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.

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.


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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What to wear when you live with lions

By Jackie Badenhorst

This is a guest article originally posted on the NHFU website. Text by Nick Roosen, photos by Siena Crawford.

With a lot on their minds —like the subtle art of following carnivorous big cats while dodging vehicle-toppling elephants, venom-induced anaphylaxis, and cantankerous buffalo—Africa-based wildlife film-makers from the NHFU have recently turned their wardrobe choices over to legendary UK clothing company, Craghoppers, to see if their latest line of outdoor gear might be up to everything Africa and the film crew can throw at it.


If you’re someone like me, you’re decidedly groggy as you navigate the first hurdle of the day—“Now, what am I gonna wear?” At face value, it seems like a trivial question, not worthy of dedicating any more than a handful of neurons to in those wee hours. But what if this decision not only determined your level of comfort for the day but also your chances of survival? I’m thinking of you, fire departments, plunging into hellish infernos. Or you, astronauts, braving the brutal vacuum of space. Fire-proof textiles and air-tight space suits make sense for these adventurous spirits, but what about wildlife filmmakers?

Ice-locked continents, scorching deserts, and steaming jungles—these are places where people with apparently limitless patience wait to capture rare and wondrous moments. I can just imagine reading about such a job in the classifieds: “Wanted! A strapping individual, with camera experience, is prepared to operate in environments with multiple hazards, including but not limited to plagues of insects, as well as a myriad of biting, scratching, pummeling or piercing predators.” Fantastic, where do I sign?

It’s fortunate such a rare breed exists, so that those of us who prefer it, can witness lions hunting from the slightly more comfortable vantage point of our living room. And in perhaps Southern Africa’s most epic wilderness—the Okavango Delta—there lives one such team for whom wildlife film-making is not just a job description but a way of life.

Enter the Natural History Film Unit (NHFU), headed by world-renowned filmmaker Brad Bestelink. It’s thanks to Brad and his team that the breathtaking sequences that grace our screens via programs like Surviving Paradise, The Flood, and Africa’s Fishing Leopards offered up by Netflix, National Geographic, and the BBC are possible.

Let me paint you a picture. When Brad’s team heads out into the bush, they know they’ll be living out of their film truck for days at a stretch. In fact, they’re so accustomed to their 2-by-5-meter home that they usually only return to camp for a few hours each week to restock and refuel before heading back to the bush to continue following their animal subjects. Think lions, leopards, cheetahs, elephants, hippos, and crocodiles—all set against the backdrop of the Okavango Delta.

The Okavango is considered to be the crescendo of a natural symphony that first begins with the thunderous roar of rain in the Angolan highlands, then transforms into a soft gurgle of rivers moving inland towards a vast oasis, and climaxes with the countless voices representing some of Africa’s most enigmatic wildlife. But to this idyllic depiction, we must add a few of the not-so-nice elements of Africa’s wilderness…

Bugs, bugs, and more bugs! In the grasslands, like forgotten land mines, lurk ticks waiting to disgorge medical maladies. Blister beetles, biting ants, and malarial mosquitoes—I could go on!

And then there’s the weather. If the Delta had an engine room, the weather would be a key driving force behind the region’s immense richness. It’s what transforms arid landscapes into a land of endless rivers and pools, fringed by rolling grasslands and leafy forests. But the climate also has a savage side.

You can start your day observing insects frozen to their morning perches and, by lunch, sit broiling in sweat under a midday sun. And when it rains, it’s a chronic deluge accompanied by sudden gusts that can topple entire trees. Against the swarms of biting insects and wild weather, the NHFU team is certainly in need of apparel that protects them from the elements.

Craghoppers! A company that is no stranger to equipping ambitious adrenalin junkies, seeking to push the bounds of their imagination and apparel. In 1975, Craghoppers outfitted an expedition team attempting to climb Everest by ascending the face of the mountain for the first time. In 2020, they were chosen as the official kit provider for the Duke of Edinburgh Award. And now, in 2023, deep in the Okavango, Craghoppers cutting edge NOSILIFE technology will face a special challenge. The NHFU crew has been geared up with Craghoppers garments featuring an EPA-approved insecticide duplicated from the chrysanthemum flower. The clothes are specially designed to repel insects, which for one NHFU cameraman, in particular, could be a real game changer.

Meet Rea. Having grown up in the bush, Rea is intensely passionate about African wildlife and sharing its unique stories. But he also suffers from allergies. A single ant bite or wasp sting could prove fatal for him. You could ask him to just change his profession. But the thing is, he simply can’t imagine devoting himself to any other purpose than wildlife filmmaking, and thanks to Craghoppers, it might be that all he needs to do is change his shirt.

