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Attention, lady hikers: finally, a company has designed plus-size technical pants that actually feel and look good. From waistband to hems, the Ponderosa pants ($139) are drawn from founder Raquel Vélez’s experience as a plus-size hiker.
The pants are available in two fits, each in sizes 14 to 24 (the brand plans to expand up to size 36). The Mountain silhouette (pictured) is for women with narrower waists and wider hips; the River has more of a straight fit. Both models feature waistbands with a built-in adjustable belt to reduce gapping in the back. But the real fit highlight is in the upper thigh. Many plus-size technical pants are cut too tight, so that the groin seam winds up falling several inches below your actual crotch, causing skin-on-skin chafing. The Ponderosa fit perfectly in the groin area, so you can say adieu to chub rub and excess saggy material.
The soft, stretchy, nylon-elastane fabric moved with our bodies without tearing at the seams as we high-stepped up boulders on the rugged North Carolina section of the Appalachian Trail. It was even stretchy enough for us to sit cross-legged by a campfire without cutting off circulation—a previously impossible level of comfort. The material also held up to thorn scrapes without a rip. Even after many wearings and more than ten cycles through the washing machine, they still look new.
For added comfort in warm weather, the Ponderosa also converts to capris. Five generous pockets (one on each hip, one zippered pocket on the thigh, and two in the back) hold essentials like cell phones, earbuds, and snacks. And despite their trail cred, these bottoms look good enough to wear in a business-casual setting. Credit the straight cut, tailored (but not tight) fit, and flat pockets.