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  • Writer's pictureHiker Heather

Gear & Clothing Favourites 2022

Updated: Jan 8, 2023

A quick look at some of the clothing and gear items that I've been using and enjoying over the past year...

'Ello mates! I hope that you are well and that you've been enjoying the start of the winter season! I know that that so many of you, like me, are huge gear-heads and so I thought that since we are approaching the end of the year, that I would do a round-up of some of my favourite gear and clothing items that I've been using and enjoying throughout 2022, since my Full Gear & Clothing List blog which you can find here.


Enjoy, my fellow gear-heads :)


Patagonia R1 Air Crew Fleece

As you already know, I absolutely love the Patagonia Synchilla fleeces, they are a total vibe and I just adore them, however, they are not the lightest of options, weighing in at around 363 grams a piece. I was therefore on the look out for something a little lighter to take with me for my hike of the Northern Section of the Cape Wrath Trail. I mean, some people probably wouldn't actually feel the need to take a fleece to the Scottish Highlands in August but believe me, it can get cold in Scotland, even in the middle of August and if I am being honest, I generally always carry a fleece, no matter the weather, in my very humble opinion, they offer a level of comfort and cosiness that you cant get from a down jacket alone... I turn to Patagonia as a brand, time after time, why? Quite simply, because they care... They are an extremely ethical brand who are constantly making a conscious effort to make as little impact on our environment as possible, they sell durable and lasting products, they offer a repair and reuse program and they follow robust environmental and animal welfare principals for sourcing their materials. They also offer safe, fare, legal and humane working conditions at all of their production facilities...

So, let's have a look at the fleece itself, I purchased the men's version, as I often do (I often prefer the colour options and fit in the men's versions). You can find a link to the fleece here. Here are some of the specifications -

  • Lightweight, breathable and quick drying

  • Made from 100% recycled polyester

  • Fair Trade Certified, made in Sri Lanka

  • Jacquard fleece with hollow-core yarns featuring a unique zig-zag texture that wicks moisture, dries fast and is highly breathable

  • Off-shoulder seams which fit comfortably under pack straps

  • Left chest pocket for easy stashing of small items

  • Weight 275 grams

So, what are my thoughts on the fleece? I love it! It was perfect for the purpose that I bought it for, it made the perfect mid-layer to pop over my t-shirt whilst on the Cape Wrath Trail. I made a saving of around 100 grams from my usual Patagonia Synchilla fleece, it was comfortable and warm but most certainly not too warm and it felt very breathable, I never at all felt sweaty of confined in the fleece. Comfort is always a huge factor for me and this fleece most certainly ticks that box. I can indeed also attest to the fact that it is quick drying, I fell into many a bog on the Cape Wrath Trail and even after washing the remnants of bog and bog stench off the fleece in a stream, the fleece would dry very quickly. I would 10/10 recommend this fleece!


Arcteryx Beta LT Jacket

Whilst the Rab Downpour Jacket that I had been using previously had served me fairly well on the low-level, long distance trails, I knew that it wouldn't be suitable for use in the mountains or the other adventures that I had planned for 2022. As if by absolute magic, I was then lucky enough to receive this Beta jacket as a gift from a friend, back in January... I have used the jacket extensively and pretty much exclusively on all of my adventures since then... So, let's have a look at what this jacket has to offer -

  • Made from N40p Gore-Tex fabric with 3L tricot technology - wowser, that's a tongue twister!

  • DWR (Durable Water Repellent Finish)

