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This week at travelpod we’re exploring everything you need to wrap yourself up in to explore the beautiful season of Autumn. Our recommendations will ensure you stay warm, dry and naturally stylish.

There’s now an abundance of choices in the jacket and outerwear department, and an option for every environment and change in the weather. A lot of the examples we cite below pack away into small bundles so are perfect for shoving in your rucksack.

Let’s start with an affordable brand, in the shape of the Craghoppers Compresslite Long Jacket. A great product at an excellent price point, it’s lightweight, windproof and insulating with extra length version for superior cover. As the gold standard in lightweight, packable insulation, this jacket offers excellent wind and cold resistance; and packs away into the included stuff sack for easy storage and transportation.

Our reviewers loved the extra length of this jacket as well as it’s style, comfort and washability.

www.craghoppers.com

                              The Sprayway Vela Jacket is a stretch side panelled hybrid Mountain jacket.

The Vela is constructed from Windstopper® and is built over a layer of synthetic insulation which is enough to feel comfy over a tee-shirt or baselayer in low temperatures.

The stretch side panels allows a good range of movement on the Mounrtain or Hill but the jacket works best when worn with a proper waterproof stashed away for anything a bit naughty weather-wise. The fit is slim and technical, with no activity being limited by the Vela.

www.sprayway.com

The shell of the Helly Hansen Verglas jacket is constructed with a ripstop fabric called Pertex for durable, lightweight protection. It’s treated with a DWR (durable water repellent) coating — droplets of water run right off of your back. The chevron quilting is insulated with 700+ fill European goose down. An adjustable hem is slightly rounded in the back for extra coverage, and raglan sleeves make it easy to layer with either a base layer or sweater. Finishing the Verglas a full-length zipper, two zippered front hand pockets, and Lycra cuffs to seal out the cold. We found this jacket among the warmest we tested, and really liked the fashionable style. The jacket runs a little longer than usual which is great for keeping out the cold. Can be worn as an outer or mid layer.

Buy at www.hellyhansen.com

For incredible warmth, but perhaps less points on the style stakes, we opt for the Snugpak Softie Jacket 9. Designed for the winter months with a permanent, adjustable, insulated hood for extra warmth around the head, neck and face. 
You’ll be comfortable right down to -10°c. The whole range is manufactured in Snugpak’s West Yorkshire factory, quilted on state of the art machinery and hand-assembled by skilled sewing staff. This jacket is often used by military staff who often have to stand guard in cold conditions. If your job, or hobbies, lend to that then we most heartily recommend the Snugpak – honestly, it’s like the warmest sleeping you can imagine. And perhaps as fashionable – but when it’s cold, really cold, fashion tends to be the last thing on your mind.

www.snugpak.com

Not so for Didrikson’s Angelina hooded parka for women. This insulated parka is one of the reasons we love Autumn and winter gear. Excellent craftsmanship and fashion forward design mean this women’s coat will turn heads as well as keeping you warm and cosy.

The jacket has a soft cotton feel yet is highly waterproof with multiple pockets, insulated cuffs and removable fur hood. This sumptous parka looks great but it’s also packed with technology to keep out anything the harshest winter can throw at you. With a highly breathable and fully wateproof outer, inner synthetic insulation and a host of practical day-to-day features such as a media pocket and 2 way front zip, it’s an exceptional winter jacket from a fantastic Swedish brand.

The Angelina is our pick for warmth without sacrificing style this Autumn season.

www.didriksons.com

There are some fantastic options for keeping your feet protected this season and we’ve chosen the best of offer to review.

First up comes the Sorel Campus Boot which is the perfect pair for a walk among the Autumn leaves. The water-resistant suede boot has a soft, quilted back panel and padded ultra-comfortable sole.  Plush fleece lining keeps feet toasty warm, while an adjustable strap across the back  provides a secure fit.

www.sorel.com

Another affordable option is the Hi-Tec Dubois Boot. A comfortable and stylish winter casual boot ideal for chilly days, the Hi-Tec Dubois Women’s Winter Boot is packed full of excellent features. A Dri-Tec waterproof and breathable lining keeps rain and wet snow out whilst allowing moisture to escape, whilst the i-shield coating repels water and prevents stains.

