video but I don’t often make time to do so. Combining my exercise with videos is a win-win situation – I am doing two enjoyable things at once and my brain and body are both busy so I don’t get any of my usual feeling that I should probably be doing something else. 

I even pick out my videos the night before so there is little between my pyjama-clad self and my exercise session in the mornings. I can get up, let the dog out (and back in!), grab some water, take my meds,  and then head to the basement to row. It’s all part of my waking up routine and it really feels great. 

Speaking of feeling great, my rowing has brought me an unexpected positive side-effect – my hips have loosened up considerably.

A GIF of a cartoon duck spinning his hips in a circle while standing in the spotlight.
Maybe they aren’t quite *this* loose but they do feel good. Image description: GIF of cartoon character Daffy Duck standing in a spotlight with his wings up behind his head, his hips are moving in a very loose circle.

Because of long-ago sessions at the gym, I knew that my arms, back, and legs were going to benefit from using the machine but I hadn’t really thought about how the set  of movements required to row would help my hips, too.  

I sort of have a ‘trick’ hip. It’s mostly fine but every now and then I’ll do something that will wonk it out and it will take me a few days to get it to calm down again.

Practicing kicks at taekwon-do has often triggered my hip in that way but I only realize it *after* I have done it. I’ve done a variety of things to work on it (with various degrees of consistency – I’m still me after all) but nothing has been especially helpful. Until now.

About three weeks after starting regular rowing sessions, our Thursday night TKD class was all about practicing sidekicks and angle kicks. Normally, with a night full of those kicks, my hip would wonk out at some point during the evening and I’d either have to reduce my movements or do something else entirely.

This time, however, I was tired but my hip was completely fine. I was puzzled at first but as I was pulling my leg up and back into position for one of the kicks, I realized that the motion was familiar. It’s not exactly like the position of my leg as I pull all the way forward on the machine but it’s similar. 

I didn’t have any trouble with my hips that night. And, more importantly, I didn’t wake up stiff or in pain the next morning. In fact, I rowed for a bit longer than I had the day before. 

It turns out that my rowing was setting me up for new success with taekwon-do. 

A person rotates on one foot while holding the other leg in the air before doing a high kick.
Okay, this is just straight-up wishful thinking on my part. Image description: GIF of a person standing on one foot, spinning in a circle and then executing a very high kick. Their hair is in a ponytail, and they are wearing a pink shirt and black leggings.

That’s a pretty good side-effect for an activity I was enjoying already. 

Have you ever had one type of exercise ‘accidentally’ help you in another like that?

Tell me about it in the comments! (Pretty please.)

fitness · gear · hiking · walking

Christine’s boots are made for walking…well, hiking really.

I bought my first pair of hiking boots recently and I LOVE them.

I’ve *meant* to buy a pair for YEARS but somehow never got around to it.

I do a fair but of walking but I haven’t done a lot of hiking in the last. It seemed weird to buy special footwear when I could just wear my sneakers and do just fine.

But I plan to do more hiking and there’s a difference between doing ‘fine’ and doing well.

Any time that I *have* gone on a hike, my sneakers have let me down. Either my feet have gotten wet or I have slid around a bit or I have almost turned my ankle. My sneakers were fine but I looked in envy at my friends in their hiking boots who seemed to be having a smoother hike than I was.

Often, I’d get home and scope out hiking boots online and then put the search aside for later…and never get back to it until I was once again annoyed on a hike.

Recently though, I came across the perfect hiking boots in my price range.

They remind me of a pair my most outdoorsy sister had years ago, so that’s inspirational. And the fact that she used to wear them out clubbing almost as often as she wore them out hiking bodes well for their potential comfort. (She used to call them her ‘dancing boots, in fact.)

Anyway, I have been wearing them on my walks with Khalee lately and I am really understanding the difference between doing ‘fine’ and doing ‘well.’

Now that spring is here-ish, I would normally have ditched my winter boots for my sneakers. But, since I have hiking boots I have been wearing them instead and they are the perfect in-between for right now.

My feet are dry, I feel sure-footed, and I like how my boots look. I can’t wait to try them on an actual hike.

Bring on hiking season!

