Is It Time To Start Running In A Sport Kilt?

Written by BarefootDawsy

Sport KiltIf you’re like most people, then chances are you’ve never had the opportunity, nor the inclination, to run without pants on. I was in the same boat only a few short weeks ago, before the opportunity presented itself, and I was able to try it for myself.

Luckily for the general public, this came in the form of a pleated length of plaid fabric, otherwise know as a kilt! Or, in my case, a Sport Kilt.

When I first heard about kilted running, I thought that the idea was a bit
crazy. I’ve worn kilts before, and the idea of running around with a couple kilos of
heavy wool around my waist was far from appealing. But when I heard that a
US company was making lightweight, sweat-wicking kilts as activewear, I knew
I had to try one out.

The Works Sport KiltAs a barefoot runner, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m a bit different to most people. I take my running very seriously and came to barefooting as a way to improve performance and stay healthy.

It took a bit of a leap to make the transition to barefoot running, but in the end, it has been rewarding and exhilarating. I’m finding the same thing with wearing a kilt.

I live in Australia, where the summers are hot, and winter is only a mild improvement. Finding ways to stay cool is a constant challenge, especially when coupled with the need to stay protected from UV rays, etc. Sport Kilt has given me a great new tool in my arsenal to help with this.

I’ve been lucky enough to have the chance to review 2 different styles of kilt: A Hiking kilt and a ‘The Works’ kilt.

Sport Kilt - Hiking KiltThe Hiking kilt is a lightweight, athletic kilt that’s as minimal as a kilt can be. It’s essentially a piece of pleated fabric that wraps around you and is secured with thick velcro around the waist. The velcro makes it really easy to get on and off, and will come in handy when I have to let it out over the holidays!

Sport Kilt - The WorksThe Works kilt is a slightly thicker, dressier version of the hiking kilt. It has sewn-down pleats which improve the way the kilt hangs, and lend it a more fancy feel. It has lovely leather straps and metal buckles, as well as the hidden velcro fasteners, that make it look more authentic and dressy. On top of all this, it even has nice hidden pocket! I would wear my Works kilt to a wedding or formal occasion just as easily as I’d go hiking in it.

For testing, I’ve worn both, mainly for trail hiking and running, and usually in warm weather.

I found that performance-wise, the hiking kilt was much better for trail running. It’s very lightweight and super comfortable. The only real drawback I’ve found is that I’m reluctant to sit down in it, as I don’t want to get it dirty…though this makes me run more, so may not be a bad thing.

The Works Sport Kilt BucklesThe Works kilt is a more formal, yet still rugged kilt, that would be well suited to tournaments and spectator sports. I can see highland gamers wearing these, for example. As the weather cools off, I can see myself wearing my Works kilt more and more for hikes as it sits a bit nicer and is slightly heavier than the Hiking kilt.

Running in a kilt is to running in pants what running barefoot is to wearing shoes. It’s cool, and airy and makes you feel alive and in touch with the elements. I’ve yet to try it in the cold, so I can’t comment on the inverse conditions, but for the heat, it’s been a godsend.

There is a perception that wearing a kilt comes with a lot of baggage that may put you off. What if you’re not Scottish, or want to wear something underneath?

The truth is that this stuff is only an issue if you choose to make it one. If you’re Scottish and want to show off your heritage, then go for it, if not, there’s nothing stopping you from picking a pattern you like and running with it. You don’t even need to go plaid, as Sport Kilt also have a bunch of camouflage kilts too. As for what to wear underneath, that’s up to you, and regardless of what you do or don’t wear, it won’t stop people from trying to guess!

The thing is, a Sport Kilt is just like any other piece of running gear. You put it on, and go do your thing. It doesn’t matter if you want to wear compression tights underneath, or if you don’t have a family tartan. If it feels good and you like how it looks, then just wear it!

Sport Kilt Tartan Black Stewart

Altogether, I was really surprised at how well the Sport Kilts felt. They were light and airy, and did the job of keeping me cool beautifully.

Despite being made of high-tech materials, these kilts come in at a fraction of the cost of a traditional kilt (starting from ~$80). If you’re a barefoot runner, the money you’re saving on shoes would be well spent on one of these.

Will I wear it for every training run? Probably not, but it’s become one of my go-to trail running outfits, and will certainly feature prominently in future races!

