The first 10 Christmas gifts for hikers and walkers
Stuck for ideas on what to get the hiker in your life? Read on. We’ve come up with a list we’ve organised into a couple of blogs to make it easier for you to find something which will fit your budget and your giftee.
1. Cioch Direct – made to measure water proofs
If your short in the leg, or long in the body, sometimes it can be a nightmare to get gear which fits you pefectly which can be frustrating and irritating when your out and about, particularly for legwear. Cioch Direct use Nikwax Analog material (also used by Paramo) to create waterproof clothing tailored to fit your measurements and the cost is very little more than off-the-peg jackets and trousers.
Jackets start at £200
Waterproof trousers start at £195
2. Down jacket
Down jackets have come a long way from the times when they were alternatively known as “puffer” jackets. There are so many different options you can choose from now and also different weights of jacket; differing sizes of ribbing, hydrophobic or regular down; down/wool combination?
Rab have always lead the way in down but there are a huge number of other outdoor clothing/gear manufacturers now making inroads into their market.
I found a couple of reviews of alternatives on Fiona Russell’s blog which you might want to take a look at.
NB Down jackets are often not the best for Scottish weather conditions as they loose a lot of their thermal potential if they get wet. Hydradown does halp a wee bit with this but the mid to light weight jackets can still leave the wearer feeling chilly in Scotland. Generally speaking many thin layers and fleeces under a windproof, waterproof shell jacket provide the best thermal protection. Down jackets are better in alpine conditions.
3. Base layer
You can’t really go wrong with gifting a base layer, so long as you get the sizing right. It’s always useful to have an extra layer for the winter weather. All outdoor stores will offer a range of “base” layers. The main choice is between synthetic or natural fibres. The complaint in the past has always been that synthetic fibres can start to whiff after quite a short length of time, hence the nickname “smelly helly” for a Helly Hansen top. Things have of course moved on quite a lot but natural fibres like merino wool or bamboo would definitely be preferable. You can sometime pick these up for nominal sums in Aldis or Lidls if you are there when they have the right offer on.
For further inspiration try reading through this review: – http://www.fionaoutdoors.co.uk/2015/11/the-sniff-test-montane-primino-crew-neck-t-shirt.html
4. Silk liner gloves or Dachstein Mitts
It is vitally important particularly in winter conditions to protect your extremities.
You can pick up a pair of silk liner gloves for next to nothing and they’ll always come in useful either for hiking or climbing or even cycling. They’ll protect your hands and give an added layer of warmth under your thick winter outer gloves which mean that you can manipulate delicate pieces of equipment, push buttons, change batteries etc without having to expose your skin to the colder winter temperatures. They could even be a useful stocking filler.
Delicate and dexterous are not adjectives which apply to Dachstein Mitts. Made of pre-shrunk wool, they are not items of high fashion. But when it comes to beating the cold they just can’t be beaten. No fancy designed mountaineering gloves beat them for building heat back up in the fingers. If your friend/partner suffers from cold fingers, they’ll be so grateful for a pair of these, even if they live in the bottom of the pack most of the time.
Last but not least on the clothing front – that old fail safe on the present front – a pair of socks! For a hiker though, the right pair of socks could be something to get excited about. After all it can ruin a good day out if you feet are not comfortable.
Other people have already written at great length reviewing several brands of hiking socks so I won’t add more except to say, that good socks may well be expensive – but they are worth their weight in gold and wool is definitely the way to go as natural fibres reduce the smell of sweaty feet.
Check out the lists/reviews below.
6. An ice axe
We’ve written about ice axes several times on our blog and also in ourFAQ section so we won’t go into reems of detail about ice axe models and choices. Only really a gift for someone you know is about to venture out into some winter challenge/adventure. Possibly not something you’re likely to give as a surprise gift and if you are at all uncertain it’s possibly better to go with a voucher for an outdoor store. Remember if you book acourse or holiday with Scot Mountain Holidays, as a bonus you and anyone else on the course will receive a discount code for 15% off any future purchases with Cotswold Outdoor.
Probably an item that will be specifically requested if you or someone you know if looking to do some winter skills traning or move into ice climbing. Whichever activity you are thinking of, you’ll probably be taking slightly different kinds of crampons into consideration. The important thing is not to get too tempted by cheap versions for sale on ebay, as they really don’t pass the quality mark on the safety front when you present them to your instructor.
8. Winter boots
Definitely something which shouldn’t be a surprise. If you’re looking for some advice for something which would be suitable for winter walking in Scotland, check this out and don’t necesarily listen to the advice of a shop assistant down in the south of the country.
There are a confusing array of headtorches on the market but in order to choose the best one to add to your list or to buy for a friend, you need to know the primary purpose for which you’re buying it. Fortunately UKClimbing have done a comprehensive review of several options on the market. Take a read here:
If you’d also like to take the opinions of users into account then check out the recommendations on the following forums.
10. Trekking Poles
I’m in the market for new trekking poles myself and have to admit that I’m in the never-walk-without-them group. Ever since I started using them, I have found them invaluable. I tend to use them right from departing the car park to returning at the end of a hike, but I have to admit that many of the men I know who hike, have always denigrated poles as they consider themselves srong and experienced enough to go without. However, once taught to use them correctly, they have been known to convert.
I have no idea which pair of poles I’ll end up with, even though I’ve read the reviews listed below. My personal preference is for a click-lock system of extending the pole as I’ve seen the twist action ones fail repeatedly.
Weight is a consideration too, but not to the extent that I’m prepared to pay a huge amount more for my poles.
As I do travel as well, it is useful to have a pole which will collapse to a relatively short length to attach to the rucksack. It is not usually possible to fit the poles inside the pack when it is packed for a week’s holiday and if poles can’t fit inside your pack on a flight, you run the risk of damaging them.
Top tip for pole care: always take your poles apart at the end of the day and make sure that all sections are thoroughly dry before reassembling.
THE FINAL OPTION
Of course, if they already have all the gear, or are extremely particular, perhaps another option is to buy a course or holiday voucher. You don’t have to purchase the full trip. You don’t even need to specify which trip you wish to purchase; you can just purchase a fixed value voucher to be used at a future date against any trip/holiday. Scot Mountain Holidays offer this option as do most other holiday companies and the advantage is that you can have the “gift” ready to give in your email inbox within minutes of clicking “Buy now”.