The problem with being an outdoors loving girl is that my outdoor gear cupboard wish list grows with every new activity I try or see others trying.
I mean, I’m happy just to hike, and I have plenty of the right stuff to go and enjoy probably endless miles of hiking without spending another penny. Well I would need to spend a penny, you understand, but not an actual penny. You get me. I have a good waterproof coat and a pair (more than one pair) of decent hiking boots – that’s all you really need to enjoy the outdoors here in Great Britain.
Hiking in North Yorkshire.
But the fact is that I read books and engage on social media and I see what fun other people are having with all kinds of amazing gear. And I want in. I know – experiences, not things – but outdoor gear is basically just experiences in material form isn’t it?! It’s a never ending problem, I know I’m not alone.
I thought I’d share a few of the entries on my current “outdoor gear I’d buy tomorrow” list, you know, the things I covet that I’d absolutely spend my money on if I had more funds (and time to use said gear!). Consider this an appendix to my monthly Currently Loving feature!
Kathmandu Transfer Pack
I’m going to start here because I’ve been quite vocal about this over on twitter. I’m after something that is a proper pack with all the support and comfort of a hiking pack, that is sensible and smart looking with decent laptop provision making it good for work. I’m just fed up of having a sweaty back and aching shoulders when I carry my laptop between work sites! A good friend of mine – The Urban Wanderer – purchased the Kathmandu Transfer backpack from Go Outdoors during the opening of the new store at Preston. She has not stopped going on about how good this pack is, and it looks absolutely perfect. I’m waiting for Sarah’s full review, but I suspect that will just make me want it even more. Unfortunately I can’t just spend the £117 it costs right now, or I think I’d already have this one.
The Kathmandu Transfer Pack.
A Sleeping Bag
I really need a new sleeping bag. I’ve said it before – my current one is old and worn out and no longer provides the comfort and warmth it once did. But who knew the good ones everyone recommends were so very expensive?! I know you get what you pay for when it comes to outdoor gear, but as soon as you put “lightweight” “small packsize” and “warm” in your spec list, you’re easily looking at £200. I think I’ve actually decided to purchase the OEX Fathom 300, a synthetic mummy bag from the Go Outdoors exclusive-brand, based on some research and a few recommendations – which has a price tag of £60 (just as soon as it’s back in stock…). It is a compromise, as is always the case – value versus size, weight and warmth. If I had all the money then it would be something like the Mountain Hardwear Hyper Lamina or even the Ghost Whisperer – I’d want to be SO comfortable if I spent £550 on a sleeping bag!
My current sleep set up.
“Proper” Backpacking Tent
I absolutely love my little Vango Banshee 200, purchased with the West Highland Way in mind but already well used with a lot more camping fun to come. But as with the sleeping bag above, choosing this was a value to weight to size compromise. Still on my list is the super technical with price-to-match MSR Hubba Hubba, which would make future through hikes a little easier (I have my eye on both the Coast to Coast here in the UK and the Tour du Mont Blanc over in Europe for starters). I know, I’m never happy!
Love my Banshee!
Pacmat Picnic Blanket
I absolutely love the collaboration between Ordnance Survey and Pacmat; who doesn’t want a picnic rug with an OS map on?! Not a particularly expensive item in the grand scheme of things, especially when you consider how small it packs down, but as far as picnic blankets go it isn’t cheap. Pacmats are super thin but very durable waterproof picnic rugs with all kinds of patterns on – these ones have maps of various national parks on them. There are two sizes – the extra large would be brilliant to keep in the car or in the motorbike top box, whereas the standard size might be more useful and easier to pack when hiking or cycling.
OS Maps / Pacmat collaboration.
A Great Mountain Bike – and Instruction
Okay, the list kicks up a gear now as while I know I would use the above as I already go camping and walking a lot, here we have something that is a big ticket item that I would have to make extra effort to use. Hence not having one already. Money is only well spent on outdoors gear if you actually use it! I really love to ride my mountain bike (not that I’ve done so since I moved earlier this year…); it’s an entry level Carrera Vulcan that I’ve had for a few years which is perfectly good for me really as it’s only used to commute or to pootle along woodland trails. But, you know, if I had a great bike such as the Scott Contessa Genius, then I would definitely ride it in the mountains wouldn’t I?! I have had a taste of proper mountain biking here and there and I absolutely love it – if I did treat myself to an awesome bike I would also make sure I got some lessons or paid for a guide so I know I’m doing it properly, and then I could definitely see myself doing the off-road cycling coast to coast or heading to Scotland for some trail fun.
Mountain biking in the Forest of Dean.
I have always loved the water, being on it and in it, and I would dearly love to have my own craft so I could get out and enjoy it more often. I could get a SUP, which is definitely the trend of the day, but actually I think what I need (“need”…!) is a kayak. I like the look of the inflatable ones I see around – I could bung it in the boot of the car and head off to a Scottish loch or beautiful river for some paddling fun. They are big enough to be comfortable on the water and sturdy enough to carry a tent and other supplies, a great way to spend a weekend in my book; I’m not interested in paddling particularly fast, so don’t need anything too technical. As with the mountain bike above, I would need to make sure I had enough time to actually use it before I parted with my cash, which is definitely not the case at the moment – it would be a shame for it to sit in the garage unused for 50 weeks of the year.
Kayaking at Center Parcs.
Yes, yes, I know, a rather big thing to have on my “outdoor gear” list, but it definitely counts doesn’t it?! I have wanted a campervan since I was about six or seven years old. The family at the bottom of the road, the same one that had the beautiful purple Harley Davidson motorbike with tassels on the handlebars that sparked my love of bikes, also had a classic VW split screen campervan, also purple. They would spend their summer holidays road tripping all over the place, and I definitely like the sound of that. I would absolutely love a classic VW, but in actually I’m not so bothered about the badge and would definitely prefer something newer and much more reliable. My van would be very practical; small enough for normal parking spaces, large enough to have a decent sized comfortable bed, with plenty of storage, large water tank, heating, decent leisure battery, four wheel drive and a nice ride. In my head I would use it every weekend as a base for hiking and exploring, would tour the whole of Europe in it and maybe further afield, and would even make use of it on day trips for tea and cake and naps! And if I had a campervan I could keep my mountain bike on the back, my kayak on the top, and I’d be all set for all the outdoors adventures I could ever wish for. Obviously I’d also need to not have a day job… but you know, small things.
Rosie the Visit England Campervan… I applied to be their Fan in a Van a few years ago.
I realise this post is very spendy, and it’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking you need something in order to enjoy life. The fantastic thing about the outdoors is you need absolutely none of these things to get out and enjoy it. I often feel a little jealous of my friends who have some or all of these things, but know in reality that me, my legs and my existing gear store are plenty for me to make the most of my leisure time. But there is no harm in wishing is there?!
What do you think of my list? Am I way off the mark with any of them? If you do happen to own any of these things and would like to offer your thoughts below, I’d love to hear them.
What’s on your outdoor gear shopping list right now? Go on… add to mine!