Must-Have Clothes for a Hike in the Irish Hills

a man standing on a cliff near the sea

Whether you’re joining a hiking tour or planning on exploring solo, Ireland is here to fill up your awe tank, and unlike fuel, it will only cost you a bottle of water and a snack. Some hiking trails (like the rugged Irish mountain terrain) aren’t exactly a walk in the park. They are demanding, wild, and, most of all, exhilarating. These roads are less travelled. The “Emerald Isle” is any hiker’s dream come true. Why? Although Irish people often pine for a blossoming, Mediterranean summer, hikers and avid walkers couldn’t be happier with Ireland’s weather conditions (with average temperatures reaching anywhere between 12 °C (54 °F) and 18 °C (64.5 °F). If you’re planning on experiencing an unforgettable adventure this summer, get acquainted with must-have clothes for a hike in the Irish Hills. Are we ready? Zip up!

Hiker’s dress code

For all the hiking beginners out there: being in shape is, without a doubt, a good thing. Physical stamina and enthusiasm are essential for a great hike. Still, if you wear your skinny jeans and choose the wrong type of footwear, you’ll be in trouble – instantly. It doesn’t take long for our nerve endings (whether on our delicate skin or the soles of our feet) to throw an unforgettable temper tantrum. This quiet, invisible inner-mutiny will, undoubtedly, fill you with regret, and your heavy heart will stomp on your initial enthusiasm until there’s nothing left to hold on to but a pale shadow of its former glory. So, what type of clothes is suitable for hiking?

man hiking with gear depicts must-have clothes for a hike in the Irish hills
Play it smart; wear the right clothes.

The right footwear

We can’t stress it enough – footwear is everything. What kind of footwear you’ll need depends on your destination, terrain, and weather conditions. Keeping your feet comfortable and dry isn’t the only concern; your hiking shoes should provide safety during a winter hike. Rocky, uneven terrains call for good gripping soles. Rain does too. (a slippery hike is not something we look forward to).

We recommend:

  • Leg gaiters: Silly-looking but extremely useful, they are designed to keep our feet and lower legs from wet underbrush and debris in our shoes. Remember, the weather might be dry, but the grass will most likely be wet. If you want to avoid wearing waterproof over-trousers, this is a perfect time, but the right shoes are necessary.
  • Hiking boots: a must-have item for a traditional Irish hike. Ankle support is essential, and so is having an impenetrable sole. Any less common route will require a good, sturdy hiking boot. Opt for a waterproof model, as the weather gods like to spice it up a little, even during summer.
  • Socks: don’t overlook the importance of a high-quality hiking sock. They were invented for a reason. Unlike regular cotton ones, hiking socks are designed for friction reduction and outstanding insulation.

A piece of advice: Be sure to break in your new hiking boots before the trip! (we’ve all experienced this particular type of excruciating discomfort and pain. Sweet sorrow? – Nothing sweet about it.)

man tying hiking shoe
Say no to the unpredictable. Safety and comfort first.

Smart hiking: Layers

Getting informed on must-have clothes for a hike in the Irish hills beforehand is crucial for a successful trip. The clothes we wear and the footwear we choose prevents us from experiencing common hiking injuries. You must be thinking: Sure, I know, sprained ankle stuff. – Yes, that too, but specially designed clothes protect us from invisible dangers like low temperatures, wind, water, and the sun. So, what do you wear? Layers are the smartest way to ensure a smooth and pleasant walk out in the wilderness.

Why say yes to layers

Unpredictable weather, of course. Regulating your body temperature during a hiking session is exceptionally relevant; you don’t want to get all bundled up and end up hyperventilating due to feeling “unbearably hot.” Adding on a layer (or taking off one) is an easy way to ensure that your body’s feeling just right and all the functions are working properly.

What kind of layers are we talking about?

If you’re unsure what clothes to pack for your trip, you must get some advice for this before closing your suitcase!

First, avoid cotton. Cotton clothing gets heavy when wet and isn’t quick to dry. And quick-drying clothes (upper and lower body!) is what we’re looking for.