A top-down photo of the author’s feet in a pair of brown hiking boots , she is standing on some snow.
There’s still snow on the ground in lots of places but let’s take the upside and note how nicely my boots contrast with it. 😉 Image description: Top down photo of the author’s denim-clad legs and feet. She’s wearing pair of chocolate brown hiking boots and standing on some snow that is lit by sunshine.
fitness · gadgets · gear

Taking tips from babies: soothing and activity toys for grownups

Babies look happiest to me when they’re moving, particularly in some unusual way. I remember lifting (tossing? throwing?) my niece and nephews in the air when they were tiny, and they just loved it. They loved sensation, and movement, and comfort, and color. So do I, for that matter.

This got me to thinking: as we are all waiting around for mass vaccination to make its way around the globe, we’re all still in need of comfort and diversion and delight. Why not take a page out of the baby leisure time playbook?

For instance, babies know how to get comfy in style:

Baby, enjoying the view from a colorful patterned doughnut-shaped big pillow.

You know, we can have this, too:

Woman, enjoying the view from an enormous marshmellow-shaped beanbag chair.

It doesn’t even seem to clash with her decor. Excellent!

This mood pillow (with two modes– happy and mad) would be perfect for department meetings (zoom or live).

Sometimes, though, we (like babies) gotta move. I’ve always thought that the jolly jumper was one of the best inventions ever. You know what I mean: this.

Baby in mid-jolly jump, in harness attached to triangular thingie.
Baby in mid-jolly jump, in harness attached to triangular thingie.

Turns out, they make a version of this for adults now. Yay!

Especially since the pandemic hit, I’ve noticed more play-things for at-home adult movement distraction. Here are a few more:

The levels of fun, functionality and fear-inducement vary quite a bit for these gadgets. I doubt they’re had the rigorous testing that we get with baby-gadgets. I’m sure this thing below hasn’t been adequately examined by some regulatory board, else it wouldn’t be out there in this form:

Three steel bars, of which two attach to your feet, to crank your legs apart in hopes of doing a split and not tearing ligaments in the process. Please don’t try this at home or elsewhere.

Nor do I recommend that you plug in this purple envelope with infra-red heat (according to the FAQ), to lie in a pool of sweat for a long time. No self-respecting baby would put up with this for any amount of time.

Woman pretending to be relaxed in a very hot purple envelope, when she's really sweating the house down.
Woman pretending to be relaxed in a very hot purple envelope, when she’s really sweating the house down.

You may be wondering: what among these items would Catherine try? That’s easy– bungee fitness flying! I don’t think I’ll be setting this up at my house, but some studios offer it, so maybe later this year I can get my jolly jumper on…

Flying through the air, courtesy of bungees.

Readers– what gadgets have you seen over the past year that remind you of fun kid playsets? Have you tried any of them? I’d love to hear about it. Also, if you’re tried bungee fitness in a studio, that would be fun to hear about, too.

dogs · gear · nature · walking · winter

For Christine H, A Little Planning = Big Fun

Last winter, I made an unfortunate error in judgement.

I left our snowshoes in the shed, planning to take them out once it snowed enough to use them regularly.

I didn’t realize that when it finally snowed enough, it would actually snow TOO MUCH and my shed door would be blocked by ice and snow for months.

In fact, I never did get around to snowshoeing last winter. Not even once. And that was annoying.

Annoying enough that I actually made a solid plan this past fall so it wouldn’t happen again. This year, when I put the patio furniture in the shed for the winter, I took my snowshoes out and stored them in my basement.*

Last week, as I was walking Khalee down the snow-covered sidewalk and distracting her from attempting to detour onto the walking trails near our house, I realized that I was missing an opportunity.

A n outdoor photo of anwan and a dog. The woman is looking toward the camera. The dog is looking at the woman and partially blocking our view.
I tried to get us both in the photo. I guess I was sort of successful. PS: I am wearing my hatphones! Image description: An outdoor photo of Christine and her dog, Khalee. Christine, a woman in her late forties, wearing a black toque, scarf and jacket, has a reddened nose and cheeks because of the cold, she is looking toward the camera. Only the right side Khalee’s face is visible, she is looking toward Christine and partially blocking our view.

If I took out my snowshoes, I could let Khalee bound around in the snow on the path while I sauntered over the top of it without sinking up to my shins.

Now our afternoon walks are mini-adventures for the two of us. (Something Sam and Cheddar and friends clearly know all about!) Snowshoeing on a snowy path with trees on one side and a river on the other is much more relaxing than walking on a snow-smudged sidewalk with a dirty bank of snow on one side and the road on the other.

