10 Pieces of Budget Hiking Gear that You Will Actually Use

I spend a lot of time thinking about the most useful hiking gear that doesn’t weigh a tonne. It helps when this gear is affordable. But more importantly, I try to focus on buying gear that I will actually use. What’s worse than carrying a heavy backpack, knowing that you don’t even use half of the items in it?

I’d like to share some budget hiking gear ideas that I’ve picked up from other hikers and first-hand experience.

10 Pieces of Budget Hiking Gear that You Will Actually Use

1. Affordable Pair of Hiking Poles for Better Balance

I’d never tried using walking poles until my hike on the Pacific Crest Trail a few years ago. In short, I stopped incurring injuries when I began using poles and found them incredibly helpful going up and down. I believe most of my fellow hikers felt this same way. Once you use hiking poles, it’s likely that you’ll take them on future hikes. Now, I’m not referring to a short 5km day hike but rather a longer multi-day hike. It’s true, they provide balance and stability on uneven terrain but hiking poles also take so much weight off your body – especially the knees.

Many sets of hiking poles can fold up and pack away easily and the weight is reasonable. I know that a lot of hikers like to splash out on expensive poles, usually made of carbon. I’ve stuck with the more affordable options and they’ve always served me well.

Which ones? Rock + River has this nice folding walking pole.

Rock N River Folding Walking Pole

2. Lightweight Sit Mat for Comfortable Breaks

If you hike often, you’ll be familiar with this small but persistent dilemma that happens regularly – where to sit. It’s often wet or muddy in Ireland but mostly, outdoor terrain doesn’t really provide the kind of comfort you might hope for your rear end. I’ve tried sitting on my bag, folding my jacket and laying down a tarp – but it was always a hassle. I began using my foam sleeping mattress as a seat and this worked really well – until I stopped carrying one. A lightweight foam sit mat is a nice luxury without taking up space or getting in the way.

Rock N River Sit Mat

3. Soap Leaves for Hygiene on the Trail

Soap leaves are disposable and perfectly safe to use. This packaging is watertight and consists of fifty individual leaves. Each leaf has a fragrance and soap leaves are useful for international travel as they meet airport requirements. The ingredients are also more environmentally friendly than shower gels or shampoo, and the item is much lighter to carry. Either way, this is a nice small item that you can carry on a day hike. You can use it to wash your hands, feet or face in a freshwater river.

LifeVenture Soap Leaves

4. Mosquito Head-Net to Warn Off the Midges

My first wild camping adventure in Wicklow was almost my last due to the obscene number of midges. At that time, the only way to avoid these pests was to out-walk them or hide behind the mesh of my tent in the evening. It’s an awful thing to try cooking around midges or even just sitting down for a break. Some hikers swear by insect repellent but my mosquito head-net is the only item I find useful in this regard. You simply pull this netting down over your head/hat and midges are unable to land on every inch of your face which is the most frustrating thing about it. As for why else you should carry one? They weigh nothing and you won’t even notice this item in your backpack. In other words, there’s no reason not to carry one!

LifeSystems Mosquito Head Net

5. Backpack Cover to Rainproof Your Gear

I’m always amazed when I see people hiking in the rain without a backpack cover. Once again, this item packs down really small and doesn’t weigh very much. I keep mentioning weight in this article but as you know, weight is everything on the trail! More importantly, even if your backpack is water-resistant, a rain cover will provide a lot more protection during periods of heavy rain. An example of great backpacks are Trespass backpacks. You can also place this cover over your bag at camp or when stopped for a break. But make sure to choose the right size cover for your backpack. Sizing is very specific to ensure a decent fit for the bag.

Trespass Rucksack Raincover

6. Bum Bag instead of a Backpack

I carry a lot less gear on my trips nowadays which is why I recently downsized to a smaller backpack (Osprey Farpoint). However, even this backpack is a bit much for a day hike. A nice in-between option is to wear a bum bag. This can offer as much as 5 litres in terms of space which is quite a lot. Believe it or not, bum bags are all the rage in America. In recent years, hikers find these tiny bags a lot more practical than carrying a small backpack. After all, you can quickly access items without having to stop and take off a backpack. These bags are ultralight and Trespass’ Vasp 5 Bum bag is just 0.18kg and comes with a bottle, too!

Trespass Vasp 5 Bum Bag

7. Affordable Hydration Bladder for Hot Days and Convenience

I use my hydration bladder on every hike but it’s always in my backpack. Carrying these bladders also beats using disposable water bottles on every trip. A hydration bladder is made from very durable material and the wide opening makes it easy to fill. They roll up really small when they’re not being used and you can attach a tube for easy access while hiking. This last bit can be so useful when hiking on a hot day. It saves you from having to take out your water bottle every few minutes in order to stay hydrated. Finally, if you intend on filtering your water outdoors, a hydration bladder is a lot more practical to use.

Which one? Check out the Flexible Water Bottle by Platypus or this affordable 2L hydration bladder.

Platypus Flexible Water Bottle

8. Mac in a Sack Overtrousers for Rainy Days

I first bought Mac in a Sac when I lost my usual pair of waterproof trousers. I was sure the originals would show up and didn’t want to spend much on a temporary replacement. However, I’ve actually continued to carry these lightweight rainpants by choice. I like how they strike a balance between size and utility.

These trousers are compact and have an elasticated waistband that makes them easy to put on quickly. The seams are taped which maintains the waterproofing and my favourite thing about them? They feel light and breathable at all times. While the Mac in a Sac Overtrousers is not ideal for extreme weather, they are handy for a rainy day!

