Waterproofs Just Need to be WaterproofThe basic idea behind waterproof jackets is simple; they should repel water. Combined effectively with a base layer, to remove perspiration from your skin and thermal layers to provide insulation, you’ll find that the final waterproof layer creates the perfect combination to keep your body temperature well regulated and beat the worst of the elements. However, when it comes to waterproof outdoor gear most modern offerings come with an additional range of jargon to confuse and befuddle the best of us. While most modern materials are excellent at keeping water out the main problem with them tends to be design. Poorly designed and badly made jackets can allow water to creep in regardless of the level of waterproofing technology. Over-designed jackets tend to be the worst culprits on this front; with more pockets, zips, flaps and add-ons than is entirely necessary, these seem to be rather too common on the market. They're great if you want to look cool, but if you want to keep cool (and dry) they’re not always the best choice. Stick to simpler designs with adequate, but not too many, pockets. For cycling and running or activities in warmer weather light weight, simple waterproof jackets work well. For harsher climates and conditions and for hiking or mountaineering, heavier weight, robust coats and jackets will work best. Wind-proofing as well as waterproofing can be a consideration with the latter activities in particular. Even if you’re buying online, try to find a store which stocks the brands you are interested in. Don't forget accessories and check out jackets with a favourite rucksack to ensure pockets and zips don’t catch (making them susceptible to damage).
Boots; One Size Rarely Fits AllWhile it’s possible to buy boots, walking and running shoes online (preferable sometimes when Boxing Day or other sales crop up for outdoor gear) it really does pay to try before you buy in this case. Each of us is unique and so, unfortunately, are our feet. One size never fits all, in this case, and especially for serious walkers and mountaineers the right boots are essential. Avoiding sores, blisters and other uncomfortable foot problems makes for a much easier life when out and about enjoying the great outdoors. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice in-store on the best makes, best ways to lace and any accessories that are recommended with a product. While some of us, often mistakenly, think that we can break new boots in, the boot should really be right in the shop and not need too much breaking in once in use. Take hiking socks (or other appropriate footwear for the boot/shoe in question) and try sizes larger than you would normally take. Boots should provide a comfortable experience and plenty of support, but shouldn’t be too tight fitting (especially for winter mountaineering and climbing). If you’re trying before you’re buying some experts recommend the afternoon as the best time of day to do this – mainly as our feet swell more as the day goes on. Also try both boots on as most people find that one foot is slightly different in size to the other, meaning a happy medium needs to be established!
Brand Assured QualityWhile outdoor gear is widely available from real world stores the virtual world offers some distinct advantages. Mostly, the cost factor, (especially around the time of those Boxing Day Sales) is an attractive feature. At this time of year, as we get half way through the winter season, sales become common. Given that trying before you buy is a good plan with outdoor gear (particularly boots and shoes) check on the site's returns policy if you’re planning to shop online for your outdoor wear this winter. Most stores (both real and virtual) will offer a fair refund and return policy, whatever their products, but in the case of outdoor gear it pays to be sure. Brand names mean a lot in this particular market with innovative new materials being created by experienced firms. Cheap may be cheerful but it may also turn out to be damp and uncomfortable in the long run, often it pays to buy brand and keep an eye out for online discounts in order to afford the best products available.
About the Author:
Ben Brown is a freelance writer, determined money saver and hiking and mountaineering fanatic. Here he looks at how to find the best outdoor gear, at the best prices.