Beginning Barefoot would like to thank Sport Kilt for providing sample kilts for review. If you’re interested in trying one out yourself, head over to SportKilt.com and check them out! 

All photos taken by Sam Dumworth

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24 Responses to Is It Time To Start Running In A Sport Kilt?

  1. I know off a barefoot runner here in Winnipeg, Manitoba that wears a kilt to every race event he enters! I’m sure it would come in handy on trail runs when you need to visit the outdoor facilities!

  2. Men's Skirts says:

    Hi Barefoot Dawsy, Where about in Australia are you? I am from the Gold Coast and am a passionate kilt wearer. I am also the administrator for http://www.facebook.com/mensskirts which promotes unbifurcated garments for men as a part of modern day men’s clothing; in particularly we promote the kilt. The popularity of kilts as a part of everyday men’s wear is growing rapidly in the west. Another kilt you may be interested to try is the Elkommando kilt from Mountain Hardwear, designed specifically for hikers.

  3. Pingback: Running skirts – a review for men | Running in NJ

  4. Re: Sportkilt used as a running skirt.
    Great idea – although I would recommend less length of a kilt to reduce wind resistance
    and loose fabric with every step.
    Instead of the Hiking or Team kilt go to the (Women’s) Mini-Kilt 14-16 inch hem or if you
    want to reduce the resistance to next to nothing go for the Ultra Mini Kilt 12 inch just make
    sure you have a supporting clause in you running contract – modesty issue.
    One other caveat about the SportKilt is how the kilted wrap skirt fastens. Make sure the
    Velcro is adequate and holds or wear a belt or get the kilt with the kilt buckles/straps.
    Best to have Velcro the full length between the aprons.

    • Interesting idea! I’ve read of a few guys hitting the roads with running skirts lately, and they say similar things. Personally I like the sensation of the extra fabric, but I’m not trying to break any land speed records so, for those that are, this seems like good advice. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Pingback: Running skirts – a review for men | Running In NJ

  6. Willem says:

    I have been wearing kilts since 2004. since then I have thrown away all my shorts, and now wear kilts more than pants. I run barefoot occasionally and am barefoot as much as possible at other times.
    Nothing is worn under the kilt because nothing needs to be.

  7. That’s awesome, Willem! Out of curiosity, how has your kilt wearing been perceived by others?

  8. Allen D. says:

    It has been a few years since you wrote this review about running in a kilt. I have started to do some personal research on the benefits/ acceptability/ commonness of kilted running. I am planning to do the Marine Corps Marathon this coming October 25, 2015. I am wondering if you know of an increasing or decreasing trend in the wearing of kilts by men in such events. I know Sportkilts still sells many different items, but am interested in personal knowledge by someone who has worn a kilt. Do you still run kilted, or have you transitioned back to shorts? I’d like to try a kilt, but I am weary to purchase one if it will later go unused. Thanks. I hope to hear from you.

    • Yep, I still run in my sport kilt, but mostly on special occasions these days. I still love the feeling if running in a kilt and woukd definitely still recommend it.
      The uptake of kilted running hasn’t been as pronounced as I would have liked and indeed it’s still rare to see kilts at running races.
      Having said this, I’ve noticed a bit Kore interest from the military quarter. I’ve been seeing a lot more photos this past year of military men competing both solo and in teams wearing kilts.
      I think a race like the Marine Corps Marathon would be an excellent choice of venues for a kilt. It can be a memorable part of your kit and if you’re planning on fundraising, it can provide enough novelty to turn a few heads.
      Sport kilts are quite reasonably priced, and often have deals, especially on their military designs, so even if you only train with and race in it for just this one event, it’s a worthwhile option, and will make yoir experience that much more memorable.
      Best of luck in your race! Be sure to send some pics once you cross the finish line!

