First of all, how is it the end of January already! The first 30 days of the year have flown by and I've been here there and everywhere... so far this year I've been up to the Lake District twice, down to Exeter for a few days, up to Scotland and I spent the last weekend bikepacking in Wales. As well as all that, I've just started two new part-time jobs which I really care about and am excited to see develop. I've also taken time to post a lot of new things on my blog and finish a piece of writing for another publication, which I can't wait to see in print soon.
There have been a few key pieces of gear that have helped me through my hectic life and travels in January, that I want to tell you about in this month's gear list. From a cosy, Merino base-layer to some light-weight trainers, this month's gear list is all about keeping warm and comfortable at the beginning of the year.
Teva Arrowood Shoes
Teva describes these shoes as being an "adventure-seeking trail sneaker with style", which I think sums them up nicely. They're certainly not a replacement for walking boots, but for roadtrips and short rambles on easy terrain, the Arrowoods mean you don't have to keep swapping from shoes to boots and back again. The shoes are both waterproof and super comfortable, with a lightweight sole that feels sturdy yet keeps you light on your toes. Personally, I love the way the shoes both look and feel on my feet; I wear them as casual shoes in the city, on short wanders when I don't need walking boots, and to the pub post-hike. The light sole means wearing the shoes all day isn't an issue, while the strong and secure laces keep your foot feeling supported. There are a range of colours you can choose from, though I went for a bright, Autumnal fig colour which I think looks great with anything I wear. All in all, I'm a huge fan of the Arrowoods as a durable, supportive and comfortable casual shoe.
Costing £70, the Arrowoods are reasonably-priced for a good-quality trainer. Find them on the Teva website here.
RMBLR Shining Hat
Anyone who knows me, knows I love a good beanie. I have a solid collection of about 7 or 8 that I've collected over the years, and go through phases of wearing one or another ALL the time. Currently, the RMBLR Shining beanie is my go-to woolly hat for January - mostly due to how thick and cosy it fits on my head, it's perfect on the coldest winter days. I also love the purple colour at this time of year, and the circular patch on the front makes a great feature. The beanie is made on a knitting machine in my current city of Manchester, and the wool is supplied by a Manchester yarn supplier.
The beanie is available in a range of colours - pink, red, grey, blue and black among a few more - and costs £19.99 online from the RMBLR online store or from Ellis Brigham stores across the country.
Findra Merino Base Layer
I was introduced to Findra by my friend Anna Blackwell, who was raving about the amazingly soft and specifically-designed for women Merino tops. Being a big fan of anything designed with women's needs and shapes in mind, I was keen to check out Findra for myself. After wearing Findra's Merino base layer for a weekend cycling, I can wholeheartedly agree that these tops are pretty amazing; soft, comfortable and warm. Made from 100% Italian Merino, with a female fit, round-neck to keep in heat and thumbholes on the sleeves (which is a lovely feature for anyone else who gets frustrated when their sleeves constantly roll up!), Findra have taken extra attention to detail on the style and fit of this staple piece of clothing. Not only that, but the base layers have odour resistant properties and are designed not to be washed for days on the trails. This base layer has certainly become an essential piece of kit that I'll wear for cycling, hiking and other outdoor sports.
The Merino base layer by Findra costs £80, which may initially seem expensive for a top. However I believe that investing in a good quality base layer is certainly worth the extra cost. The Findra top is 100% Merino wool and can be worn for days on end; it will become a staple piece for all your outdoor activities, and a small investment you won't regret. Find the top on the Findra website here.
The topic of plastic is difficult to escape at the moment, and rightly so. Anyone who enjoys spending time in the Great Outdoors and who cares about our natural landscapes should be somewhat aware of how much waste we humans produce. Currently, 12.7 million tonnes of plastic ends up in our oceans every year and is killing ocean wildlife who may get tangled up in big pieces or mistake smaller pieces for food. Each and every individual can do something to reduce their plastic footprint, and perhaps one of the easiest ways is to stop buying plastic water-bottles. By having a Hydro Flask, you can always fill up your bottle in any cafe, restaurant or bathroom and avoid buying more plastic. Not only that, but Hydro Flask keeps your water icy cold or your tea steaming hot, and you can get a range of colours, sizes and shapes, even one's designed for beer, wine, coffee, food and tumblers for camping trips. I first came across Hydro Flask at Kendal Mountain Festival and have been a little obsessed with their products ever since. I currently have one of their 16oz Coffee flasks that I use for water every day, but am looking to get a bigger flask for taking hiking in the hills.
Check out the Hydro Flask website to find your nearest store. The flasks are available from Ellis Brigham stores or can be found by searching on Amazon. Prices range from around £20 upwards.
Topo Designs Climbing Rope Camera Strap
I first came across this camera strap on Instagram before I even got my DSLR camera. I love the style, the fact it is made from climbing rope, and the way it looks outdoorsy but also stylish. As soon as I got my DSLR, I ordered one of these camera straps from Topo Designs and have used it ever since. The strap is durable (made from heavy-duty climbing rope), lightweight and available in a selection of colours. I get asked about the strap all the time, both on Instagram and when out and about - it seems that both climbers and outdoorsy folk alike love the look of the strap! The only downside is that the strap can slide off the shoulder when on a slippy raincoat or similar fabric, and when swung over the neck it can rub slightly - I counteract this simply by tucking a collar, buff or hood underneath.
At £30, the Topo Designs camera strap is fairly pricey for a piece of climbing rope - but for a camera strap that will last you a long time, I think it's worth the cost. I have met a lot of people who have suggested making one themselves, so if anyone manages to do so, let me know! The strap is available in the UK from Bear & Bear.
Let me know if you like any of these products and if there's anything you want to see particularly in upcoming Gear Lists.
Next month's Gear List will be a special one featuring everything I'm packing for my trip to Nepal! I'm currently finalising gear and will soon be doing some test runs with new pieces of kit I've bought for the trip.