Posted by Gerard Sheehy on 6th Jul 2017
I’m a day hiker who usually walks about 1,200km per year, on the mountains. The distances vary between 30km and 60km on Irish mountains.
I can’t afford ‘cheap’ or badly made garments. If it’s cheap, you invariably have to buy a replacement as you don’t get the wear out of it. So, I look for a product whose claims are reasonable, where I have access to the manufacturer and the price isn’t inflated because of the name that’s attached to the tag.
Newcomers to the activity make lots of purchase errors, and we mistakenly take advice from other walkers that one type of boot, jacket etc. will be a panacea to our hiking demands. Mistakes are expensive and in an effort to counteract cost we look for a single product to cover all eventualities.
There’s only so much rain that a jacket/fleece can keep out. The industry standards are formulated in ‘labs’ and not in the wild open spaces. The terms ‘waterproof’ and ‘breathable’ are fine, as long as they are followed by a qualified ‘Up To...’ measured amount. So, you have to manage your expectations of the garment and own more than one.
I own the Seahawk Fleece, Osprey Jacket and Peregrine Climbing Jacket (similar to the Merlin Smock) from the Aclimatise range and use these interchangeably, depending on the weather forecast and the duration of the hike.
If there are a few short showers forecast and I’m on a challenge walk I’ll carry the climbing jacket (470g). If it’s cold with a lot of wind and there is some rain forecast I’ll bring the fleece (700g). And, if there is a lot of rain but it’s not too cold the Osprey (750g) would be my jacket of choice. There have been occasions when the garments haven’t kept out the driving wind and rain but I had accepted that when I bought the items. There have been times when I’ve doubled up on the garments. But, sometimes it’s just not a good idea to go out.
You have to look after your garment if you want to get the best from it. The DWR (Durable Water Repellency), that your jacket is treated with, doesn’t last forever so fold it correctly, take it out of your rucksack after a hike and wash it and treat (re-waterproof) it every now and again.
The trend in the outdoor clothing/footwear industry is to get buyers to write a review shortly after a purchase and that’s just not right. I’ve hailed the benefits of of my jackets to my peers on the mountains. I’ve pointed out the shortcomings of a single jacket system. I have been using the Aclimatise products over the last three years. Granted, I don’t have the experience of trying other branded garments but I’m satisfied with the management of my expectations.
I’ve just purchased the Merlin overtrousers, so I’ll review that after a year on the mountain.