After publishing my blog post last week about How I Got all my Outdoor Kit, you guys had questions! One thing that came up was about knowing what’s good kit and what isn’t. Now, I don’t propose to know everything about kit. I have never worked in a gear shop and I can’t possibly have tried all the gear out there. But, what I can tell you is what I’d tell every other friend who asked me.
What I’m trying to say is: what I’ve written below is my completely honest opinion. If I say a brand is awesome, it’s because I really do think they’re awesome. If you met me in the mountains, I would probably be expounding their greatness without even knowing who you are…!
Now, I’m not 100% sure how to do this, so I think I’ll just have to drop in tiny comments and suggestions about my kit preferences and why.
This is where I have most experience. I’ve just been purchasing kit for the outdoors for longer. Plus I have far more walking and camping friends than I do any other adventure/sport.
- Camping – I swear by Vaude tents. They are bomb proof. I’ve had my Vaude Taurus II since my 19th birthday and it has never let me down.
- Mountain Equipment for waterproof hard shells all the way. I can’t remember the exact make of one I have, but although I love it as a jacket the pockets are way too small. Can’t fit a map in it…
- Love Zamberlan boots but only because they fit me well. I used to love Salomon Quests for years, but they changed their manufacturing and they went from lasting 4 years to 3 months before breaking. The biggest piece of advice I can give for boots is go and get fitted. Plus it’s worth paying a bit more for the sake of them lasting.
More on this: 5 things to know before you buy hiking boots
- This year I’ve worn Bridgedale and Darn Tough socks. I like both. This year I tried Stance adventure socks too, but I find them a bit thin for walking.
- I don’t believe in buying nice waterproof trousers. They’re just too easy to trash. I have a pair of Berghaus Deluge because they were the cheapest pair I could get with a full length zip. They got their first hole a year in. That’s what duct tape’s for.
- For rucksacks, I like my Vango Sherpa 60+10. It’s another piece of kit that just refuses to die. For call outs I use an Osprey Mutant – a great size (and great for fitting into aeroplane hand luggage), but not as rugged as the Vango. If you’re looking for a cheap and sturdy rucksack, I’d actually recommend Karrimor!
Well that’s a good start without going through all of my walking kit! Anything else you want to know what I use, just ask in the comments! I love talking about kit…
Mixed Use Kit
This is stuff that I use “in real life” as well as on the hills and mountains. Or things that have more than one good use. For example…
- Need a watch? The best, most durable watches for the outdoors that I’ve ever got are made by Umbro for teenage kids… No, seriously. You can pick them up for a tenner in the Argos catalogue. Waterproof to 50m and no pain if you accidentally scratch them!
- For baselayers, I have a Helly Hansen merino base layer. So that’s all the benefits of HH – minus the smell that they are famous for…
- The Montane rucksack I got for Ireland is fast becoming my favourite commuting bag. Which is pretty weird… But it’s just the perfect size. You can read my full review of it here. Of course, commuting misses off its best function – that it packs up small enough to fit in a pannier or expedition rucksack. Thanks again to Simply Hike for saving us last minute with those bags for Irish 3 Peaks.
I am much newer to buying cycling kit than you might expect. This is because when I first started with cycling, I would just wear normal clothes. Sure it’s not exceptionally comfortable, but it wasn’t dangerous and made it much easier for me to get started. So yes, you can just go for on a cycle tour with clothes from Tesco and a school bag instead of panniers. But, if you’re looking to make some purchases…
- I love Rivelo for clothing. Discovered them just before I cycled to Switzerland and back. Boy am I glad I did – all the other cycling clothes I had at the time felt grim by comparison. It’s also really exciting watching a new company growing with leaps and bounds.
- Still searching for a perfect bike light… Somewhat literally. I had Lenzyne front light that seemed good, but have promptly lost it. It’s got to be somewhere.
- Ortlieb make the best panniers. They are expensive enough to make a broke cyclist cry, but what you get will last forever. Incredibly well made and completely waterproof. Go cycling anywhere in Europe and you’ll notice that’s what everyone else is using too.
Aaand that’s a whistle stop tour of my kit recommendations for 2019. Please – if you have any questions about specific kit or want me to go into more detail about why I like a certain thing (or what to look for), just ask. I love a bit of gear chat and promise to give a 100% honest answer.
Ask me about a type of kit in the comments and I’ll add it to the list!