The 200 weight insulated lining keeps feet warm on even the coldest winter days, and the deep tread pattern on the sole offers excellent durability and grip in the worst winter conditions.

Check out the Dubois at www.hi-tec.com

Getting more technical let’s look at the Q2 Ultralight Hiking from Anatom. Designed as an ultra-light hiking boot that is equally at home on valley foot paths as well as in the hills, the Q2 Ultralight features nubuck leather and a Vibram pillow outsole. The manufacturer claims the new boot offers an enhanced level of comfort out of the box with no break-in period required – our reviewer can attest to this, and says these are the most comfy boot out of the box yet.

Anatom also do a reliable hiking pole in the form of the Explorer Walking Poles made from aircraft grade alloy, a great accompaniment to the Q2 boot. Find out more at www.anatom.co.uk

A more contemporary looking boot is available from Helly Hansen. The company calls on 136 years of Scandinavian design, technical experience, and game-changing technologies for its men’s and women’s outdoor, sportswear, and wintersport footwear collections. The men’s and women’s Odin Flow Hiker HT is a high performance waterproof hiking boot with unprecedented temperature control. The Flow liner’s heat-trapping positive and negative spaces give the boot weightless warmth. This boot has a highly modern style which our reviewer praised, and was very comfortable to wear on a first hike out of the box.

Buy at www.hellyhansen.com

Lastly you don’t have to be a child to have fun and splash about in the rain which inevitably drenches us this time of year.

How about the traditional welly? The all new Bogs Tacoma Wellington offers complete waterproofness, with comfort rating to temperatures down to -15C. Buckle details and a stacked heel offer stylish feminine details.

A DuraFresh footbed protects from odours, while pull-on handle. This is some serious fun – so let it rain!

Choose from a range of rainbow colours at www.bogsfootwear.com

Advances in ski & snowboard gear are rapidly improving the environment for even recreational visitors to the slopes. Here at travelpod.ie we‘ve made our picks from the latest gear to keep you safe and warm on the coldest of mountains.

Starting from the top down and first up is Smith Optics’ Voyage Helmet. Using a Hybrid In-Mold construction, the Voyage maintains a lightweight feel and a reduced volume so you can forget you’re even wearing it. The AirEvac 2 ventilates your head completely by pulling cool air under the brim and pushing warm air out through sixteen vents all over the helmet. If you get chilly, you can close the vents with a regulator switch found on top. Adjust this helmet precisely to fit your noggin using single-handed micro-adjustments on a dial system behind your head. A fleeced tricot lining provides plenty of warmth and cushioned comfort that feels like you were wearing a beanie. The removal Snapfit SL2 ear pads are also incredibly warm and comfortable, and headphone compatible.

 

Also from Smith comes the very stylish Virtue Goggles. We found these to be a comfortable fit, with excellent lateral visibility and a flattering profile on the face. These lenses come with a choice of lenses so check out the Smith Optics website for info on which lens suit which conditions. We used the Ignitor Mirror lens for a week of sunny skiing but think an alternate lens like the Blue Sensor would be a good option for low light skiing. Smith also do a photochromic lens which adjusts the amount of light hitting the eye according to conditions. Purists may say a photochromic lens can never perfectly fit all conditions but we have found for recreational skiing they work just fine.

Find out more at www.smithoptics.eu

For the snow fiend who wants it all (interchangeable goggle lenses for varied conditions,

without having to carry a backpack with a spare pair) we present to you the Uvex g.gl 300 Take Off polavision goggles. These have a unique magnetic snapping mechanism which allows one lens layer to be removed, revealing a lighter lens for overcast conditions beneath. The removable lens is made of a malleable non-rigid fabric so can easily be stored in a pocket. When the sun reappears just whip out the outer lens, and the magnets on each side of the goggles snap it back into place. We tried this out on a windy slope and it worked like a dream. The goggles have a slightly larger profile on the face so can be worn over regular glasses.

