A Guide To Layering Clothes For Hiking

Your hiking outfit needs to be about much more than style – it’s all about practicality. And because of unpredictable weather, you need to be prepared for every eventuality. That means you need items that keep you dry in the rain, others that cool you down when it’s hot, and options for layering up when it’s cold out. Layering clothes allows you to adapt to various weather conditions along the trail, making your trip much more enjoyable. Wondering how to layer clothes effectively? We’ve got a few tips and tricks up our sleeve.

How to layer clothes

Your best bet for travelling comfortably is stocking up on multiple lighter layers rather than dressing in one single or bulky item – that way, you’ll find it much easier to adapt to various weather conditions by either stripping off or layering up as you go. And, if the layers are lighter, it makes it much easier to pack them away into your rucksack when they’re not needed!

But each layer needs to work together to provide a comprehensive hiking outfit that you can wear in one. So each item must complement one another to maximise comfort and efficiency along the trail. There are three basic layers you’ll need when it comes to layering clothes for hiking – your base-layer, mid-layer, and outer-layer clothing. Wondering what does what? We tell all in our guide to layering clothes for hiking below – helping you learn how to layer clothes for winter hiking and cooler temperatures.

Base-Layer Clothing

Base-layer clothing is the foundation of your hiking outfit. It’s better that it’s lightweight and able to dry quickly. As it’s worn next to the skin, moisture-wicking base-layer clothing is your best bet. You need this layer to help regulate your body temperature and draw moisture away from the skin while you’re on the trail. This will help keep you dry and comfortable while trapping in warmth to shelter you from the cold.

Long-sleeved shirts

Our long-sleeved shirts come complete with a range of our innovative technologies. The NosiLife shirts provide outstanding defence against biting insects, a technology that lasts the lifetime of the garment, making it the ideal base-layer clothing for years to come. A number of our long-sleeved shirts are also constructed using our SolarShield technology, with UPF40+ protection against harmful UV rays – because sun protection is important, even when it’s cold.

But most importantly, when it comes to layering clothes, your long-sleeved shirts must be equipped with moisture-wicking capabilities. A number of our long-sleeved shirts are built with moisture control to move body moisture away from the skin, keeping you cool and comfortable.

Long-sleeved t-shirts

Like long-sleeved shirts, long-sleeved T-shirts also act as great base-layer clothing in a more casual setting. The ThermaControl fabric in the Craghoppers’ T-shirts provides technical base-layer clothing for your adventures. This technology allows you to stay on the move without having to stop and start adjusting your layers every five minutes.

Mid-Layer Clothing

Mid-layer clothing is your warming layer – designed to provide extra insulation on cooler adventures, trapping body heat between the layers and forcing sweat vapour to push out of your clothing away from the body. Your mid-layer can consist of multiple layers, depending on the weather conditions and temperature – but if you pack more than one item, you ensure that you have more flexibility and the ability to adapt to a wider range of temperatures.

Fleece

Fleece is the most popular type of mid-layer clothing as it is durable and quick drying. Naturally, the thicker the fleece is, the warmer it will be as the closer-knit fibres will trap in more heat. The Craghoppers’ fleece collection includes both – full and half-zip options, all equipped with extra pockets and made from easy-care materials that will last long into your future adventures. The full range of Craghoppers’ fleece is also constructed using recycled materials, which makes it an eco-friendly choice for environmentally conscious travellers (read more about what makes our fleece here).

Vests

Vests are often overlooked, but if you’re looking for mid-layer clothing, they’re the perfect choice – particularly if you’re after an additional mid-layer to throw on top of your fleece. They’re cut-off, sleeveless versions of jackets that give you freedom of movement for your arms and offer extra insulation for the body, all while locking in core heat as you walk.

Constructed using lightweight materials—like the ThermoPro synthetic fill, which mimics the properties of down—our gilets are a suitable choice for your mid-layer hiking clothing collection. They’re super lightweight but just as effective at keeping you warm. If you’re a little too warm, you can easily store your mid-layer clothing away in your rucksack while you cool off.

Trousers

No hiking outfit is complete without a proper pair of walking trousers. There are various options to choose from, like stretch-fabric trousers, zip-offs and waterproof walking trousers that provide an extra layer of defence against the weather.

Outer-Layer Clothing

Your outer-layer clothing, or the “shell” of your hiking outfit, is there for weather protection. It’s designed to block out the wind, the rain, and the snow, keeping you cool and dry all the while. These are generally waterproof or water-resistant, quick-drying, and durable. A lot of outer-layer clothing is also breathable so that the moisture wicked from your body can escape.

Jackets

Having the right jacket in your walking wardrobe is key for making the most out of the great outdoors. They provide an extra layer of defence between you and the elements, shielding you from windy weather and rain – not to mention locking in even more of that core warmth. You can pick up fleece-lined and insulated jackets, as well as soft-shell jackets that are more lightweight but still just as wind-resistant and effective.

The Craghoppers’ jackets are designed with an adventurer’s pursuits in mind, made with lightweight and flexible fabrics that allow for extra ease of movement and durability.

Over-trousers

Small enough to pack into a corner of your bag, over-trousers will provide effective protection against the elements. So, if the weather takes a turn for the worse, you can whip them out of your bag and layer them over your trousers as another level of defence and warmth.

