Tag Archives: clothing

Product Review: Bleed T-shirt

Bleed shirt 2

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

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Get 10% off Howie’s Merino Wool Baselayers

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:

MERINOTEN

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!

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Common Souvenir Scams in Nepal and How to Avoid Them

With its combination of bohemian jewellery, exotic spices, scents and trinkets, colourful clothing and cheap prices, Nepal is an ideal place to easily grab gifts from your travels for friends and family back home. As with any destination however, there are a myriad of tricks or scams around to encourage travellers to part with more of their cash than necessary. Take a look at a few of the most common souvenir scams in Nepal, and remember to take a second look before buying when you are next on your travels!

Bone – After spending only a few days in Nepal, chances are you will see anything and everything made out of yak bone, with jewellery and kitchen utensils being the most popular. However it is fairly obvious after awhile that if all the products sold to tourists in Nepal were real yak bone, then there would hardly be any yaks left in the country. In reality, much of the items purported as yak bone is cheap plastic. If you do wish to buy a souvenir made from yak bone, make sure you take a close look at its surface; bone tends to be more porous, and a texture similar to wood. Also, don’t be afraid to give it a light tap with your fingernail, which should tell you whether it is plastic or not.

Cheap branded outdoor gear – North Face for £10? Gore-tex mountaineering jackets for a quarter of the price they charge back home? If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Nepalese tourist companies will often advise visitors to purchase their trekking kit in Nepal, and for some items, like basic ventilation tops, water bottles, etc., it is a good idea. However it is best to be aware that much of the branded items the outdoors stores stock are either knock-offs or are used gear bought off of previous travellers. If you want to buy the real branded gear, several of the most popular outdoor brands like Mountain Hardware and Black Yak have their own flagship stores in Kathmandu, while The North Face also has a store in Pokhara. The prices will be closer to those charged in Western countries, but will still be a little cheaper than back home.

Semi-precious stones and metals – Jewellery is arguably one of the most popular souvenirs in Nepal, whether it is Buddhist prayer beads, pendants with Hindu or Buddhist symbols, or Bohemian-esque earrings, bangles and chunky rings made from semi-precious stones such as amber, turquoise or garnet. Like yak bone though, many of the items touted as ‘semi-precious’ stones are just as likely to be made from plastic, glass or cheap metals, rather than silver. If you are looking to purchase a particular type of stone, do some research beforehand for tell-tale signs or characteristics to look out for before heading off on your trip. Generally synthetic stones are heavier than semi-precious stones as they are more dense. Also, glass stones tend to have bubbles or small scratches in the stones, while synthetic stones will have imperfections inside the stone. If you plan on buying jewellery in the city, take a look at all their jewellery; if you notice a couple of items are fake, there is a good chance other goods will be too.

Pashminas – These scarves are ubiquitous with shopping in Nepal, with practically every store selling some version of a ‘pashmina’. However, many stores take advantage of the fact that very few travellers are knowledgeable about the material and craftsmanship involved in making one of these scarves, and instead the term ‘pashmina’ has given rise to a subversive product made from a combination of viscose, silk, wool or a small quantity of cheap cashmere and produced in bulk lots. In reality pashminas are made from very fine cashmere wool sourced from the extremely rare Pashmina goats in India, Nepal and Pakistan. They are renowned for being very soft and fine to the touch; in fact, they are so fine they can’t hold any embroidery thread. To find out more about the pashmina market in Nepal, check out this very helpful thread from Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree Forum here.  Be aware however that a majority of pashminas in Nepal are fakes, and if you want to see the top quality a store offers, you will need to ask them outright and expect the quality to be reflected in the price tag.

Yak wool – There has been much attention to yak wool in the outdoor media recently, with people questioning whether it is better than merino wool. Many people have jumped on the media bandwagon, and now yak wool is another popular item traveller look for in Nepal. Do some research before buying however, as in some cases in Nepal items purported as ‘yak wool’ are simply brushed merino wool. As far as souvenir scams go, its probably the least annoying one yet and you are still receiving a good deal for an item that would cost a lot of money back home. When looking for yak wool however, keep in mind that some places will sell yak hair as yak wool. Although the two sound the same, yak hair sits on the top of the yak’s hide, while yak wool is the inner insulation layer that yaks grow during winter to keep them warm, and then shed in the spring. Yak hair feels coarse and itchy, while yak wool is soft, similar to that of cashmere.

