This week's tip is one for newbies wondering which kit's worth spending on and where to economise.
If you're just starting off in the outdoors, kitting yourself out can be really daunting. It's hard to know where to splash out and where to save some money, so this week's Monday Tip is all about just that and with some links that might just make your shopping trips easier too.
The good news is that you don't have to indulge in a spending orgy to sort yourself out with reliable, comfortable kit that does the bob and keeps you comfortable. And comfortable is important, if you're in pain or discomfort, you're less likely to enjoy being out in the hills.
Where To Splash...
The three areas we reckon make the most difference and are worth getting right are footwear, waterproof jacket and pack. Boots or trail shoes are the single item that has the potential to cause real misery, blisters and rubbing are a short-cut to utter misery over a long-ish day in the hills.
Good news is there are plenty of brands out there producing perfectly good boots for under £100 – Hi-Tec are excellent on a budget, Brasher has a new fabric boot priced at the £100 mark and there are other options too.
The most important factor with boots is fit, so try lots of different makes until you find one that fits your foot. For loads more detail on this, see our Boot Shopping Tips. Oh, and don't forget to invest in some quality outdoors socks to go with your new boots – good socks with strategic padding make a big difference to comfort.
Waterproof jackets are another are where it's worth getting something that works. Being soaking wet isn't just uncomfortable, it's potentially dangerous in the mountains. The good news again is that there's now plenty of decent stuff around. At budget level, we'd suggest looking at own-brand fabrics from established outdoors names like Sprayway or Berghaus or take a look at the likes of Wynnster, Gelert and Regatta for really good value.
The big plus of an established outdoors brand, is that the designs should be engineered for proper hill use with an effective hood and waterproof and breathable fabrics. For help on how to buy, see our Mountain Shell Jackets Shopping Tips.
Finally, packs are the other area with the potential to give you real pain on the hills – you don't have to spend a fortune, just make sure you load up the pack and try it on before buying. It should feel comfortable on with nothing jabbing into you and not hot spots from straps etc. Oh, and guess what, we have Day Pack Shopping Tips article as well...
And Where To Save...
The good news is that you can economise elsewhere. Budget fleece still insulates well and affordable base layer tops may not wick quite as well as the really top spec stuff, but are still exponentially better than a cotton tee shirt.
And talking of cotton, the last important, but not necessarily expensive buy, is legwear. Simple – don't wear down, just buy yourself some outdoors trousers made from a synthetic, fast-drying fabric and you'll be good to go.
In The Longer Term...
If you get a taste for it, you can upgrade at your leisure using your personal preferences to decide what's worth investing in or not. If you need more input, we run regular reviews and new about the latest and best outdoors kit, plus we have a big series of OM Buyers' Guides to tell you about what features to look out for with different kit.