And that’s how to layer clothes for hiking! It’s all about preparing for every eventuality. So before setting off on your next outing, take the time to think about what you’re packing and all the items you’ll need for layering clothes effectively. Complete your hiking outfit and browse our range of men’s and women’s outdoor clothing.

Choosing The Best Trousers for You

Looking for a new pair of outdoor trousers? You’re in the right place. We’re here to talk you through the different types of trousers available, the seasons and activities they’re best for, and some of their key features. Interested? Keep on reading our guide to choosing the best walking trousers for you.

How to choose outdoor trousers

When it comes to choosing the right pair of walking trousers, there’s no cutting corners. So, there are a few factors you’ll need to consider, including:

All Craghoppers trousers are designed with comfort in mind, using stretch materials, and as versatile as possible (trust our customers who wear them from bush walks to rock climbing to travelling and even to the office!). Therefore, let’s look at how to choose the right trousers according to the climate.

The Best Trousers For Hot Weather

First things first, let’s talk about the best walking trousers for summer. For treks in the heat, you’ll want lightweight, breathable, and technical trousers. Here’s what we suggest.

Whether you’re exploring the jungle or just enjoying a day of sun closer to home, choose a pair of NosiLife walking trousers. The key feature of this particular pair is the anti-insect technology built into the fabric. Without the need for nasty chemicals, these trousers keep irritating insects like mosquitos, ticks and midges at bay.

In addition, our NosiLife trousers are some of the best walking trousers for hot weather because of their sun-protective quality. With UPF 40+ protection, rest assured your legs will be safe from the sun’s powerful UV rays. Finer details like zip’n’clip pockets for valuables, RFID pockets, and drying loops make these trousers the perfect travel companion.

Next up, we have the NosiLife Pro Convertibles. These zip-off trousers are perfect for warm days when the sun keeps going in and out. To stay comfortable all day, simply zip off the ends of the trousers to convert them into walking shorts—leaving you feeling cool and fresh when out on the trail.

What’s more, with our added Odour Control technology, you won’t have to worry about getting your sweat on during tough hikes.

The Nosilife Cargo & Convertible trousers are perfect for those needing quick-drying and sun-protective capabilities—like anglers when wading. These pants will keep you protected from the sun all day long and will not get heavy and drag you down while wading in rivers or the ocean. They will quickly dry out as soon as you’re out of the water. The convertible version can also be used as a short only.

Best Hiking Trousers For All Year Round

Kiwi Pro trousers are the choice of hikers worldwide. If you are looking for all-year-round trousers, you can’t go wrong with these. They offer total comfort, durability, an expert fit, water repellence, and UPF 40+ sun protection, perfect for any adventure. They are available for men and women, of course. Nifty features like a sunglasses cleaning wipe in the pocket round off this comfortable pant.

Active ladies who prefer a tight fit will love Craghoppers’ leggings, which were designed to stretch, jump, and scramble with you. Like Kiwi pants, the leggings come with an EcoShield DWR finish and zipped pockets to secure small valuables. Thermal versions are available for cold conditions.

Getting Your Trousers Ready For Winter

On cold days and at high altitudes, the main priority is obviously keeping yourself warm. Craghoppers has you covered even on chilly days with many styles made for winter adventures.

Men’s Softshell Pants are made from fabric that blocks wind from penetrating the garment, significantly reducing the effects of wind chill. With brushed fleece on the inner side and a plant-based water repellent, these trousers will keep you warm and dry in any weather.

Ladies can explore the winter outdoors in Compression Thermal Leggings or in a winter version of our popular Kiwi Pro trousers. In addition to all favorite features, Kiwi Pro Expedition Winterlined Trousers have a brushed lining that provides additional warmth.

Do you wish to winter-proof your existing outdoor wardrobe? Making your walking trousers warmer has never been easier—add Merino Tights as the insulating layer under your favourite Craghoppers trousers, and you are ready to go. Thanks to their natural moisture-wicking and anti-odour properties, the Merino Tights will help you regulate your body temperature, ensuring you stay fresh and dry all day.

And there we have it! Now that you know how to choose the perfect walking trousers, it’s time to optimize your adventure by getting yourself a pair of Craghoppers trousers.


What Makes A Craghoppers Fleece?

When exploring the great outdoors, having the right gear is crucial. Layering up during the Winter months can not only provide extra comfort but is also essential to your exploration, depending on your environment. In this blog, we’ll discuss our wide range of fleece, including our brand-new technology, CO2 Renu.

The technology behind our fleece

Within our ever-reliant collections of fleece, there is a wide range of styles and technologies that form the backbone of our mid layer collection. Consisting of half-zips, full-zips, and sweatshirts, our fleece is all made from feather-light microfleece material, providing breathability but still insulating enough to keep you warm during those colder outdoor adventures.

From simple styles like our Men’s Barker Jumper to bolder designs like the Women’s Trina Half Zip Fleece and Men’s Tarbert Half Zip Fleece, the fleece is partly made from plastic bottles recycled into polyester, reducing carbon emissions and landfill waste. By repurposing materials like PET bottles into high-performance fleece, we reduce the demand for virgin resources and help minimize plastic’s impact on our planet.

