Never one for writing reviews after just a few uses, I have compiled my best hiking kit clothes review after five months on the road (trail, mud path etc). This gear got me through late spring, summer and early autumn.
Best Hiking Kit Clothes Review – Outer Layer
Montane Prism Jacket £120 – Cotswold Outdoor
My Montane Prism windproof jacket is, in one word, amazing. It’s just the right thickness to wear during British spring and autumn months while oot and aboot (and on cool summer days, too). It does what it says on the tin: it’s windproof. Made from 40g PrimaLoft insulation, it is not designed as a stand-alone jacket for warmth when it’s really cold (it’s too thin) but it is great for fast-paced activities.
I’ve caught my Montane Prism jacket many times on brambles and thorns and I have no idea how it isn’t marked. The hood has a metal rim, adjustable toggles and fits well. The cuffs are elasticated which at first I didn’t like but I’ve grown so used to them, I only noticed when looking at them for this review. There’s also an elasticated drawcord on the hem. I wear it all the time now.
+lightweight, windproof, comfy, adjustable hood, light enough for use in cooler summer days
– not for winter use as a stand alone jacket
Best Hiking Kit Clothes Review – Hiking Trousers
Montane Terra Ridge Pants £90 – Cotswold Outdoor
Alrighty. I’ll let you into a secret. I’ve been wearing the same pair of hiking trousers every day for the past 168 days. My Montane Terra Ridge hiking trousers have walked 1,600 miles through scrubland, mud, past blackberry thorns, climbed over many fences and survived everything else that has been thrown at them. And they’re still going strong. I’ve found they are windproof and damn sturdy (but not nettle proof). They have reinforced knees and inside ankles which are great against scuffing. The only evidence of such use is a small tear on each hem where I’ve caught them. Considering the abuse they have been put through, that’s good going.
Size-wise, they are a loose fit and I’d recommend you go down a size. They look a bit baggy on me now but that’s because I’ve lost weight since I first got them. They actually come with a belt, but I personally hate wearing belts. They have two pockets (no back pocket) and two vent zips which I always open to cool me down in warmer months and half zips on the leg for ease of putting them on. If I were to wear them in winter, I’d have to put a merino baselayer underneath for warmth.
+ super sturdy, reinforced knees and ankles, vent zips, stretchy round the bum
– If you’re built like a drainpipe this style will swamp you
Best Hiking Kit Clothes Review – Hiking Base Layers
I have three baselayers – two long sleeve ones plus a t-shirt. They are all Icebreaker merino tops because in my opinion, they are the best on the market. Merino doesn’t retain odours like polyester and wicks away moisture. Why so many hiking baselayers? One to hike in, one to sleep in (or I can double up if gets really chilly) and the t-shirt for warmer weather.
Icebreaker Bodyfit Zone Long Sleeve Half Zip (200mg merino wool) £85 – Icebreaker
I’m so impressed at how new this still looks considering how much I’ve worn it. It has retained its shape (it’s figure-hugging, which is what you want if you’re looking for warmth) and hasn’t bobbled. I’ve had merino tops in the past where all the sides have rubbed and scuffed when worn next to your backpack. Icebreaker tops simply don’t.
With Icebreaker merino tops, pay for quality (they’re not cheap but they’ll last three times longer than their less expensive counterparts). My only gripe with this top is that after about a month’s solid use I started to notice it smelt more, sometimes after just a short while even when clean. This is down to the polyester mesh panels under the arms (14 percent polyester). I’m not a fan of polyester against my skin as it does retain odours. The solution? Deodorant! I never normally carry it when hiking (extra, unnecessary weight) but now I have my buggy, I can. With just a small amount, the top smells totally clean, even when it’s not. And that can be after 8 days of wearing it without washing it. There’s a reason I hike solo…
+ great fit, amazing quality, stretchy, half zip for temperature control, mesh under arm panel
– started to smell but was remedied with a bit of deodorant!
Icebreaker Oasis Long Sleeve Half Zip (200mg merino wool) £75 – Icebreaker
This Icebreaker Oasis baselayer is looser than my Bodyfit one, and although the merino warmth weight is the same, 200mg, this top feels a bit thicker. I use this baselayer to sleep in, preferring the closer fit of the other to walk in. Again, you’d never guess that it has been worn for so many nights, the quality is great. I’m a fan of zip tops as it helps you regulate your temperature more than round necks. Plus, you’re more protected from the sun than lower scoop neck baselayers when wearing outside. No bobbling on this top, either.
+ half zip, warm
– not as stretchy as my BodyFit top – baggier fit, in summer its dark colour would make it seem hotter if worn in the sun. This is a plus for winter, though.