A snowy footpath extends through some sparse woods.
Even though there is a school just on the other side of the trees and there are houses on the other side of the river, this walk feels a lot more nature-y. Image description: a snow-covered path, covered in footprints, extends forward. There are lots of trees on the left and a few on the right. There is a lower spot to the right where a river lies beneath the snow.

And yes, there are a few challenges involved in the process. For example, Khalee is not a fan of the fact that I have to go out first and put on my snowshoes before letting her outside and she gets a bit worked up about that. And it is tricky to manage a bounding dog on a leash while trying to walk on snowshoes. And then there is the maneuvering involved in trying to ‘stoop and scoop’ while wearing snowshoes and being connected to a dog whose business at this location is complete and who is ready to move quickly away to the next adventure.

A medium-sized blond dog in a red sweater with white hearts on it stands on a snowy path.
Does Khalee need this sweater? I don’t know, I can’t tell if it’s too cold to be out in ‘just’ her fur but I use the same principle I used to use with the kids – if I am going to have to worry about you being chilly, we have to bring a sweater for you. Khalee has to put hers on in advance because I would never be able to wrestle her into it while we were on the path. I’ll bet it would be funny to watch me try though. Image Description: A medium-sized BLOND (This was autocorrected to blind initially but that is incorrect, she isn’t blind.) dog in a red sweater with white hearts on it, stands on a snowy path. She is on a leash attached to a harness and she is looking away from the camera. The path is covered in footprints.

But, even with those challenges, it’s still a lot of fun and it feels a bit more cardio-y than our usual walks.

I’m really glad that I had the foresight to do that little bit of planning back in the fall.

*This kind of planning may not seem like a big deal to the neurotypical but the capacity to think ahead like this has never come naturally to me, especially about stuff that is just for fun. Just another way that my medication has made a positive difference for me.

clothing · fashion · fun · gadgets · gear

Christine H. Finds Fun in Small Things

Even though I felt ridiculous about it, I bought a winter hat with built-in wireless headphones and it has turned out to be a terrific and useful purchase. (I can listen to my fave podcasts while I shovel snow!)

Owning this item has also spawned three new things that delight me:

1) My son J connected my hat headphones via Bluetooth to my phone under the name ‘hatphones.’ It makes me laugh every time I see it. HATPHONES! HA!

2) I get to say ‘Oh, I have to remember to charge my hat!’

3) I get to say ‘Hang on, I can’t hear you yet, my hat is still talking to me.’

Yes, I find my fun where I can.

Don’t you?

PS – I sometimes wear my hat inside for practicing TKD patterns or doing yoga. Unlike my other wireless (in-ear) earphones, my hatphones are sitting comfortably OVER my ears and while they reduce how well I can hear other sounds they don’t block them entirely. Also, I can easily pause (by pressing on the button over my ear) the video without having to scramble for my phone or for the remote control.

A drawing of black hat with a wire attached that extends to a plug and a drawing of a phone screen with a few icons and the word 'hatphones' displayed next to bluetooth symbol.
Not my greatest sketch ever but you get the point. 😉 Image description: A drawing of black hat with a wire attached that extends to a plug and a drawing of a phone screen with a few icons and the word ‘hatphones’ displayed next to bluetooth symbol.

accessibility · clothing · covid19 · fashion · fat · gear · snow · winter

Winter fun is for every body

This post brings together two common themes here at Fit is a Feminist Issue.

Theme one is making our way through COVID winter. Winter isn’t easy for some of us at the best of times but this year hiding out indoors until it passes isn’t really an option. You can cozy it up, sure, hygge style, but you might be lonely. Possibly also depressed. Maybe both.

So along with hygge, people are recommending that we adopt the attitude of friluftsliv. Read about the latter concept here.

Friluftsliv is a word used by Swedes, Danes and Norwegians. It translates literally as ‘fresh-air life’, and is all about embracing the great outdoors whatever the weather, being active, and immersing yourself in nature.

Scandinavians spend time outdoors no matter what season it is. For Kim Lindqvist, a volunteer with the Swedish Outdoor Association, Friluftsliv means “to be outdoors and in the air, and just enjoy it in nature. To listen to the leaves, or watch the clouds”.

Friluftsliv sounds like a good fit for the FIFI blog community. We like to spend time outdoors. We’re active. And we all want to enjoy the company of friends through the pandemic winter.

Here on the blog we’ve been worrying about this since the end of summer. Catherine wrote about making plans to spend time with friends outside in the winter way back in August! Cate waited until September, after Labour Day, to post about her plans for a fit distanced winter.