  9. R. M. Anderson says:

    While I do not do any race running I had earlier posted about getting a shorten version of the SportKilt. Get the women’s shorten Mini-Kilt in about 14-16 inch length to reduce
    the wind resistance factor of the skirted apron and of course plan to have a supporting clause
    in your contract with nature (underwear be it a thong or just a bikini panty). One could also
    consider the 12 inch Ultra-Mini-Kilt. In either event with these lengths you would be covered
    at least to the same extend as those wearing minimum running briefs you can of course go
    sans under anything with caution !
    For serious marathon and long distance runners weather permitting minimal attire is best
    to reduce weight and wind resistance – the original Olympic marathon runners ran in the nude !
    The novelty of wearing a kilt in a running race is not so much a big deal. One can run in a skirt
    or take a skort and cut out the panty liner – you are still running and participating in the race.
    A serious runner will be disciplined enough to avoid making pit stops or plan accordingly
    to reduce the loss of time in the timed event.
    If you win the race of course you will not have much time to change into something else seeing
    that you will interviewed and photoed and presented with your prize.
    If not well realistically you didn’t place in the contest so you can go off and change or not
    whatever you feel comfortable in doing.
    Hey But Wait !!! There is a consolation prize for the most unique running gear sported !
    So do you feel lucky being that guy ?
    And for you Marine Corps Marathon runners – “Semper-Fi” !

  10. R. M. Anderson says:

    This Marine Corp Marathon – is this near Camp Pendleton CA.?
    You should know that SportKilt is located in Long Beach just up the 405 from CP.
    Website has the address located in the Signal Hill section.
    I am sure a personal visit would result in a custom kilt for the Marathon !

    • Allen D. says:

      Thanks R.M. The Marine Corps Marathon takes place in Washington D.C. in October. Weather can fluctuate greatly from the time of the start to the finish. I am slow and steady, back of the pack kind of guy. I definitely need comfort with all the time it takes me to do that distance. I will continue my research, but what I have found since I posted last night convinces me MANY other guys prefer the advantages of a skirt/ kilt to shorts or pants. I’ll contact a couple of the sellers to ask some targeted questions. I’ll have to start coordinating colors, because I’m sure neon yellow DOES NOT look good with Marine Corps Tartan.

  11. Seems as if you’re still around and replying to questions, Barefoot Dawsy? Hope so…

    I’m NOT a barefoot runner. In fact, I’ve only just taken up the sport in the last two months. I wear running shoes. I figured I wear a kilt while doing woodworking, though, so it seems appropriate my inaugural 5K race should be a Kilted 5K. As a result, I’m signed up for one in April.

    As you indicated, I have no desire to run in my 12oz weight tank. It is terribly formal and I’d hate to sweat in it like that. Plus, it is a traditional cut, worn high around the navel, and I don’t think that would at all be comfortable for running. In fact, it would restrict breathing to the point that running might prove difficult. So, like you, I’m looking at the Sport Kilt.

    I was wondering what the length was on the kilts you received from Sport Kilt. Was it the standard (22.5″) length? If so, how did that feel? Would you have preferred something a little shorter? I don’t mean the 14″-16″ skirt as suggested above, but maybe the 21″ or 20″ length option?

    I agree with you; it should still be a KILT you are running in and not a woman’s skirt, but I wonder if the 22.5″ length is just a bit too long. Would love to hear your thoughts, especially after a few years of kilted running.

    Cheers,

    Ethan

    • Hey Ethan, yep still around fielding comments…I might even write another post again soon 😉

      I’ve got 2 sport kilts now and they’re both Standard length. I’ve never had any problems with them being too long. With the pleats you get a full and unrestricted range of motion, and there’s plenty if airflow. The only reason I might consider going shorter would be that you can feel the fabric as it brushes your lower thigh area. This can be a bit distracting at first, but I quite like it all the same.
      The only super important bit of advice that I can offer is to leave the sporran at home 😉 Apart from that, go for it, you’ll be hooked, I promise.

      • Heh. Wasn’t planning on wearing the sporran. 😉 And also not planning on going full trad, either. I just can’t see being comfortable running like that for a full 3 miles. Plus, I’m by no means modest, but I’m also not going to not wear something underneath when I’m running and there’s a chance of flying, flapping pleats showing more to people than they should expect to see. No problems with full traditional in my formal kilt, though.

        I think I figured out the solution. I’m going to measure out 20″ on a towel (folding over the rest) and wrap it around my waist so I can get a feel for where that hits on my legs. Then do the same for 21″. Should give me a better idea. My 12oz wool kilt just has a 21″ drop, anyway, so I’m definitely not going with the 22.5″. Might be my thighs are not quite long enough?

        Anyway, thanks for the reply/info! Appreciate it!