Target Dry Mac in a Sac Overtrousers

9. Safety and Emergency Items That are Too Light not to Carry

Thankfully, many emergency-type items are rather small. A first aid kit is a necessity that you should always carry on a multi-day hike. There is a different size for each occasion including this compact first aid kit. While a poncho might not be considered an emergency item, this ultralight piece of gear is a backup for a rain jacket. Also, I sometimes use a poncho to cover my backpack in extreme weather. It’s really just another case of the item being too small, lightweight and useful not to carry.

One more item that always finds a place in my backpack is an emergency blanket. This “space blanket” actually saved me one night when all of my gear got wet in a storm. I used one of these blankets to heat myself up and stay warm.

Rock N River Emergency Blanket

10. 1000 Mile Socks for Socks that Will Actually Last

I used up four pairs of 1000 Mile socks on my 3,000km walk around Ireland a couple of years ago. They would have lasted a bit longer, I’m sure. I was happy to replace them at the halfway point in order to have a “fresh pair of socks”. The point is, 1000 Mile socks are both durable and comfortable. They lived up to their lofty claims on the above-mentioned trip. With this in mind, these hiking socks offer amazing value to anyone that goes for regular hikes/walks – whether that be on a trail or not. You can also get two pairs as part of this Trail Sock Twin Pack by 1000 Mile.

1000 Mile Trail Sock Twin Pack

My Top 6 Must-Have Hiking Accessories

If you’re like me, you think that getting outdoors is more interesting than going to the pub and you have zero regret for any money you spent on hiking gear over the years. I suppose it’s okay to enjoy both but I’m just saying – hiking gear is a much better investment. However, there are certain items in my backpack that I recommend more than others and many of these come without a hefty price tag. That’s not to say “cheaper is better” but I appreciate a bargain and don’t believe a price tag is always a reliable indication of quality or practicality. And let’s assume that you already have the shoes and backpack and focus on the hiking accessories that not everyone carries on the trail.

My Top 6 Must-Have Hiking Accessories

1. A Portable Stove for Coffee and Food on the Trail

If you’ve followed any of my social media accounts over the years, you will know that I rarely go hiking or camping without coffee and a hot meal. It just makes sense to do this and the weight is no longer an excuse with the arrival of portable stoves and lightweight pots!

I even use this portable setup on brief forays into the outdoors. For example, I often take a walk to a nearby hill and spend thirty minutes making coffee. When it rains, I have a lightweight tarp at the ready in my backpack and a warm jacket for when it gets cold. I just cannot express how much I enjoy making, eating and drinking something warm on my trips and this really does add some excitement or interest to spending time outdoors.

I bought this nifty little teapot recently but the MSR mini cook set is amazing value and I also have my eyes on this really cool toasted sandwich maker. If you just wanted a small portable stove, take a look at the MSR Pocket Rocket or something similar (and cheaper) like this tiny Rapid stove by GoSystems.

Mini Trail Solo Cook Set

2. A Tick Remover to Be on the Safe Side

Ticks are something we all hate to think about but they inhabit the wild places in Ireland. You will find these pests in moist, shady areas around Ireland. They cling to bushes and tall grass and almost always inhabit the ground level. You might have also noticed these ticks on your family

pet and this is because they enjoy spending time in gardens and next to forests or stone walls. Anyway, you get my point, you will encounter them at some point.

I was plagued by ticks while camping on the Kerry Way (Sorry, Kerry) and many more parts of the country. They are also such an unpleasant thing to find and trust me, you will be thankful to have invested in a tick remover when they come. A tick remover is a very small and simple device that can help remove these ticks quickly and safely. The stainless steel tick remover is effective but this tick remover card works just as well.

Tick Remover

3. A Portable Water Filter to Help Avoid Illness

I’ve been relatively fortunate to avoid injury on most of my hiking trips. However, I did fall ill with giardia in both America and Ireland after drinking contaminated water. I was unable to hike for several days afterward and truly regretted not having filtered my water.

In case you might not know, a lot of fresh water sources in Ireland are relatively safe but there is always a risk involved. There is also no way of knowing when or if a water source is contaminated and drinking this unfiltered water is never worth the risk.

A water filter is also something that you will keep for many years. While some of my past water filters were small, lightweight and cheap, they were often slow or somewhat unreliable. This is why I like the TrailShot filter by MSR which is so small it can fit inside a jacket pocket and can be used to drink directly from a river or bottle of unfiltered water.

Trailshot Filter

4. The 2-Litre Platypus Water Bottle for Sheer Convenience

I don’t like to preach about the environment or the principles of ‘Leave No Trace’ but, that’s not to say I don’t follow or appreciate such guidelines. In fact, I carried the same 2 litre plastic water bottle for much of my walk around Ireland and always bring my re-usable coffee cup to the shop. It’s a way for me to “do my bit for the environment” but the plastic water bottle caused problems on my walk around Ireland and other long distance trips.

It’s a health issue. Plastic water bottles have a tendency to fill up with grime/bacteria and they are simply not designed to be washed and re-used. A platypus water bottle is far more durable and easier to clean on a regular basis. And you need to pay attention to this on a multi-day trip in particular or risk falling ill – as has happened with me in the past.

But that’s just part of the story…

The Platypus water bottle holds 2-litres of water and packs down to a really small size. This means you can easily fit two of these into your backpack and you will certainly need more than two litres of water if you plan to hike or cook in the mountains/wilderness. A platypus is also very useful in hot weather, for they can attach a straw system which will save you reaching for a water bottle every few minutes and hence, keep you hydrated.

Platypus Water Bottle

5. A Head Net for Mosquitos/Midges

I’m not sure whether you know this but midges have the potential to destroy what should be a straightforward hiking trip. It’s true that both mosquitos and midges are unable to keep up while hiking but in midge-country they’re a huge nuisance anytime you stop. They’ve literally ruined more than a few of my wild camping trips and remain the biggest frustration that I can recall from any of my hiking trips in Ireland.