  • Lightweight T-shirt: technical t-shirts soak up the sweat from our upper body via capillary action, keeping us dry and smiling
  • Fleece: high-tech fabrics offer incredible insulation; the natural motion of the hiker generates warmth, and fleece regulates the body temperature
  • Rain jacket: a hardshell jacket is there to protect you from chilly weather, wind, and rain; a great piece of garment for any outdoor adventure
  • lightweight trousers: choose quick-drying trousers for your hiking trip, as the ground can get pretty boggy
a woman standing next to a lake
Take your wanderlust for a dress-up with our must-have clothes for a hike in the Irish hills.

Other important must-haves

Getting familiar with essential hiking gear is half the job (the other half being “feet, don’t fail me now!”). If you want your hiking trip to be inconvenience-proof, consider bringing:

  • Headgear: a sun hat or a warm hat (depending on the season) will keep your face safe from dangerous UV rays or harsh wind conditions
  • Sunblock: Yes, this is Ireland, but you’d be surprised how easily one can get a sunburn up in the emerald hills
  • Bug spray: stay away, pests! I mean it! – it does come in handy
  • Comfortable underwear: chaffing sensation? Pass!
  • Waterproof backpack: unless you want your change of clothes to get wet, invest in a waterproof backpack

Off to the hills!

If you follow our must-have clothes for a hike in the Irish hills list, we guarantee it will be a hike of a lifetime. Be sure to get a good night’s sleep before the adventure. Stay hydrated and enjoy the view.

Guide to Buying Different Types of Outdoor Jackets

People hiking and wearing different types of outdoor jackets

Choosing the right jacket is crucial if you like outdoor activities and have an adventurous spirit. There are many various types of outdoor jackets you can choose from. Of course, you can always buy a jacket that’s suitable for numerous activities. However, if you’re a serious player, it’s better to go for a jacket that’s specifically designed for a specific activity. Believe it or not, a proper outdoor jacket will improve your activity and make it bearable and even possible. That’s why it’s essential to inform yourself about what type of jacket is best for your chosen outdoor activity. This is what we will talk about in this article. So, brace yourself because we’re giving you the ultimate guide to buying different types of outdoor jackets. Let’s scroll!

A tough jacket for mountaineering

Mountaineering can get harsh, and thus the interaction between the rock and the jacket is unavoidable. In addition, you’ll almost always be carrying a (large and heavy) backpack of some kind. That is why alpine and rock climbing jackets must be tough above anything else. This is only logical since you’ll constantly have to contend with rather unfavourable weather conditions at high elevations. And let’s not even mention the wind up there! Even if the weather is lovely at the ground level, the temperature will drop as you climb further up the mountain. Therefore, hard and softshell jackets have become mountaineers’ first choice. Other things to look for in a perfect jacket for mountaineering:

  • Proper fit and flexibility for motion. Mountaineering can be pretty demanding, so if the jacket restricts your freedom of movement in any manner, you are in trouble for the rest of the day. 
  • Good length. It would be best if you made sure the jacket was long enough. Otherwise, it will not fit well beneath a climbing harness and will ride up over it.
  • Pocket position. They should be placed a little higher so that you can still reach them while wearing a harness.
  • Helmet-compatible hood. Only if the hood is helmet-compatible can you wear it over the rock climbing helmet without any trouble. 

Therefore, when it comes to buying different types of outdoor jackets, this is what you should look for in a mountaineering jacket.

A flexible jacket for hillwalking

Man hiking
You need to be weather-prepared, and your jacket needs to be well-fitted.