Furthermore, we place a strong emphasis on ethical and responsible manufacturing processes and fair labour practices, ensuring that our entire supply chain adheres to stringent environmental standards.

Spotlight: Corey & Miska Fleece – the true pioneers

Products that have been ever-present in our range, the Corey Fleece and its sister, the Miska Fleece, have been staples of our brand. True pioneers, they both were the first from our fleece range to be created with recyclable materials.

A lightweight fleece, they are perfect for those who are on the move but need an extra layer of insulation. They also act as the ideal mid-layer underneath your waterproof jacket if you’re out in very cold temperatures.

CO2 Renu

At Craghoppers, we are serious about innovation that reduces our impact on the planet. Working with industry experts, LanzaTech, we have created CO2Renu, a technology that transforms carbon emissions into fabric. CO2Renu uses 100% recycled fabric, which includes (up to) 30% of fibers made from capturing carbon emissions before they are emitted into the atmosphere.

The process reshapes carbon waste by using carbon emissions as the starting point to create some of Craghoppers’ recycled polyester blends. CO2Renu technology is an innovative way of recycling carbon emissions from industry that would otherwise be emitted as CO₂ while helping reduce the fabric’s carbon footprint.

You can learn more about CO2 Renu here. Coming to SA soon!

How To Choose Your Daily Carry

All of our Topo Designs day packs feature laptop sleeves, highly durable, highly water-resistant materials, and classic go-anywhere styling. So, how do you choose which one makes sense for you? 

To help, we’ll walk you through some of our best EDC (Everyday Carry) options, pointing out some of the key features, highlighting best use cases, and adding a dash of personal experience.

This guide was originally published on topodesings.com .


Step 1: Front loader or top loader?

Topo Designs pack lineup is designed so that most top loaders have a front loader counterpart and vice versa, so this can be an easy way to narrow things down.

Generally speaking, front-loading packs tend to work best for people who prefer a sleeker look or anytime gear straps (the two lengths of nylon webbing that close with buckles) will get in your way more often than they’ll help you. In other words, indoor or casual outdoor use.

Top-loading packs typically feature top flap pockets, gear straps, cinch closures, compression straps, and/or multiple external attachment points, which dramatically increase their storage capability. They tend to work well when you have awkwardly shaped gear items (think fishing rods, tripods, climbing ropes, snowshoes, etc.) that are best carried outside your pack or if you’d like to access certain items without even opening your pack. In other words, frequent outdoor use.

Keep in mind: both front and top loaders work well for work, travel, and outdoors, so it really does come down to personal preference.

Step 2: What else will you be using your pack for?

Do you travel often for work? Do you coordinate your pack as part of your #ootd? Does it need to blend into a corporate work environment, or are you more concerned about its functionality for your outdoor sport(s) of choice on weekends? Some questions to think about as you consider your options.

Step 3: Get to know our packs.

DAYPACK TECH

It’s a good urban commuting bag and definitely a good travel bag because of the extra moisture protection with the weather-resistant zippers. If you work in a city and ride your bike to work, this will be perfect for you. Not having gear straps means it’s easy to get in and out of and looks sleek while on. It’s got an external laptop sleeve, expandable water bottle pockets, and with weather-resistant zips and 1000D nylon across the exterior for durability, it really has no weaknesses. Plus, it has an axe holder. You know, just in case.

DAYPACK CLASSIC

This is kind of an all-around, all-purpose option. It won’t be quite as dialed for work because it lacks some of those work-specific features, but it may transition a little better to outdoor use because of it. It also gives you way more color options to choose from. It’s a little smaller, but unless you need to carry bulky items, it’s just the right size for any usual day activities, and it’s very sleek.

ROVER PACK TECH

Similar to the Daypack Tech. The only difference is if you prefer a top loader or a front loader. The Rover Pack Tech is handier when traveling because you have that top pocket for easier access to essentials and the gear straps for a neck pillow or extra layer, which also provides an extra layer of security because there’s more than a zipper people have to get past.

It’s a bit more spacious than the Daypack Tech if you need a little extra room for lunch or need the rectangular shape to accommodate pack bags. (Or if you don’t need the extra room, side compression straps give the option to cinch it down.) The compression straps are really useful – you can, for example, stash two fly rods in the water bottle pockets and strap them down with the compression straps.

ROVER PACK CLASSIC

It’s so hard to choose between the Tech and the Classic. But we love Classic even as a work carry. There are tons of different colorways to choose from, so it feels really individual. When going to happy hour after work, it can be more of an accessory to your outfit than just a utility item.

The nice thing about the internal laptop sleeve (versus the Tech’s external one) is that it can be used to carry a hydration bladder on the trail. The pockets aren’t hyper-specific, so you can use them for whatever you need them for. It’s also more compact than the Rover Tech or even the Daypack, so it’s great for smaller bodies.

