What’s The Difference Between Plus Size, Extended Size, and Straight Size?

Finding your perfect fit among all our new size options.

In case you missed it, our new plus size outdoor apparel is available to shop NOW! We’ve created the same best-selling, award-winning technical gear now available in women’s sizes XXS – 3X and 16W – 24W. 


These new sizes create opportunities to get more people outside, but that starts with finding your best fit. Want to know the difference between all of our extended and plus size options for women? Confused on the difference between size options and want to jump right to our size & fit guide? Read on below. 

What’s a Straight Size? 

“Straight” sizes refer to sizes small through large for women, or sizes 0-14. Straight sizes are more commonly found in U.S. retailers than extended and plus sizes, though it’s more and more common for an average adult woman to fall into the plus size range. That’s why carrying additional size options is more important now than ever. 

What’s the Difference Between Plus Sizes and Extended Sizes? 

Extended sizes are built from the base pattern of straight sizes, which is commonly a size medium. 
Typically, that means taking the base size and expanding it to fit larger or smaller bodies. Extended sizes are written in the form of XS, XXS, XL, or XXL. These sizes will have a shape very similar to straight sizes, with a similar hip to waist ratio in all sizes. 


Plus sizes, on the other hand, are built to fit a fuller waist, which is more common in plus size body types. 
In addition to starting with a different hip to waist ratio, plus size grading also accounts for the way that other proportions and body shapes change as size increases. These sizes are written in the form of 1X, 2X, 3X, 4X, and beyond. Numeric sizes are written as 18W-24W. 


Outdoor Research Ambassador Megan Banker explains why it’s important to adjust that base pattern to a new person because of how shapes change: 
“With all brands, not just outdoor brands, as you start to size away from that medium [base pattern of straight sizes], the proportions get weird. You end up with pants that have huge bottoms or shirts that have shoulders that are too tight.” 

 

Does That Mean an XXL and a 2X are the Same Thing? What About a XXXL and 3X? 

Nope! Even though “XX” might seem to mean “2” just as “XXX” could make sense written as “3,” the way these sizes are written are what differentiates their base patterns: Extended vs. Plus. 

What Is 2XL or 3XL?  

Traditionally, 2XL and 3XL were intended to be shorthand for XXL and XXXL. However, with the increasing availability of plus sizing, these abbreviations led to confusion and are no longer used here at Outdoor Research.

Now That We’ve Launched Plus Sizes, What’s Next?  


We’ve had such a tremendous response to the launch of our plus sizes and extended sizes. And, our community keeps wanting to know what’s coming next. Here’s what we know. 


Will there be more men’s sizes, petite sizes, big and tall sizes, or maternity sizes? We chose to focus on women’s plus size apparel because we found that this group was drastically underserved when it came to technical outdoor gear. Right now, we plan to continue our focus on this group until we’ve fulfilled their needs.  


What about other underserved groups? There’s still so much opportunity to create great gear that gets more people outside. We’re actively looking for ways to do that – whether it’s for people of different genders, ages, abilities, cultures, and more.   
Do you have the next great gear idea? Reach out to our customer service team at info@outdoorresearch.com with your product ideas and we’ll make sure it gets in the right hands. 

Shop Extended Sizes

Shop the Women's Plus Size Apparel Collection