  • Two hand pockets with Watertight zippers

  • Adjustable helmet compatible Stormhood

  • Water and windproof

  • Die-cut velcro cuff adjusters

  • Pit zippers for easy ventilation

  • Taped seams for added waterproofing

  • Weight 350 grams

So, what are my thoughts on the jacket? I have thoroughly enjoyed using this jacket and hope to use it for many years to come. It is comfortable and most importantly, it kept me dry during that biblical weather that I encountered on the Southern Section of the Cape Wrath Trail (as dry as any good waterproof would - all jackets have their limits) and also during the pretty horrific weather that I experienced back in May whilst climbing on the Isle of Skye, the jacket is fairly quick drying too. The jacket is strong and robust and I can see no sign of wear despite the heavy use that it has had throughout the year, in some real harsh environments and weather. I think my only real complaint would be with the hood, whilst it is adjustable, I do find that wearing it without a helmet, it is just slightly too large and often flaps around your face and struggles to stay up in any amount of wind. I would say, however, that I do generally find this to be an issue with all jackets where the hoods are helmet compatible so I wouldn't say that this is necessarily a fault with this jacket in particular, more of a gripe that I have with helmet-compatible jackets in general really. I would therefore have no hesitation in recommending this jacket to anyone who is on the market for a robust, reliable mid-weight jacket.


Buffalo Mountain Shirt

This iconic jacket had been on my wish list for very many years until I was kindly gifted the jacket by a friend for my birthday (I know, how lucky am I?!?! Thank you so so much, Chris! Your friendship means the world to me!!). I received the jacket just before my road trip up to Assynt, which you can read about here.


The Mountain Shirt is intended to be used as a single-layer garment for winter use, it is meant to work most effectively when it is worn next to the skin. The jacket is both rain and wind resistant, whilst also providing incredible warmth. Buffalo's website states that sizing is important as the shirt should be close fitting but not restrictive. The jacket is used by the Mountain Rescue and other outdoor professionals. Here are some of the specifications for jacket -

  • Teclite lined internal storm baffles on the neck and side zips

  • Touch-and-close adjustment tabs

  • Touch-and-close attachment on collar for hood

  • Scooped back which is 10cm longer than the front

  • Handwarmer pocket

  • Large front map pocket

  • Tape and buckle waist adjuster

  • Eight ventilation controls on each shirt, including two-way side zips

  • Weight 601 grams

So, what are my thoughts on the jacket? Well... I hate to break it to you (or your bank balance! £££) but it is an absolute dream! There is a reason that this jacket is so iconic, mates! I'll be honest, I couldn't quite get my head around wearing the jacket with just a sports bra underneath, I've been used to layering for all of my outdoor life and so just to have done with all of that and to just simply whack a thick jacket over my sports bra, well, I just couldn't do it, okay?! I therefore wore the jacket over a thin baselayer, in a hope that it would have the same effect as wearing it next to the skin hahaha! The jacket was a pure delight, let me tell you - that fleece lining is SO cosy (the jacket felt like a hug!), the jacket kept me warm at all times but never did I feel too warm - no more messing around putting on and taking off various layers throughout the day! What?! Yes, you heard me right... no more stopping to take layers off 5 mins into the walk, only to stop again 10 mins into the walk to put same said layer back on again!! In terms of the sizing, its a bit of an odd one and I did struggle trying to find the right size whilst ordering online, so I would recommend you find them in a shop and try them on as I do think I probably could have done with the smaller size, for reference, I am a UK size 6 or 8 with a fairly athletic, slim frame and I opted for size 34. I was caught in 40-50mph up on the summit of Suilven and I also got caught in a downpour whilst making my way back to the car and the jacket performed amazingly well in both situations. Lastly, the jacket feels incredibly robust and hard-wearing, it is extremely well made and will no doubt last for many, many years to come (just as outdoor gear should, imo!).


Scarpa Mescalito GTX Approach Shoe

As most of you will know, my footwear of choice for all of my long distance hikes, summer mountain days and general wear continues to be the Altra Lone Peak. I have walked hundreds, if not thousands of miles in Lone Peaks. Lone Peaks are a minimalist, zero-drop, barefoot shoe and I have experienced many of the great barefoot benefits as a result of wearing these shoes over such a prolonged period - my feet and ankles have strengthened tenfold, my feet now splay in the manner that a healthy foot should, thanks to the natural footshape design and wide toe box - my feet are now actually a full size bigger as a result of this! Back at the beginning of the year, however, I was in the market for a mountain shoe in preparation for heading up to climb on Isle of Skye. I was confident enough to opt for a shoe rather than a boot as I have strong feet and ankles, thanks to the Altras, so I didn't feel that I needed the additional ankle support, however, I wanted a shoe that was fairly wide fitting, the last thing that I wanted to do was squeeze my feet into a narrow rigid shoe or boot after being so used to the freedom and benefit of barefoot, minimalist shoes... I decided that finding the right shoe was no task for the Internet, on this occasion, and that I would need to go to shops, in person, to find the right shoe and so that is what I did, eventually choosing the Scarpa Mescalito GTX approach shoe (they offer both Gore-Tex (GTX) and non Gore-Tex versions of this shoe). So, let's have a look at the specifications of the shoes -