GLOBAL BRIEFCASE

The Global Briefcase has a compartment for your laptop and notebooks and a compartment for just stuff – layers, chargers, photo/hobby equipment, etc. It holds everything you may need except for a water bottle. You have to put your water bottle inside or just carry it. It’s definitely a work-first pack. The cyclists love it for biking to work because the backpack option means it doesn’t swing around, the load is really compact, and the big pockets on the front make essentials super accessible. (They fit small Accessory Bags perfectly.) It’s also great for travel because of the pass-through sleeve that attaches it to your roller when you’re in the airport and then doubles as a daypack when you’re on your trip.

Having options for how to carry it is Global Briefcase’s big feature (you can wear it as a backpack, messenger-style, or carry it like a briefcase). If you’ve really packed it out or have a long walk, it gets too heavy for one shoulder, so being able to switch to backpack mode is key. Also, this may seem like a small thing, but when you’re taking a car to a train to a plane, it’s really nice to have the grab handles for those really short distances. You can even slip one of them onto your arm and carry it like a tote so you’re still hands-free.

MOUNTAIN CROSS BAG

Mountain Cross Bag is a shoulder carry bag on steroids. Similar to Global Briefcase, it also has a compartment for your laptop and notebooks and a compartment for other items you may need on a daily basis. On top of that, however, it has two bottle holders, which the previous shoulder bag is missing. Together with plenty of pockets for organization and loops to attach other great (or just accessory bags for more organization space), it makes the Mountain Cross bag the perfect travel accessory.

Another cool feature is the shoulder strap, which can be adjusted and swapped around, turning the bag into a crossbody carry or waist bag. That way, you can easily carry it over the shoulder or around your waist on a walk in the city, on short trails, or on a bike. The look of the bag is not as sleek as a global briefcase, but you’ll love it also as your work carry.

There is more in store than we could list here. To choose the perfect carry for you, browse all our backpacks and shoulder bags here.

What Is Hydrostatic Head? Understanding Waterproof Ratings

Embarking on thrilling outdoor expeditions demands reliable gear that can brave the elements. In order to enjoy your adventure to the maximum, we understand the critical role of waterproof ratings and hydrostatic head in ensuring you remain dry and comfortable throughout your journeys.

We’re going to break down what are hydrostatic heads and the waterproof ratings around them so you can discover your world in comfort.


What Is Hydrostatic Head?

A hydrostatic head test assesses a fabric’s waterproofing abilities by subjecting it to increasing water pressure. The fabric is set up in a sealed tube, and water is applied gradually until leakage occurs. The pressure at which water penetrates the material determines its hydrostatic head rating, indicating its waterproof capacity. Fabrics with higher ratings are better suited for harsh weather conditions, while those with lower ratings are suitable for milder climates.

A hydrostatic head test assesses a fabric’s waterproofing abilities by subjecting it to increasing water pressure. The fabric is set up in a sealed tube, and water is applied gradually until leakage occurs. The pressure at which water penetrates the material determines its hydrostatic head rating, indicating its waterproof capacity. Fabrics with higher ratings are better suited for harsh weather conditions, while those with lower ratings are suitable for milder climates.

To meet the correct UK standard the fabric must pass a result of 1500mm or more.

Decoding Waterproof Ratings

On our website, you may have seen next to our waterproof products some numbers, such as 8,000mm through to 30,000mm, and thought, ‘What on earth does this mean?’ These numbers are our hydrostatic head/waterproof ratings in practice! The higher the number, the more water pressure that specific product can endure, providing you with more waterproof protection.

Waterproof Rating Recommendation

You may now be thinking, ‘What waterproof rating do I need?’ it can be confusing to try and understand what level of protection you need, and it all depends on your activity, location, and, of course, the climate! We have the following recommendations below:

Up To 5,000mm: Light Rain

5,000mm – 10,000mm: Average to Heavy Rain

10,000mm & Above: Very Heavy Rain

What Is Breathability?

Breathability is the amount of water vapour that can be let out through a fabric. Testing the breathability of our clothing involves checking how well the fabric allows sweat to escape. They use a method called moisture vapor transmission rate (MVTR) testing. This measures how quickly moisture passes through the fabric over a specific time. Higher MVTR values mean the fabric is more breathable, making it more comfortable during outdoor activities. Conducting these tests ensures clothing efficiently manages sweat, keeping adventurers cool and dry during their journeys.

Breathability has a similar scale to our waterproof rating, the higher the number, the more breathable the garment is going to be. Breathability is measured in g/m2/24hrs.

Ensuring Longevity and Performance

To maximize the lifespan and performance of your Craghoppers gear, follow our maintenance guidelines diligently. From routine reapplication of waterproof coatings to avoiding unnecessary wear and tear, nurturing your gear as per our recommendations guarantees that it continues to safeguard you during every exhilarating expedition.

Wilderness International: Protecting The Last 2.8%

For Wilderness International, it all started with the enthusiasm for forests with huge trees and their desire to preserve wild nature for future generations. Since 2008, they have made it their mission to protect wilderness areas from vanishing forever and preserve them for future generations.


Protecting the last intact habitats

Their vision is to protect the last 2.8% of our planet’s remaining intact habitats by 2050. The Wilderness International team dedicates its daily work to the legally secure purchase of ecologically valuable and acutely threatened wilderness areas around the world in order to protect them in perpetuity, engaging with local communities and governments to secure the land for generations to come.

