Author Topic: Newbie - too much choice - gear recommendations?  (Read 1381 times)

wacjac

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Hi all,


I'm a complete newbie to all of the 'gear' side of things. Although I have casually worn Rab down jackets and TNF jackets for many, many years 'out and about' but never had any need to consider the 'technical' side of outdoor clothing. I already have Rab 'Microlight Alpine' jackets both hooded and non-hooded, and TNF 'Quest' light waterproof jackets but don't feel these are suitable or where they even fit into the whole layering concept?


I've spent a considerable amount of time online reading and researching but just getting myself more confused - stretch this, coating that?? I live quite a distance from any outdoors shops...the closest being Cotswold Outdoors well over an hour away...but I've always known them to be rather expensive....even despite my 15% National Trust membership discount. I'm happy therefore to buy online. I have a sum of money to spend and really don't wish to exceed it.


I'll initially be doing 10-12 mile day hikes/rambling in a group, but would like to progress to multi-day outings on my own. I wouldn't expect to be out in the very depths of Winter, but I expect to be caught in downpours up in the hills.


Could anyone offer any good recommendations on the following items of kit for me to look into please? I'd really appreciate any pointers/advice.


Base layer - Max budget £40 - Short sleeved preferably, not zipped.


Mid layer - Max budget £90 - Full zipped fleece..... rather not a hoodie if possible unless it's beneficial


Waterproof - Max budget £170 - This is my biggest area of concern, have no understanding of types?


Boots - Max Budget £150 - Leening heavily away from leather boots and towards GTX. I don't have wide feet that I'm aware of, but hate my feet pinched across the width, so a known wider fitting boot it would have to be.


That's a max total budget of around £450....absolute stretch would be £500. Of course, if there's not the absolute need to, then I'm keen to spend as little as possible.


I'm a big fan on Rab, Montane, ME, Patagonia..... other brands most likely being out of my budget. I'm not particularly keen on Berghaus.


I already have a Fjallraven 35 ltr day rucksack and Black Diamond walking poles.


Thanks

richardh1905

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Re: Newbie - too much choice - gear recommendations?
« Reply #1 on: 11:23:41, 17/02/19 »
Firstly, welcome to the forum from Orkney.  :)


Now down to business -

I really wouldn't fuss too much about base and mid layers, but a good waterproof jacket is worth it's weight in gold - and boots must be right for your feet.

You can easily pick up a wicking base layer for less than a tenner (I spent less than that at lidl recently) - even a cheapie will do the job just fine. As for a mid layer - any medium weight fleece will do for all but extreme conditions. Or even a woolen sweater! No need to spend a lot of money.

I have a Gore Tex Pro 'Lhotse' jacket made by Mountain Equipment. This I appreciate is beyond your budget at £270+, but I go out in everything that the Orkney weather can throw at me and it has not let me down - I cannot recommend it strongly enough. Other forum users have the Mountain Equipment 'Rupal' jacket, which is somewhat cheaper, and may be within budget.

Also - do consider getting some waterproof trousers. I know that you don't like Berghaus, but their 'Deluge' waterproof trousers are good.

I'm not going to talk about boots as people's feet are so different. Try them on before you buy, though.







clyoung

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Re: Newbie - too much choice - gear recommendations?
« Reply #2 on: 11:39:32, 17/02/19 »
Base layer - most of the makes do t-shirts made of man made fibres, I like the ones with a Polygiene treatment or equivalent. Pick one in a sale and you should be able to get 2 for your £40.


Mid layer - if you're going for fleece I'm not sure there is a huge difference between the budget brands or something more expensive, other than watching out for the quality of the zips. One alternative I'm a new convert to is Polar Alpha Direct insulation and there are some sale bargains around at the moment (look for Rab Alpha Flux, Montane Hydrogen, Outdoor Research Ascent). It should fit quite snugly over your base layer and wicks the sweat away brilliantly. Not so good if you also want it as a jacket to wear over normal clothes around town though.


Waterproof - despite having lots of Rab gear my one experience of a waterproof jacket from them (Spark) was a disaster. The retailer blamed the fact I'd worn a rucksack with it! Coated fabrics are generally cheaper but less breathable than waterproof membranes (Goretex, Event etc). Goretex Pro might be hard to get in your budget but is hardwearing. If you're not going to be doing any scrambling or trail running I'd go for something with a longer, regular cut that goes over all your layers (including your down jacket) rather than something lightweight with an athletic cut. My husband (reasonably stocky and average height) liked his Marmot Precip (a coated fabric) so much he bought another one when the first wore out but the women's one didn't suit me. They can often be bought for well under £100.


