In case you didn’t already know, at Decathlon, our team mates are passionate about the sports departments they work in, meaning they can give you sporting equipment advice and tips during your Decathlon Experience in store. Our blog is allowing our team mates and sports experts to share the need-to-know information with you virtually.
Richard, a Hiking expert from our Decathlon Baile Munna Flagship store, has compiled this blog for everything you need and everything you need to know when hiking, particularly when hiking in Ireland. Read his blog below:
HIKING IN IRELAND, TIPS YOU NEED TO KNOW:
The most important thing to ensure when you're out hiking in Ireland is to keep dry! Unfortunately, hiking in Ireland is undoubtedly going to bring you in contact with the rain at some stage!
BUT….all that rain brings out some of the most stunning colours and scenery in the outdoors and it's what gives Ireland its wonderful famous emerald green. Follow our guide to keep dry when hiking and be able to tackle routes in any weather.
A local guide on a trip to Iceland once said to me:
“There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad unsuitable clothing”.
I'll never forget that sage advice given, as the horizontal freezing rain was driven into us by fierce arctic winds! That said, while the rainier seasons can offer some unique beauty on hiking routes, always make sure your route is safe and let others know where you are heading and what time you expect to return. If everything is a go, here’s how to keep dry:
This below hiking checklist will be based on what Richard would bring on a day hike in the Wicklow Mountains. Hikes in Wicklow can get up to nearly 1000m high (or 3000 feet).
HIKING EQUIPMENT ESSENTIALS:
At Decathlon Ireland, we have all of your sporting equipment, apparel and accessories for over 70 different sports under one roof! You can shop online, or in our Decathlon Baile Munna store today!
WHAT TO BRING ON A HIKING TRIP?
If you are heading out in the rain without a waterproof jacket you are going to have an absolutely miserable hike, if not one that could turn dangerous. Even in warmer weather you can always pop it in your backpack, or buy a light weight jacket for hiking, such as those from the Quechua range (which, incase you didn't already know, is our passion brand for Hiking here at Decathlon).
NOTE: The garment pice sign includes a waterproof rating measured in mm and schlumbers. The higher the better!
An often-forgotten point up top is your face. A good waterproof jacket will have a cap that will let water run down and over your face, the Quechua range has got you double covered, with 3D hoods with rigid visors. These visors allow adjustments to be made to the hoods positioning for optimal shielding from the elements.
Tip: It's Not Just how waterproof a jacket is but its breathability too. This is its capacity to let water vapor generated by the body during physical activity (sweat) escape and therefore avoid water accumulating on the skin. Breathability is measured in RET and the lower the rating is, the more breathable the fabric.
Over-trousers are going to keep your legs dry (waterproof) and extra warm (windproof and insulation). Again, if it is warmer, but rain is expected during your hike, you can also stick these in your backpack without adding too much weight. Just be sure to keep an eye on the clouds, as ideally you want to be wearing your waterproofs before the heavens open. Again check both waterproof and breathability ratings when purchasing.
Hiking boots are not always essential, but they can be well worth it. For hiking on more difficult terrain, or when hiking in the rain, grip is important to ensure you don't slip and hurt yourself. Hiking boots are designed to keep your feet comfortable across the expected terrain, be it mountain hiking, nature hiking or even snow hiking (not that we get much snow in Ireland, but they are usually the most water-proof hiking boots in the range.
Note: Not all hiking boots are waterproof, so always double check your model before you test them out on route.
Blisters generally develop when the skin is weakened by friction. When hiking, blisters can form and can cause uncomfort. In order to prevent them from occurring, we recommend the following:
- Choose a shoe in your size (always try them first to ensure a correct fit),
- Wear suitable hiking socks,
- Lace and tighten your shoes appropriately,
- Don’t hesitate to readjust your lace fastening during activity, particularly before tackling a climb or descent,
- Wear your shoes on a short outing on first use.
BAG / HIKING BACKPACK
You’ll want to invest in a waterproof hiking backpack, or at least a waterproof cover for a non-waterproof hiking backpack. But, it’s also wise to waterproof the items you are putting inside your backpack using plastic bags, particularly electronics or items that will become damaged if wet – this also applies to sandwiches.
TOP TIP: DON'T OVERLAYER
It’s always advisable to pack more than you need when hiking, particularly if you're new to hiking. The same applies for layers, but it might not be so wise to put them all on from the outset. Better that you keep spare layers for if you become too warm. Dampness can manifest from the inside if you overheat, as your body heat and sweat can become too much for the breathable materials in your base, middle and outer layer. Think and dress like an onion and peel when required!