Have you got any advice for travellers when it comes to buying souvenirs?

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Outdoor Gear You Want to Use in Public: Finisterre Alize Tee

For many outdoor enthusiasts and travellers, buying outdoor gear can be an excitable prospect. Choosing from the range of bright colours, learning about the latest technology invested in the item, and the anticipation of trying it out on the hills (or mountains, oceans, winds, etc) is a source of delight for many. However for every person that shrieks with glee at the sight of a neon purple and green waterproof, there is equally someone wincing in pain as the coat offends their eyesight. For every person that buys the latest season of Five Fingers Barefoot shoes, there is someone loudly complaining about the ugliness of the trainer. And so on and so forth.

So great has the furore of complaints about outdoor clothing been, in fact, that the subject has been broached by The Guardian. And so, in an effort to prove that outdoor clothing can be both functional and stylish, this regular blog post will feature clothing that you will be excited to wear both outdoors and out about town. 

Made from 80% merino wool and 20% polymide, the Alize Tee by Finisterre is equally comfortable to wear trekking as well as everyday use. The slouch fit makes it blend in to urban settings, unlike the athletic fit found in many outdoor clothing, and is an ideal choice for those that plan to do a mixture of urban sightseeing and trekking on their travels. Plus, the merino wool is sourced from non-mulesed Australian sheep farms, and processed and knitted by EU eco-label certified spinners in Portugal.  A tee that can multitask?- this one is going straight onto the gear list.
For more information, or to purchase, take a look at Finisterre’s website here: http://www.finisterreuk.com/shop/womens/clothing/womens-tees/alize-stripe-tee-biscay.html
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Top Tips for Repelling Mosquito Bites

After all the hot weather we’ve had in London recently, not to mention my upcoming trips to Pakistan, Nepal and Qatar, it is only natural that my thoughts have been buzzing (apologies for the poor pun) with mosquito repellents. After growing up in Florida and spending much of my time and trips outdoors in warm, insect-ridden areas, I’ve come to learn a thing or two about keeping mosquitoes at bay. Take a look below and see whether some of these will work for you!

Bug Spray

This might seem like an obvious choice, but when looking for a mosquito repellent make sure you choose one which contains DEET. Diethyl Toluamide (DEET) was originally developed for the US Army in 1946, and it has been in production ever since to repel mosquitoes from the skin. DEET can come in a variety of sprays, lotions, and liquids, but take care when applying. DEET is a very potent chemical and has been known to damage synthetic clothing and jewellery, and those with sensitive skin should test it on a small area beforehand, as it has been known to have adverse affects on sensitive skin.

Clothing

When travelling to a destination where mosquitoes are prominent, it is best to wear baggy, loose clothing in lighter colours rather than form-fitting clothing, as it makes it more difficult for mosquitoes to penetrate the fabric. Generally, a mosquito’s eyesight is not as good as a human’s, so they are better able to see darker shapes than lighter ones. If you want more protection, Craghoppers produce a clothing line called NosiLife soaked in a long-lasting insect-repellent solution that is non-toxic and safe for pregnant women and children to wear. Alternatively, Lifesystems also sells a mosquito repellent fabric spray that can be applied clothing and last for several washes.

Natural Alternatives

If you suffer from sensitive skin, are pregnant or just prefer to keep things natural when it comes to the products you use on your skin, there are several solutions available. They might not work as effectively as chemical-based repellents, but when used in the correct amount can work well.

  • For those of you looking for a more natural solution, make like south-east Asia and use lemongrass. It contains natural citronella oil that when rubbed on the skin or used in a spray, repels mosquitoes, which dislike the scent.
  • Popularised by patio candles, citronella oil is yet another natural oil of which mosquitoes can’t stand the scent.
  • Lemon balm is a popular plant native to Britain, found in many gardens and known to grow like, for a lack of a better term, a weed. However, its lemony scent also wards off mosquitoes.
  • Besides lemongrass, eucalyptus oil is arguably one of the most popular natural mosquito repellent solutions. It is commonly mixed with lemon or lemony balm to create a super-effective repellent solution that lasts for hours.

