For reasons of safety and to ensure maximum enjoyment of your adventure it is vital that your individual clothing and footwear are adequate for the terrain and prevailing weather conditions. We are more than happy to advise you personally on this matter before you arrive. Email or call us on 0800 5870988 for assistance.
British mountain weather is renowned for its rapid changeability. In order to stay as comfortable as possible it is necessary to adapt ones clothing to changing conditions. We would advise that the use of a system of layers in order to remain warm/cool and dry is the ideal way to ensure maximum comfort. Whilst it is very much a process of trial and error combined with personal preference, there are many excellent products on the market which will assist in achieving the right balance.
The base layer is, in many ways the most important. This is the layer next to your skin and needs to wick moisture away from your body. We would, therefore advise against the use of cotton. Many synthetic products have been created and refined specifically for this purpose and are widely available. A good mid layer, such as a micro-fleece will assist in the wicking process and add warmth if required. Many are also made from a windproof fabric. The mid layer should be able to be easily removed if required, to prevent overheating. In wet conditions the outer layer needs to be both waterproof and breathable, to assist the base and mid layers in the wicking process. The most widely used material with these features is GoreTex, although many manufacturers now produce their own materials, which perform well under all conditions. In windy but dry conditions, lightweight clothing constructed from a material such as Pertex would be ideal, but it is important to ensure that an adequate waterproof jacket is carried in your rucksack for use should conditions change.
Recently, many footwear manufacturers have developed the "approach shoe", like a trainer but with an aggressive sole. These are adequate for lower-level terrain in dry conditions. Whilst an extremely lightweight alternative to conventional walking boots, they lack sufficient ankle support for the terrain we cover on our mountain breaks. We would strongly advise the wearing of a minimum 2 or 3 season walking boot with a good sole unit and ankle support and padding. Additionally it is important that your boots have been correctly fitted to minimise the possibility of blisters, hot-spots or other injuries.
It is also important that your boots have been broken-in before heading into the hills. Wearing new boots around the house for a few days may be sufficient to achieve this. Consider also purchasing a pair of insoles with additional cushioning.
As with walking boots, it's vital that your rucksack fits your back properly. So many variations are now available that it's important to try a few on before choosing. Here are a few tips to ensure you buy the right pack for you;
A good rucksack should distribute 70% of it's weight onto your hips. Ensure that the pack has a well padded hip-belt and walk around the shop with it on to ensure a comfortable fit.
Many larger packs allow you to adjust the backlength; this will assist in ensuring the hip-belt sits correctly. Be sure to carry out this adjustment before putting the pack on.
Ask an assistant to load the rucksack with a realistic weight and adjust the shoulder straps for comfort. If the pack has a lid pocket, fill this too. This will ensure that you can move your head back without the rucksack obstructing you.
Some manufacturers produce female-specific rucksacks with different shoulder straps and a shorter backlength. Be sure to ask if you feel this might suit your bodyshape.
Consider buying a rucksack liner. No rucksack can be 100% waterproof and a liner will ensure that the contents stay dry. You may also like to purchase some smaller "dry-bags" to allow you to separate items in your liner such as spare clothing.