When I first received the press release about this frock from the folk at Royal Robbins HQ, it was titled ‘Go everywhere in Royal Robbins’ and the cynic in me did a little scoff, whilst the optimist really, really wanted it to be true. Could a dress – and quite a cute looking one at that – really be a ‘sensible’ choice for outdoor wear?
Well obviously I had to find out and this little number arrived on my doorstep. I have the black version on test, but it is also available in a more outdoorsy looking khaki.
Now, before I go on, let me just indulge in a bit of generalistic stereotyping – tradition in the outdoor industry dictates that if you want to go out on a ramble you should don some sensible boots, trousers or shorts- usually with a plethora of ‘useful’ pockets and a shirt – often checked!
Now I know from chatting to peers that I am not alone in finding this get-up not very comfortable. (not to mention hideous) I own one pair of walking trousers that are moderately comfortable (and trust me I’ve had a fair few pairs) so if we are heading out for the day, I tend to choose leggings, and being a tad vain and liking my derriere covered, a longish top – the latter often not of the outdoorsy world, ’cause they don’t design stuff like that.
So of course my comfort and clothing performance is always compromised by not having the ‘best’ wicking materials etc. So I was really interested to see if the Royal Robbins Essential Active dress could be my new favourite thing to hike in.
First thing you notice upon putting it on is how lovely and soft if feels – thanks to the jersey fabric it’s made from. This fabric also holds a little trick up it’s sleeve as it has UPF 50 protection.
Once you’ve ooh-ed at how nice it feels on, you simply forget that you are wearing it – it is THAT comfortable. Over the past couple of months, this dress has been shoved into backpacks, trudged around Europe’s largest outdoor trade show, up a few of Shropshire’s hills, indulged in some tree pruning and to Tesco’s.
In each and every one of those scenarios it has performed admirably – it emerged from my backpack after three days of driving across Europe looking ready to wear. It was sublimely comfortable to wear walking thanks to the stretchy and wicking fabric. It survived being snagged on plum trees and was still smart enough to trudge the aisles of Tesco’s… I would even be happy to take it to Waitrose!
The cut of the dress is utterly feminine – a rarity in world of outdoor. It features a flattering scoop neck, and the diagonal nature of the panels help disguise even the biggest of breakfasts.
An additional clever little bit of design, is the hidden zippered pocket – just the right size for my iPhone 6 and car key – all I need to store when walking the dog.
I’m a bit of tall bird, so if I could have had my version a smidge longer then I would be the proverbial pig in poop, however to protect my modesty on some of our day trips where I knew there would be scrambling over rocks and the like, I popped on some of the aforementioned leggings.
This is by far and away THE most comfortable hiking set-up that I own. Yes, this is one seriously happy camper.
One more massive plus point for this frock is that you can wear it away from the world of outdoors, this won’t look out of place in an office, I’d even go so far as popping on some heels and wearing on a night out (you couldn’t do that with your multi zip trousers!) so you are getting a really versatile piece for your pennies.
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