  • The Mescalito GTX a technical shoe designed for long approaches and more technical scrambling in damp conditions

  • Durable suede upper

  • Versatile mountain shoe

  • Waterproof Gore-Tex Extended Comfort Membrane

  • Virbram Megagrip outsole

  • Weight 820 grams

And finally, my thoughts on the shoes? These are an amazing shoe that offered 'out of the box' comfort, I didn't have a great deal of time to wear these shoes in prior to heading up to Skye but I wore them every day for that week spent climbing on the island, most of which was spent in rain and quite terrible weather and these shoes served me perfectly! They have a decent amount of cushioning on the inside and back of the shoe meaning that I never had to contend with dreaded blisters. Some of the days spent climbing on Skye were incredibly long and wet and these shoes kept me dry and comfortable all day (well, for the entire week, actually!). Thankfully, my barefoot loving feet didn't feel at all restricted in these shoes and I still felt nimble in them, as I do my Altras and they provided excellent traction, even on wet rock. The shoes feel light on the foot, not heavy and clunky as some boots can often feel. I have since used these shoes during my recent time spent in Assynt and once again, the shoes served me perfectly for climbing the mountains of Assynt.


Nitecore NU25 Headlamp

I am sure that some of you will have witnessed my recent misadventure over on my Instagram stories, where I was spectacularly blown off the side of the mountain in the middle of the night, breaking my new tent in the process... Oh what a scene it was, then only to realise that my 'trusty' old headlamp was quite clearly as much use as a chocolate flipping teapot, whilst trying to get off the mountain at 3am in the morning! I mean, I can look back and laugh at the whole debacle now but being solo on a mountain at 3am in the morning, battling with the wind and rain, trying to find your way off the mountain, in the pitch black with a headlamp that was offering very little visibility was fairly scary and really quite dangerous! Needless to say, I replaced my headlamp immediately upon my return from that trip. I had already previously been looking at the Nitecore headlamp as a potential replacement for my very old Petzl headlamp. The Nitecore is currently popular within the ultralight backpacking community since it only weighs in at 51g, it then also came recommended to me by my friend Rob, who is both a bikepacker and backpacker and has hiked both the PCT and CDT in his time, amongst many other amazing achievements and so I decided to purchase one to try out for myself... Here are the mega specs for this mighty little headlamp -


  • Weight: 0.99 oz. / 28 g (excluding headband) / 1.8 oz. / 51 g (including headband)

  • Dimensions: 2.19" x 1.36" x 0.91"

  • Built-in power indicator

  • Lockout function to prevent accidental activation

  • Red light function

  • USB chargeable

  • 360 lumens

  • Up to 160 hours runtime with each charge

And, my thoughts? From the little use I have had of the lamp so far, I am enjoying it, it offers SO much more light than my battered old Petzl headlamp. I can't attest to its battery life as I've probably not had it on for longer than an hour in total, so far, but I like the fact that it is USB chargeable so you don't have to carry spare batteries (other than your usual battery pack), as I did for my Petzl which was not USB chargeable. The lamp seems to be quite robust, its certainly not flimsy or cheap feeling, considering it only weights 51g. I am sure that I will use and enjoy this headlamp for many years to come, it is most certainly worth considering if you are in the market for an ultralight headlamp but, like me, don't like the look of the really thin straps on say that of the Petzl Bindi (they just look so uncomfy and faffy!), which is another popular ultralight headlamp on the market at the moment.


