Even though I’m only a fraction Scottish by heritage, I have grown to love wearing kilts. How did this come to be, you ask? A couple years ago, while discussing exercise apparel, one of my co-workers told me about “modern” kilts such as the Utilikilt. As a (formerly) avid hiker, my curiosity was piqued. So I checked out the Utilikilt website, and while their stuff looks pretty good, the $250-300 price tag was a deal breaker for my initial foray into kiltedness. I mean who wants to pay that much money to try something out for the first time? But I was not going to give up that easily, so I kept searching online.
Enter the Mountain Hardwear Elkommando kilt. At 75 USD MSRP, it’s is a fraction of the cost of a Utilikilt! Chalk it up to good timing or whatever, but I was able to score one of these on REI’s online store for about $50 on sale back in 2012. I think I even got the last one available in my size. By the way, the Elkommando name is a tongue-in-cheek jab at “going commando” (slang for no underwear), as is the tradition when wearing a kilt. Leave it up to the “edgy” crowd at Mountain Hardwear to come up with such a cool name! And yes, it does feel really good to go commando in a kilt. It’s a whole other dimension of comfort wearing one of these vs. underwear and trousers.
The Elkommando is designed for hiking, which means it differs from “traditional” tartan Scottish kilts in several ways. Indeed, I’ve seen it noised about on web forums that it’s not “truly” a kilt, nor are any of the “modern” solid color non-wool un-bifurcated male garments (UMG’s). But purists often let the perfect become the enemy of the good, as it were, so we won’t pay them much heed in this article. They can keep their heavy expensive tartan wool kilts, tall-ass kilt hose (socks), and sporran fanny packs for all I care. Anyway, I digress. Like I was saying, the Elkommando is a hiking kilt, which means:
- Lighter weight synthetic material in solid earth tone colors.
- Slim internal cinch belt which will not interfere (much) with the hipbelt of a backpack.
- Snap at the center of the bottom hem so you can opt for some modesty if you don’t want to expose yourself around females. I remember an article written by a woman hiker of the Applachian Trail wherein she bemoaned how much “junk” she had been exposed to by kilted male hikers on the trail who were squatting down around their cookstoves. I personally never plan to use this feature. Deal with it, people!
- Nice big side pockets to carry stuff.
The Mountain Hardwear design team certainly put a lot of thought into this, and it shows. They are also evidently pretty popular, as they are usually sold out soon after the seasonal production run has been released for sale. If you are interested in getting one and see one in stock somewhere, GET IT NOW. Don’t wait, or it will be be gone before you get around to thinking about it again. This spring, I bought four more of them, two at Mountain Hardwear’s website last week, and then two more from REI again today. Soon after I bought mine from the manufacturer, that size was listed as “sold out” on their website. Looks like I grabbed them just in the nick of time. Yes, these kilts are that good that I want several extra in case they stop making them. Hopefully, they will grown in popularity, and the increased demand will ensure their continual supply, but you never know.
Now the Elkommando was my first kilt and is still my favorite for hiking, but I have other kilts as well. The second kilt I got is a SportKilt solid olive green. It’s super simple and while not “fancy” enough for wearing out on the town, or good enough for hiking, it serves as my “house kilt” for bumming around at home. I also have close to a dozen “modern utility kilts” from Brice at UTKilts.Com. These are super values at 65 USD, and while not perfect in quality or design, they are pretty darn good! I also recently discovered the Damn Near Kilt ‘Em (DNKE) brand being sold on Amazon.Com. Theirs are a slight cut above UT Kilt quality but do not cost much more, at least for their Sport Utility Kilt or “SUK” (but they do not suck). There are probably dozens more kilt brands out there, but I am pretty happy with what I have so far.