HOW TO STAY WARM WHEN HIKING?
The last thing you want to do is be halfway through your hike and start feeling cold, particularly if you are far from the car or somewhere to get some shelter.
Here’s our tips on keeping warm while hiking.
Winter in Ireland can get very, very cold. Even in summer as you go higher into the clouds you will feel the difference in air temperature compared to sea level. When you are out in the great outdoors you need to take measures to keep warm, even in the spring months. Always ensuring you are well prepared means you can enjoy nature's beauty across all its seasons. After all, as we said earlier, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing. Warm hiking is happy hiking.
LAYERS, LAYERS & MORE LAYERS (like an onion!)
Fairly tight but stretchy material, base layers should form a second skin effect to really trap that air in and create your own mini heating system from your body-heat. This should be a breathable material (not cotton) that wicks away sweat, making this a ventilated heating system, otherwise you are going to be hot, sticky and chafing. The breathability will both regulate the temperature and avoid the build-up of moisture. Polyester and merino wool are the best materials to go for. Cotton is not recommended as it holds moisture in the fabric.
The middle layer will really insulate your body heat underneath. A thicker fleece or softshell garment is best used here, with the Quechua range a firm favourite among hikers. Here, you can also use a three in one jacket on top of your base layer, such as the Forclaz Travel 100, which will provide your middle and outer layers.
This is where the heavy-duty gear comes in, a waterproof jacket with breathable material will serve you both to keep out the rain and keep you warm and ventilated throughout your trek. You can also select clothing which has ventilation zips on the neck and armpit areas for further temperature regulation.
There are many types of outer layers to choose from, with different materials to navigate too. Richard has also compiled a blog to help you understand the difference and choose between a Down or Synthetic Jacket, to help you make a decision that's right for you and your needs whether it's for hiking, winter or a casual jacket.
You don’t have to stop here, if you feel you need an extra base or middle, don’t be shy! It is always better to bring too many layers. You can put on another layer later on, but you can’t create one out of thin air - just don’t start removing or adding layers when it’s raining or snowing – that’s going to leave you damp and miserable.
Getting damp can also happen if you are too hot, through excessive sweating, so don’t head out with double base and middle layers - but do stick them in your backpack if you think you’ll need them later on. Layering is possible for your upper and lower body with base layer tights such as those from the Wedze skiing range or merino wool Forclaz trekking range.
PROTECT YOUR FEET, HANDS AND HEAD
Keeping the extremities warm is a must, make sure you have appropriate socks, boots, gloves and a hat alongside extras in case they get wet (or you need to double up).
Hiking specific boots or shoes are a must year-round, but when the weather turns cold, it’s even more important. Before you put on your boots, you want to make sure you have the right socks. Often people will assume “thicker is better”, here, but it's far more dependent on the material and fit in your boot. Make sure you have room to wiggle your toes with socks on and you aren’t experiencing any numbing of your foot or toes. We recommend merino wool socks, which are breathable, warm and antimicrobial, so you’ll be snug and stave off a smelly boot (for as long as possible!).
When it comes to your boot a big factor is keeping your feet dry. While our country’s weather isn’t the driest year round, in the winter, wet feet can become a point of danger. The cold weather is unforgiving to damp areas and so a waterproof boot is a necessity here. Choose a good boot and take care of it with regular cleaning and reproofing and treatment to keep it supple and get the best out of its wear. You can also supplement boots with our Quechua waterproof gaiters to keep mud and surface water running down into them!
HANDS & HEAD:
Again, waterproofing is going to be a good idea when it comes to gloves, particularly if you know it's going to be raining. Hat-wise, you are generally going to have a hood on your jacket, so you can get away with a fleece or wool hat here. Always remember spares and wait until it stops raining to check your WhatsApp, or you could get your inner glove wet and damage your phone.
Taking a thermos flask full of tea, coffee, hot chocolate or soup is going to be a great way to keep your whole body warm. Fill a flask or two up with your favourite beverages and you’ll thank us later. You could even take a baguette in the backpack and have some crusty bread and soup at the summit.
ALWAYS REMEMBER THE HIKING ESSENTIALS
- Check the Route: Familiarise yourself with the route and map work (your phone can run out of battery and you likely won’t have signal). We also sell battery power packs.
- Check the Weather
- Always check the weather regularly ahead of your trip.
- Pack Correctly: Always pack everything you need for you trip
- Travel Light: Select smaller and lightweight options when you purchase and pack your kit.
- Double Up: Always take more food and water than you’ll need.
- Leave No Trace: Leave nature as you found it. Leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but photographs!