Find out more at www.uvex-sports.de/en/

For outer wear Helly Hansen provide a complete outfit in the Eclipse Jacket and matching Eclipse Pant. The Eclipse jacket has a feminine fit with waterproof and breathable construction. The Eclipse Pant is a form-fitting stretch trouser emphasizing style and good looks, but with solid construction like boot gaiters and reinforced hems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Helly Hansen Floria Jacket, inspired by ski racers features breathable, waterproof 2-way stretch Helly Tech Professional fabric and is insulated with PrimaLoft. It’s a great quality jacket complete with integrated Recco system, articulated arms and seam sealed. You can rely on this Helly Hansen jacket to keep you warm and looking both stylish and athletic on the mountain.

Find out more at www.hellyhansen.com

 

A gorgeous women’s ski pants is this season’s new Eider St.Anton Pants. These 2-layer and 4-way-Stretch Defender ski pants are feminine, comfortable and soft, for those who likes skiing with a neat look. A higher back gives a feeling of warmth and protection, while preshaped knees offer increased range of movement.

Eider have really thought about what the female skier needs and you won’t want to take these pants off at the end of a days skiing or riding.

See more at www.eider.com

 

 

 

Underneath the jacket we suggest a mid-layer like the SmartLoft Divide, a wool insulated jacket from Smartwool. It features their new SmartLoft Wool insulation around the core with the rest of the jacket made of thinner merino wool. This jacket doesn’t take up a lot of space since the core is the only thing that’s insulated while the sleeves and back are merino wool, giving you a wider range of motion. This clever fabric is machine washable and stain and water resistant, with scoop hand pockets and a zipped chest pocket. Smartwool products are durable and long-lasting – with a jacket this stylish you’ll want it to be.

Buy at www.smartwool.com

 

Let’s talk skins, the vital close-to-the skin layer essential for activity in cold climes. Sportswear brand Odlo have developed an interesting new technology called Muscle Force. Muscle Force provides zoned muscle support which is designed to help conserve energy through the reduction of muscle vibrations in key areas of the body. By minimising this extra energy usage, skiers and snowboarders will apparently be able to stay energised and on the piste for longer. We really like the idea of zoned tailored fabric and Odlo, a highly trusted brand, should be commended for trying this idea out. The fabric looks hi-tech and feels great. It certainly kept us warm though we couldn’t work out if our mid-afternoon energy spurt was due to Muscle Force or that laced hot chocolate. Find out more at www.odlo.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile German brand Falke offer their Ergonomic Sport System Underwear and Socks range. These provide thermal insulation, optimum moisture wicking and fast re-drying through a combination of seamless technology and innovative plush technology. Double-sided material supplies uncompromising comfort: climate-optimised, close-fitting, warm and soft. We think these Falke skins and socks provide excellent quality for their price.

Find out more at www.falke.com

 

Another sock provider are Teko, whose Medium weight organic, chlorine-free merino wool sock wicks moisture effortlessly. The Ski Medium Sock is for those who like a little extra cushion and warmth. They also do a Light and Ultralight Pro range for those who like to go a little faster and don’t need as much warmth. This great range of socks are machine washable, can be tumbled dryed and source their non-toxic merino wool from environmentally sound Argentine farms.

Find out more at www.teko.co.uk

 

 

 

When the light lowers and you are forced to admit that this really is the last run, it’s usually time to investigate some après-ski or shopping. We suggest doing so in the Merrell Decora Sonata Boots. Waterproof full grain and pig suede upper protects while a faux fur collar provides comfort. Waterproof construction keeps your feet while dry low bulk insulation keeps you warm down to -20C. Meanwhile a breathable mesh lining wicks moisture away and an air cushion in the heel absorbs shock and adds stability. The boot sole is slip resistant and provides great traction. We love these boots and can’t wait for it to get colder so we have an excuse to wear them.

 

Find out more from www.merrell.com

 

Another great boot comes in the form of the Hi-Tec St Anton Boot. Thinsulate insulation keeps you warm when the temperature drops. The CMEVA midsole keeps your feet cushioned, and the MDT rubber outsole provides superior grip in all conditions – dry, wet or snowy. These have a wider calf fit than the Merrell boot, so are perfect for tucking jeans into. The generous fur lining makes your feet feel like they’re sitting by the fire, even as all around you snow flakes fall.