Hillwalking is another demanding activity that requires a specific and different type of outdoor jacket. You should look for several features when you’re buying a hillwalking jacket, and all of them are conditioned by various factors. So, let’s see the essential elements of this type of outdoor jacket:

  • Excellent weather protection. Whether it’s heavy rain or unbearably strong wind, you’ll have to deal with unpredictable weather and always be prepared. That’s why a technical waterproof jacket or softshell jacket is what you can rely on in these conditions. 
  • Breathability. Whether you get wet from heavy rain or it’s hot, and you’re sweating like crazy, you must wear a jacket with good breathability. 
  • Toughness. Remember that you might be carrying a large rucksack. Therefore, your jacket must be constructed to handle all of that extra weight and friction and thus be strengthened at the shoulders.
  • Easily-adjustable hood. You don’t want your hood to fall off when it gets windy and starts to rain at the same time. So, make sure you can adjust it easily according to the current weather. 
  • Proper size. Choose a large enough jacket so you can wear it comfortably over a warm layer of clothes.

A functional jacket for cycling

Winds may be a cyclist’s worst nightmare, whether on the road or on the mountain. That’s why cycling jackets that flap around or fill up with air are entirely useless. Therefore it’s critical that a cycling jacket fits appropriately and is somewhat close-fitting. This is the only way to prevent blowing out like a drogue parachute at greater speeds. In addition, cycling jackets have a slightly different overall cut compared to other outdoor jackets. They frequently have an extended back, which assists in safeguarding your lower back, especially while leaning forward.

Additionally, cycling jackets frequently include a pocket on the back. This is particularly useful not just because you may keep all types of bits and bobs in it but also because they are constantly within reach. Moreover, the jacket should be as light as feasible and fitted with reflective components for all those night crawlers out there.

A cycling jacket needs to be functional above anything else.

A lightweight jacket for trail running

Trail running is an endurance sport that requires a lot of effort. That’s why you can’t overlook breathability when buying thy type of outdoor jacket. Excellent moisture management must be prioritized. The jacket should not only fit nicely, but it should also be as snugly as possible. Only then will water vapor be able to escape with the least amount of resistance.

Furthermore, every ounce matters, especially on long runs. If you intend to carry the jacket in your backpack, it should be as light as possible. Additionally, it would be best if you fit it in the smallest pack size you can. 

Don’t forget about the weather protection. Trail running jackets must be both water and windproof, depending on the weather conditions you have to deal with on the trail. Hoods can also come in handy, but you should know they add extra weight.  

When it comes to storing this type of jacket, you need to be extra careful. So, when preparing clothes for storage during winter, make sure to keep them safe and dry, especially this type of jacket. You can keep them in weather-controlled storage and protect them from bugs. The truth is, you don’t want to buy a new trail running jacket every season. 

Additional outdoor jacket features

Now that you know the essential features you should look for when buying different types of outdoor jackets, let’s take a look at the additional features that can come in handy:

  • Water bottle compartments on the inside
  • Internal smartphone pocket with access to headphones
  • Pockets for everything you intend to bring with you
  • Zippers that work with climbing harnesses
  • Secure passport pocket
   Couple in nature
You need to find a perfect jacket that fits your outdoor activity which is why buying different types of outdoor jackets is a must.

The final zip

As you can see, the jacket plays a significant role in your outdoor activity. It can determine its overall quality. It would be best to consider plenty of factors when choosing your next outdoor jacket. Anything from weather to flexibility should be on your checklist. With this guide to buying different types of outdoor jackets, you’re ready to make an educated pick. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to buy the perfect outdoor jacket!

Hiking on a Budget? Check Out this Gear by Rock N River

I’ve been trying out different types of gear lately and it strikes me that most of my hiking and camping gear comes from the same brands. But the best brands really do produce some of the best value gear. I personally like to stick with MSR and Vango for my tent and sleep system. I’ve also favoured Osprey backpacks down through the years and Black Diamond for my hiking poles on long distance trails. However, my recent review of Rock N River budget hiking gear has opened my mind to new affordable brands.

I know that not everyone can afford Osprey backpacks or a set of hiking poles by Black Diamond, Leki, or one of the other big names. With this in mind, I recently acquired some hiking gear from Rock N River with the intention of testing this gear out and then doing a giveaway with my followers on social media.