Boots - you really do need to get these properly fitted, Cotswold Outdoor are usually good and they will price match. I've got a mix of Salomon and Merrell footwear, GTX rather than leather.


I walk hot so almost never wear a thick insulated jacket while walking, it's for rest stops. If your down ones are the more recent models with hydrophobic down they might be useful for that. I've got a heavy Primaloft Silver insulated jacket I picked up cheap from Sport Pursuit, sized to fit over everything else, that I use in winter.

astaman

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Re: Newbie - too much choice - gear recommendations?
« Reply #3 on: 11:46:41, 17/02/19 »
I sympathise as I too live a long from a major outdoor store. I have a good idea what size I am in the various items and brands that I like which enables me to buy online with reasonable confidence and one can return and exchange anything that doesn't fit fairly easily. So establishing your clothing and foot size is one essential. Having said that try to get to a decent shop to buy your boots.


It strikes me that your budget will buy good enough kit to get you going even if you factor in a pair of trousers like Craghopper Kiwis (others will have their own preferences). In my view you don't need to go to the top end of the market, there is plenty of gear that will more than meet your requirements within your price range and the brands you mention are all good. There are many people on this forum better qualified than me to recommend specific models and makes. If you've read around you'll know basics like to look for a waterproof jacket with a wire reinforced peak on the hood and pockets that don't get cut in half by the waist belt on your rucksack. A few things that have worked for me are:


Kiwi Craghopper trousers (as I said)


Alpkit Argonaut waterproof jacket (not my best jacket but one that I like and costs well under £100)


Alpkit do a range of mid-layers well within your price range - either fleeces or soft shell jackets. I use a light soft shell jacket without a hood as a midlayer so that I can use it as jacket on dry cool days. Fleeces tend not have pockets. On day walks that are likely to be dry but cool I often just chuck in a light woolly jumper that Mrs. Astaman knitted for me. Easy to underestimate the insulating power of wool, especially Shetland wool which is quite light. Hunt and Hillary used it on Everest. And wool does wick.


Base layers you can also get from Alpkit but there's lots of them on the market and, so long as you don't buy a heavy pure cotton tee shirt, you'll get on fine.


These sorts of options will give you enough change to buy a couple of decent pairs of walking socks too.


I have no vested interest in Alpkit and have never worked for them but they are good.


What I've suggested is not the lightest or the most sophisticated stuff available but it will give you a really good start. You could do worse than browse through past posts in the Gear strand here on the Walking Forum and when you meet up with your group members take advice from the more experienced of them.


Enjoy your outings and keep in touch - I'm an old hand at walking but a newish member of this forum and I've found it a really useful source of information and a kind of virtual camaraderie in all sorts of ways.


PS. A couple of posts came in while I was writing this and I agree with them - especially Richardh's comment about waterproof trousers.

phil1960

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Re: Newbie - too much choice - gear recommendations?
« Reply #4 on: 12:06:01, 17/02/19 »
For as many reviews and research you do online, expect as much or as many again in these pages. Although well meaning it will probably confuse you all the more. It took me a long time to find out what worked for me personally and thatís what itís all about, outdoor clothing is a personal thing. If you have the budget to buy decent gear and have to buy again because it doesnít work for you then the skyís the limit, so just one piece of advice from me, pointless listing my favourite brands, so just try what you can afford to replace until you hit on the right formula for you, then stick to it  O0
Touching from a distance, further all the time.

clyoung

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Re: Newbie - too much choice - gear recommendations?
« Reply #5 on: 12:11:33, 17/02/19 »
It strikes me that your budget will buy good enough kit to get you going even if you factor in a pair of trousers like Craghopper Kiwis (others will have their own preferences).


Second the recommendation for Craghopper trousers - I've got a couple of pairs of the stretchy Kiwi Pro ones, both picked up in sales for under £30. Comfortable, hardwearing, lots of freedom of movement for climbing stiles or even doing a bit of scrambling and quick drying. I think their fleeces are good too.