Icebreaker Oasis Leggings 200mg £65 – Icebreaker
These are what I use to sleep in or put under my trousers on really cold outdoor days. They’re not as stretchy as some other Icebreaker versions, and the knees do look a little baggy now, but that’s not bad going considering they have been worn each night for the past five months! They are a tightish fit which is what you want for thermals to retain the heat. For winter, I’ll be getting thicker pants to sleep in but these have done a great job over spring, summer and early autumn.
+ quite warm, good quality
– have gone a bit baggy round the knees
Icebreaker Tech Lite Short Sleeve Crew (150mg merino wool) £35 – Icebreaker
This is a comfy, light top for warm summer days. Its rounded neck helps protect against the sun, while its looser fit lets you get some air in. The sleeves are decent length, not too short, so help you cover up in the sun’s rays. At 150mg, I have found it I have been the perfect temperature in summer months.
+ good length arms (not too short), round neck for sun protection, loose fit for summer
Best Hiking Kit Clothes Review – Hiking Mid-Layers
Jack Wolfskin Tokee Fleece £35 – Cotswold Outdoor
I have a really thin and lightweight Jack Wolfskin fleece. It’s been put through a fair few washes and it hasn’t started to bobble yet, which is normally my experience of fleeces. Sizing is slightly on the small side, so I went up a size. I sometimes wear it when it’s too warm for my Montane Prism jacket, or to go under it (but that’s normally in the evening – I’d be too warm to walk in both while pulling my buggy). It’s also a great piece to wear over my thermal in my sleeping bag. I always opt for full zip fleeces. Simple reason – you can wear them longer before getting too hot.
+ lightweight, packs small, no bobbling, full zip
– runs on the small size – best to go up a size
Best Hiking Kit Review – Hiking Waterproofs
I’m still on the hunt for a waterproof jacket that isn’t Goretex / Goretex Pro. My personal experience (and many long-distance hikers and cyclists say the same) is that it doesn’t perform. I’m thinking of using what many others do, a poncho for winter. If you have recommendations, please drop them in the comments below.
Berghaus Paclite Gore Tex Waterproof Trousers £110 – Cotswold Outdoor
My Berghaus Gore Tex Paclite waterproof trousers work much better than any Gore Tex jackets I’ve used, (they don’t get hammered as much in the rain as a jacket), although I’m never 100 percent dry on the bottom part of my calf or ankle. However, they’re really easy to put on as they have waterproof zips right to the top which can be left fully or partially open on warmer days. They’re also really lightweight. I’m not sure anything keeps you 100 percent dry when you’re out for 8-12 hours in torrential rain and camping on top, so would I recommend these? Yes.
+ lightweight, full-length waterproof zips, membrane (Gore Tex) waterproofing
– the ankle/calf area does get wet in torrential rain
Best Hiking Kit Review – Socks
It doesn’t matter how waterproof you think your boots are, take a pair of waterproof Sealskinz socks with you. They act like magic. They have a layer of neoprene between two sock layers (looks like a think bin bag to be honest) which keeps most of the water at bay. If you’ve ever had to hike with canals in your boots, you know what a nightmare that is. It causes blisters and a miserable walk.
Sealskinz Waterproof Walking Socks £33 (but quite often on sale) – Cotswold Outdoor
These are not cheap, but I’ve worn my Sealskinz socks for around 3/4 of my trip. This pair is thick. The plus to that is comfort and not having sodden feet. The downside is they start to smell like damp dog after a good few uses as it’s impossible to dry them completely, especially when camping. After a lot of use, you will start to notice these hiking socks feel damp, but not much more than that. Not soaking. Not drenched. A bit damp. But no blisters. No wrinkly, wet skin.
+ keep water at bay, comfortable, thick, used & abused and no holes
– they don’t dry brilliantly when camping and therefore have a damp smell
Sealskinz Waterproof Hiking Sock £35 (but quite often on sale) – Cotswold Outdoor
These thinner Sealskinz waterproof socks mean they dry much better (so they don’t smell) and therefore they’re great for summer use. However, my ones got a hole after about 3-4 weeks where my big toe is, even with clipped talons.
+ lighter and good for summer; dry quickly
– mine got a hole where my big toe is after about a month
Bridgedale Coolfusion Light Hiker £15 – Cotswold Outdoor
When the ground wasn’t wet or it wasn’t chucking it down, I wore these Bridgedale socks. They’re nice and comfy, dry fast and were not threadbare, either. I wore them every night to sleep in, too. They don’t have merino in them, instead they have polyester, cotton and nylon, designed to keep feet cool in warm climates.
+ light, stretchy, dry well
Jane Batchelor is currently hiking 2,500 miles through Britain, looking at the history of the country in chronological order. For more photos, follow her Facebook and Instagram pages. To find out more about her journey, click here.