Opsrey Aura AG 65 Backpack

My previous backpack of choice had been the Mariposa 60 by Gossamer Gear. The Mariposa is an incredibly popular choice within the ultralight backpacking community over in USA and is used by many to hike the likes of the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail. I had purchased the backpack back in March of 2021 and since went on to use it on the Cumbria Way, South Downs Way, Great Glen Way, Cotswold Way, West Highland Way, half of the Cape Wrath Trail and many weekend trips in between, I probably hiked around 800 miles in total with the Mariposa... Well, imagine my horror when I was sat down on the train on my way up to Fort William to the start of the Cape Wrath Trail, already nervous, only to find that all of the stitching was coming away on one of the shoulder straps of my backpack - the pack that would carry all of my gear for the next 250 miles on the Cape Wrath Trail... I proceeded to wrap the strap in layers Gorilla tape, reinforcing it at various points, nervously concluding that the strap would *hopefully* hold out for the remainder of the trip... I contacted Gossamer Gear upon my return, since I was just a couple of months outside of the 1 year warranty, so I hoped that they may be able to help, but unfortunately Gossamer Gear were unable to help or offer any type of resolution or repair service... I couldn't help be a little disappointed... I had only owned the bag just over a year and it had cost £300.00, I just couldn't help but feel that £300 was just a little too steep for only a year of use, albeit fairly heavy use... Upon my return from the first half of the Cape Wrath Trail, I had no choice but to quickly look for a replacement pack... I had already decided that I wouldn't be in the market for another ultralight pack this time round, that I would look for a more sturdy and robust pack, which would hopefully be better suited to the terrain and environment that my adventures often take me to, even if it meant adding more weight, I simply couldn't afford to replace my backpack on a yearly basis, I eventually decided to go with a good old traditional Osprey since they have always been known to be reliable and robust...

I chose the Aura AG 65 backpack in size small, here are the specifications for the pack -


Weight: 2.1 kg

Dimensions (CM): 82H 39W 36D

Fabric: 210D Nylon Honey Comb Contrast Recy BSAPP C0

Volume: XS/S: 62L M/L: 65L

Features

• Included raincover made with PFC/PFAS-free DWR and bluesign approved materials

• Curved zip access on each side panel

• Floating top lid with lash points

• Fabric reinforced front shove-it pocket

• Tall dual-access side water bottle pockets

• Dual upper/lower side compression straps

• Dual zipped hipbelt pockets

• Dual ice axe loops with upper compression strap capture

• Zipped sleeping bag compartment with removable divider

• Removable sleeping pad straps

• Internal hydration reservoir sleeve with center back exit port

• Stow-on-the Go trekking pole attachment system

• Two zipped front pockets provide additional organisation options


And, my thoughts? I have since used the pack to hike the Tour Du Mont Blanc and the second half of the Cape Wrath Trail (around 250 miles in total) and I absolutely adore it, it is so comfortable! Despite the fact that the pack weighs over 1kg more(!) than my previous Mariposa, it actually makes the load feel a lot lighter and carries the weight much better than the Mariposa did. The Mariposa would often rub and cut into my shoulders after a prolonged period on the trail and by the end of each day on the trail with the Mariposa, I would feel fatigued by the weight of my pack, but this this was not the case with the Osprey, thanks to the AntiGravity suspension system, the Osprey carried the weight with ease. The pack seems incredibly strong and robust, it is showing little-to-no sign of wear despite the fact that it was put into the hold of an airplane when I travelled over to France for the TMB and also despite the fact that it was dragged through 150 miles of some of the most rugged, remote and rough areas of the Scottish Highlands on the Northern Section of Cape Wrath Trail. I hope that the pack will last for many years to come, I am pleased to report that it already appears to be a lot better suited to the environments and terrain that I hike in and the nature of the trips that I undertake - I am so pleased with the pack! This whole experience with a more traditional pack, being able to compare it with my experience with the ultralight pack over such extensive use has certainly made me look to the more traditional brands and items, rather than the ultralight that I had been favouring previously so you might see a lot more traditional/ non-ultralight pieces popping up on my gear lists in the future!

