Despite growing up in the frigid North, I am a pansy about being cold. I still prefer it to being over heated because you can *almost* always put on more layers – you can’t always take them off – but I still don’t like it unless being cold means I can curl up in front of the fire in sweatpants with a good book. When it comes to riding, I have tried just about everything and have come to the conclusion that I just don’t like riding in bad weather. And right now the whole country is stuck with bad weather!
So when I saw an ad on Facebook for Arctic Horse’s winter riding skirts (sitting in the bath tub trying to warm up after doing trot sets in a downpour), I was intrigued with the concept. The idea behind it made a lot of sense. Much like mittens versus gloves, the skirt helps heat the air around you to keep you warm. It also works as a quarter sheet and traps the heat coming off your horse. Simple enough right?
But does it actually work?
Obviously I had to find out.
Arctic Horse has several different versions of their skirts from fully insulated snow skirts to mesh lined rain skirts. Since I live in the South now, which is *supposed* to be warm, I settled on the Wool Outlander Skirt and the mesh lined Tongass Rain Skirt. I figured the Outlander Skirt would be the right amount of warmth for Georgia winters and the Tongass Rain Skirt would be good for those spring and fall days where the rain just wouldn’t stop but it was still warm out.
Well, we were having an unseasonably long and warm fall so I was kind of worried I wouldn’t be able to use my skirt at all but along with the box came the arctic temperatures. Winter had arrived. So I buckled the Outlander skirt on over my winter breeches and headed out for my lesson.
And I honestly haven’t wanted to take it off since!
At first it was hard to tell if I felt warmer while tacking up Gus, but as soon as I buckled up the sides to put my boots on, I realized how much warmer having the skirt around me was. It really had kept the air around my legs warm! I also stayed nice and toasty during my rides (though I usually take it off once my lesson starts so that my trainer can see my position… and then she steals the skirt!). And then when I dismounted and found that I could still feel my feet and I didn’t get that painful sensation of landing on frozen toes (I’m not the only one right?) I knew this skirt was a winner.
While I’ve only been riding in the Outlander, I did bring the Tongass out with me for the winter photo shoot. Even though the Currant color has mesh lining versus fleece and is basically just an outer shell it kept the wind out so well that I barely noticed the cold.
And if staying warm and dry is not enough, the care put into the design of these skirts is amazing. The pockets are deep, zippered and fleece lined! That was a nice little surprise. There are also snaps that you can use to pull the flaps up to mount – a very handy feature! – and straps to secure the skirt around your leg if you are feeling like you need a good gallop – though I’ve cantered without the straps and the Outlander, at least, is heavy enough to stay in place while moving.
While these skirts are a little pricey for something purchased on a whim (I purchased the Outlander Wool for $299) so far it has been worth every penny.
I’ll do another review once I’ve had a chance to use the Tongass skirt more but if my experience is anything like what I’ve had with the Outlander, I don’t expect it will be anything but glowing praise.