Just because there’s a chill in the air doesn’t mean you should abandon all thoughts of the great outdoors. The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is one of the most beautiful times to get out and explore nature with friends and family. Here are some good walking itineraries in Ireland and the rest of the world to get you started.
Because no outdoors hike is a success without the right clothing, this week on travelpod.ie we’re looking at some of the best gear you can buy for walking, hiking and trekking. Whether it’s Luggala, the Scottish highlands or your nearest park, the feel is very definitely autumnal.
To start we’re going to check out the single most important bit of kit, apart from footwear. That’s the jacket of course. Previously hikers and walkers had to decide between waterproof and warm, most often selecting a heat-insulating down under-jacket and a light waterproof to go on top.
Goose down is one of the best things in the world to keep a human warm – but get it wet and you and it are soon damp and cold. So add a waterproof? What a hassle, not to mind an extra expense! And let’s not even talk about the perils of colour coordinating your moss green down hoody with your midnight blue shiny waterproof… But never fear, the boffins have been at work and there are some great new inventions in the area of – let’s hear it – waterproof down.
Sierra Designs were one of the first off the blocks with their revolutionary DriDown™. They’ve treated regular down with a polymer to create a hydrophobic finish on each individual down plume. This finish allows DriDown™ to stay dry longer, loft better, and dry faster than untreated down. A test of the DriDown Gnar Lite proves this lightweight jacket to be warmer than many items twice the weight and volume. Plus it repelled soaking Irish rain with ease. Droplets just rested on the ripstop outer shell until they gave up and slid off to the ground. Nice styling and colours are an added bonus, plus we love the hand-warming wrist gaiters, as well as the tiny stuff sack the entire jacket fits into.
Available in men’s and women’s sizes at www.sierradesigns.com
But what to wear under that jacket you’ve wisely researched and invested in? The very stylish women’s Dash Hoody from Sprayway is made with Becagli Italian stretch fleece and performs fantastically as a mid or outer layer. It won’t look out of place on the mountain or in the pub after a good days hike.
Meanwhile the Aurora fleece is stormproof enough to wear under a light waterproof, like the Gore-Tex Sprayway Eos, which weighs only 500g and packs away into an internal pocket. The snuggly Sprayway Theia is definitely the one to wear when gathering firewood at you weekend rental.
Sprayway products for men and women available at www.sprayway.com
Jackets and mid-layers sorted you’re going to be thinking about what to put on your feet. If you want quality and build but don’t want to sacrifice style you could check out Zamberlan, the Italian family company who have been making boots by hand since World War 1. Their Trekker Boot is lightweight but robust. It has a full grain waxed leather upper with a Vibram rubber sole, and soft calf leather lining around the back and ankle. The inner lining is anti-bacterial and quick drying. Zamberlan boots come with removable washable footbeds.
Zamberlan boots in men’s and women’s sizes available at www.zamberlan.com
Meanwhile the always reputable Brasher have come up with a new version of their acclaimed Supalite II GTX walking boot. Now featuring Pittards full-grain leather these are some of the lightest yet durable boots we’ve encountered, with all the comfort of the customary broad Brasher fit. Comes with a Supalite sole unit offering excellent grip, full leather lining, Memory Foam padded ankle cuff and GORE-TEX waterproof liner. Brasher is an unshowy contender for a quality hiking boot with classically traditional good looks.
Available in men’s and women’s full and half sizes at www.brasher.co.uk
Last but not least what about what about your extremities? Your feet will take the brunt of every mile of your hike or walk. Even if the rest of you is properly kitted out don’t ignore your toes.
The new Brasher’s men’s and women’s specific sock range cleverly not only incorporates the latest fibres, but also uses technologies that have been scientifically proven to offer gender specific benefits. Existing scientific reports show that men’s feet don’t get as cold as women but do produce more moisture, hence the use of Coolmax fibres to keep the feet dry. Women, however, are more likely to feel the cold and therefore Thermo Cool Technology has been used to regulate the body’s natural temperature and act as a thermal buffer.
The range comprises of 4 Season and 3 Season styles, designed to complement Brasher’s range of walking and hiking footwear, including the new Fellmaster GTX and best selling boot Supalite GTX.
Another option for quality socks are those from Smartwool which combine the best Merino wool and the latest advanced technology. Unbelievably soft to the touch and never itchy, SmartWool socks regulate temperature and wick moisture away to keep you dry and comfortable. These socks won’t shrink like the old wool socks or harbour odors like synthetics. Complete the outfit with a Smartwool cuffed beanie to keep your noggin warm and happy.
Available at www.smartwool.com
Now you’re kitted out you’re all set to pore over the maps, prepare the sandwiches and flasks, and head to the great outdoors. It’s out there waiting for you!