Their headquarters are situated in Dresden, Germany, but with sister foundations in Canada and Peru, they are well placed to run the three pillars of the NGO – Protection | Education | Research – with one great goal: to protect the last unique wilderness areas forever.

Protect your own piece of rainforest

Working across areas of land in Canada & Peru, they create georeferenced aerial images using drones. Each sq. meter is then uploaded to their website and provided with specific geo coordinates to match that piece of land. These sq. meters can be purchased by individuals or companies, and those that purchase receive a personalized certificate stating the exact coordinates of the land that they are protecting.

To protect your own piece of rainforest, visit their website here.

Defense from pesky insect

Craghoppers were delighted to accompany the team on a research trip to Peru and find out firsthand more about their mission whilst kitting the team out in NosiLife clothing, meaning they were defended against the many biting insects that thrive in the Peruvian jungle.

To protect yourselves from pesky biting insects, check out our NosiLife range of clothing here.

Find out more about the fantastic work Wilderness International does via the video below.

Our Best Skin Protection Tips For Outdoor Lovers Like You

By Jackie Badenhorst

From bush and beach walks to epic peaks, it’s hard to deny the freedom, peace, and accessibility of the great outdoors are unmatched. And to ensure you can keep doing it comfortably and safely for years to come, we wanted to explain how to protect your skin while doing what you love.

Your skin is your body’s largest organ. Occupationally and recreationally, you’re constantly exposing it to altitude, cold winds, low humidity, perspiration, and strong UV. We believe everyday skin protection is just as fundamental as your safety gear, choice of footwear, and even nutrition.

To explain why we believe all of this, here are our nine tips on how you can stay skin-safe. This essential guide is season-agnostic, so take action now and try to make skin protection an everyday habit, regardless of when you’re reading this.


1. FIRST PRINCIPLES

External aggressors – as we call them – like harsh, cold weather, dry or hot air, ultraviolet light, pollution, smoke, and stress attack your skin every single day. Especially if you’re a year-round adventurer.

These aggressors cause skin damage. Damage could be anything from dryness, redness, cracking, itchiness, or sensitivity all the way to skin cancer (and thousands of other things in between).

Your skin is the body’s first line of defense and needs help repelling these aggressors. One of the principal roles of the skin is to prevent things from the outside world that might cause damage from getting into your body. For example, airborne infections, bacteria, viruses, or pollutants. That’s why it’s so important your skin barrier remains healthy, intact, and un-compromised at all times. For us, that comes in the form of skin protection. It isn’t skin care without skin protection!

2. NEVER FORGET SUNSCREEN

The gorilla in the room and chief of all aggressors is ultraviolet light.

UV accounts for 80% of premature skin aging and 90% of melanoma skin cancers.

Here’s the critical piece of science most people don’t realize. UVA specifically reaches your skin every day and in equal measure throughout the year. It also accounts for 95% of the UV that reaches us on Earth. So, as long as it’s light outside, UVA reaches your skin – even through clouds and glass. And even on a cold July day in a fog-covered Cape Town.

What Does UV Light Do?

UVA penetrates the deeper layers of the skin, meaning you can’t see the damage. It contributes to premature skin aging and wrinkling by damaging the natural proteins under the skin’s surface. These proteins keep the skin tight and robust but, when damaged, can’t provide the same structural support. For a long time, it was thought that UVA couldn’t cause any lasting damage other than these cosmetic changes. However, studies strongly suggest UVA enhances the development of skin cancers because the rays also cause DNA damage within specific skin cells.

As mentioned, this damage is often invisible, and it’s accumulative. The concept of protecting yourself from something you can’t see and which might never happen is hard to fathom, but it’s the single recommendation every dermatologist worldwide would endorse. And that’s especially true for somebody like you who spends so much time outside.

Visible damage, of course, is sunburn or redness. Sadly, a sun tan is also a sign of damage as your body fights to protect itself from overexposure to UV. Five burns in your lifetime doubles your risk of skin cancer. How often have you come home red-faced and blamed it on the wind or cold? That’s sunburn caused by UV, and it’s skin damage.

What can you do to prevent UV damage?

Given that UV is ever present, the temperature outside or time of year doesn’t matter. So, for any outdoor walks or climbs – any time of year – use good sunscreen on all exposed skin before heading outside. For active individuals, we recommend choosing an SPF 50+ product with the European’ UVA’ kite mark (or UVA 4-5*) on the pack. The higher SPF means you’re protected for longer. Reapply every two hours, and don’t forget your nose, back of the neck, and ears – commonly missed spots where people can often burn.

Another factor specific to what you do is altitude. The higher you go, the closer you are to the sun, which sounds obvious because it is. But also, the air is thinner and cleaner at altitude, so less UV is filtered out. The cumulative effect of this means UV levels increase by 10% for every 1,000m you travel above sea level, according to the World Health Organisation.

This is especially important to remember if you live in Gauteng and high-elevated parts of Mpumalanga and Free State. With a relatively flat landscape, it’s very easy to forget you are almost 2000 meters above sea level.

If there’s snow around, light reflection plays a major role in increasing your UV exposure. UV hits you twice: once from the sun and again, as it bounces off snow and back onto you, almost doubling your exposure. For these reasons, a mountain can be one of the harshest UV environments you can find yourself in.