The worst part about it? A mosquito head net is one of the lightest and smallest items you can carry. They are also super cheap and no fancy design or style is necessary for this little life saver. In fact, I now keep one of these nets in the side pocket of each backpack to ensure I can at least stand a chance with these relentless pests in the future.

Mosquito Head Net

And the one I always tell my friends about…

6. A Pair of Adjustable Hiking Poles to Protect from Injury

I wrote an article 3 years ago in which I talked about my experiences with and without trekking poles. I used to think they were unnecessary and looked rather silly. But long story short, I came to the conclusion that trekking poles are 100% necessary for mid-long distance hiking. In fact, I would go as far as to say that the vast majority of my hiking injuries in the past were as a result of not using hiking poles. Whether you want to climb a peak or tackle a section of the Wicklow Way, hiking poles help with your posture, while reducing the amount of wear and tear in terms of your body.

By the way, I also use my hiking poles for putting up a tarp when it rains and for crossing rivers and bogs or any other time I might need some extra balance. But which poles?

I suggest the Leki Journey hiking poles or iff you are looking for a more affordable option the Rock n River twin pack. Either way, these hiking poles are adjustable which also means you can fold them up and pack them away when you’re not using them.

Leki Journey Pole

Some Other Hiking Accessories on My Wishlist

A Sit Mat – I know this seems rather silly to some hikers but I’m getting a little tired of sitting on the ground. It also makes sense that a rest-break should be comfortable and this is not always possible hiking in the mountains and certainly not when it’s raining!

High-Tech Watch – It’s certainly not essential but it would be fantastic to have a watch on which I could check the altitude or temperature.

Vibrant-Colour Rain Cover – A super bright rucksack rain cover is ideal for hiking at night and on stretches of roads in particular.

Waist Bag – You’ll appreciate this one if you carry a camera. The pockets on a backpack are rarely useful for carrying a camera and I’m eager to try this waist bag by Osprey.

Osprey Waist Bag

Aside from the wishlist, I never go hiking or camping without the above items in my backpack. While it’s true that some of these are not essential such as the platypus or portable stove, they certainly make life easier and a hiking trip – more enjoyable.

10 Wild Camping Tips for Beginners that You Should Know 

I remember walking into a campsite in Kerry last year and feeling sorry for some of my neighbours. There were some fantastic setups but there were also a lot of people looking incredibly stressed and frustrated. In fact, one family was already arguing over the remote because yes, they had taken a television on their camping trip.

And each to their own, right? Of course.

But this also reminded me of why many people don’t enjoy their first spot of wild camping. Wild camping is far from being a science but it’s easy to spoil this experience by taking the wrong gear or failing to understand what makes it so enjoyable.

In this article, I talk about some wild camping tips for beginners and simple ideas that would have saved me a lot of hassles and discomfort when I started out.

10 Wild Camping Tips for Beginners that You Should Know

+ FREE Printable Wild Camping Checklist

1. Pack Light and Only Take What You Need

Carrying too much gear was my first mistake when it comes to wild camping. I think that because I was so afraid, I compensated for this fear by carrying more gear than necessary. This not only meant carrying too much clothing but also too much food and accessories. For instance, I had three different torches and spare batteries for each one! Because I took this approach to multiple items, I ended up carrying more weight than during my hike on the Pacific Crest Trail a few years ago. I believe experience teaches everyone the same lessons about wild camping but it’s sometimes better to learn from others’ mistakes, rather than your own!

I’ll be outlining a basic packing list at the end of this post.

2. Make Sure You Have a Warm Sleep System/Gear

You just won’t enjoy a night of wild camping if you have an insufficient sleeping bag, which is why I have a different sleeping bag for the warm and cold weather months. But here’s a few ways in which I suggest you can keep warm and comfortable each and every night:

Bring thermal leggings and socks that you can wear if needed.

– Invest in a lightweight sleeping bag liner – they can add an insane amount of warmth.

– Wear a down jacket/puffy jacket in your sleeping bag on especially cold nights.

– Place a rain jacket over the foot area of your sleeping bag.

– Wear a beanie hat to sleep so that you won’t wake up with a cold head.

– Take an emergency foil blanket as a backup.

In short, it’s better to be too warm or a cold night of wild camping is just not enjoyable!

3. Choose a Suitable Tent for Wild Camping

I sometimes use a bivvy bag for wild camping and really enjoy the immersive experience they offer. But a bivvy bag is not always suitable and this is especially true during wet and windy conditions. For this reason, I most often use a one or two-man tent for wild camping in Ireland.

But what else should you consider when choosing a tent?

If you want the best chance of remaining unseen and to avoid the risk of being asked to move, a green or brown tent is the most discreet for obvious reasons.

Pick a tent that performs well in especially wet and windy conditions. I find a low profile works best because they are much less likely to shake like crazy or make noise in general.

4. Pitch Your Tent Before You Go Wild Camping in Ireland

I went wild camping on Dunree beach some years ago with a Vango Banshee 200. It’s my favourite tent for wild camping in Ireland and incredibly easy to pitch. However, I made the mistake of assuming this would be really quick and easy to set up for the first time.

It was getting dark and raining hard at the time. Due to these conditions and the onset of frustration, I spent a good hour trying to figure out how to pitch the tent properly and the rest of the night trying to get dry and warm myself up again.

It’s true, the tent is extremely easy to pitch. However, every tent design is different and the Vango Banshee 200 required a different approach than my other tents. Moral of the story? I could have avoided this disaster by pitching the tent in my backyard beforehand.