 

Buy from www.hi-tec.com

 

Last but not least we think we have discovered the final word in ski backpacks. We’ve searched long and hard for a backpack to take out on a days’ skiing, one that will carry spare gloves, goggles, water and energy bars. One that might carry some more serious gear like a shovel and transceiver if we ventured on a day going off piste or side-country. Any pack that fulfilled all the above demands was usually large, bulky and most unsuitable for chairlifts. In other words there were serious packs for gnarly off-pisters who skinned up and never used lifts. And there were smaller packs which weren’t very well designed for the ski enthusiast. Now Osprey have provided us with the Reverb Pack (in 10 and 18 liter versions) and our problems are over.

Sewn from 420 Dobby poly and nylon, the Osprey Reverb is beefy yet carries all of your mountain essentials without feeling bulky. The Reverb has probes and handle sleeves and a blade sleeve in the back panel compartment for secure carry and quick access. On the front, skis or snowboards are attached via a series of configurable straps. To keep you hydrated, an internal pouch with a hanger holds your bladder of choice, and an insulated sleeve for the hose keeps your beverage from freezing. The pack’s shoulder straps are EVA lined for comfort, while the strap and waist buckles are glove-friendly. After a day using the pack we were hooked. The slim profile means you can jump on and off lifts with comfort and without ever needing to remove the bag. The ergonomic design means you don’t notice the bag during a day skiing, yet it contains everything you might need on the mountain. The good-looking Osprey Reverb adds style and provides freedom – we won’t be skiing without it.

Find out more at www.ospreyeurope.com

Traveling today means tech. The savvy technophile wants to keep their gear near, clear and secure. Here’s our pick of the best bags to keep your laptops, tablets, phones and camera equipment safe, and most importantly, available when and where you need them.

First up is the Portal range from luggage stalwarts Osprey. The large Osprey Cyber is a well made backpack with a quick access slash pocket, grab handle and padded harness – all furnished in typically stylish yet restrained Osprey good looks.

The key feature of the Cyber is the Port window, an easy-to-access sleeve with a transparent window through which you can operate a touch screen, letting you pinch and swipe while on the go. Being able to check your email or read a map in the rain, sleet or snow is a clear advantage we really enjoyed. This pack is perfect for the urban cyclist or city explorer. Also available in the smaller sized Cyber Port.

A more business-like variant is the Beta bag which has all of the same cool features as the Cyber, but in a courier style bag. The entire Portal range from Osprey is a great advance, bringing technology to the forefront of your travel and commuting needs.

Check out the Portal range at www.ospreypacks.com

For the photographers out there the Crumpler name has always been associated with style and durability. The Jackpack Half Photo is the perfect range for the traveling photographer. The top half fits your everyday needs, with room for a tablet/slim laptop, notebook, phone, water bottle and lunch. The bottom half fits a wealth of camera gear, easily absorbing a DSLR camera,  spare lens or two, batteries, charger and flashgun. Ripstop fabric and toughened harness and grab handles means this bag will take a lot of punishment while your equipment won’t. Best of all the Crumpler Jackpack doesn’t scream “lots of expensive camera stuff in here” to potential thieves – keeping you valuable gear safe and secure while you’re on the move.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A really nifty addition to the Crumpler range is the small but beautifully formed Banana Pouch. We’ve long searched for a bag which fits a mid-size compact camera – not a point and shoot, not an SLR with zoom lens. The Banana Pouch finally fits the bill. Available in small or medium the bag is simple, made of water repellent neoprene fabric, with an inner SD card pocket and ergonomic zip pulls. Discreet and thoroughly useful, the Pouch is the perfect traveling companion.

Check out these and other Crumpler bags at www.crumpler.eu

Misty Autumn is upon us, and a last chance to explore nature’s wilds before the harsh winter winds blow in. If you’re venturing out on an autumnal hike, trek or ramble, Travelpod.ie has some great suggestions for stylish gear to keep you protected.