If you care about your health, sunscreen is a vital piece of gear for your pack.

3. IS YOUR KIT UPF?

Another way to protect the skin is by wearing a physical barrier that blocks attack, i.e., clothing. But beware – not all fabrics are created equal. For example, a white cotton t-shirt is the equivalent of SPF 5, and you could feasibly experience invisible skin damage through it.

Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) is to fabrics what SPF is to sunscreen. It’s a measure of how much UV protection the fabric provides. Denim is UPF 1,700, so it’s highly protective, but I’m not sure we could persuade you to attack a summit in the middle of summer wearing your favorite Levis jeans. Look out for UPF 50+ active and climbing wear. It’s a good option if you don’t like putting creams or cosmetic products on your skin.

Craghoppers’ gear is widely sun-protective. You can learn more about its Solar Shield technology and browse our sun protection range here.

4. PROTECT YOUR BONNET

It might not get hot, but your head’s a sitting duck under strong sun. That’s even more true for any bald men or those with a close cut on top. Wear a beanie or cap. There are breathable, lightweight, UPF 50+ variants out there. It’s a whole lot better than a sunburnt head or sunstroke.

You may want to check sun protective hats and caps on our website.

5. WEAR SUNGLASSES MORE OFTEN THAN YOU THINK

For the same reason that it’s ideal to protect your skin from UV every day, we should probably all wear sunglasses more often than we think. When out adventuring, protecting your eyes against sunlight (including snow or ice glare) is important for your eye health. As mentioned, UV levels can be high even on a cloudy day, and overexposure can lead to painful inflammation, known as ‘snow blindness.’ It can also increase the likelihood of developing cataracts.

Sunglasses with UV400 protection (or those with the CE kite mark) are a critical piece of kit. Avoid low-quality lenses, which can cause more harm than good.

6. LIPS

Even if your lips don’t usually need special attention, they will probably do when you’re out climbing. Lips don’t produce sebum, so they can quickly become dry. They also burn more easily than other areas of skin.

What’s the solution? Keep an SPF lip balm in your pocket for both UV protection and moisture. Reapply constantly throughout the day.

7. SKIN PROTECTION ISN’T JUST A SUMMER THING

A little-known fact is that winter is the worst time of year for people who suffer from outbreaks.

The skin’s top layer, the epidermis, is a waterproof barrier between your body and the big wide world. It’s the skin layer where drying takes place. And this is key.

Healthy skin contains approximately 30% water. Each day, it loses about one pint. The dry winter season presents a problem because humidity is low both inside and out, and the water content of the epidermis tends to mirror atmospheric moisture. So, as humidity drops, water loss increases because dry air pulls moisture from the skin.

When the skin’s water content drops below 10%, dryness, flaking, and itching begins. This leads to redness, cracking, and inflammation: all signs you might personally recognize of weathered winter skin.

Why does this happen?

Cells in the epidermis are held together by a lipid-rich glue made up of natural oils. Water loss (and its consequences) accelerates when the glue is weakened. Things that cause the glue to lose its grip include sun damage, over-cleansing, scrubbing, underlying medical conditions, and, of course, winter conditions.

It’s also worth mentioning that the epidermis gets thinner with age, often due to the cumulative effect of sun damage. Thinner skin doesn’t retain moisture as well. On top of this, natural oil production slows with age.

While dry skin is clearly not life-threatening, it’s a nuisance, doesn’t look great, and can give rise to complications like eczema or infections (don’t forget the main role of the skin!).

To manage winter skin, we suggest the following: moisturize (even more) regularly, stick a humidifier by your bed, have warm (not hot) showers, use soap-free products because soap is drying and strips your natural oils, and drink water (see later).

8. SKIN RECOVERY

Help your skin repair and recover after a long day outside. Try to shower as soon after you’re back indoors to avoid pores getting clogged from sweating. After a shower, apply a good moisturizer to re-seal and hydrate the outer barrier.

Moisturizers can do two things depending on their ingredients: form a layer to block water leaving or try to add water to the epidermis. Applying straight after a bath or shower seals in moisture while your skin is damp. Don’t forget about your hands and body – they definitely won’t say no to a daily layer of added moisture.

This one is more about looking and feeling better, but that doesn’t make it any less important.

9. HYDRATION

Last but not least, here’s a simple one. Maintain cellular moisture from the inside out and drink up.

This really is one of the best ways to keep your skin moisture levels high. Assuming you’re hiking, walking, climbing, etc., you’ll also be sweating, in which case, drink more than you usually would.

This is especially true during winter when more dry skin is common, and you might drink less because you’re likely to be less thirsty/sweat less.

This article was originally published on Craghoppers.co.uk in collaboration with LifeJacket Skin Protection.

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My top 5 fly fishing spots in South Africa

By Dylan Isaacs

It comes as no suprise that fly fishing is a favourite past time of many South Africans. After all, South Africa is home to some of the most picturesque and varied fly-fishing destinations in the world.

From the still waters of the South African highlands to its beautiful and wild, almost 3000 km long coastline, there are countless places where anglers love to cast the line. But how to find the best spot?

