It’s been a year of trial and error because no matter how many product reviews you’ll read, there’s no better review than of your own experience. I’m certainly not the one to have the latest equipment as Rik and I are bargain hunters (we’ll pay for good quality tho) and as I work in marketing, I know all of our colourful ways…
These are some of things that I’ve picked up this year and couldn’t do without quite frankly and here they are!
MTB Helmet – Fox
When I got into MTB last year, I borrowed enough helmets to know there’s no helmet quite like your own and the traditional ones used for road cycling just didn’t do the job for off- roading. I had quite a few nasty accidents and always found that the these types of helmets dug into my forehead. So I opted to what’s known as a ‘piss pot’ (glamorous aye) and picked it up from the bike Shop at Coed Y Brenin on sale for £35. I like this shape of helmet because it’s moulded to the head perfectly and it’s padding is super comfortable and the vents stop the sweaty head you get from going at it like a crazy person.
There’s a handy article here for helping you to choose the right type of helmet.
Camping Stove – Go Outdoors
Before we went to Cornwall, I bought quite a large camping stove which was great if you’re camping in one place for a while but not so much if you want to hike and camp. Weight is everything when you’re on the move and since we’ve taken to wild camping, we needed to upgrade. Now, everyone has raved on about the Jetboil and I’m sure they can justify the price too as they’re good. However, I was bargain hunting so took a trip to Go Outdoors and was taken in with a stove so small and light for £20 that I couldn’t resist!
And it’s been a gem, it’s folds away in a tiny case so it’s easy to carry and the butane cylinders are cost effective too (under a fiver). It takes around 1 minute to boil water for two cups of tea and 2-3 minutes to warm up already cooked soups and noodles. It’s got a great range of flame also so you can have it on really low, in between, and high. I think this is important because it means you’re food’s not over cooked or warm on the outside and cold in the middle which is common when you can’t control the flame.
Hiking Trousers – Jack Wolfskin
There was a closing down sale early on in the year in a little Welsh village’s outdoor shop so I had a peak. I picked up a pair of green Jack Wolfskin zip offs for just £25 (originally £80) and look similar to these. Although they’re men’s trousers, they’re a good fit. I got a 32inch (I’m a size 14 on the hip) but I wear men’s trousers on my waist rather then my hips so a smaller size was fine. I’ve never worn them zipped off mainly because it’s been cold but they are super comfortable, water resistant, wind proof. quick drying and kept my legs warm (even in the wet when I’d forgotten my waterproofs!) Out of all of my trousers, even my Teflon ones, these are my favourite and I’m looking at getting some more from their line.
Winter Coat –Mountain Warehouse
I got a Zenith Womens 3 in 1 jacket sent to me and I’m due to do a write up of it but in short I’ve really enjoyed using it. It’s a three in one with a wonderful padded thermal jacket inside which you can wear on its own, it’s got tapered zips and a load of pockets, detachable hood and it’s blummin warm and waterproof. The under arm ventilation sold it to me as this is where I get hot the most. It’s somewhat heavy until you get used to it (I’m still in summer mode) but the mouth piece which protects from the wind folds out of the way quite nicely when you zip it down a little – I find in other coats, it’s starched or sewn too much so it’s constantly hitting you in the mouth but not with this one!
35 L Day Hiking Rucksack – Mountain Warehouse
I love this and you can read my review on the Mountain Warehouse Saker 35 L rucksack but in short, I’ve taken this everywhere and I’m still discovering extra storage pockets. It’s perfect for a long day hike and although I have took it camping, there’s no hooks for the likes of sleeping bags and ground mats so it can be awkward but it’s not made to be used like that anyway. This bag has been fantastic overall and I’m looking forward to upgrade to a 60 L.
Hat – RAB
Now I don’t know too much about these guys other than their clothes are pretty pricey but they’ve got such a good reputation. I got this hat whilst in Betws Y Coed for only £15.
It’s really light and soft on your head and it keeps me extremely warm too. It’s super stretchy so I can pull it over my ears.
Socks – Regatta
Now I own a lot of Regatta and quite frankly I’m not overly keen on everything they do. Their quality lately sucks yet that’s reflected in their low pricing. Although they do have some really good product lines like they’re hiking socks and fleeces. I don’t think I thought I’d ever ask for socks but owning a few pairs of Regatta ones, I totally am!
These are the few things that have stood out for me this year but recent additions like GPS and flints and have made a difference too. I really wish I could say I’ve been blessed with a good pair of walking shoes but I haven’t. I’m flat footed on the left side so I find it a challenge to get a good fit – I’m even considering a custom fit if my bank balance will allow it.
I’m putting together a wish list in my next post but I’d love to see what pieces of kit and clothing you recommend.