I Tried It
An Honest Review Of Lululemon's Cargo Super-High-Rise Hiking Shorts
Here’s how the collection fit a size 16/18.
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Full transparency: the first time I wore Lululemon was only a couple of weeks ago. As a plus-size woman who hovers around a size 16 or an XXL (sometimes an 18, sometimes a 14 depending on the brand), Lululemon had never been a brand that felt targeted toward my demographic. However, when Lululemon offered to fly me to Santa Monica for a hike in their new collection, I took the opportunity to see if their new designs — specifically, the Cargo Super-High-Rise Hiking Short 8" — held up.
Prior to this, my awareness of the brand was based on their notorious reputation of not stocking larger sizes in store, and customers’ experience with body shaming by employees. In 2013, the brand publicly stated in a Facebook post that "Our product and design strategy is built around creating products for our target guest in our size range of 2-12," and "we don’t have plans to change our current sizing structure”.
The brand changed its tune in September 2020, however, when it expanded to a size 20 in select products, the opposite of what many other brands did during the pandemic (ex: Loft discontinued their plus-sizes in 2021). Even with this press trip, Lululemon aims to make the fitness space a more inclusive one.
While in Cali, I chatted with Ben Stubbington, Lululemon's Senior Vice President of design. He said the brand is excited to “[invite] everybody into the space of hiking — because there's been a barrier within hiking and outdoors world. We're trying to make sure that more people feel welcomed into the space.”
With this in mind, I slipped into my first pair of Lululemon leggings. Here are all my honest thoughts.
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- Price: $98
- Best for: Low-impact workouts
- My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
- What I like: Lightweight, comfortable, and moisture wicking
- What I don’t like: Only goes to up to size 20
The Product: Cargo Super-High-Rise Hiking Short 8"
The shorts come in four colorways and have a high-waisted, with a draw-string waistband that prevents them sliding down and also snatches the waist (maybe that wasn’t the intention behind the design, but it was the result). The material is made of abrasion-resistant fabric, which means no pilling. For a thick-thighed girlie, that is a blessing with a capital ‘b.’
The shorts also include pockets — as in, plural. And they’re not the small, useless pockets you’d normally find on women’s clothing. They have a deep pocket on either side with a fabric overlay so your phone won’t slip out, plus a small zippered pocket. They also feature four-way stretch to accommodate your every curve.
The shorts are made of Lycra, known for its shape retention and super stretchy material. Not only is the fabric sweat-wicking, but it is also dries quickly. The design offers all the storage capacity of cargo-style pockets, minus the bulk. Stubbington says the fabrics and colorways were designed to create a sense of oneness with nature. Stubbington also discussed the duality of the collection — all pieces are meant to “transition with you.”
I donned the Cargo Hiking Shorts on three separate occasions, testing for my top athelisure qualifiers: comfort, functionality, and moisture-wicking. I first wore them for an early-morning hike in the Santa Monica hills — paired with the Grid Fleece Hiking Overshirt (another favorite from the Stray Awile Collection), because fashun.
A hiking novice, I was dripping with sweat, but it only took about fifteen minutes before the shorts were dry again. Nothing triggers my body dysmorphia more than swamp booty (IYKYK), so having the quick dry technology actually dry quickly was *chef’s kiss*. I had my iPhone in my pocket the entire hike and it didn’t slip out once.
Next, I wore them under a slip dress for a night out (I forgot to pack my go-to Yitty shapewear). These worked perfectly. They were super comfortable and, because my dress wasn’t that form-fitting, the hardware didn’t show underneath.
The third, and most important, test was the six-hour flight from LAX to JFK — brutal in itself, but even more so if your athleisure isn’t exceptionally comfortable. I appreciated the ease of putting my phone and ID in my pocket while going through TSA and they didn’t dig into my tummy after hours and hours of travel. Again, the accompanying jacket came into play — lightweight in the stuffy airport, but thick enough to keep me warm under the frigid airplane air. (Extra perk, the Hiking Backpack made for a perfect carry-on.)
I finally understand why every yoga devotee says Lululemon leggings are butter-soft. The fabric is supple and touchable, but still incredibly lightweight. I also loved the drawstring waist, because I have a really dramatic waist-to-hip ratio, which makes finding well-fitting bottoms incredibly difficult. Combined with the spacious pockets, these shorts are definitely a win. Though I’m not a nature girl, but I am a fashion girl, so I really appreciated the functionality and style of this collection.
That being said, I was a bit disappointed in the lack of options available in plus sizes. For example, the Hike to Swim pieces are my favorite from the drop, but unfortunately are only available in size 2-12 in the shorts, and size 2-14 in the bras (which, according to the product description is designed for B/C cups).
I would still love to see Lululemon continue to expand their sizes further. As someone who is a size 16/18, it’s disheartening to only be a couple sizes away from being excluded from the brand completely. Only offering three plus sizes (16, 18, and 20) is not revolutionary — especially since most Lululemon products are not offered in those sizes. Meanwhile, every piece in the men’s collection is offered in the full size range range of XS-XXL, which is equivalent to Lululemon’s women’s 20.