BUYER’S GUIDE: ON THE TRAIL
There’s a bewildering amount of gear out there for the would-be trail runner so here’s a few tips to help you decide what’s for you.
Chances are, your first hiking and trail running experiences will be in the same shoes you use in the gym, and that your pack will be twice as large as you need and three times as heavy. This is perfectly normal. But – assuming the bug has bitten – you need to upgrade your outfit ready for next time. The tips here assume you are day hiking and perhaps thinking to try a run or two. Light is mostly right therefore. Swap over-engineered everyday packs for something thinner, though be sure the back system is comfy enough for a full day out. Wear breathable layers, removing one before it makes you sweat, adding one just as you start to feel cold. Attend to hot spots on your feet (an early sign of blisters), or chafing on the body, when you first notice them. Consider how to carry all the fluids you need: a bladder makes sipping less of a chore while a bottle in your pack is too easily forgotten. WATERPROOF ZIPS A detail but one that sets quality products apart. In driving rain, these can make a real difference. MATERIALLY BETTER Your shell needs to be as breathable as possible to avoid you overheating while hiking in poor weather. Pit zips – underarm vents – can help too. BREATHING EASY For day hiking in sweaty Asian environments, Gore-tex is probably unnecessary. Colder places where your feet may get wet in stream crossings are where it comes into its own. SOLE CONCERN Deeper lugs give more grip on variable surfaces. Look also at the amount of cushioning: go with more for comfort; try less for greater responsiveness, helping with speed. HOOD You know that refrain that goes: ’weather can change so fast . . .‘. etc? There’s a reason you hear it so much. Get the hooded jacket even if you hate wearing the things. SIZING IT UP Day hikes, and especially trail races, are more enjoyable with an appropriate-sized pack, not one hanging off you mostly empty. At the most you’ll need 20 litres, probably less. SHOWN HERE The North Face Fast Pack GTX Jacket, The North Face GTX Surround Shoes and Montane Featherlight 23.