So tomorrow morning, as you wipe the sleep from your eyes and stand before your wardrobe pondering the options, at some point, a team of intrepid filmmakers somewhere in the vastness of the Okavango Delta will be doing the same thing. But now the question is—is their brand-new Craghoppers kit up for the challenge?

What to pack for a Gorilla trek in Rwanda

By Jackie Badenhorst

I recently visited Rwanda for a gorilla trekking photographic expedition with Tusk Photo. To say the trip was incredible is an under statement – this experience crept into my heart as one of my most special ever. 

The scenic Volcanoes National park covers 160 km2 of rainforest and encompasses five of the eight volcanoes in the Virunga Mountains, namely Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo. It borders Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda.

This was my first trip to Rwanda and I was truly impressed with the country. Despite a tumultuous history, riddled with violence and conflict, the people have worked together to build their nation in peace. The people we met, both young and old, were friendly, full of hope and so proud of their country, they welcomed tourists with open arms. 

The trip took place in the beginning of May, toward the end of the long rainy season. The park is open year-round but generally the high season would be June to September, during the dry season. We didn’t get a lot of rain when walking – a few drops now and then, although it did rain at night, making the area muddy the following day. We did however enjoy the cloud cover when trekking – this meant it wasn’t really hot and we good, even lighting conditions for photography. 

We were lucky enough to enjoy 4 gorilla treks during our 5 night stay. This is another benefit of heading there during the low season – as often there are too many people vying for the 96 permits granted per day (which breaks down to groups visiting 8 of the 13 habituated groups daily). There are also golden monkey treks on offer, although we opted for an additional gorilla trek instead.

So how does the daily trek work?

You leave your lodge and arrive at the park headquarters around 6:30/7am, where you are assigned a ranger for the trek. 

This is a well-run operation, with guests enjoying complimentary coffees and drinks while your driver guide arranges your trek for the day, is alotted your park ranger (who leads the trek), as well as the gorilla group you will be visiting.

The park rangers have a quick brief where they tell you about the gorilla family you will be visiting, what to expect when you find them, how to behave when around the gorilla family. From there, you drive to the area where you will begin your trek.

Experienced park ranger, Daniel Niyonsaba
Experienced and knowledgeable park ranger, Daniel Niyonsaba, we really enjoyed his company.

Once you arrive at the starting point, you meet up with porters who will carry your bags during the trek if you need it. These are ex-poachers, now employed to assist tourists on a daily basis. This is a vital initiative for sustainable conservation in Africa – not only do these guys stop their poaching activities but the actually start caring for for these animals’ well-being – as the gorilla’s survival ensures them jobs and resultant food on their table.  

Porters at Volcanoes National PArk
A great group of porters

We had so many cameras that we opted to hire porters. They were really friendly, helpful guys. There were some super muddy sections where every misstep had you sinking your feet and legs into mud. The porters always had a helping hand to get you up and out.  You needed to have hands free to grip and hold, so carrying stuff wouldn’t be ideal. I would recommend hiring a porter – this allowed me to take more equipment than what I would’ve otherwise, as well as extra water, a raincoat etc. 

Back to the trek.. As you head off, you also practice sounds you will make when communicating with gorillas. Basically a ‘we-come-in-peace’ kind of call. 

Beautiful scenery on the trek. Image by Nellie Tromp.

Trek distances vary according to your preference – generally between 3-5km. This is not far but there are some steep sections, so the entire trek could take anything from 4-5 hours. The porters chop through dense sections of vegetation – allowing you to get through with relative ease. As with anything in life, the fitter you are the more enjoyable the activity.

Eventually you meet up with trackers who spend their day with the gorilla group. Here you will leave your bag, take only the cameras you need and head in for an hour with the gorillas.

That first moment I spotted them took my breath away and filled my eyes with tears. It was incredible. I’d always heard how special it was but this far exceeded my expectations.

Selfie with first gorilla group
Obligatory selfie with the first gorilla’s I saw!

We visited the Hirwa, Umubano, Kwitonda and Urwego groups. 

Each group had completely different structures – some more silverbacks, some more youngsters. We found them to be extremely relaxed in our presence.  

No words can do the time spent with gorilla’s any justice – you’ll need to experience this for yourself. All I can do is offer some advice on equipment you may benefit from taking along.

My essentials for the trek:

Photography equipment 

What did I take?

The gorillas are generally within close quarters. You should be around 7m from them but they often come closer to you due to the confined spaces you share, which is great!

By the time we found them each day, they have done their first feed for the day and were resting/grooming/playing – this was wonderful. When they get up to feed they move fast and the photography can be more challenging. 

