From Head to Toe and Inside to Out! The basic rules when it comes to clothing for active people in the outdoors is to wear layers. The benefits of this are the ability to easily control your body temperature by adding and or removing layers.
The very top your head., Heat loss occurs through areas of the body which are exposed to the elements and your head is a main culprit of this. A wool or fleece hat will keep that heat in, even in summer on the hills it can be chilly. Another very useful thing is a “Buff” these light weight head scarves are very adaptable and can be used as a neck scarf, sweat band or light cap. The buff will add that bit of comfort to your kit and is light wright!
The Inside Layer closest to your skin. As moisture, sweat or rain, can lie on your skin and chill you it is best to wear a long sleeved shirt made from a wicking material often described as Base Layer. This material wicks moisture outwards from your skin to the next outside layer. These wicking tops are available in various weights, suitable for our various seasons or activities. We would consider this layer vital and would always carry a spare base layer top in our rucksacks to put on when temperatures drop but not enough to justify the fleece.
The Middle Layer absorbing the moisture from your base layer. Generally this layer can be wool or fleece. Wool and fleece stay warm when wet, fleece being lighter and quicker to dry. We would advocate fleece. Like the base layer fleeces are available in different weights suitable for different seasons or activities. Micro fleeces are very popular as are windproof fleeces which have the advantage of keeping a chill wind off the body. Fleeces are available in crew or zip top neck, this is a personal choice, and fleeces with zips allow more temperature control than crew neck types.
The Outside Layer your jacket. Waterproof and Windproof and an essential part of your kit – never leave home without it. The best jackets are made from breathable fabrics such as Gortex or own brand fabrics such as eVent or Hyvent. This fabric allows moisture which has wicked away from your inside layers out. Jackets are feature rich with map pockets and vents, but remember the more zips the more likely a leak. Your jacket should have an attached fold away hood. Other features to look out for are the jacket length, ensure the back is well below your waist as your jacket will rise under your backpack. A jacket which is too short could result in rain flowing directly into you rain trousers. A jacket will be expensive ask for advice in reputable outdoor shops or from other hikers. Also consider buying clearance stock as there are bargains to be had if you look around.
Gloves: waterproof, windproof woolen or fleece. Always carry a pair and a spare pair.
Underwear: try to avoid cotton, Base Layer boxer shorts or briefs are best.
The Legs- walking trousers. There is a good range of walking trousers available, all synthetic material should be adequate. AVOID cotton/jeans as they won’t dry and become very uncomfortable when wet. Mid weight single layer stretchy fabrics tend to be the most functional. Fleece trousers are available and suitable for colder conditions.
Waterproof trousers are another essential part of your kit and available in Gortex and other breathable materials. Light enough and ensure you can get them on over your boots. Waterproofs with a zipper on the outside leg make it easier to put them on, store them in your bag with the zips open.
The Lower Leg. Gaiters: are worn over the boots, directly over your trousers. (Your waterproof trousers would go OVER your gaiters) Gaiters keep rain / bog / stones / dirt and splashes out of your boots. They give the advantage of enabling you to travel through terrain such as heater and gorse without it bothering you too much. Leave No Trace are now advocating the use of gaiters and encouraging walkers to stay on tracks, even if a there are a few puddles on them.
The Feet. Socks: generally two pairs of socks are recommended – light weight pair next to the skin (referred to as liner socks) and a heavier pair over them. Marino wool is a popular choice for these. Make sure they fit and are not too loose, movement in the socks can cause blistering.
Walking Boots, are a very important thing to get right: wear your hiking socks when you try a pair on. Your toe should not be able to touch the top of the boot, nor should your foot be sliding about in the boot. Walk about the shop until you are sure you are happy, if you have the slightest doubt try on another pair. We recommend leather boots for Ireland in general.
- Provide Ankle Support
- Have Good Grip on the Soles
- Be firm on the sole, but not too ridged
- Be waterproof / Gortex layer recommended
Look after your boots, wash them after a hike, dry them away from direct heat sources, stuff newspapers into them which helps them dry. Use a wax on them to maintain the waterproofing.
A 25 – 35 liter backpack is recommended for day use, this should have a waist and a chest strap.
The back should have ventilation or padded gaps between you and the pack itself.
Try it on, most shops do provide good advice about backpacks and should help ensure that it fits you correctly. It should sit firmly on your back and not slip or slide about. The weight of the pack should be on your waist and the shoulder supports between your shoulder and collar bone. Backpacks are generally not waterproof and the rain covers that come with them are not dependable (they blow off and are not waterproof either) it is best to use a dry bag inside your pack. Dry bags are available in all sizes, many people use a few dry bags, keeping car keys, wallet and phone in a smaller bag within the main bag gives extra protection to these vulnerable items.
Food, Drink and Trail Mix
A Whistle – a very loud one, 6 blasts per minute for distress call, 3 blasts is the response
Head Torch – (over 100 lumens preferred)
Personal First Aid Kit
Spare Food (Power Bars are good)
Compass (Silva type 4)
Mobile Phone – Mountain Emergency Call 999, 112 and ask for Mountain Rescue
For wild camping in remote environments a lightweight mountain tent is required. These tents have a geodesic framework which braces the poles and tent against the extremes of weather. They should be light weight, around 2-3kg for a 2 man. Other features: Waterproof fly sheet (outside fabric), a bathtub style ground sheet (inside and floor fabrics). Taped seams. We use a North Face Tadpole 2 DL at the moment, it packs up well (small) and has resisted some severe weather so far. Do your research before buying a mountain tent, they are expensive and are an area where cutting costs could prove disastrous.