Hiking Clothes

Hiking clothes....what would we do without them except walk around naked, actually cold and naked, and that’s not a nice thought (or image).


I’ve spent a lot of time choosing hiking clothes, far more time than I’ve ever spent choosing everyday clothes (to which my wife will attest) and that simple fact makes me the world’s expert on technical clothing. Although you may doubt the validity of this self anointed title, it is true.


Onwards. Here’s a list of some of my favoured outdoor gear - I don’t take it all and some items only get occasional use but if it’s here it’s good. The expert has spoken.

Buffalo - www.buffalosystems.co.uk


There is one company whose clothing I’ll take without question on any trip : Buffalo.


If you’re into softshell clothing then the products Buffalo offers are simply faultless.


I own four pieces of Buffalo kit : trousers / ActiveLite windshirt, an original Survival Aids windshirt and mitts. I’ve never had cause to wear the trousers (they’re too darn warm for the hiking I get up to). I’ve owned the Survival Aids windshirt for over 20 years and it’s still going strong (try that with a hardshell top) - this is my cold weather top. The ActiveLite is my latest addition and it’s awesome for warmer weather. Finally, the mitts get packed whatever the conditions - warm, light, compressible, cheap, great.

ChocolateFishMerino


I prize merino wool over most other garment fabrics : it’s light, natural, great with sweat and doesn’t melt if it gets hit by a spark from a campfire. ChocoloateFish make some lovely products but it’s their TeMata neck gaiters that make my kit list. Mine is usually employed as a bandanna or a balaclava.

Buff


Woollen neck gaiters can be a bit warm for the height of summer - the thicker fibres don’t handle vast amounts of sweat as well as thinner synthetic fibres, so in hot weather, I use a Buff (as a bandanna).

Montane Terra Trousers - www.montane.co.uk


Frequently hailed as the best hiking trouser for the money, the Montane Terra pants are a very safe bet. They’re tough, light, resilient to wind and rain and dry very quickly making them ideal for the British climate.


I wear these throughout the year for hiking, twinning them with a pair of Merino wool longjohns for cooler weather.

Paramo Torres Gilet - www.paramo.co.uk


The one in the picture to the left is blue - mine is black which at the moment, they don’t seem to be making. Whatever colour it’s in, the Torres is fantastic. Paramo make excellent gear and if I were to have a second favourite hiking clothing manufacturer, then Paramo would be it. The Torres compresses down nicely, is plenty warm, resists wind and rain (I overlayer it and it’s still warm when soaked through) and combines brilliantly with my Buffalo gear. I’m an odd size so I had mine adjusted to fit.

SealSkinz Socks - www.sealskinz.com


I don’t wear walking boots. Let me say that again with a caveat - I don’t wear walking boots unless I have to (ie in very cold weather). Instead I wear trainers or, if the conditions allow, I go barefoot. I am so tired of hearing things like “if you go hiking, the first thing you need is a stout pair of boots, without them you risk breaking an ankle” or “I don’t have enough strength in my ankles to go hiking without boots”. Why is it that some people think that the second they get off the pavement and strap on a pack they need great muscular ankles to fight the terrible dangers of slippery rocks and the like? More to the point, how do they think that they’ll get any stronger by cladding their feet in such a manner? I’ve seen my fair share of people go over on an ankle and they were all wearing boots. Go figure.


Rant over! Onto the Sealskinz. My trainers have a very thin sole with almost zero heel lift (as close to how nature intended as I can get). To keep my feet warm and dry, I wear a pair of waterproof Sealskinz socks. If you treat them well and protect them from thorns, they last a good long while and add waterproofing to any footwear.

DD Poncho


Ponchos - love ‘em or hate ‘em, I don’t care because I love mine or more to the point, I love my DD Hammock poncho. I consider this to be the Range Rover of ponchos - it’s heavier than other ponchos but it’s seriously tough and built to last. You can also use it as a shelter but unlike other ponchos, it can be used as a proper shelter not a pretend one that’ll curl up it’s toes at the first sign of bad weather. Highly recommended.