5. Consider Taking Cold or Pre Made Meals Instead of Cooking

After a long hike, I do enjoy a hot meal but I’m often too tired to cook. That’s why I always carry the option to have a cold meal in the mornings or evenings. Cooking is one of the most enjoyable things about wild camping but it’s also messy at times and not always ideal in especially bad weather. What’s more, I’ve often found a cold chicken tikka wrap to be just as enjoyable as a hot meal of any kind- especially if someone made the wrap for me!

6. Aim for a Wild Camping Spot Away from Built Up Areas

I find that picking a forest area can be especially reliable for wild camping. A forest is most often a sheltered and calm place to camp but also one in which you’ll be out of sight. In terms of choosing a spot, it’s also quite easy to pick out forested areas on any GPS or physical map.

You should also notice it’s harder to find a wild camping spot near a town or built up area. This means if you are hiking a long distance trail such as the Kerry Way or the Wicklow Way, it’s best to pick out some potential wild camping areas either long before or after such places.

7. Choose a Safe and Comfortable Spot (Near a Water Source)

Camping on a bed of pine needles is a beautiful thing and much better than a bed of stones or especially hard ground. That being said, none of this matters if it rains and you’re pitched in a ditch or depressed area that’s likely to flood or become waterlogged. It’s also important to stay clear of any dead trees or branches and avoid exposed areas when the weather is particularly wild. The last thing I would mention is the convenience of having a nearby water source. This will not only mean that you can use as much water as you like but a water source also makes washing dishes (and yourself) much easier. On the other hand, maybe it’s a spot known for midges? In which case, midges like water and this might be something to avoid.

8. Wait Until Nightfall to Pitch Your Tent

If you want to avoid getting moved on, it’s best to wait until nightfall to pitch your tent. I actually do this so that I won’t be thinking or worrying about having to relocate. It obviously won’t matter as much deep inside Wicklow National Park but it’s a decent rule of thumb.

For the sake of the wild camping community, I also suggest you pack up and leave at first light. It’s not about getting caught but rather about making every effort not to disturb locals and to help the wild camping community avoid any unwanted attention.

9. Don’t Underestimate the Importance of a Headlamp

I used to lead camping safaris in Africa. Before these trips, I would often pick up a few headlamps as my guests would often show up without one. You see, many of these guests had never gone camping before or tried to pitch a tent in the dark – without a headlamp. It might seem like a rather obvious or minor matter but you need both hands to pitch a tent which will inevitably make the process a little more than frustrating. The same goes for cooking in the dark, reading in the dark and going to the toilet in the dark – you get the idea!

10. Use Reusable Dry Bags (And not Plastic Bags)

I try not to use plastic bags wherever possible and dry bags are the ideal replacement. It’s important to use these bags to ensure your gear is fully protected from the elements. The truth is, backpacks can leak and a dry bag will ensure your backup gear is properly stored.

Just so you know, I use reusable Ziploc bags for food. However, I not only use a dry bag for my spare clothing but I also have a separate dry bag for my cooking equipment, sleeping bag and electronics. You can never be too careful but you should also find these precautions will serve you well on future trips.

Now, here’s a quick look at a basic packing list for wild camping. Please remember this is a basic outline and you will need more or less gear depending on various factors/conditions.

Basic Packing List for Wild Camping

  • Tent
  • Sleeping Bag (& Sleeping Bag Liner)
  • Sleeping Mattress
  • Down Jacket
  • Gloves
  • Rain Jacket
  • Rain Pants
  • Beanie Hat
  • Backpack Rain Cover
  • Dry Bags
  • Spare T-Shirt
  • Spare Socks
  • Warm Sweater
  • Thermal Top / Bottoms / Socks
  • Headlamp
  • Map / GPS
  • Water Filter
  • Stove / Gas
  • Pot
  • Spork
  • Lighter & Matches
  • Camping Knife
  • Phone
  • Powerbank
  • Charging Cable
  • Toothbrush & Toothpaste
  • Toilet Paper
  • Credit Card / Cash
  • Plastic Bag for packing Trash / Waste

Final Thoughts

I think that most people often worry and think about the same things before they go wild camping for the first time. These “things” include getting lost, being attacked or not having the right gear. But most of these thoughts are either unlikely or irrational and having the right gear is a simple matter of careful research and packing.


Either way, stay safe and whatever you do – enjoy your time in the wild!

Water Sport Activities for All the Family

Like ducks to water, Irish families are making a splash and enjoying water activities in increasing numbers this summer.  Maybe it’s the ‘staycation’ phenomenon. Maybe everyone is feeling more adventurous after months of tortuous lockdown, but whatever the reason, Irish families are making taking a plunge with water based Outdoor Adventures this year.   The range of organised water activities that are on offer is astounding. Surf schools, stand up paddle trips, diving and kayaking have all become more mainstream and accessible to all.  Of course, Ireland has never been short of water.  Most of it has been falling down on us incessantly.  But when the sun shines, we have the best lakes, rivers and seas for all kinds of watery fun! Families are embracing these opportunities!

water sport activities

Stand Up Paddling

Supping, or Stand Up Paddling is a really pleasant water activity for all.  Yes, you guessed it.  It is standing up on a board and paddling along!  A very gentle way to enjoy nature as you glide serenely along the lake or river.  There is no age limit. No huge physical demands and it is so much fun.  We have even heard of dogs who love hitching a ride on the paddle boards.  There are lots of places offering this unique activity.  It’s also good for social distancing! It is usually a calm, easy event, but supping can be done on any body of water from mild to wild.  So supping the waves of the Atlantic is available too for the more adventurous types.  Check out the best places to stand up and get paddling here.