Iphone pic of a relaxed silverback.

As mentioned above, you have to leave your bag and take the cameras/lenses you want along. The 400 was only used twice for portraits, I mainly used the 70-200mm and 16-35mm. This ensured a wide variety of shots – wide to portrait. I also used my iPhone for a few videos and behind the scenes shots. 

Go check out some of the images I captured on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/jackiewildphoto/

This trip is a naturalist’s dream, highly recommended. I thoroughly enjoyed the combination of physical activity, interaction with wonderful local people, plus then the awe-inspiring moments with gorillas. To me, being on foot and in close quarters with wildlife always feels like you’re truly a part of the ecosystem, as opposed to just an on-looker from a vehicle. I find it absolutely thrilling and memorable. 

It is wonderful to see what a country can become with proper leadership and open-minded, proud people. Rwanda is filled with hope – coming from South Africa, I feel inspired by what they’ve achieved. 

Happiest kids I’ve ever seen!

We visited the genocide museum and the Ellen Degeneres campus for the Dian Fossey Gorilla fund on the drive from Kigali to the National Park – both were informative and very much worth the visit. They really give you a good background on the country as a whole, and the plight of gorilla’s over the years.

If you head out, which I implore you to do, may you have as magical a time as I did. Enjoy! 

The dreamteam that made our trip so special, lead by the wonderful driver guide, Sam Nayebare.
Tusk Photo gorilla trek group
A happy group – courtesy of Tusk Photo

The best time to hike the Drakensberg Mountains

“When is the best time to hike the Drakensberg Mountains?” we asked our ambassador, mountain guide Zee Ndaba. It turns out it is the most frequently asked question Zee receives.

She would smile and answer, “Any time!” According to Zee, any time of the year is suitable for hiking up the Drakensberg’s mountain passes as long as hikers know the possible conditions and are well-prepared and equipped.

Each season offers a different experience and unique views of the majestic Drakensberg.

So, according to the time of year, what should you expect during your hike in the Drakensberg Mountains?

Drakensberg in summer

Longer hot days mean more time to explore the lush green slopes of Drakensberg, and warmer temperatures at night make camping in the mountains pleasant. Summer is the rainy season in the Drakensberg Mountains, and thunderstorms may occur daily.

But, thanks to the rain, the seasonal rivers and waterfalls are at their best, perfect for those chasing waterfalls! There is also a high chance of seeing a rainbow over the escarpment once the dramatic cloudy skies open (any photographers here? 😉)

Hikers should look out for electric storms that occur around December. “We rarely cancel the hike due to bad weather conditions unless they become life-threatening. Electric storms are one of those moments when we may call the hike off,” says Zee.

Drakensberg in winter

Clear skies, cold temperatures, and a chance of snow are characteristics of the winter season in the Drakensberg Mountains.

The air may feel pleasantly warm on sunny days, but get ready for freezing temperatures at night, especially at higher altitudes.

There will almost certainly be no clouds obstructing the views of the mountains’ peaks and the night sky. On the other hand, due to little rain, the slopes of the mountains turn brown, Drakensberg’s rivers shrink into narrow streams, and seasonal waterfalls disappear.

However, the waterfalls flowing year-round can offer a unique view to the hikers who brave the cold. When the temperatures drop below zero, some waterfalls may freeze. Tugela Falls is one such waterfall that may get covered by long icicles, creating a fantastic winter wonderland feature.

Drakensberg in spring and autumn

“Spring and Autumn are my favourite seasons. The weather is the most stable during those months.” But even then, you can be surprised by unexpected changes in conditions. After all, you are heading up into the mountains, and there you can experience all four seasons in one day!

Growing up in the mountains, Zee learned to read the signs and tell what the weather would be like just by looking out the window in the morning. But even she can be taken aback occasionally by an unexpected weather turn. “Last year in October, we were surprised by the snowfall on top of the escarpment!”

Autumn is the peak hiking season. It is due to a mix of favourable hiking conditions and South Africa’s April holidays. During this time, Zee may spend weeks in a row up in the mountains, guiding groups. “For March and April hikes, I am getting booked as far as a year in advance,” Zee adds.

If you’d like to explore the Drakensberg during this time, especially in April, plan ahead to secure your guide and accommodation.


Please note that the Drakensberg Mountains cover a large area with varying elevations, and weather conditions can differ depending on the specific location within the mountain range. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to check the local weather forecast and pack appropriate clothing and gear when visiting the area.

Are you in need of quality hiking gear? We have a wide range of outdoor clothing perfect for Drakensberg’s trails. Be sure to check them out!