I completely agree that spending time outside is key to enjoying winter. I’ve been recommending winter biking, here and here. But the thing about friluftsliv is you’ve got to dress for it.

If you choose not find joy in the snow, you’ll have less joy in your life but still the same amount of snow.

OK, on to the second theme that we talk about lots on the blog. Theme two is about finding gear that fits all bodies, in particular plus sized bodies. It’s not always easy. See our post about finding plus sized cycling and hiking gear.

It’s not a far away problem. It’s an issue for some of the fit feminists who blog here, me included. See Catherine’s post and my post about the challenge of finding winter coats that fit. We’re not even particularly large plus sized people, shopping in the L to XXL range. Also, we’re professors with reasonable salaries so we’ve got the option to buy new. It’s harder still if your income means you’re trying to find discount clothing or used gear.

This matters because of the message we send about which bodies belong outside in the winter. It’s symbolic and meaningful and all that. It’s also practical. Winter (in Canada at least) means we worry about frostbite and getting cold. Spending time outside–even just walking the dog–sometimes requires snow pants, parkas, hats, mitts, scarves, and good boots.

This year, more than ever, we’re all going to have get outside and spend time with friends and family during the winter. My kids are talking about winter camping in backyard so we can all spend Christmas holidays together!

So I was thinking about these themes–getting outside and enjoying Canadian pandemic winter–and the necessity of finding the right gear, when along came these guys Plus Snow.

I first read about the company in this story: Online entrepreneur launches plus-size snow gear store in North America. The article talks about the company owner Mon Balon and her motivation for making plus sized snow clothes.

“What she wants to see is more of the joy that her customers share when they can finally play in the snow with their kids.

Balon said she is looking for people to model the clothes she sells. She currently uses #curvystoke to raise awareness and celebrate people who wear plus sizes playing in the snow.”

What I didn’t expect when I shared the story on our Facebook page was thanks from Mon Balon herself,

“Omgosh you guys!!! Thanks so so much for sharing this article about my business and my launch in North America! It’s not a perfect model (you have to wait about 2 weeks to get your gear) yet but I do have lots of CHOICE and lots of measuring charts and our help and customer service is unparalleled (I think anyway!) Shop Your Shape is our brilliant feature which helps you find the perfect fit if you need it https://plussnow.com/shop-your-shape/

I also didn’t expect the flurry of readers with their own issues finding plus sized snow gear. There were a lot of comments on that post.

One of the commentators was Richelle Olsen who owns outdoor wear she bought from Plus Snow.

Here’s Richelle modeling her gear.

Richelle: “All my current wet weather gear is from these guys, they don’t just do plus snow gear, but they do plus outdoor gear in general. Love that they celebrate that adventurers come in bigger bodies 💚 Plus Snow – Plus Sized Snow Gear. Plus Outdoor.”
Writes Richelle, “Here’s one extra pic of our group of body positive adventurers, near the Tarkine, at a place called Cradle Mountain.”

I asked Richelle if I could share the photos and she said yes.

Thanks Richelle.

Here’s what else she had to say:


“I’m in Tasmania, an island off the south coast of Australia. I lead body positive adventure trips for Escaping Your Comfort Zone 2-3 times a year, and each time I go a few days early and just drive and see where I end up. This time I ended up in this prehistoric rainforest called the Tarkine, in the rain, camping amongst giants with no one else around.


I’m wearing the Raiski Fuchu R+ Women’s Longline jacket in size 22. I love it because it’s super long and covers my butt, its slightly stretchy and is reliably waterproof after days of constant rain in Tasmania. It’s from Plus Snow – Plus Sized Snow Gear 💚💚


Fun fact: The Tarkine Wilderness Area is one of the last undisturbed tracts of Gondwanan rainforest in the world, and one of the highest concentrations of Aboriginal archeology in the Southern Hemisphere. This place, which remains largely as it was when dinosaurs roamed the planet, is currently at the mercy of destructive logging and mining. There’s an amazing short film about this called “What if running could save a rainforest?” Featuring a good friend of mine, Nicole Anderson, who is a doctor, ultra runner and passionate rainforest protector”

Are you a plus sized snow loving person? Are you planning to get out this year? Where’d you buy your gear? What counts as essential for the snow loving activities you do?

FWIW, and in case you’re wondering, this is isn’t a promotional post. I didn’t know Richelle or Mon prior to sharing the story on our Facebook page.