Stand Up Paddling


Surfing was once the sport of a few tanned demi-gods and goddesses, who strode down the beach as Jack Johnson music played loudly in the background, to paddle out proudly and ride the waves like the bosses they were. It’s not such a niche sport these days.  Now the shorelines are full of surfers, young and old, in family groups, making the sport look genuinely easy and loving the waves.  Bodyboarding is a great starter for the younger ones and there are surf lessons to be had at any sea side that is lucky enough to have waves.   A wet suit can be hired, but if you like the sea, and you live in Ireland, it is not a bad idea to invest in one.  Not every day is a day for the swimming togs and a wet suit can make the experience a much more enjoyable one.  Check out our blog here on which wet suit you should choose.   And if you are wondering if the surf is up?  Check out this live cam from Strandhill Sligo before strapping the board to the car.

Surfing in Ireland

Wild Swimming

Yes, that’s the new cool term for swimming in wild waters.  It could mean the sea, a river or a lake.  Generally it refers to freezing cold swimming and those hardy folk who jump off the 40ft in Dublin, Salthill pier in Galway and lots of other wild windy spots.  The die-hard types who even swim when, and especially when, there is snow falling!   For the rest of us mere mortals, wild swimming means checking the lifeguards instructions, making sure it’s a safe place, a warm day and plunging in within our depth, to enjoy splashing each other and swimming in nature.   Buoyancy aids for kids are an extra safety precaution and will allow the young ones to appreciate the freezing cold waves even more.  At Outdoor Adventure Stores we carry typhoon brand, which we find to be great value and totally reliable.  Swimming never gets old.

Wild Swimming in Ireland


Kayaking is hugely popular in Ireland.  Some love the gentle paddle on a calm lake and others crave the wild white waters of Mountain Rivers.   Whatever your kayaking preferences,  the beginner sessions for  all ages, including the children,  are a relaxed and calm way to experience kayaking. Give it a GO!   Family kayaking sessions in Dublin are perfect for getting started, learning new skills and having a fun.  In no time, you will be hooked on one of Ireland’s fastest growing water activities.  Enjoy learning to kayak at the scenic canal location and the stunning Dalkey coastlines lend itself to sheer pleasure. But there are opportunities to kayak all over Ireland now and your outdoor adventure with a paddle awaits.

Kayaking in Ireland

Scuba Diving

The best scuba diving in the world may well be on your doorstep.  The famous marine biologist, diver, explorer, Jaques Cousteau once said that some of the very best diving was ‘at the northern side of the Dingle Pennisular, where the Atlantic meets the Brandon Mountains in exceptional beauty’.  No one will argue with him.  Ireland’s coastland and islands offer amazing diving experiences.  Scuba diving is another fast growing water activity.  Scuba Dive West in Galway and Baltimore Dive Centre in Cork, both report sell out classes this summer. It is not surprising.  The wealth of marine life to be seen just a few meters offshore is just awesome.  Check out these spots for the best diving.

Scuba Diving in Ireland


If you don’t fancy scuba diving, then why not try snorkelling.  It’s accessible to all ages, and relatively easy to do.   The trick is to find a nice easy spot to enter the water. Since Ireland has a rocky coastline, finding a safe place to snorkel can be a challenge. Avoid steep cliffs and find a walking path leading to the water. There are great snorkel friendly beaches on the west coast in County Donegal, Mayo, Sligo, Clare and Kerry. Equipment can be hired or purchased and snorkelling is easy on the environment and apparently good for your wellbeing too!  With over 3,000 miles of coastline, we have endless opportunities to lie face down peering at the watery underworld. Get more information from the professional snorkelers here.

Snorkeling in Ireland


With aqua parks, boat hire, canoeing and all manner of water sports to investigate and enjoy, it is possible for your family break to be less land/earthbound and more on the waves. However, safety should always be the first and last thing on your mind when taking wee ones and older ones out on the water.   Follow all the safety guidelines for each activity and for each geographical area.  Learn to swim competently and ensure that the more vulnerable family members wear lifejackets etc. 

Ireland’s love of water based activities is set to grow and grow as we all become more adventurous and enthusiastic about trying new things.   From swimming to diving and from surfing to water skiing  we will all be at sea! 

It’s not surprising, we do live on an island after all.  So dive on in and try something new this summer.

Water Sport Activities Ireland

Back to the Hills

It has never felt better to get out and about for Outdoor Adventure.  Our enforced time at home may have been pleasant but it is time to run for the hills.  The easing from 2km to 5km felt amazing, but now we are flying free again. We are unleashed to enjoy all that this great country has to offer in terms of thrilling treks, fantastic walks and amazing scenery.  At Outdoor Adventure Store, we have missed you all as much as we have missed walking, climbing, running and revelling in the outdoor life.   To celebrate our joint freedom and renewed appreciation for the world, we have generous reductions on many items in-store.  So, take this opportunity to treat yourself to some new outdoor equipment as you get back to the hills.

Hiking and Walking Boots

Before you invest in some awesome footwear, take a wee moment to decide what is best for your needs.  Consider which type of hiking, hill walking you plan to do and what kind of terrain it involves. This will be the deciding factor when it comes to choosing appropriate footwear.  A good pair of hiking boots is an investment in many years of comfortable trekking. Getting back to the Hills will be a charm with the right footwear.    Hiking long distances and upland trails comfortably and without blisters or wet feet while reducing the dangers of slipping and falling, is dependent on good footwear.    A good pair of hiking boots are optimised for ankle support on all terrains and will protect your feet from rocks and spikey trail debris.   The wrong shoes are simply not suitable and those who start walking in regular footwear, often regret their decision quickly.   It may be that the type of hiking/hill walking that you are planning to do, would be better suited to a walking shoe or sandal.  The important thing is not to get blistered and footsore.   Check out our blog on how to choose the right pair of boots for you, or call into the store to avail of the expert advice of our friendly staff.