    • R. M. Anderson says:

      A kilt is going to be a lot heavier in weight and character than a skirt. In both cases however the
      frontal area is going to have that flat panel windshield that shorts and briefs do not have. This
      could be a problem for some runners having to push the wind out of the way to make progress.
      A longer kilt or skirt presents more of a problem fighting wind resistance. Thus wear as short
      a kilt as you can to minimize it. Basically even running into a headwind the kilts twin aprons
      are going to keep you adequately covered. If you subscribe to the authentic Greek form of
      running sans under supporting gear you may need a kilt pin or two to prevent the aprons lifting
      and revealing that fact. SportKilts start at 12 in hem length (Ultra mini-kilt) and finish with the
      full tank effect 24 inches standard at the knee. So run with as much kilt as you can manage.
      And as noted YES ditch the sporran. Running is to be appreciated with minimal clothing for the
      best performance. So even the SportKilt Ultra Mini-Kilt(skirt) will just barely qualify for that minimal
      clothing. Heck speed racers wear speedos and not for swimming.
      Good Luck – or as they say on the stage “Break a Leg” !

      • Beautifully said 🙂

      • I’m only mildly concerned with time, so not at all a speed runner. Just want to have fun with it.

        I am, however, interested in wearing a man’s kilt while I run and not any of the women’s kilt options. I’ve been wearing kilts for about 10 years now; can’t quite picture myself in something that is just 16″ long.

        I agree with no sporran, though. It’s a bulky thing I sometimes wish I didn’t have with me when I’m normally wearing a kilt. But it is good for holding stuff. My favorite sporran is a Thorfin I picked up many years ago. The way to go, as far as sporrans go, if you ask me.

        Most of my kilt pins are antique, sterling, and awesome. And none of them has the best latching mechanisms. I’m constantly checking them and I use a bit of rubber band in the pin to act as a safety catch in case it comes unfastened during wear. But my XmarkstheScot pin has two solid contemporary push-clip fasteners, so that one might work for keeping the apron down. Good suggestion with the kilt pin. Thanks.

      • R. M. Anderson says:

        Re: the Sporran – well I don’t wear one except for the extreme formal side of kilt wearing with the
        Prince Charlie jacket tux and bow tie. Instead I use a fanny (belly) pack – a kilt doesn’t have native
        pockets and places to stash your gear. When not running I have other attachments to the fanny
        pack belt. When running keep it light and minimal.

        Re: Kilt pins – when running “what me worry” – the pins are not going to hold down the aprons and
        like yourself concern about losing expensive memorable designed pins – just run sans the pins.
        Lose one of those clutch back pins and you are going to have a pointy thing interrupting your
        pace digging and etching into the skin tissue until you stop and do something about it !

        Re: LENGTH of the kilt hem – if you are wearing anything that breaks lower than mid-thigh you
        are dragging way too much baggage – concern about modesty is oxymoron for what has been
        seen in a variety of races be it a marathon half m 10k etc. Of course after a race or run and you
        cool down putting on something more presenting is your option. Remember the original Greek
        marathons were run sans clothing – nothing but skin !

        Re: “Women’s Kilt Options” – First off a Kilt is *MAN’S SKIRT* but like the pants/trousers of the
        more recent past few centuries women have absconded with our pants (tongue in cheek – LOL)
        and now with our kilts.
        The only odd difference defining a ‘women’s kilt’ MAYBE the left hand closing of the wrap aprons.
        But in all other aspects basically it is a wrap skirt. Some of the closing/fastening is done by straps
        with buckles and with the SportKilt* and look alikes Velcro. * SportKilt makes kilts with the straps
        and buckles for a more formal appearance. For running skip the straps & buckles in favor of the
        multi universal adjustable Velcro which can be done on the fly while running.
        Run with the minimal pleated kilt – more pleats result in more weight of the fabric and then again
        you are dragging more baggage than you need to – that is unless you have a habit of running
        before being off to the Queen’s Reception with your embellished fancy double box pleated tartan.
        The full dress kilt outfit is called a “TANK” with some xx pounds of extra heavy weight fabric and
        is measured by the Yard – 8 yards of material is one heck of a lot of kilt and weight ! The SportKilt
        kilts suitable for running in would weigh about a pound and should ideally weigh no more than
        a nylon running brief. And notably that term brief – well I’ll be brief – wear what you feel comfortable
        and offers sustainable protection from wear and tear – and I leave it at that ! We kilt wearers have
        a away with words for the inevitable question of what is – well what is ???

        GOT KILT – WEAR KILT !

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