At Camp Hike & Climb we supply a large range of products and brands to cater for most people’s needs and tastes. In this day and age there is a specific piece of gear for every conceivable situation due to great advances in technology. The quality and technical features of a product can vary enormously which will impact on the price you pay. So whether you only occasionally venture outdoors or you’re a “gear junkie” we will have the right gear at the right price for you. As outdoor technical gear can become quite expensive once you kit yourself out it is best to ask some key questions before buying gear. The key questions to ask your self are:
Where am I going? (location, climate etc)
What am I doing? (activities)
What is my budget? (you may need to spend a lot on one item but can afford to compromise on the others)
How often will I use or wear this gear? (once or once a week etc)
Once you have answered these questions you can ask the key question. What product should I buy? You can either send us an email or come and visit our great staff in store to get this question answered.
No matter whether you plan to hike the Overland Track, do some climbing in the Blue Mountains or get involved in a 24hr adventure race, you will be exposing your body to some extreme conditions and you need to be prepared. It is best to think of your clothing in a layered system: Base layer or thermals; mid layer or insulation; and Outerwear or shell.
Obviously what you wear and/or what you need to take to wear depends immensely on where you are going and what you are doing. However, the theories of body climate control and protection remain the same whatever you do and wherever you go. The general principles are that you are trying to wick moisture away from your skin, insulate your body so that you don’t lose too much of its self generated heat (unless you are in hot climates) and protect your body from the external elements so that they do not dramatically affect your body’s temperature.
On the planet you will come across four general types of climates; Desert, Tropical, Temperate, and Alpine. These climate zones and the type of activity you will be doing in these climates dictate what sort of clothing you should wear. A good guide is as follows.
Clothing should be lightweight, breathable and should cover as much skin as possible for sun protection. Protection for your eyes and head should also be a major consideration.
Clothing for the tropics is very similar to that of the desert with particular consideration to moisture wicking and fast drying materials.
This is Sydney’s climate. Strangely enough this is possibly the hardest climate for you to think about. It is the least extreme of the climates, therefore the least likely to cause your body damage or put you in danger but because it is the middle of the road you need to be versatile. However as this is not an extreme climate the wrong choice of gear here is not likely to threaten your life which is a possibility with the other three. The right choice though will make you far more comfortable. So, what clothing should you wear? The answer, be versatile.
This is an extreme climate and in most people’s eyes probably the most important to protect yourself from. The key points here are: weather-proofness; breathability; comfort; durability and weight. To this regard the more of these elements you combine in a garment the higher the cost, which makes sense.
When you have determined which climate zone you are catering for and what you are doing, another consideration is the material that the garment is made from. Materials are either natural or synthetic and your choice can affect the durability, comfort, breathability and weight of the garment which will ultimately affect the price. Natural is not necessarily always better than synthetic or the other way around. It again depends on where you are going and what you are doing. Come in and speak to our friendly staff or flick us an email if you have specific questions about specific gear for you.
A final friendly reminder while you’re in the mode of shopping for clothing is not to forget about your extremities. Sure the core of your body is the most important (torso and head) however don’t forget about all of your arms and legs, hands and feet, fingers and toes that attach to them.
Footwear is an extremely important piece of gear. Probably far more important than most people realise and to this regard it is advisable to spend a bit of time contemplating what you need and get some good advice. It is also extremely important to try on shoes that you like as not all shoes/boots are designed for YOUR foot. It does depend a bit on the “last” of the shoe. This will be explained below in more depth. The first question in getting the right shoe/boot is to ask yourself ‘What do I need the shoe/boot for?’
You’ll also need to consider further key questions such as:
How long will I be wearing this shoe/boot through the day?
What activity will I be doing?
Will I be carrying any extra weight, like a backpack?
What are the conditions of the ground you’re walking on?
Getting the right shoe or boot is imperative if you want to avoid blisters and heat spots which can seriously dampen your fun in the great outdoors! When a shoe/boot is made it is built around a “last” or mould and this basically dictates the volume of the shoe. This is important when buying a shoe/boot and is why when you try on different brands your foot sometimes fits one shoe but not another even though they are the same size. For this reason it is important to try on shoes and test them out by walking around the store.