If you go cheap for the fleece you could up your waterproof budget. Given the choice of a Polartec Alpha Direct mid layer + cheap waterproof vs cheap fleece + better quality waterproof I'd go for the latter. If you later want a fancier mid layer the fleece will still be useful as an extra layer.

alan de enfield

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Re: Newbie - too much choice - gear recommendations?
« Reply #6 on: 12:13:10, 17/02/19 »
Forget Base-Layer
Forget Mid-Layer

You already have suitable 'stuff' in your wardrobe at home.


Add the 'saved' £90 to your boot budget and get a good quality pair of leather boots.


Use the 'saved' £40 and get waterproof trousers.


You can walk when you are a bit cold, you can walk when you are wet, but you cannot walk without your feet.

Getting your feet 'right' is the priority. Badly fitting boots can cripple you (actually cripple you - not just a turn-of-phrase)


Once you have good comfortable boots allocate your remaining budget to keeping dry, if you can stay dry, you'll stay warm.

BuzyG

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Re: Newbie - too much choice - gear recommendations?
« Reply #7 on: 15:59:54, 17/02/19 »
I have been building up my own kit the past few years.  I made a few mistakes too.

Base layer you can get from any run of the mill sport shop for £10.  I get them from JJB sports.

Midl layer, as above, I have a few fleeces none cost more than £30.  All keep the wind and cold out.

Water proof shell layer, spend as much as you can afford.  I bought three cheap jackets that all leaked after a short time in a typical British down poor.  I then bought a Mounain Equipment Gortex Pro jacket, from Cotswold Outdoors.  It is .revelation after the others.  Keeps the weather out and let's the sweat out.  Thoroughly recommended.

Trespasss do a decent range of walking trousers for £30_40 dependent on season.  I have Berghaus water proof trousers, but to be honest unless the rain I relentless or I am getting cold, then I just keep walking.  Modern materials dry out so quickly in a breeze once the rain stops.

Boots your budget seems about right, though I found a good pair for myself in peakocks for £80, then bought a second identical pair.  What ever you buy water will get in eventually, if you are out on the Moors long enough.

A good pair of gaiters helps keep the water at bay fording small streams too.

Be sure to get .a hat and gloves too great for adjusting your heat dissipation without having to stop and take off your jacket.

Oh and for me thick cotton sports socks with wollen walking socks over them and thus far not one blister. 

Get your kit an get out there.  O0
« Last Edit: 16:22:36, 17/02/19 by BuzyG »

wacjac

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Re: Newbie - too much choice - gear recommendations?
« Reply #8 on: 19:25:08, 17/02/19 »
Wow...now THAT is a very helpful clutch of replies.... thank you all very much. I've read them thoroughly and took it on board, investigated more and have purchased online...


Outer shell waterproof - Mountain Equipment Janak GTX Pro jacket


Mid layer - Rab Quest 1/4 zip fleece.


Base layer - I'll sort out a couple of £10-£15 ones locally.


Trousers - still require further research


Boots - I've sort of settled on (depending upon try-on and fit) - Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX - although still open to other suggestions? I possibly appreciate leather may last longer, maybe possibly a tad more waterproof...but doesn't brown leather look so 1980s ?  ;)  I appreciate it's not a fashion show out in the wild countryside and the priority is comfort and function, but I'd still rather something that looks of this millennium!


Gaiters - yes, I'd forgotten about those. will research.


I'm still open to any further advice.


Thanks




gunwharfman

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Re: Newbie - too much choice - gear recommendations?
« Reply #9 on: 20:02:40, 17/02/19 »
Lots of good advice offered already. You are now spoilt for choice. As you can tell we all do it the same and we all do it differently as well.

From my experience I would concentrate on boots first. You also need to decide if you are going to wear inserts or not. I use Sorbothane all the time now, but there are other other brands, equally good or I'm sure even better as well. I suggest you think about this issue because you could find yourself forking out money again if you get it wrong. For example, I am size 7 but with my inserts in and my socks on I actually buy size 8 boots. I know this to be important because I got it wrong once and ended up losing three toenails! There is another problem to contend with as well, a size 7 in different brands are not always the same, so ensure you try them on to make sure that fit properly before parting with your cash.