This post outlines my experience and some thoughts on budget hiking gear:

My Experience with the Budget Hiking Gear by Rock N River

Rock N River AirTrek 35 Backpack

I’m a little obsessed with backpacks and the comfort of Osprey bags in particular. For this reason, I was pleasantly surprised to find such impressive (and effective) padded straps and ventilated back system on the AirTrek 35 by Rock N River. If you have never experienced this type of back system, I can assure you that hiking with a backpack will never be the same.

The straps and hip belt fit snug to the body which is probably the first thing you’d hope to find with a hiking backpack. But the ventilated back system with mesh makes this an absolute joy to carry and noticeably different from carrying a standard backpack. The mesh pockets on each side are useful for water bottles and there are also two fixed loops on the back for hiking poles. With plenty of space inside and a pocket for a hydration bladder, it’s the ideal bag for day hiking at the very least.

It was my favourite item by Rock N River. Mostly because of the ventilation system, which I really didn’t expect for a hiking backpack in this price range!

Rock N River AirTrek 35

Rock N River Carbon Superlight Hiking Poles

Okay, I cannot recommend these hiking poles enough – they are amazing! But can I quickly tell you why I’m such a big fan and advocate for hiking poles in general?

It took me six weeks of recurring injuries on the Pacific Crest Trail to realise the importance and practicality of hiking poles. Until that time, I just didn’t believe they were necessary and that they looked rather silly! But every other hiker was using them (even the kids). These hikers were mostly without the kind of persistent injuries that I was incurring time after time. There were a lot of big climbs on that trail and I was naive in terms of the general strain and heavy load that comes with multi-day hikes. This strain is caused by the inevitable pounding of one’s feet on the ground, while the extra weight brings untold pressure on the body – especially the knees, feet, and ankles. Anyway, once I began using my Black Diamond poles, the injuries went away and every climb/descent was suddenly a lot easier.

But do you really need to invest so much money in hiking poles?

Carbon hiking poles are so much lighter and worth the money and I believe this is especially true with the Rock N River carbon super-light hiking poles.

I ended up losing my Black Diamond poles (don’t ask) and picked up a cheap replacement in Asia. It was to my surprise that my new/cheap hiking poles were just as good in terms of performance – albeit much heavier than my previous set of poles.

With all this in mind, I was amazed to find such an incredibly light and durable set of hiking poles as this set by Rock N River. I’m just as amazed with the cost, for this standard of hiking poles often comes with a hefty price tag. Aside from the cost, the poles are lighter than any of my previous hiking poles and with all the same features.

I was actually sorry to be giving them away on social media…lesson learned!

If you need a set of hiking poles for walking the Camino or any of the trails on our doorstep, I fully recommend picking up this wonderful set of super-light poles!

Rock N River Carbon Superlight Pole

Rock N River 2L Hydration Bladder

I began using hydration bladders on my year-long bicycle ride through Africa. They were the easiest means of carrying water and I never did like the idea of using one disposable bottle after another. But convenience and functionality is the main reason for using a hydration bladder. You can fill, filter and drink from a bladder much faster than a standard water bottle.

Fill – You can dunk a hydration bladder into a river easier than a bottle. I also find it easier to wash/clean the inside of a hydration bladder.

Filter – Some water filtration systems work better with a hydration bladder because you need to squeeze water through the system. It’s also somewhat easier for this process because you don’t need to stand it up or hold it still like you do with a bottle.

Drink – The Rock N River hydration bladder comes with an attachable tube which makes it really easy to drink at any time. I find this not only more convenient but also more practical because you never need to wait, stop or stretch anytime you wish to re-hydrate.

In short, there’s a lot to be said about using a hydration bladder for hiking, and the Rock N River model is just as good as any other model at a lesser cost.

Rock N River 2L Hydration Bladder

Rock N River 4+2 LED Head Torch

I have quite a few head torches at this stage and count this as an essential piece of hiking gear. It’s an emergency item that you should keep in your backpack at all times. They’re obviously useful for rustling through your backpack or hiking in the dark.