Garmin Etrex 32x

My Garmin Etrex 32x was yet another purchase made just before the Cape Wrath Trail, if you've read the guidebooks or anything at all about the Cape Wrath Trail then you will be warned against the remote and challenging terrain, you will be warned against hiking the trail unless you have excellent navigation skills, you will be warned about the remote, pathless, featureless sections of the trail and by the time you've finished reading all of the warnings then probably, like me, you will end up questioning your navigation abilities and so I decided to add the Etrex to my ever-growing set of navigation tools for the trip - map & compass, OS Maps on my phone, guidebook, why not add a GPS device too?! I only felt it safe after reading the many warnings... Here are the specifications for the Garmin Etrex 32x-

  • Size 5.4cm x 10.3cm x 3.3cm

  • Weight (with batteries): 141g

  • Screen: 3.5cm x 4.4cm transflective colour TFT, 240px x 320px

  • Battery life: up to 25 hours

  • Battery: 2 x AA (not included - rechargeable recommended)

  • Waterproofing: IPX7

  • 8 GB internal memory

  • Accepts microSD cards for additional mapping (not included)

  • ANT+ connection for accessories

  • 3-axis electronic compass

  • Barometric altimeter

  • Preloaded with TOPO Active Europe map - 46 countries

And my finally, my thoughts? This is another fantastic bit of kit and I cant recommend it enough! It came into it's own when I was on the Cape Wrath Trail during those 8 days and nights of biblical rain, it saved having to get a map out or risk getting my phone wet, both Jim and I used it as our primary source of navigation during those 8 days and I continued to use it as my primary source of navigation for the last half of the trail too. The device is great for long distance trails as it saves using your precious phone battery and also uses 2 x AA batteries and therefore doesn't require any charge from your equally as precious battery packs. The device is efficient, simple and easy to use. The device is tough and robust and I imagine that it will be another reliable device that I will use for many years to come.


Garmin InReach Mini 2

I get so many questions over on my Instagram about this little bit of kit! So many people message asking 'what is that little red thing on your shoulder!'. The 'little red thing' is a Garmin Inreach Mini 2, the Inreach is a satellite communicator and SOS device which allows you to keep in touch with friends and family and most importantly, contact the emergency services, even when there is no mobile phone network, thanks to its global satellite coverage. The amount of time I spent deliberating before eventually buying the Inreach was hilarious, the Inreach just isn't cheap, the device itself comes in at around £350.00 but in addition to the initial cost for the device, you require a monthly subscription (which range from £14.99 per month to £64.99 per month). I ended up caving and buying it just before the Cape Wrath Trail, which is known for its lack of mobile phone coverage. Here are the specifications for the Inreach -

  • Compact, lightweight satellite communicator enables two-way messaging and interactive SOS globally (active satellite subscription required)

  • Navigate back to where you started by using TracBack® routing

  • Share your location with loved ones back home at any time (active satellite subscription required) by using your MapShare™ page or with your coordinates embedded in your messages

  • Get accurate heading information using the digital compass - even when you’re not moving

  • Sync with the Garmin Explore™ app and website on your compatible smartphone for trip planning and topographical mapping, and create way points, courses, activities and collections you can sync to your device

  • Pair with Garmin devices, such as wearables and handhelds, and use them to send and receive messages and trigger an SOS (active satellite subscription required)

  • Battery life: up to 14 days in 10-minute tracking mode

And finally, my thoughts? This 'little red thing' is quite simply a lifesaver! I only wish I had bought one sooner and I would highly recommend that anyone who spends any amount of time in remote areas should carry one of these, both for the safety of yourself and the potential safety of others around you too. I certainly felt slightly more safe and equipped with this little thing attached to my shoulder, accidents and mistakes can of course always happen outdoors, there is always a level of risk, the InReach just offers an additional layer of protection in those more remote areas. The Inreach has also provided my family with a level of comfort, that they didn't have previously, whilst I have been on my adventures, which has been huge... I can now check in with my family every morning and night, or whenever I want, regardless of whether I have phone signal. Of course, I hope that I will never have to reach for the SOS button but I am at least safe in the knowledge that is is an option, should I ever need it.


Lastly, I just want to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, mates! I really can't thank you enough all of the support since launching this blog back in February of this year and a huge thanks also for the continued support over on my Instagram @hiker_heather



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