Don’t go anywhere without waterproofing yourself. We suggest covering up your top half with the Sprayway Spectre II Jacket. At 608g this jacket is perfectly packable or stowable in a backpack. It folds up nicely and the extra deep wire-peaked hood rolls away for less inclement conditions. When it’s wild and wet this jacket comes into its own though, providing two-layer guaranteed Gore-Tex waterproofing and breathability. Underarm vents can be opened for when you’ve worked up a steam. Multiple large external and internal pockets allow you to carry everything you’ll need on a hike. Adjustable cuffs and a soft collar complete the picture in this very stylish and secure waterproof jacket.

Available at www.sprayway.com

 

Underneath now let’s get cosy. How about the Helly Hansen H2 Flow Jacket? This fleece jacket has a brand new concept for trapping warmth. The lining has been cut out in a polka dot effect; these holes lessen the overall weight of the jacket while trapping body warmth inside for a long period of time. So much so that we had to use the zippered vents to release warmth occasionally. We found this jacket pleasingly deceptive, and very warm for such a slim profile piece. It also dries very quickly. Attractive lines mean it can easily be worn as a stand-alone jacket, and it will look very good in the pub after a day-long hike.

 

Available at www.hellyhansen.com

Another option for something warm to wear under your waterproof comes in the form of Lowe Alpine’s Odyssey Fleece. This is a full zip fleece jacket with stretch bound hood and cuffs, as well as a drawcord hem and two handwarmer pockets.

Made with Aleutian fleece this is a super-cosy, full-zip fleece jacket that delivers a great fit and outstanding warmth. A snug hood completes this jacket which will keep out the chillest winds.

Available at www.lowealpine.com

 

What you wear closest to the skin should probably be the most comfortable piece in your outdoor wardrobe. Patagonia have teamed up with Polartec and used some of their finest innovations in wicking action to produce the Capilene 2 range of base layers. Fabric is baby soft, smooth and comfortable to the touch. After a full day’s energetic wear, the garments stay warm and dry due to a  patented silver technology which disables bacteria and odours. The material is quick drying, contains 20 UPF sun protection and is machine washable. Available in men’s and women’s long sleeved crew tops, zip necks, and bottom layers, in gorgeous colours like teal, birch and blue.

See more at www.polartec.com

 

 

 

Don’t make the mistake of neglecting your lower half. We see far too many folks out on our hills wearing the latest in protective gear on their top half while underneath they are wearing – denim jeans, perhaps the least waterproof fabric in existence.

The easy solution is to slip on a pair of Sprayway Hydrolite Trousers whose waterproof storm guard will keep you bone dry. Well-made with an elasticated waist, Velcro adjusters, zipped pocket and an included stuff sac; the ¾ length leg zips mean pulling on these over-trousers is an effortless procedure – even if you are wearing denims underneath.

Available at www.sprayway.com

 

The final item goes on your feet. You can never really pay too much for good footwear, especially when you’re planning to stomp the hills and trails. The Helly Hansen Rapide HTXP boot provides a comfortable and durable piece of kit in a very well-priced option. Waterproof membrane technology will keep your feet toasty dry, while the HellyWear toe/heel cap and premium suede upper offers the perfect combination of protection, style and comfort.

Available at www.hellyhansen.com

 

 

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.

Available at www.brasher.co.uk

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!

This jacket certainly lives up to its name, giving the wearer that slightly invincible feeling. It’s ultra-light and ultra-warm, filled with primaLoft® and has been developed in conjunction with professional guides and ski patrollers.

For mountaineers and Alpinists the jacket comes equipped with Recco technology, and works well under a hard shell as a full-featured skiers, boarders or climbers jacket. If the sun comes out the Odin packs away to the size of a pair of ski gloves,  weighing only 444g in a Men’s size XL.

The Odin Isolator is as at home on the summit of Mont Blanc as it is in wet and chilly Irish winters. The Helly Tech® Professional waterproof breathable protection built into the 15D ripstop nylon shell repels water extremely well. 

There are two side handwarmer pockets and a further chest pocket, all reinforced with tape to protect the thin shell fabric. An inner removable skirt, similar to a ski powder skirt keeps drafts firmly at bay. Comes in Men’s and Women’s body-conscious styles and options with and without hood.

See www.hellyhansen.com for more