Another item that is often overlooked is the sock. Socks are obviously the piece of gear that links your foot to the shoe (unless you’re wearing sandals and are not European!) There is now a sock for every occasion in the outdoors and it will make a big difference if you buy the right pair. People are often put off by the cost of technical socks because you often need to spend $30 to $40 getting a good pair, however they will reward you and they will last. It is also important to have the appropriate socks on for the usage of the shoe that you are trying on as this will slightly affect the sizing in the shoe/boot.
Guide to getting the right shoe/boot for you:
The least important feature of outdoor or performance footwear is how it looks. The most important is how it fits.
Your first choice is open shoe, shoe, mid boot or boot depending and this is mostly determined by the activity.
Warm climates, water activities, shorter distances, no extra weight.
Running, limited extra weight, on good quality trails and tracks
Overnight hikes on rough tracks, with moderate pack weight
Extended treks, off trail, large packs
The next decision should be about breathability and waterproofness. Again this is dependent on the activity you will be performing in the shoe or boot. For example, running or trail shoes are generally not concerned about being waterproof but should have a high level of breathability. You will get the best level of waterproofing and foot protection in a full leather boot but not a good level of breathability. In this instance it is also important to focus on the right sock to wick the moisture away from your foot. It is possible and common to get a waterproof and breathable layer like GORE-TEX in a boot however the breathability will still have limitations so it’s still a good idea to get a moisture wicking sock.
So it is style first, waterproofness and breathability next, and then once you have covered these areas, try the shoes/boots on that fit your criteria remembering you want the best possible fit. Once you have selected the best fit hopefully you’ll think it looks great too!
There are just as many packs on the market for different situations as any of the other gear ,which is great but it can make the choice confusing. At Camp Hike & Climb we will help you make the right decision on which pack is the best one for you. We have a wide range of quality brands in colours and sizes for the most discerning adventure traveler or hiker.
Your first decision is the size and activity that you need your pack for. The size can depend on the length of time you are out and about or the activity you are doing. Nowadays you can get packs for extended trekking, travelling, overnight hikes, day hikes, lightweight active pursuits, vertical endeavour packs and packs designed for snow adventures.
Once you have worked out the size of the pack you need for the activity you are doing then you need to consider with the fit, especially in medium to large packs. There are several different types of adjustable harnesses on the market now and some also provide ventilation. Many of the pack ranges now also supply harnesses that are designed for the female form. You know men’s packs come from Mars and women’s packs come from Venus!
Another aspect to fitting a pack properly is to try it on whilst it has some weight in it. I think that it is a fair assumption that very few of us do a walk with an empty pack! It is never a good idea to buy a pack without getting it properly fitted. That could equate to buying a shoe that is two sizes too big or small for you. Come in and see us in store for a proper fitting. If you are intent on buying online and have trouble fitting the pack, come in and see us for some assistance and advice.
A final note on packs relates to waterproofing. Are they waterproof? A cheaper pack would certainly keep out most of the moisture in a light show but for peace of mind you would need to store your gear inside dry sacks. Higher end packs are both designed in style and materials to be almost waterproof. However this is almost like asking how long is a piece of string? In extreme environments like constant rain and snow it is also advisable to use dry sacks just in case.
At Camp Hike & Climb we cater for the lightweight or expedition camper rather than the car or 4WD camper. So if you are looking for a large car based family tent we probably don’t have what you need. However, if you are after an adventure tent where size and weight matter then read on. A tent is obviously another extremely important piece of kit and requires some thinking before purchasing. Lightweight adventure or expedition tents are generally rated as 2, 3, or 4 season. 2 Season: Desert and Tropical 3 Season: Temperate 4 Season: Alpine
In a perfect world you would buy a tent for each occasion but for 99% off us our budget only extents to one tent purchase at a time. So therefore a fair bit of thought needs to go into the tent that you do buy.
Ultimately you need to buy a tent that covers most of your bases for the environment, usage and size that you need. The key questions to ask yourself are:
What climate do I need the shelter for or where will I use it the most?
How many people do I need to cater for? (1, 2, or 3 people)
Once you have decided what your season rating is, the key factors that you are looking for in a tent /shelter are as follows. Desert:
When shopping for a new sleeping bag, some people get obsessed with size or weight without considering other factors. You have to remember that the only thing generating heat in a sleeping bag is you.
