The UK’s winter season can be mediocre sometimes, so when the temperature drops and the white stuff covers its national parks, everyone flocks outside – including me.
Arc’teryx kindly lent me their Beta AR hardshell jacket from their Gear Library for the weekend. The scheme enables customers to test premium Arc’teryx kit before purchasing, which is ideal when you’re making investment purchases like hardshell jackets. For the piece of kit I had chosen, the Arc’teryx Beta AR hardshell jacket, I was keen to test it with a hiking weekend around the Brecon Beacons and Gower peninsula.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you’ve probably noticed my bright red backpack in a majority of my hiking posts. After purchasing the Osprey Women’s Talon (now renamed Tempest) 33-litre rucksack a few years ago, it has become my go-to bag for weekend hikes and day trips. Continue reading →
A couple of months ago in the last fading rays of summer light, I made a resolution to maintain my summer cardio fitness levels year-round. No more excuses of evenings getting dark too soon, or Christmas festivities getting in the way, this year I was going to make sure I stayed at peak, all-round fitness 365 days a year. And in that spirit, I signed up for the Osteoporosis Society’s 10k run around Hyde Park on Saturday. Continue reading →
Back 2 the Trenches, a punishing obstacle course that combines steep, hilly terrain with over 70 military-related obstacles, advertises itself as a tough, yet achievable race. With runners offered the choice of 5km, 10km and 20km routes, the event offers something for almost everyone.Continue reading →
I’m really excited to share the latest product in my new post. I recently discovered them at the Arch climbing wall’s shop (that place gets me every time!) and have since fallen in love with all their products. They are the slightly ominous-sounding Bleed. Don’t let the name fool you though, they’re one of the greenest companies around. Continue reading →
With the sun (finally) peeking its head out of the clouds in the UK, I am already anticipating long summer days spent hiking around national parks and weekends exploring cities. To help me make the most of my explorations, Gregory packs recently let me test their new SULA 18L women’s rucksack, which offers added lumbar support and ventilation – ideal for intensely sunny days. Luckily the weekend’s sunny forecast meant I didn’t have to wait long to put Gregory’s SULA daypack to the test.
I doubt I am the only woman that struggles to find a sports bra that is equally comfortable without squeezing the life out of my boobs, and offering decent anti-bouncing? Right? Furthermore, I also like my clothing, exercise-wear or otherwise to be easily interchangeable with the myriad of sports I practice.
It may come as little surprise to you then that I often find sports bra shopping similar to that of jeans shopping; time-consuming, at times painful, and often fruitless. So as I was spending one lunchtime afternoon scrolling the troughs of Google for sports bras, I came across Striders Edge’s E-Padded Bra. Boasting itself to be suitable for a range of medium impact sports, good looking and comfortable, I suddenly felt my mouse move to the checkout basket and two Paypal clicks later I was the owner of one said E-Padded Bra.
So by now you may want to know a little about the specifications of the E-Padded bra. It features removable cups that either give you a light boost or can be easily removed for a realistic fit. Now I don’t want to look busty like a Victoria’s Secret model (I’ve got enough to focus on when climbing, without my boobs falling out or hitting me in the face), but it’s nice to look a bit perky up top. Not to mention, the cups offer great nipple coverage when it is cold outside. The fabric is soft and smooth, and features a racerback design that fits well under other sportswear.
The aspect I noticed most with the E-Padded bra was its breatheability and how well the seams were constructed. After wearing it 8 hours a day when hiking through Scotland and Peru in intense heat, it remained dry throughout and the seams did not dig into my back, even with the weight of my bag pressing on it.
As for yoga and climbing, the E-Padded bra has become my go-to item; it offers good support without restricting my length of movement, which is essential if I’m doing some overhangs or dynoing up a fang.
The only sport I won’t recommend using it for is long-distance running; to be fair, the bra is only intended for medium and low-impact activities, and for those, it does the job well.