The Rock N River 4+2 LED Head Torch has everything you could really need and features four different modes. There is a flood and spotlight mode and then also two red-light options which you might use for reading maps after dark etc. I think this is best suited to anyone but especially young scouts or those who might be new to hiking.

Also, while I often suggest the Petzl Actik Core or Ledlenser MH5 to other hikers, I always recommend carrying a backup light like this nice little head torch by RnR!

Rock N River 4+2 LED Head Torch

Some Thoughts about Using Budget Gear for Hiking in Ireland

When I first got into hiking, I ran into several safety problems that could have been avoided. I also experienced the same persistent injuries (mostly knees/feet) on my long-distance trips and a general issue in terms of overall comfort while hiking.

For Example, I got heat exhaustion on a trip through Namibia and this was mostly due to not using a water hydration bladder. On my first long walk in Ireland, my gear was soaked through because I didn’t have a waterproof cover for my backpack. During my hike on the East Coast Trail, I used a rather old backpack that didn’t have the same kind of support or comfort that you find with modern backpacks. My lack of hiking poles on the Pacific Crest Trail almost brought an end to my entire hike.

I think it’s most important to buy gear that will keep you safe and warm. However, I am finding more and more affordable gear by brands that produce high-quality items. I found this to be true about both the camping and hiking gear by Rock N River this week and I regret having to give away some of these items which I actually need!

The Moral of the story: There’s a difference between cheap gear and budget hiking gear and Rock N River hasn’t sacrificed quality in their quest to offer such low prices.

Final Thoughts

I’m always happy to use budget hiking gear if it does the job. Now, that’s not to say I’m cheap (even though this might be true). But rather I look for value and try not to buy over-priced items that I might be able to get for less. If you are new to hiking or looking for some low-to-mid priced gear, I think you will notice and appreciate the quality and performance of this hiking gear by Rock N River. This is also an Irish brand that helps support and supply the scouts which can only be a good thing!

Ledlenser MH5 Head Torch Review by Derek Cullen Outdoors

I’ve been testing out the Ledsenser MH5 for the past couple of weeks. It is definitely one of the best head torches that I have ever used. That being said, the standard of headlamps has improved so much over the past few years. It’s unsurprising to feel impressed with a piece of gear from a reliable brand. Just so you know, I also have nothing but great things to say about the Actik Core by Petzl!

But do you even need a headlamp for hiking or camping?

The short answer is “Yes, you really do need one!”.

Why You Need a Head Torch for Hiking and Camping

Headlamps are especially important for camping because you’ll spend the night outdoors. But then a head torch also allows you to keep your hands free. This means you can pitch the tent or cook without having to re-direct a hand-torch every few minutes. It’s also so much easier to use a headlamp rather than a standard torch inside a tent. And you’ll always know exactly where to find it – on your head!

More reasons to have a head torch

A head torch is perfect for hiking in the dark because light is directed in whatever way you look. It’s not likely you will drop or misplace a headlamp unlike what can happen a lot with a hand-torch. Further, you can use a head torch to look for items inside your backpack. You simply must have one in case of an emergency after dark. I know this is one of the first items I place in my backpack on every trip.

As for the Ledlenser MH5, I would like to talk about some of my personal observations about this head torch. And why you might consider investing in this piece of gear…

Ledlenser MH5

Brief Introduction to the Ledlenser MH5

Ledlenser is a German brand and maker of one of the very fist “hybrid” head torches. Their latest model is the MH5 which is a powerful and versatile head torch that features a 400-lumen beam. The low setting beam (20 lumen) is also useful. The large button is easy to locate/use- even when wearing gloves.

There is also a hybrid power source. This means you have a rechargeable battery and the torch can take standard AA batteries as a backup. It also has the ability to switch between a flood beam to a focused beam. You simply do this by pressing the button several times. If you don’t wish to wear the torch on your head there’s a clip that enables you to attach it to your belt/sweater.