Walking and Trekking Poles

Perhaps you are not as fit as you were prior to the Covid-19 lockdown, but this should not deter you from getting back to the hills with vigour and enthusiasm.  A good walking pole is not just an extra piece of equipment, it can be the difference between making the summit, and safely descending your favourite mountain with a smile on your face.  At Outdoor Adventure Store we have a fantastic range of trekking poles and hiking poles to suit every expedition, whether they are big or small.  For walking pole novices, we recommend the robust three-piece trekking pole from Leki .  Its adjustable safety strap and rounded supporting surface on the new Evocon trekking grip are particularly pleasant for a downhill climb.  The length of the poles should be adjusted to suit your height and the activity you are planning. Generally speaking, lengthen the poles for descents, and shorten them for ascents and the length for walking along flat or gently slopes should be around waist height.  To avail of our great offers on walking poles, see the range online or talk to one of our knowledgeable staff.

Trekking poles for walking

Baby comes too!

There is no reason why baby cannot come too!  Especially when we have great offers on all baby carriers.  One of our most popular models is the Osprey Poco Plus Child Carrier, a sturdy model that boasts the same innovated suspended mesh back system as some of our most comfortable hiking and backpacking packs. It also has essential sun protection. The rapid deploy Poco Plus Sun-Shade, with an UPF 22 rating it protects your little cargo from harmful sun rays, making the perfect shaded spot for an afternoon nap. When the weather takes a turn for the worse, deploy the integrated rain-cover.  See our previous blog on which is the best buy for you and your little one. 

hiking with baby


We truly cannot keep the tents in the warehouse this year!  Our unbelievable value in tents for family staycations or for solo travellers has seen an unprecedented amount of canvas sold since the lifting of restrictions.  But don’t worry, we have plenty of tents still in stock for your camping needs. RockNRiver have the very best in adventure camping packages for as little as €99.00, and if you are looking for some luxury at the campfire, the Vango range of tents has all you could ever need and more.

As we all enjoy our staycations in Ireland, with a reborn appreciation for alfresco living let’s do with the best equipment possible.  Whether we are camping with the family, hiking solo or climbing to the top of the tallest mountain.  Outdoor Adventure Stores have everything you need to make the experience a pleasant, fun and unforgettable. We have your back as you get back to the hills.

Now is the pitch-perfect timing for a camping staycation in Ireland!

The best places for family staycations camping in Ireland and the very best reasons why you should choose to holiday at home in 2020

The time has never been more right for a camping holiday in this beautiful country. An increasing number of families are now considering holidaying in Ireland.   A camping staycation. The desire to leave a smaller carbon footprint on the planet makes staying closer to home for your annual holiday, a very inviting prospect.  The high cost of fuel, both to our own pockets and to the environment, means that long journeys are increasingly unappealing.    A camping staycation in Ireland allows families to enjoy a wonderful break with the smug and self-satisfied knowledge that they are not contributing further to climate change, pollution or toxic emissions.  Of course, the fact that we have the most awesome scenery and incredibly beautiful places to pitch your tent, makes the sacrifice of staying home, a very easy one to make.

Best Campsites in Ireland

Foreign travel involves a lot more organisation than a home camping trip.  Packing for a staycation is a less tedious task.   Airports and ferries can be expensive and stressful and you may lose a few days traveling to your destination.  A staycation has a lot of positives to offer, particularly for camping families.   No queues or cancelled flights/ferry sailings.  Doggie people can enjoy the company of their best friend for the duration and no kennel fees when you choose dog friendly sites. It makes sense on many levels to vacation at home.  Often you can be one short-dated passport, or one unfilled prescription away from disaster when traveling abroad!

The money you save on international flights can be invested in a family tent and some great camping equipment. The Vango Airbeam tent is a hassle free, no poles, no arguments, comfortable and stress free camping dream for any family to spend starry nights dreaming in.  It has two bedrooms that are separated by a centre porch. Fits up to 8 people and only take 12 minutes to pitch. This is camping luxury that you will enjoy for years to come.    

Camping can be quite luxurious now and has come a long way from burning a tin of beans over a fire before sleeping on rocks with various insects for company.  See our blog on Glamourous camping.

Camping Ireland

Where to pitch up…

Here are some of Ireland’s unique and best camping sites for the family tent.

Pure Camping in Querrin Co Clare

On the Wild Atlantic Way and near the scenic village of Kilkee, Pure Camping is an eco-retreat that welcomes pitching tents and even has some pre-pitched, if that is your preference. A sauna, solar showers and rainwater harvesting add to the eco-friendly vibe.  Children love the donkeys and chickens, and the nearby woods for adventuring. A communal dome tent provides a place to make new friends. 
Visit www.purecamping.ie

Coomshanna Wild Camping in Co Kerry

The views over Dingle Bay are incredibly inspiring.  A stream runs by and other than this, there is a field devoid of rocks and bumps in which to pitch your tent.  Take your wee shovel when you want to use the toilet and no fire rule is enforced.  This is eco-friendly and   peaceful camping.  The starry skies are incredible.

Nore Valley Camping and Caravan Park Co Kilkenny

Family friendly, child friendly and well… just really friendly. Nore Valley has a lovely vibe. Maybe the hay trailer rides, the crazy golf or the petting zoo have something to do with Nore Valley being one of the most popular family camping sites on the East Coast.  Get lost in the wooden maze.  Go for a trip on a pedal powered go-kart.  This camping site is close to Kilkenny city and is a great camping base to just chill with the ostriches (Gail and Ragsy) or to explore the East Coast treasures.