Whether you’re a seasoned fly fisherman or a newbie eager to cast your first line, you’ll love these top 5 fly fishing spots in our beautiful country, picked by our good friend and fly-fishing pro, Dylan Isaacs.

So, pack your gear and get ready to explore an angler’s paradise!


1. Fish the crystal-clear waters of Sterkfontein Dam

Set in a picturesque landscape on the edge of the Drakensberg escarpment, the gin clear waters of Sterkfontein Dam boasts some of the best freshwater sight fishing in South Africa. This is the most consistent destination for small- and largemouth yellowfish sight fishing. Although it can be fished year round, the summer months are most popular.

Armed with a 5-weight rod and floating line, beetles- and hopper flies, you’re are set for an unforgettable time.

2. Try saltwater fly fishing in Kosi Bay

If you prefer the beach to the mountains, head north to our border with Mozambique.

The endless beaches, reef systems, and rolling white water of the Kosi Bay area make for the perfect habitat for saltwater fly fishing.

Saltwater fly fishing is not always the easiest with wind and currents to contend with, but in the end, you may land a 2-pound Wave Garrick or get lucky with a 40kg GT.

3. Catch Tigerfish in Jozini Dam

Let’s stay in the subtropical area of Kwa-Zulu Natal for a bit longer.

Located just south of the Eswatini border, the Jozini Dam is one of the only dams in South Africa that holds the ferocious Tigerfish; and the only dam where you can catch Tigerfish all year long. Perhaps not the size you’re used to catching in the Zambezi or other African countries but seriously fun nonetheless! The best time to fish is in winter when the water is clearer – all the way up to the first rains toward mid/end September.

Moreover, you can easily combine your fishing trip with a safari in Pongola Game Reserve, situated right on the dam’s shore.

Dylan’s pro-tip: Tigerfish rip through anything that swims in their path, making them a formidable target for fly fishermen. Fish the area with sinking lines and target the fish along drop-off’s and closer to the banks. Don’t forget the wire as they will bite straight through your line.

4. Brave the cold water of Knysna’s estuaries

At the other end of South Africa, Knysna and its surroundings are a paradise for lovers of cold-water fishing.

The cold water brought in by the Atlantic current brings different species of fish that enter our estuarine systems.

Explosive topwater takes from Garrick will get any fly fisherman’s heart racing, and sight casting to a tailing Grunter will get your knees shaking.

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5. Enjoy the best wild trout fishing in Rhodes

You probably expected Dullstroom, the fly-fishing capital, to be the next on the list. Or the KZN Midlands – home to bigger trout waters. Yes, these are great destinations but my favorite is Rhodes, up in the highlands of the southern Drakensberg on the border with Lesotho.

You cannot go wrong with the pristine rivers surrounding Rhodes, offering the best wild trout fishing in South Africa.

Fly fishing in Rhodes in winter is a particularly wonderful experience. Cast delicate dry flies to raise fish as the snow falls all around, then go and relax at Walkerbouts and have a hearty meal next to a raging fire.

The birding is great here, too – look out for Lammergeier, Black Eagles, and others.

About Dylan

Dylan Isaacs has over 30 years of experience in fly fishing. He has run fly shops and guided from Seychelles to the Zambezi and all our local waters, including Sterkfontein Dam, van der Kloof Dam, the Orange River, the Vaal, and Kosi Bay. Recently, he started his fly-fishing tour company, Tailing Loops Fly Fishing Co.

He received his Protea colours in 2009. He has extensive knowledge of multiple fish species and is always happy to share the finer details and knowledge he has learned over the years on his fishing tours. Nothing makes him happier than seeing a client landing a great fish and smiling from ear to ear.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to him and cast the line together.

Top 5 tips for bird photography from a birding pro

By Juan van den Heever

If you ever wanted to get into wildlife photography, birds are the perfect, although not the easiest, subject to learn on. Here is the most obvious reason: birds are everywhere.

Just in South Africa, you will find a large variety of species, with many beautiful ones probably hanging around your backyard. Local birding pro Juan Van den Heever took a minute out of his busy birding schedule to help you out and share a couple of his bird photography tips with fellow Outsiders.


1. Know your subject

Certain birds exhibit certain behavioral patterns that indicate what they will do next. For example, Bee-Eaters tend to fly back to the exact same perch whilst hunting for insects. Knowing this can get you an opportunity for some wonderful in-flight and landing shots. The best way to get acquainted with bird behavior is by studying a field guide such as Roberts or Beat About the Bush: Birds.

2. Exposure

Fast-flying birds, such as Kingfishers or Swifts, require a faster shutter speed to have the entire bird sharp. Increasing your ISO or lowering your F-Stop are two ways to achieve a faster shutter speed. Remember, increasing your ISO could cause noise, and lowering your F-Stop decreases your depth of field, leaving you with less room for error.

Juan conducts environmental impact assessments and specializes in birds. During his off time, he missions to wildlife destinations across the world, photographing as many bird and wildlife species as he can.

3. Know your camera

The better you know your camera, its limitations, and how to work around them, the better the result. For example, a lower-megapixel camera can be cropped less before it loses significant detail, so it might be worth considering a longer lens to get you closer to the subject. This is where the versatility of a zoom lens proves to be extremely helpful!