When using any of these oils however, just remember that the greater the quantity, the better they repel mosquitoes. Try mixing some of the oils together and find the right combination that works best for you!

What are your tips for keeping mosquitoes at bay?

Photo credit: winterofdiscontent / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

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Where to Find Outdoor Gear on the Cheap

karabiner

It is a universal truth that outdoor equipment is expensive. Compared to high street fashion brands, outdoor brands generally produce clothing with a lesser environmental impact, and invest millions of pounds each year towards technological research to provide consumers with the best gear for their travels. Whilst this gives shoppers relief in the knowledge they’re buying ethical products that will work well, it will also cost them more too.

However, if you are willing to do a combination of waiting, researching and are flexible on styles, it is possible to find outdoor equipment for reasonable prices. Listed below are several options for grabbing yourself a gear bargain!

Outlet Stores

This first suggestion might be the most obvious, but the recession has given rise to a slew of discounted outlet stores such as Decathlon, while outdoor brands have also begun to expand their stores into the outlet retail industry. Admittedly when it comes to stores like Go Outdoors or Decathlon, some of the cheaper clothing and footwear options are not long-lasting, but many of the goods they sell are simply from past seasons, lesser-known brands or factory second stock from popular brands.

Member-only Online Sales

If outlet stores were the winners of the retail industry expansion in the recession, then member-only sales websites were the winner of the web sphere. Whilst most of these websites flog high-end designer brands to the public, there are a few outdoor gear websites to keep an eye on. Sites such as www.leftlanesports.com or www.outdoorfusion.co.uk are good options for general outdoors gear, but a simple google search for more niche sports will also bring up results as well.

Sample Sales

Generally sample sales last 1-3 days and are filled with one-off pieces, factory seconds, or last-season items that the stores were unable to flog. To find out about these though, you need to sign up to the mailing list of brands or keep an eagle eye on the local newspaper. However, sample sales are an excellent way to find bargains if you are willing to wait and sift through weekly e-newsletters. Case in point: around two years ago I went to a Howies sample sale in Brick Lane, London, and picked up two organic merino wool baselayer tops for £25 each, the retail price for these usually being between £49-55.

Special Offers

Often times, large outdoor stores will have special offers on seasonal items to entice shoppers inside the store. Many of these items will have been bought as a special one-off order from a particular brand for a discounted price, and are usually leftovers from a previous season or a factory second that didn’t make it into that brand’s seasonal range. If you know what you’re looking for, and don’t mind wearing last season’s threads these items can be good value for money- however make sure you buy them quick, as the stores usually have limited stock available.

Forums/Local Groups

If you are just dipping your toe into hiking (or swimming, climbing, mountaineering, etc.) then purchasing secondhand gear might be a suitable option for you. Of course, make sure you see the item before purchasing, and if you are buying items like stoves or sterilisation pens, make sure with the owner that everything is working properly and safely before making any payment. When looking for used gear, take a look at forums on outdoors websites like http://www.walkingforum.co.uk/index.php?PHPSESSID=1352be5b68ae66197e286025d389e2cb&board=2.0 or secondhand items websites like www.preloved.co.uk. Local outdoors or meetup groups will frequently have members looking to upgrade their gear, so make sure you ask around or check the community message boards for information. On a side note, it is also worth talking to the staff that works in outdoors stores; often times they will have gear they want to sell, or know of someone who will.

Other discounts….

  • Discount cards/codes– many outdoor stores offer discounts for a wide variety of clubs and professions; check before purchasing to see whether you receive a discount. For instance, Cotswold Outdoors offers discounts for nurses, firemen, armed forces, OAP cards, and student discounts to name a (very small) few!
  • Price match– several outdoor stores have a price match policy (they just forget to tell you about it) where they will match or beat the price of any competitor. This can be handy, but be forewarned, many outdoor stores have a policy of not matching Ebay auctions or including postage and packaging for online stores.
  • Stores’ dedicated outlet pages– When outdoor stores have products from premium brands that they want to sell but don’t have enough to stock in their stores, or need to sell it quickly to make room for new stock, they frequently sell it at a discounted rate through their online outlets, such  as Cotswold Outdoor Rock Bottom page, Snow + Rock’s Clearance  and Kathmandu’s Outlet.

Do you have any techniques for finding gear bargains?

Photo credit: Major Steve / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

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