Finding a summer hat that simultaneously protects your face from the UV rays whilst looking good is like striking gold. Most high street options are flimsy and crumble against the elements. Of course, there is always those crisp white hats your grandparents wear, but sacrificing over £70 and the knowledge that you will resemble an antiquated BBC documentary host are factors few people are willing to accept.
So when Tarp Hats got in contact with me about testing one of their namesakes, one quick look and read made me confident I had hit the jackpot (in vogue sun protection, anyway).
But first: what is a Tarp Hat I hear you ask?
Way back when trucks were the primary use of goods transport in the Amazon, tarpaulins were used to cover and protect the trucks and goods. Over the years the tarpaulins became worn from the elements and were discarded in the remote villages in Brazil.
Tarp Hats are constructed by the local villagers in Brazil using the discard tarpaulins and giving them a new lease of life. Each hat is waterproofed to protect against increment weather and brass eyelets are used to prevent rusting.
These are pretty big claims for what looks like an incongruous hat, and so I decided I really wanted to put it through its paces, starting with a little jaunt over the Malverns.
The first trip was an initial test to see how it would cope with a general summer day’s hike the average joe would take. What started as a harmless walk through fields of wildflowers……
……escalated quickly into a tiring 20+ mile hike through all the Malverns on a blustery day, to the summit of Great Malvern.
Luckily the Tarp Hat pulled through, only blowing off twice against the fierce wind and the brim proved wide enough to protect my face from sunburn. On a side note ladies, it also gave me much less hat hair than any other hat I have tried in the past. Sure, it’s not the most important thing when outdoors, but every little helps, right?
So overall, the Tarp Hat could easily handle what the Malverns threw at it. However, the Malverns were going to look like a walk to the shops compared to the next test I put the Tarp Hat through: a long-distance hike through Scotland.
Rain and sun, beaches, storms and their gales of wind, not to mention the surprisingly endless summer hours of blistering heat trudging up and down pine forests and hills, the Tarp Hat performed well throughout all the elements, and then some.
Of course, I then decided to test the Tarp Hat through even harsher, more varied terrain: the Salkantay mountain pass to Macchu Picchu. Frosty mountains, rainforests, scorching days spent traversing desert hills and roads, the Tarp Hat proved to be in its element, whatever the elements.
After all the adventures we have been on together these past few months, it’s fair to say the Tarp Hat has become another trusty edition to my essential kit list for the outdoors. In fact, it hasn’t just been popular with me alone – countless other hikers, guides and friends have tried it or expressed interest in the Tarp Hat, proving it makes friends wherever it goes.
It is not only the fit and the durability of the Tarp Hat that makes me like it so much, but also the company itself. The hats are produced by the local villagers using materials that would have otherwise been littered in the Amazon, thus giving jobs to a remote region and creating treasures from trash. In addition to this, 50p of every hat purchased goes towards installing freshwater wells to remote villages in the Brazilian Amazonian rainforest. The video below shows one of the typical villages in the Amazon that is helped by Tarp Hats.
It is rare that I find myself so enthusiastic about products, but Tarp Hat’s ability to combine a simple, good idea with eco-friendliness and sustainable, social practices can only make me like it further.
If you have stuck with this blog for awhile, you probably already know I’m a big fan of howies. This small, independent company sits in Carmarthen, Wales, making lots of outdoor clothing and accessories for us outdoor types. Funny enough, I also love receiving their newsletters filled with refreshing, friendly words, warnings to get off social media and get outdoors, and regular discounts, which I think is saying something considering most brand newsletters go straight to the spam folder for a majority of people.
So you can imagine my delight when their newsletter pinged in my inbox this afternoon. Even more so when I saw they are currently offering 10% off and freepost to anyone who buys a merino wool baselayer before midnight on Monday May 11th.
Their long-sleeved merino tops are a wardrobe staple of mine and have so far lasted three years, so I can vouch for their quality. However they can also be a little on the pricey side, and I understand that wallets and purses work really hard, and deserve a break from time to time, so here is the code to use at checkout:
The best part? If after 30 days you don’t like it, simply wash your merino baselayer, send it back and howies will refund you your money. Have a good weekend folks!