Hidden Valley Holiday Park Co Wicklow

Classic campsite in Rathdrum which boasts fantastic facilities for families.  Kayaking and swimming on and in the Avonmore River.  Fish too, if that is your jam! Riverside campfires, a kid’s adventure fun park and cinema nights with beanbags are all on offer in this beautiful campsite.  The Wicklow Mountains are on the doorstep for hiking, biking, sight-seeing and generally enjoying the wonders of the garden of Ireland.

Eagle Point Camping Co Cork

Eagle Point campsite is a 20-acre campsite, a few kilometres from Bantry in West Cork. A great family campsite which hugs the water, with pebble beaches and great views over the sea.  A kids TV room, football, basketball and the usual facilities make Ballylickey/Eagle Point an easy place to pitch for a gentle fun filled holiday.

Affordable Camping Gear

Perhaps in the rush to explore foreign climes, we have forgotten all that there is to offer here at home.
This is just a wee taste of the fantastic camping choices available around Ireland The Wild Atlantic Way has a trail of camping sites that will bring a new experience every day. Stay-cationing is fun and make sense. It contributes to saving the environment, by cutting down of fossil fuels and air miles.  It is good for local employment and the sustainability of rural communities.  But most of all its good for your own sanity, and isn’t that what a holiday is all about.

What gear will I need for backpacking/hiking in Ireland?

In Ireland, we are blessed with a wide range of wonderful terrain for hiking and trekking. With that comes a similarly wide variety of weather to make your Outdoor Adventure even more exciting!   This can bring a dilemma when purchasing and packing the right equipment for making your day out the best experience it can be.  Wet feet or chaffing clothes can ruin the day.  The weather can change drastically from morning to afternoon, and indeed it can also present challenges as you move from sea level to mountain top.  At Outdoor Adventure Store, we appreciate the need for good equipment that combines value for money with the practicalities of hiking in Ireland. Here is a few pieces of salient advice, tried and tested by staff and customers and then a list of all you might need.  Enjoy!


It doesn’t really matter whether you are hiking in January or July, you are likely to need waterproof jackets and over pants.  The weight of these items is what will change, depending on the temperature and time of year.  A good warm outdoor jacket is a must for an Irish winter regardless of whether you are just taking the dog to the park, or embarking on a treacherous trek up the mountains. There is a great variety of waterproof jackets and pull up trousers to choose from.  For the summer months, choose a lightweight ‘pop in the backpack’ brand and bulk it up for the winter.  The important thing is to not get caught out in the rain.

Shoes, boots or walking sandals

The terrain is the deciding factor when it comes to the appropriate footwear.  A good pair of hiking boots is an investment in years of outdoor adventure enjoyment. Check out our blog on how to choose the right pair of boots for you, or call into the store to avail of the expert advice of our friendly staff.  It may be that the type of hiking/hill walking that you are planning to do, would be better suited to a walking shoe or sandal.  The important thing is not to get blistered and footsore.

Base Layers

If you have never enjoyed the comfort and warmth of modern technology and common sense that comes wrapped up in base layer clothing, then you are in for a real treat.  Base layers are versatile pieces of clothing (T shirts, long sleeved tops etc.) in different fabrics that provide the buffer zone between you and certain climates and conditions. They draw moisture away from the body, so no need to feel sweaty, to stop you feeling damp and allowing cold to creep in.  Good base layer clothing is a modern day essential for outdoor activities.

Once you get the basics right, your expeditions will be transformed into great adventures,  as you concentrate on personal goals, the amazing countryside, the route and your overall sense of achievement and happiness. With the right gear, your mind will be focused where it should be… on where the foot is falling and not what that foot is wearing!  Here is a short list of essential equipment to set any intrepid hiker/backpacker/hillwalker or trekker off on the trails comfortable, happy and safe.

Hiking socks

Waterproof jacket or poncho

Waterproof over pants

 Fleece long sleeved shirts

Base layer clothing, as appropriate

Light and comfortable trousers

Appropriate foot wear/boots/sandals  

Comfortable, adjustable waterproof back pack

Walking Poles



Snood or scarf

First aid kit

Survival blanket

Torch or Headlamp

Mobile phone

Battery pack for phone   

Sunscreen, sunglasses and sun hat (on the good days!)

Compass, map, GPS

Water Bottles/Rehydration system

Multi Tool

Food Protein Bars, chocolate, nuts etc.

All the equipment you will need for Traditional Climbing in Ireland

Ireland is the perfect place to trad-climb.  From Donegal to Kerry and from Antrim to Dalkey there is plenty of terrain that will challenge even the most fearless climber.  And trad- climbing is indeed for the fearless.  Traditional climbing is a style for rock-climbing where the climber places footholds, bolts, cams, nuts and gear to protect against falls.  So while sport climbing focuses more on the physical challenges there is also a mental challenge to trad climbing.  This form of climbing means carrying and placing protection (chocks, camming devices, bolts etc) together with your usual gear.  Trad climbers and their partners need to decide on a method of carrying this collection of climbing gear that works for both of them. We have a selection of light weight backpacks suitable for purpose.

If you are new to trad-climbing, it can be daunting and exciting in equal measure. Physically demanding and mentally challenging, this sport is not for the faint hearted, especially when you consider that a mistake can have very serious consequences.  Most people begin with a climbing group and literally follow the more experienced climbers in ‘getting to know the ropes’.  Get a good instructor and learn the basics slowly advancing as you go.  Indoor climbing walls can hone the physicality and train the mind for the heights, but the greatest thrill is always in outdoor adventure. 

