Gifts to spark adventure

As the holiday season approaches, it’s time to start filling up those stockings with gifts that your adventurous friends and family will adore!

Whatever the outdoor activity, we’ve curated the perfect collection of outdoor gifts to elevate their adventures.

Whether tracking wildlife on foot or bouncing over dusty roads, comfort is key on safari in remote areas. Gift lightweight, quick-drying, and easy-care clothes that block the sun’s harmful rays and keep biting insects at bay. Don’t let the small stuff bug your safari explorer’s next adventure – keep them comfortable and protected so they can focus on spotting the Big Five.

Scrambling up switchbacks and rocky terrain demands durable gear that moves with the hikers. Surprise your favorite trailblazer with abrasion- and water-resistant hiking clothes, sun-protective shirts, and warm top layers tough enough for any trail. Wherever the trail leads, these gifts will keep up.

Jetsetters need versatile, packable gear that simplifies life on the road without sacrificing durability. Cross the durable luggage, practical accessories, and wrinkle-resistant clothes off their wishlist and make your frequent flyer’s next journey to a remote destination a breeze.

Who does not have at least one angler at home? Don’t let the little things hook them on their next reel deal. Protect them from the sun during the long hours on the water with brilliant gifts like lightweight shirts and sun hats, and free their hands with gear like the hip packs loaded with attachments for tools.

Gift your outdoor daredevils with items that add an oh-so-cool factor to their exciting hobby. Our bike bags make chasing personal records more fun. Climbers will push towards new heights with our colorful chalk bags. And let kayakers pursue wilder white waters with our dry bags.

Can’t find something you like? Here is the stuff that everyone loves to receive. These funky accessories will add a great deal of functionality and a colorful touch to any outdoor gear.

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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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).


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.


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 in collaboration with LifeJacket Skin Protection.

Going outdoors?

Check out our collection of UV-protective apparel and accessories.

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.

Going fly fishing?

Check out our collection of apparel and accessories, perfect for time on the water.

topo designs mountain hip back
Craghoppers nosilife pro stretch shirt

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.

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:

The right equipment is crucial in any activity, no less in fly fishing. Topo Designs has a wide range of accessories like this Mountain hip pack that will elevate your fly fishing experience, keeping all your gadgets organized and your hands free.

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.