Choosing Outdoor Clothing

by HB on July 16, 2012

When choosing outdoor clothing for your hike or climb, you need to ensure you will be cool, dry and comfortable. Layering is the key for all outdoor clothing and I would recommend a 3 layer system i.e. base, mid and outer layer. The aim is to wear the appropriate clothing for the weather conditions you are likely to encounter without being weighed down with too much to carry. It is always difficult to be prepared for unpredictable weather conditions.

You will need different levels of insulation for different seasons, but the benefits of layering is that you can add a layer or shed it as needed throughout your climb or hike.

Base Layer

Your first layer should be a breathable, moisture wicking base layer. This next-to-skin layer will keep you dry and comfortable. The fabric may be lightweight polyester, silk or a soft wool. You may be happy to just wear a base-layer t-shirt on warmer days but will need leggings or a thermal underwear set in very cold conditions.

Insulation Layer

The next, mid-layer is your insulation. The idea here is to provide warmth by holding in body heat whilst wicking away moisture if necessary. You can choose to wear several insulation layers e.g. a shirt, sweater or lightweight fleece and pants or shorts. A long sleeve shirt made from a breathable synthetic fabric is ideal to provide warmth when chilly and can also protect from sun/insects and reducing the need for using sunscreen on the arms. Fleece is always a popular mid-layer fabric as it is lightweight and quick drying in addition to being warm and breathable.

Target Dry Lightweight Waterproof Jacket


Outer Layers and Waterproof Jackets

The third and outer layer is the weatherproof component. The degree of waterproof protection you need depends on the activity and the weather conditions you are likely to encounter. The British Standard for waterproofness is actually very low, so read the labels carefully if you need a jacket or waterproof trousers for extreme weather conditions. Look out for waterproof jackets which are highly breathable and also windproof. Try brands such as Keela for ultimate waterproof breathable protection or Target Dry for lightweight waterproofs.

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Get Ready for Climbing

by HB on July 12, 2012

Safety is paramount when climbing. You want to ensure you have functional climbing products that will stand the test of time wherever in the world you are climbing. In addition to functional, you will want gear which is light to carry and strong enough to hold your body weight. If you are a novice climber, start with an easy access climb and leave those alpine mountaineering routes to those with more experience, or even start off with an indoor climbing wall such as the Climbing Barn in West Yorkshire. Plenty of novices spend years climbing on practice walls before venturing into serious mountain climbs.

Before you buy any of your own gear, do some thorough research on the best ropes, rope control, cams, nuts, karabiners (or carabiners) and slings. You will also need a good helmet, climbing shoes, harnesses and possibly ice gear. The best brands to look out for include Mammut, Vaude, Scarpa and  Petzl to name a few.

You also need to ensure you wear the right outdoor clothing for your climb. A comfortable, breathable base layer, some stretch pants, a lightweight fleece perhaps and a good waterproof jacket. Look out for a waterproof breathable and windproof outer layer for the ultimate protection.

You may have heard the term “rack” being used to describe climbing gear. The items which contribute to your “rack” depend on the type of climbing you are doing. You need to ensure you have enough gear to keep you safe whilst not carrying too much to weigh you down. Like anything, you get what you pay for and as safety is everything, beware of cheap or second hand climbing gear. All gear should have passed appropriate safety standards. It is also important to look after your “rack”, checking for wear and tear regularly and storing in a dry place away from direct sunlight. Dirt reduces the performance of ropes, so you should wash them if needed, which can be done in the bath or washing machine on a gentle wash using a special Nikwax detergent. Always dry naturally.

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