The right equipment will help to ensure the best possible experience.   We have compiled a list of trad-climbing essentials which will bring you warm and dry to the rock face and upwards.  The rest is up to you. 

Gear list for Trad- climbing:

Climbing Gear Basics

Hardware and protection quantities depend entirely on the route and climb itself, but this is a general list

Personal Gear and clothing






What you will need for the trek to Everest Base Camp

So, you are off on one of the most iconic historic treks in the world!  The infamous expedition to the base camp at the top of the world is on the bucket list of many adventurous spirits. Knowing what to take, and what to leave behind, is essential to enjoying, and successfully completing this experience.

A 45minute flight from Kathmandu to the landing strip of at Lukla brings you straight to the heart of the adventure. Breathtakingly beautiful and winding trails surround the lower lush green regions where you will pass through traditional Sherpa villages, Buddhist temples and bazaars.  

Mount Everest base camp stands at 5,364m in the shadow of the summit of highest mountain in the world, Everest( 8,848m ).  Chomolungma ‘The mother goddess of the Earth’ in Tibetan and Sagarmatha ’ sky head’ in Nepalese,  offers one of the most scenic and culturally rich treks imaginable.  Once above the 4,500 meters or so, the landscape changes and your breathing becomes more difficult as the air thins.  The views of these mountain ranges must be seen to be believed and nothing prepares you for the incredible might and awe of rock, snow and ice at the top of the world.

Most trekkers choose to travel with a trekking group, but it is possible to take the challenge on your own.  The best months to take up the challenge of Base Camp is pre-monsoon (February through to May) and post monsoon (Late September through to December).  April and May are the most crowded as those with permits to summit are acclimatizing, so it might be best to avoid those times. Your equipment or gear list is pretty much unchanged no matter what time of year you choose to trek.  That moment when you arrive at Base Camp brings an exhilaration and a sense of achievement which is unforgettable and life affirming.  Check out our gear list to ensure that your Everest experience is positive and successful.

Climbing equipment

  • Ice axes with straps
  • Crampons
  • Climbing harness
  • Locking snap hooks (2)
  • Classic snap hooks (4)
  • Blocker (Ascender). A right or a left
  • Insurer (2)
  • Climbing helmet
  • Draw strips
  • Adjustable trekking poles


Technical clothing

For the hands

For the head

Personal equipment

Camino de Santiago – What will I need for trekking the Camino?

Walking the Camino is one of the most popular adventures, rite of passage or pilgrimage in the world.  In English it is The Way of St James and it attracted more than 327,378 pilgrims from over 200 different countries to complete the Camino last year.  That does not take into account the thousands of walkers who trekked sections of the pilgrimage route in France, Portugal and Spain.   All roads on the Camino lead to Santiago de Compostela where pilgrims who have completed the entire route are presented with their Compostela certificate

The idea of walking a pilgrim path in the 21st Century may seem a bit archaic and quaint, but the increasing crowds is testament to the benefits and popularity of walking through nature, without modern devices and in the footsteps of many.  This pilgrimage was popular in the 10th, 11th and 12th Century and then lay going wild and alone, and only began to be of interest again in the late 20th century.  Modern travellers choose the section of the Camino that best suits their activity level, the time they have allocated to complete the walk and the scenery they would most enjoy along the way. 

The most famous and popular route is the French, Camino Frances, with the Camino Portugues, originating in Portugal, as the second busiest route.  These can be busy routes, so if you prefer a quieter road, the Camino Primitivo or Original Way offers 261km of beautiful scenery and a fairly strenuous trail.  Should the  wildness of a rugged coastline appeal to your senses, then the Camino Del Notre which takes in 825km of incredible, and rigorous,  sea trails  is probably the route for you.

It is possible to do the Camino de Santiago at any time of year, although snowy mountain trails may slow you down and become dangerous in winter.  Spring and Autumn are the best times for the pilgrimage, no matter which of the trails, paths or pilgrim’s way that you choose.   

No matter which itinerary and season you chose to embark on your iconic pilgrimage, you will need the right equipment.  At Outdoor Adventure Stores, we have compiled a list of gear which are essential for a successful pilgrimage, where your thoughts are mindful of the road and the journey itself and not the pain of your blisters!  Whether you decide to camp out and need a good sleeping bag or stay in hostels and pack a good sleeping bag liner, we have listed everything for you to customise to your own pilgrimage needs.  Good walking shoes and rain ponchos or coats are a must for all.  

The Camino is more than just an amazing outdoor adventure. Those who have embraced the rigours of its dusty and arduous roads say it that for many, it holds a specific spiritual symbolism too. We think you should be well prepared and are right here to assist in any way that we can so that your Camino trail is memorable for all the right reasons.

Gear List:

Ultra-comfortable walking shoes or boots 

Good quality hiking socks (merino wool or other)

Comfortable backpack, with hip straps (30-45L will work) 

Trekking poles or walking pole

Sleeping Bag

Sleeping bag liner

2-3 light cotton shirts. (one long-sleeved, one short-sleeved- look at base layer clothing if trekking in the colder weather)

Fleece jacket

Hat and sunglasses

Good rainwear or rain poncho

2-3 trousers options (hiking pants, sweatpants, leggings, shorts, anything goes as long as you’re comfortable) 

Plastic flip-flops (hostels essential)

A large quick-dry towel

Flashlight  or headtorch

Swiss army knife

Earplugs and eye mask

A medikit   (Check out our readymade, compact and complete first aid kits)


Water bottle



Phone Charger and an adapter/converter for the outlets

Sleeping Pad – This is optional, but some people like to have them.