Rupert Parker, no stranger to mountain terrain, reviews some more of the latest outdoor hiking gear.
Whether you’re climbing mountains, cycling around the park or just exploring a city, it’s important to dress for any change of weather. I’m always conscious of weight and like clothing that packs small, yet is eminently flexible and, most important, can cope with all conditions.
Vaude Men’s Farley Stretch T-Zip Pants II
These stretchy pants convert into shorts at the flick of a zip and have Velcro adjustable waist and bottoms so are eminently flexible. I must say they’re extremely comfortable with articulated knees helping you up and down those mountains. The spandex fabric is water repellent and quick drying so able to withstand occasional cloudbursts. The trousers also have built in sun protection as their UPF rating is 40 which only allows 2.4% of UV rays through. There are two zipped pockets on the front, one at the back and another on the leg.
Weight: 410 g
Vaude Men’s Fluid Full-zip Pants II S/S
It’s always a hassle putting on waterproof trousers but these have full length zips on each leg so you don’t have to take off your boots. They’re also handy for those unexpected calls of nature as you can unzip them from the top. The two-layer fabric is waterproof, windproof and breathable and there’s a mesh lining. The waistband is elastic, and Velcro flaps cover the zips keeping the water out. They’re slightly on the heavy side because of the zips but that’s the price you pay for convenience.
Weight: 400 g
Vaude Men’s Miskanti Fleece Jacket II
This stretchy fleece hoody jacket is eco-friendly as it’s made from wood cellulose with no microplastics to pollute the seas. It’s comfortable, shiny on the outside with the inner feeling soft and silky against the skin. Lycra bindings on the cuffs, hem and hood keep the wind out. They say it’s moisture-regulating, quick-drying and odour inhibiting, although I didn’t wear it long enough to test that aspect. There are two front zip pockets and it’s relatively lightweight. Fit is slim so you might need to go for a size larger than normal.
Weight: 310 g
Vaude Men’s Scopi 3L Jacket
Another one for the rain, this time a lightweight three-layer jacket, stripped down to basics, which packs down small into one of its side pockets. It’s made from Vaude’s own Ceplex membrane which is waterproof, breathable and windproof. Double zips in the armpits allow ventilation and the cuffs are Velcro adjustable. Two zipped side pockets, as well as a front pocket, means you’re never short of storage space and there’s a drawcord at the waist, adjustable with one hand. I like that it’s cut long so offers some protection below the waist and the hood is large enough to cover a climbing helmet.
Weight: 277 g
Tilley Merino Beanie
Canadian company, Tilley are famous for their celebrated hats, but they’ve now ventured out into beanies. They’re not cheap but as you’d expect they’re made from sustainable and cruelty-free OEKO-TEX® approved merino wool to a high spec. This is an extremely versatile fibre that’s naturally breathable, anti-microbial and comfortable next to the skin – no itching. It also responds to changing body temperatures, keeping the wearer warm when it’s cool and cool when it’s warm. The beanies are double-layered, have a hidden stash pocket and are available in both lightweight and standard versions.
Darn Tough Light Hiker Crew
These socks are made in Vermont USA and come with an unconditional lifetime guarantee. They say that if you don’t agree they’re best fitting socks you have ever owned, then you can return them for another pair. I like the mix of 54% Nylon 43% Merino Wool 3% Lycra® Spandex which ensures a tight fit and also fast action wicking – moisture is pulled away from the skin and they dry quickly. They’re also seamless and naturally antimicrobial. The soles have light cushioning and the socks come in no show, micro crew and standard crew versions, depending on what shoes or boots you’re wearing.
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Although you can often get good discounts online, I find that there’s no substitute for trying on the clothing as sizes vary between manufacturers. On a long days hiking it’s also important that your body has enough space to breathe, particularly in the rain, so I always err on the larger side.