4. Be hidden

Bird hides are a fantastic way to observe and photograph skittish, shy, and skulking species such as Flufftails and Rails. South Africa is fortunate to have a plethora of game reserves, bird sanctuaries, and national parks that have brilliant hides! Be sure to explore them. Even for a garden setup, a compact mobile hide placed close to a feeder or bird bath can create some amazing opportunities to photograph birds up close!

5. Get in the field

Lastly, and possibly the most important tip. No amount of reading books, watching tutorials, or talking to experts can teach you as much as actually being in the field. Nature is the best classroom. So, get out there, get practicing, and enjoy!

We are sure you cannot wait to go out and put all the tips to practice. Before you do, don’t forget to check our online store for outdoor clothes that are made for such activities out in the field. Our NosiLife range will protect you from unwanted elements like UV light and biting bugs, thus elevating your photographic experience.

Happy birding!

5 Steps for Beginning Fly Fishing

By Jackie Badenhorst

This is a guest article originally written by Nelson Oxley, Flylords. Images of Topo Designs co-founder Jedd Rose (and son, Finn) by Preston Hoffman, Flylords.

The hype is real once you see your fly gets eaten or your dry fly taken down by a fish of any size. Fly fishing is one of the most popular outdoor activities people take on, and the best part about it is you can do it anywhere–whether you live in a city, in a rural area, or in another country. In South Africa itself, you will find plenty of fantastic fly fishing destinations.

Fly fishing is the sport of choice for those that love combining the beauty of the outdoors with the excitement of reeling in an impressive catch. Are you ready to get immersed in the fly fishing world? Then continue reading Nelson Oxley’s basic guide explaining 5 steps any beginner should approach before getting on the water.


Step 1: Hold the Fly Rod just like you shake someone’s hand

As simple as this sounds, fly fishing is something that everyone is skeptical and afraid of when first trying. I get it. I see it every day.

While approaching this first step, hold the cork of your fly rod with your dominant hand. When you hold the cork, hold it as you are shaking someone’s hand, with your thumb on top of the cork. There are a few different reasons why we do this, but I will get into this further in my steps.

When you’re holding the fly rod with your dominant hand, you have your trigger finger that can always be locked down on the fly line that comes out of your reel. I believe that this is one of the most important steps in fly fishing. Your trigger finger should be locked on the fly line at all times when your flies are in the water. As there are exceptions to when you cast to allow more line to flow out of the rod tip, always keep your trigger finger locked on the line. This simply allows you to have tension in the line if a fish eats your fly through your drift. If you were to ask my clients a few of my favorite words when I’m guiding, I always say, “trigger, trigger, trigger,” this helps when a fish eats; you can set the hook properly with good tension.

Step 2: Casting

The fun part. Don’t be afraid. Go to the park, somewhere that has nice green grass that won’t mess your fly line up, something I do before I take my clients to the river. There’s a variety of different casts you can make; however, while fishing for trout, you only need two different casts to accomplish catching trout.

Step 3: The Strip

The strip is something we like to do for a few different reasons:

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Step 4: Set, Set, Set!

The most important to some. If fishing a dry fly, a fly that sits buoyant on top of the water surface, you might have an eager trout that noses up to eat your fly. You physically will see the trout hit the fly on a water surface. Be patient as the fish eats; set your fly rod. This can be achieved by lifting your arm up in the air.

The best way to explain this step, since your thumb is on top of the cork (and hopefully your trigger finger is on the fly line), is to simply raise your thumb up in the air above your head… If you get to this step when fly fishing, don’t hesitate, and don’t drop the fly rod down. You want to keep your fly rod elevated or with a good bend in it. Don’t crank it in right away if it’s pulling hard. Simply create tension with the rod by pointing your thumb up in the air and keeping the rod tip up. In most scenarios, if you dip the rod tip down, most likely it’s game over. Be patient. Keep the rod up, and strip that line in.

A lot of people don’t give fly fishing patience–something I’m still trying to embrace, but anyone will tell you fly fishing isn’t just about catching fish; it’s the journey of where it takes you, the people you meet, and the things you learn while being on the water.

Step 5: Go explore!

When starting fly fishing, it can be frustrating trying to come up with good spots. The best advice is to do more research on your local area or give a local fly shop a call. This will allow you to better your awareness of local water and give you public access points to explore. Don’t forget to get a fishing permit and buy a dozen flies from your local shop.

Walking into a fly shop as a beginner can be intimidating. Any fly shop employee or guide wants to give you the knowledge and share their expertise on their local water to help you get into the sport we all love.

Anyone who chases different species of fish on the fly will tell you new exploration of different bodies of water is the most fun part about fly fishing. Fly fishing isn’t all about catching different species of fish. It’s about learning about your surroundings, adapting to what fish are eating, as well as putting your mind into a happy place. Go explore!

This article was first published on Topo Designs website. The author is a passionate fly fisherman with a lifetime of experience handed down through generations. From being a curious kid in the back of his family’s backpack during weekend fly-fishing trips to exploring Colorado Rivers as a teenager, his love for the sport has grown exponentially and, eventually, made him turn his passion into the profession of a fly-fishing guide and content manager of Fly Lords magazine.