The questions you need to ask yourself are many. Firstly, who is the bag for? Men and women sleep at different temperatures so what will be good for you isn’t always good for your partner or child. For example, teenage boys generate a LOT of heat, whereas teenage girls tend to freeze. This is important and will make quite a difference with hand-me-downs.
The next consideration is what temperature you expect to use the sleeping bag in. A male in a minus 5 bag at minus 5 is probably going to be okay, but a female in the same circumstance may not. Actually, probably won’t. The ‘fill’ in a sleeping bag can be synthetic or down. As a guide, synthetic fill is only really suited for cool to warm climates. A down bag is the only way to go if it is freezing outside. More on fill in a moment.
It is probably not reasonable for most people to have a specific bag for each trip, or a bag for a one-off trip. Therefore, buy one that will suit most of what you do and be aware that you may have to add a light blanket, a silk liner or tracksuit to be comfortable for colder situations.
Another consideration will be shape. The ideal bag will reduce redundant airspace. There are two very different types of specialty sleeping bags – the mummy shape or tapered rectangular. The main thing to think about is whether or not you like to move your legs around when you sleep. The mummy basically surrounds you and moves with you when you roll or turn. The tapered rectangular shape allows for a bit of leg movement but still provides a fairly snug fit. It also can be opened out into a doona but is only moderately thermally efficient.
Synthetic bags tend to be tapered rectangle designs and down bags can be either.
The final question relates to size. What keeps you warm in a sleeping bag or just about any other insulating item is the loft (all the little particles of air trapped between the fibers). In a cheaper bag this is done by monofilaments – hair like threads of material. But to make a bag smaller (packed size) and maintain the insulation qualities, better fill needs to be used. Better quality filaments have 1, 3 or 5 holes travelling the full length thereby increasing the surface area and insulating abilities of the bag. The catch is of course, that the multi-hole thread is expensive. So, the smaller of two sleeping bags that have the same rating will be more expensive. General hiking and camping will require a loft of 600-650, but if you are being more adventurous or technical, increase the loft to 700 or extremely adventurous (alpine or mountaineering bags) you will need to increase the loft to 800. Most high loft bags are mummy shaped.
Weight shouldn’t be the biggest consideration. Just work out if you are a hot or cold sleeper, what temperature you will be expecting (most of the time) and if packed size is a consideration. If weight or price were your only consideration, you might end up with something not warm enough. If maximum warmth for mimimum weight is your preference, go with a mummy shape. If you are after versatility and comfort then consider a tapered rectangular sleeping bag.
Bag construction considerations:
The longer the zip, the more versatility (e.g. open out into doona, allow one leg out to cool you down on a balmy evening)
Trapeziodal baffles are the most thermally efficient
Tapered rectangular bags have more versatile baffle systems
A wind-proof, water resistant outer is a good choice if you plan to spend long periods in wet or alpine conditions
You will need a bivvy bag to completely waterproof your sleeping bag
To extend the life of your bag, store it in a large cotton sack so that the down has some breathing room
INNER SHEETS One thing is for certain, you really want to protect your sleeping bag so that it will last. The inner sheet prevents your bag from absorbing bodily fluids and moisture and is really handy for the adventure traveller.
There are three materials to choose from – cotton (has a cooling effect and is therefore suited to warmer climates), silk (more compact and lighter than cotton and therefore more popular) or thermal fibre (for added warmth).
SLEEPING MATS One very important final question is what are you sleeping on? While the sleeping bag is probably one the biggest purchases you will make in your camping gear collection, the sleeping mat may be the difference between a refreshing sleep through the night and a lumpy, rock infested sleep. When you lay on a sleeping bag you squash all the air out of the bottom layer. Basically then there is no insulation under you. You have to get off the ground to maintain your warmth (and increase your comfort). The self-inflatable mat is definitely the way to go.
Therm-a-rest has been the world leader in sleeping mat design and quality, and Camp Hike & Climb has a good supply of their range available. The Prolite series is best suited to the light-weight camper, bushwalker, mountaineer or anyone who needs to minimise the weight in their packs.