As an individual I've moved away from the 'heavier' waterproof jacket (I have a Paramo Alta 2) to a single skin jacket, the Montane Precip, which I now prefer. I also use, more and more, a Vaude Poncho which I equally like. Sometimes I take both, the Precip for wet days and the poncho on top for very wet days!

If you buy waterproof trousers, I am reminded of a simple trick to stop the insides of the trousers becoming muddy as you put them on or take them off. Carry a couple of thin 'Tesco' carrier bags with you, slip them over your muddy boots then put your feet though your leggings. Somebody suggested this on the Forum a few years ago, a simple and brilliant idea!

For myself I have moved away from waterproof trousers and now just use a rain skirt and my Rab gaiters. My 'skirt' can be put on and taken off in seconds and I often I don't even have to stop walking. Its just a personal choice.

As regards baselayers, I prefer synthetic, they are easy to wash and dry quicker. I have bamboo (soft to wear, longer to dry) and merino (not good for me, makes me itch) baselayers as well but I always buy long sleeve garments. I'm happy with a full zip or no zip but I dislike half zips. I had a forearm rogue (pre-cancer) mole a few years ago which had to be cut out. My dermatologist told me never again to hike in strong sunlight with short sleeves so I don't!

wacjac

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Re: Newbie - too much choice - gear recommendations?
« Reply #10 on: 20:15:48, 17/02/19 »
Thanks gungharfman..... the Sorbothane inners is a dilemma I'd already considered....I use them in my waders and they are a true Godsend when wading boulder rivers. I suppose it would be wise to take a pair when trying boots on.


Should that be the *MARMOT* PreCip you mention (not the MONTANE PreCip)?



The bagging boots is a very simple yet effective tip - thanks for this.
« Last Edit: 20:58:49, 17/02/19 by wacjac »

gunwharfman

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Re: Newbie - too much choice - gear recommendations?
« Reply #11 on: 21:39:34, 17/02/19 »
Yes, my mistake, its Marmot.

richardh1905

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Re: Newbie - too much choice - gear recommendations?
« Reply #12 on: 21:59:02, 17/02/19 »

That was quick, wacjac!


Good choice the Janak jacket.

sussamb

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Re: Newbie - too much choice - gear recommendations?
« Reply #13 on: 06:39:52, 18/02/19 »
You won't go wrong with the Quest boots, I have a pair and they're great  O0
Where there's a will ...

Dyffryn Ardudwy

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Re: Newbie - too much choice - gear recommendations?
« Reply #14 on: 19:10:07, 18/02/19 »
The two vital bits of kit, are quality boots and a good quality waterproof.
Not that base layers are a waste of money, but just about all of us have items of old clothing, that will keep us warm in differing temperatures.

Just look at the kit Alfred Wainwright used to walk the Lakeland Fells in, it served him well, and he had none of the choice us walkers have today, and he lived to tell the tail.


I know that's a daft suggestion, but kit manufactured back in the days of Wainwright era, was just as well made as today's, but was harder wearing.

Walking does not have to be an expensive hobby, but you can over spend on big named kit, when lesser brands are just as good, for far less expenditure.

High quality boots, and there are many within your good budget of £150, and £170 is more than enough cash for a good waterproof.

The important thing is to not over spend, and by the looks of things you have a healthy budget.

There's nothing wrong with the gear sold in Aldis, with some of the base layers superb value for money, and probably just as hard wearing as gear costing considerably more.


I like your idea on Montane clothing, its high quality stuff, and their reliance on Pertex is a great choice.
What you wear underneath the waterproof is totally optional, and remember this years expensive base layer will be replaced by equally expensive new kit next season.

Some of us MUST be seen in the right branded kit, whilst others are not too picky, and it does not always come down to budget.


Aldi has sold some incredible kit over the years, and even though their  not renouned  for selling big named brands, it serves the purpose well, and should not be ignored just because its at a bargain price.


Visit a good walking shop, and invest most of your cash on the boots and the waterproof, the rest of the kit can be sourced elsewhere, and if your not too bothered about the brand name on your chest, huge savings can be made.


Comfortable feet are essential, and staying dry in adverse weather stands to reason.



Good luck, and stick rigidly to your set budget, and do not be persuaded by shop staff to buy gear that is over your budget.


That's easier said than done, but £170 will buy you one heck of a good jacket, one that will last many years.
« Last Edit: 19:21:12, 18/02/19 by Dyffryn Ardudwy »