T3 's outdoors expert advises on the best clothing and gadgets to help you ramble on.
Serious hikers need serious kit to ensure maximum performance and, of course, safety.
1. Arc'teryx Zeta IT - £330
This jacket has been created from a new Gore-Tex fabric called C-KNIT. Lightweight (335g), waterproof and compressible, it'll keep you snug as you walk, delivering impressive wicking and breathability. The 'trim fit' holds the jacket close to your body, while leaving room for layers, and the circular soft knit is rustle-free. The StormHood will keep you covered when it rains, and a laminated inner pocket (there are also two hand pockets with WaterTight zippers) ensures your phone stays dry.
Arc'teryx claims to have pioneered the now industry-standard WaterTight zipper, which is designed to seal out rain and snow. Zipper garages over each pocket provide additional protection for your hands and belongings.
2. Suunto Traverse -£285
This high-spec, rugged smartwatch is water-resistant to 100m and ideal for hikers, thanks to a plethora of features. These include GLONASS, a satellite-based satnav system that works alongside built-in GPS to keep you on track, plus storm alerts, sunrisesunset times, a digital compass and an integrated flashlight. Plan your hike in advance using the Movescount app, and the watch will guide you once you're out.
The Suunto Traverse is compatible with the Movescount app (Android/iOS), which displays data on your distance covered, route taken and calories burned. With the app, you can also plan routes in advance, so that all you need to do is strap on your watch and get hiking, leaving the Suunto to guide you each step of the way.
3. Merrell Capra Mid Sport Gore-Tex Boot - £140
These boots will help you breeze across tough terrain, without compromising on comfort. A Gore-Tex membrane repels moisture while letting your feet breathe, and odour-beating tech keeps those unwanted whiffs at bay. They even look nice enough to wear for a post-hike pint.
These Merrells' leather upper, plus air cushions in the heel, absorb shock and add stability and comfort. Vibram MegaGrip outsoles provide good grip on a variety of terrains.
BuyMerrell Capra Mid Sport Gore-Tex Boot
4. Montane Fireball Verso Pull-On -£100
Ultra-lightweight and reversible, this vibrant number features PrimaLoft Silver Insulation Active, offering high levels of breathability and thermal properties. Packable and soft, it's water-resistant and sports different materials on either side – if you're warm, turn it inside out for enhanced breathability. Feeling cold and windswept? Swap it around again for protection against the wind.
On one side of this Montane top you'll find Windproof Pertex Quantum Ripstop, for increased wind and weather resistance. On the other, air-permeable HyperVent fabric increases breathability.
BuyMontane Fireball Verso Pull-On
5. Voltaic Offgrid Solar Backpack - £148
Charge your phone as you walk with this 25-litre, eco-friendly (it's made from recycled PET fabrics) backpack that recharges a range of devices with its removable six-watt solar panels. One hour of sunlight gives four hours of smartphone use. A potential lifesaver.
It's unlikely you'd want to lug a laptop up a mountain, but if you did, this Voltaic backpack includes a padded laptop sleeve. There's also a batterystorage compartment fitted with wire channels to accommodate multiple gadgets, such as your laptop, phone or action cam.
BuyVoltaic Offgrid Solar Backpack
6. Olympus Stylus Tough TG-4 - £350
A decent camera is of little use to a hiker unless it's rugged and weatherproof. Luckily, Olympus has come to the rescue with an affordable camera designed with an innovative system of 'seals' that enable it to perform in tough conditions. The TG-4 is waterproof to 15m, freezeproof to -10˚C, shockproof to 2.1m and crushproof rated to 100kg. It takes 16MP images, has a 4x wide optical zoom to capture vast landscapes, and can also shoot video at 1080p.
The TG-4's built-in Wi-Fi and OI.Share enable wireless transfer of photos to smartphone or tablet. The camera's GPS can also add tracking results to your images. Even when GPS is turned off, the camera's e.Compass feature displays pressure and altitude info.
All-weather head gear
Even if your hiking jacket has a built-in storm hood to keep you covered during rain or snow, it's worth packing a thermal hat for winter hiking. Buff has a range of close-fitting hats to suit hikers and long-distance walkers. Its Microfibre Hat is purpose-designed for increased breathability and temperature control, and the Merino Wool Hatis soft and snug. The best choice for hikers is the Windproof & Perform Hat, with a choice of three windproof fabrics – Windstopper, Ketten or XDCS – to ensure maximum protection against the wind and extreme cold.
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All-weather head gear