I spend a lot of time tramping the highways and byways of Europe and usually have to fly there. Low-cost airlines can be pretty strict on weight, so here’s a roundup of the latest gear that won’t bust the scales.
Royal Robbins Range Pants
These are designed for winter hiking, perfect for those snow shoe alpine treks. They’re made from a stretchable double weave soft shell fabric, 90% polyester and 10% spandex. This also repels water on the outside and wicks moisture away on the inside. The trousers have articulated knees and a gusseted crotch, allowing complete freedom of movement and have drawstrings at the ankles. There are two zipper hand pockets, one back snap pocket and one thigh zippered utility pocket. I tested them in Switzerland in the snow and they came away with top marks.
Royal Robbins Range Pant
Royal Robbins Alpine Road Convertible Trousers
Perhaps you’re trekking in warmer climes, then these trousers with zip off legs are supremely versatile. They’re also made with a stretchable fabric, 66% Nylon, 31% Polyester and 3% Spandex and have a gusseted crotch and articulated knees. You can also use them for general travel as they have UPF 50+ sun protection and are quick drying and wrinkle resistant. They say they’ve been treated with a natural anti-microbial odour fighter, although I didn’t wear them long enough to test this. A nice touch is the zippered side pocket which is ideal for stashing your phone.
Royal Robbins All Season Merino 1/4 Zip
This lightweight sweater makes a good outer layer if it’s dry, or under a rain jacket, if it’s not. It’s a pleasantly soft mix of 55% Merino wool and 45% cotton, making it quick drying and it’s machine washable. On the front it has a 1/4 inch zip with a custom Amara pull tab to let the air in and the cuffs and hem are ribbed for increased durability. It’s also great as a general travel sweater as they’ve used that same anti-microbial, to stop it stinking. Best of all, it’s quite stylish and can be worn in more formal situations.
Osprey Talon 22
The Talon brand of rucksacks have been around for over 10 years and this latest version doesn’t disappoint. There’s a new AirScape™ accordion foam back panel which increases airflow and you can adjust the length to suit your size. Used in conjunction with the hipbelt, the straps keep the load close to the body and spread the weight evenly across the hips. All the usual Osprey attachments for trekking poles, bike helmet and ice axe, coupled with zipped pockets on the hipbelt make it easy to carry those difficult items. There’s also a pocket on the top and the front has stretchable mesh storage, ideal for stowing a rain jacket or extra layer of clothing. The pack seems roomier than it should be and I managed to get everything inside I needed when I was trekking between mountain huts.
Hydraulics™ LT 2.5L Reservoir
It’s always important to keep hydrated when you’re hiking but I never like stopping to drink. This 2.5L water reservoir fits comfortably in the space between the back panel and the main pack on the Talon, secured with a hanging loop. It’s easy to fill as it has a slide seal top opening and the bite valve is magnetic so you can stick it to your chest strap. A clever idea is the QuickConnect™ system which allows you to keep all the hoses in place, when you remove the reservoir to fill it. I originally thought 2.5L was far too much, but on a particularly hot day in Slovenia last summer, I managed to drain it all.
Teva Arrowood Riva Mid
Teva are best known for their ubiquitous sandals but they also make tough boots for the most demanding of terrains. These are the mid version, covering your ankles and offer plenty of support and lateral stability. The Vibram sole stops you sliding around on wet rock and extends to a toe cap for extra protection. Interestingly, the uppers are made from a clever combo of leather and synthetics and have a PTFE membrane which makes them both breathable and waterproof. I found them very comfortable and would happily wear them to climb the highest mountains.
Tell Me More About Best Hiking Gear
It’s wise to shop around as, whilst writing this article, I noticed that some of the items were seriously reduced, even on some of the manufacturer’s websites. Sizes can also differ between brands, but if you’ve had gear before from the same company and it fitted, you’re probably OK.