If ever you are wearing a dress with pockets and someone compliments it, it’s basically required by law that you reply: “Thanks! It has pockets!” This is because women’s clothing typically lacks storage options, and dress pockets are, somehow, almost always better than any pockets you’ll find on a pair of pants designed for women.
This summer, I’ve been gear-testing the new Mountain Stretch performance hiking dress from Mountain Hardwear. So far, I’ve had this pockets exchange a handful of times, and while I wouldn’t go so far as to say the Mountain Stretch Dress is perfect, there’s plenty to love.
Pros and Cons of The Mountain Stretch Dress
This is a form-fitting dress that hits at about the length of a good pair of running shorts, so you have nothing getting in the way of mobility. I’ve hiked, run, and participated in an ecstatic dance event in this dress, and felt comfortable and covered the entire time. The dress is built kind of like a form-fitting bodysuit with a dress over it—almost like a skort that extends all the way up to your shoulders. It’s comfortable to wear without underwear, and I’ve also found it supportive without a sports bra.
I was skeptical of this design at first, because one-piece apparel options are often tricky for bathroom breaks. The last thing you want to do on a hike is to have to get totally naked to pee, especially if you’re on a popular trail where it’s not easy to hide behind a tree for some privacy. However, the shorts built into the Mountain Stretch dress are form-fitting and super stretchy, so they provide full coverage while also making it possible to pull them aside to pee without totally disrobing.
I also noticed a major bonus of the one-piece feature: This outfit doesn’t ride up underneath a backpack with a hip belt. I wore this dress on a 9-mile hike in the rugged White Mountains of New Hampshire on a hot day, when it was essential to pack a couple of liters of water. The trail was steep and had many sections of extensive scrambling, and I almost never thought about what I was wearing. I did occasionally pull the skirt down, but the built-in shorts kept the outfit mostly in place and prevented the dress from bunching up underneath my hipbelt. I am always readjusting my layers when I hike in shorts or leggings and a tee. The dress wicked sweat quite well, and I would absolutely wear it hiking again.
There’s a clever pocket built into the left leg of the shorts that’s a perfect fit for my iPhone 12 Mini (I haven’t tested it with a larger smartphone), and it would also fit an ID, a credit card, and/or a set of keys. It’s a snug fit, so items in the pocket don’t bounce around, even if you’re out for a run or a jog.
While I was initially skeptical about an all-in-one hiking dress, the more I wear this one, the more I think it deserves a permanent spot in my rotation of summer hiking gear. It’s comfortable, it’s cute, it feels snug and secure in all the right places, and—of course—it has a pocket. It’s also lightweight, packable, and doesn’t wrinkle. I’d love to see more brands experiment with performance hiking dresses like this, pairing practical features with fashionable versatility that easily travels beyond the trail.
Would you wear a dress on your outdoor adventures if it was made for outdoor adventures?