My fellow women climbers know the problem well, how on earth do you go to the bathroom while wearing a harness and roped up to a string of climbers? Well last week at the 2010 Innovation For Extremes conference in the UK, designer Veronica Legg offered up her solution to the problem- Female Urination Device (FUD) compatible women's climbing pants.
Veronica took home the Innov_ex Design prize this year, the same prize Pete Dollman won last year for the Figfour. Veronica was continually frustrated when wearing a harness with normal women's climbing pants. When she needed to go to the bathroom, her clothing as well as her harness belt obscured access to her zip fly. Even when she finally got her pants unzipped, the fly usually ended in the middle of her belay loop. This setup made it near impossible to use a FUD on the mountain without experiencing some sort of unpleasant accident.
Veronica's solution was to design a pair of women's climbing pants that requires no belt or braces and most importantly, has an extra long fly with a two way zipper that zips open from both the top and bottom. Now you no longer need to dig under all your layers to get access to your zipper and you can open it wide enough to comfortably fit in an FUD.
Legendary climber Kitty Calhoun is famous for many things, among them her sewing skills. Kitty has taken all of her Patagonia climbing pants and sewn in a complete front to back two way zipper that makes it easy to go to the bathroom with a harness on. I always thought this was brilliant and wished I had the skill to do the same on all of my climbing pants.
So listen up all you outdoor brands- a full two way zipper for women's climbing pants does not require much design altercation and this is something we women climbers desperately need! I can't understand why Patagonia, one of Kitty Calhoun's main sponsors, never made pants for her with the zippers she was looking for. So please take a note from Veronica and Kitty and start helping us solve our harness-bathroom problem!