What to wear while walk­ing in win­ter.

Truly, there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear. Here’s ev­ery­thing you need

The Irish Times - Weekend Review - - FRONT PAGE - Róisín Fin­lay and Heather Snel­gar edit Out­sider, I re­land’s out­door and ad­ven­ture mag­a­zine, out­sider.ie Róisín Fin­lay and Heather Snel­gar

Many peo­ple think that cooler tem­per­a­tures and shorter days are a nat­u­ral pair­ing with Net­flix marathons. But, win­ter can be one of the nicest times of year to get out hik­ing. It might sound like a cliché but truly, there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear.

The base layer

When it comes to dress­ing for a day out­doors, think of an onion. It’s all about wear­ing thin lay­ers so you can eas­ily mod­er­ate your tem­per­a­ture for chang­ing weather con­di­tions.

The layer next to the skin is the most im­por­tant. Hav­ing tested a wide range of breath­able base­lay­ers, there’s no sub­sti­tute for merino wool. This nat­u­ral fab­ric is cosy and breath­able, and, most im­por­tantly, it doesn’t get cold when wet. It’s also nat­u­rally anti-bac­te­rial so re­sists odours – even if you wear it for days in a row.

Smart­wool and Icebreaker of­fer the widest ranges of merino base­lay­ers. Our favourite is Smart­wool’s Mi­croweight 150 Crew (¤65.99). It’s not cheap but you will have it for years. These brands also do leg­gings for re­ally cold weather.

Fleece or mid-layer

Next, it’s onto the mid-layer. Again, you should opt for some­thing rel­a­tively light. Col­lared mid-lay­ers with a half zip are brilliant as they of­fer ex­tra neck pro­tec­tion when tem­per­a­tures drop and ad­di­tional ven­ti­la­tion when you get too warm.

Columbia does a great mid-weight layer (¤59.99). It’s warm, com­fort­able and durable to boot. Ir­ish com­pany Portwest has a good range of re­ally rea­son­able light­weight fleeces (from ¤20) and they make good mid-lay­ers too.

Water­proof jacket

Your fi­nal layer should con­sist of a qual­ity water­proof shell. Gore- Tex mem­brane used to be the gold stan­dard when it came to wa­ter­proof­ing and breatha­bil­ity, but these days many out­door brands use al­ter­na­tives or have de­vel­oped pro­pri­etary breath­able and water­proof tech­nolo­gies, of­ten re­duc­ing costs.

One favourite is Rab’s Fire­wall jacket (¤260). Light­weight and highly water­proof, it uses Per­tex Shield for pro­tec­tion and it comes with un­der­arm zips that run all the way down the in­ner arms for ven­ti­la­tion.

Columbia also of­fers an ex­cel­lent range of water­proof jack­ets at rea­son­able prices. Our favourite is the Columbia Outdry Ex Gold water­proof shell. At just ¤150, it def­i­nitely out-per­forms its rel­a­tively mod­est price tag.

And if bud­gets are tight, check out the Portwest range. They may not of­fer as many bells and whis­tles, but these water­proof jack­ets ( from ¤ 75-¤ 150) make sense for less ex­treme weather.

Trousers

Water­proof trousers are also very im­por­tant. They not only keep you dry but will keep wind chill at bay. Spray­way of­fers en­try-level water­proof trousers from ¤55 while Berghaus’s Pa­clite Gore-Tex trousers (¤160) of­fer a higher lever of wa­ter­proof­ing and breatha­bil­ity.

Footwear

A water­proof hik­ing boot or trail run­ning shoe is also a must for wet, win­ter out­ings. Tra­di­tion­al­ists will rec­om­mend you go for boots to pro­tect your an­kles if you’re hik­ing on un­even ground.

How­ever, for those with good an­kles trav­el­ling on less chal­leng­ing ter­rain, trail shoes are be­com­ing more pop­u­lar. Good ones will of­fer ex­cel­lent grip and sta­bil­ity.

Footwear is in­cred­i­bly spe­cific to each in­di­vid­ual, how­ever, so it’s best to seek ex­pert ad­vice and fit­ting. Base­camp, Wild Side Sports, Great Out­doors and Cotswold Out­door all have ex­perts on hand to help you.

We’re fans of Salewa’s com­fort­able and ver­sa­tile Moun­tain Trainer Mid Gore- Tex Boots (¤ 220) and Meindl’s Bhutan boots are per­fect for those who love a tra­di­tional leather boot. We’re also reg­u­lar wear­ers of Columbia’s water­proof Con­spir­acy IV Outdry trail shoes (¤100). If your hikes take you across boggy ground or long wet grass, gaiters like Rab’s His­pars (¤ 49.95) are a god­send. And don’t for­get good socks. SealSk­inz makes a great ar­ray of water­proof and ther­mal socks (from ¤12) and Smart­wool’s Merino Hike Light Crews (¤20.99) are long-last­ing favourites. Ex­tras

No mat­ter how op­ti­mistic the fore­cast, it’s al­ways sen­si­ble to pack ex­tra lay­ers. Of­fer­ing supreme warmth-to-weight ra­tio, you won’t even no­tice a light down jacket in your pack, but boy will you be grate­ful for it on top of windswept hill. Patag­o­nia’s Down Sweater (¤230) and Rab’s Mi­cro­lite (¤230) are peren­nial favourites. Both use eth­i­cal down. Cheaper al­ter­na­tives are avail­able from De­cathlon.ie. Or a jacket with an al­ter­na­tive in­su­la­tion may prove as warm but cheaper. Salewa’s Fanes jacket (¤ 200) uses wool while Columbia’s Pow­der Lite jacket (¤100) uses syn­thetic down Other gear worth throw­ing into your pack in­cludes spare gloves, a warm hat, a neck pro­tec­tor, a foil blan­ket, plenty of wa­ter, some snacks, a charged mo­bile phone and a head torch. Back­pack

As for your back­pack, opt for ei­ther a fully water­proof one or a non-water­proof pack with ei­ther a dry bag inside or a rain cover. Moun­tain Hard­wear has a great range of fully water­proof packs as does SealLine. The lat­ter also does dry bags and water­proof phone cases. Lowe Alpine makes a wide range of ex­cel­lent packs, some of which come with in­te­grated rain cov­ers.

Lowe Alpine’s Strike (¤79.95) is a per­fect day­pack and fea­tures a hy­dra­tion pouch and plenty of pock­ets. It even has an SOS guide sewn into it should things re­ally go side­ways.

Win­ter can be one of the nicest times of year to get out hik­ing, once you have the cor­rect gear

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