By the way, the Ledlenser MH5 is rustproof and weatherproof to IP54. This keeps out the vast majority of gunk that can clog up the inside of a standard head torch. As if that’s not enough, it comes with a 7-year warranty which should be more time than you’ll need!

I’d like to highlight some of the most important things to keep in mind with a head torch and how I believe the Ledlenser MH5 fares in each of these areas:

My Opinion on the Features and Benefits of the Ledlenser MH5

Overall Functionality

Functionality is everything with a head torch and using this type of light should be quick and easy. Many hikers/campers will also use gloves on occasion. So the buttons should be designed in such a way that you can quickly toggle between settings at all times. The Ledlenser MH5 responds to all the above. It also has a locking mechanism that stops the head torch from turning on in your backpack without you knowing.

Light Settings

The Ledlenser MH5 has variable light settings which allow you to change the lighting to suit your activity/environment. For instance, you might use the low light settings for hiking on the path or reading in your tent. You can then switch to the red light for reading a map. In case you might be asking yourself. A map is likely to reflect a white light back into your face which is not ideal in terms of “night vision”.

The Battery

Most headlamps have a decent battery life. Some of the more recent headlamps such as the Ledlenser MH5 can take both rechargeable and standard batteries. This means you can interchange batteries if one runs out and ensure you never lose power on a night out. If you carry a power bank, which you should, this means you always have another way to top-up some power to your head torch.

The Beam

It goes without saying that the actual beam is one of the main reasons to choose a particular head torch. In short, this beam should be able to focus on objects far away and then disperse when it comes to reading maps or hiking a trail. This versatility is great in terms of convenience but also a feature that you will likely appreciate without even noticing. ie. How often do you pay homage to the beam of a head torch?!

The Head Strap

The strap on a head torch should be comfortable and easy to adjust. For most activities, you sometimes need to adjust this strap and not all headlamps have a comfortable head strap. While the head strap on a Ledlenser MH5 is somewhat fidgety to adjust, it’s comfortable in use and not something you need to adjust often. Overall, it passes the test in my book and not something to put you off.

Some More Thoughts about the Design of the Ledlenser MH5

The Ledlenser MH5 has a simplistic design with just two light settings. This means it’s a rather simple headlamp that you should find easy to use. The headlamp comes with a useful belt clip and can be detached from the head-strap which might be useful on occasion. There is also a hybrid battery source. I found the battery lasted for more than 4 hours on my first outing and this was using the high light setting. You can also recharge this battery via USB or replace with a standard AA battery.

I can’t really see what else you might want or need with a head torch. It’s slightly heavy at the front but not enough to make a point about it – in my opinion. In short, I just really like the design and functionality of the Ledlenser MH5. I would happily recommend this item to a friend or family member that wants to go hiking/camping.

My Opinion on the Performance of the Ledlenser MH5

The performance of the Ledlenser MH5 is impressive. Walking through the forest, the floodlight mode created a nice circular light ahead of me. This might not make sense until you see it for yourself. The light enables you to focus much more clearly on what lies ahead. And even though you cannot dim the beam, it’s not an inconvenience and it didn’t even cross my mind until writing this review. You can also focus this beam further by twisting the lens of your head torch.

The Ledlenser MH5 also has a constant current of light and this light blinks when the battery is running low. In fact, this is the only way to know that your battery is running low with the Ledlenser MH5.

Final Thoughts – The Good, Bad and the Ugly

I’ve used many head torches over the years and it’s clear the standard has increased immensely in recent times. The Ledlenser MH5 is a good example of this evolution and I was impressed by every aspect of the light. It’s easy to use and doesn’t have too many functions. I prefer this with a headlamp as simplicity is best with certain pieces of gear. The battery seems to last a long time (I didn’t need to recharge after a couple of nights out) and the beam is both sharp and powerful.

As for the “bad and the ugly”? The headband is just a tad fidgety to adjust. I really must emphasize that all considered, this is an extremely competent piece of gear to take hiking or camping. It is one of the best headlamps I have ever had the pleasure to use.

6 Steps to Help Plan Your First Multi-Day Hike in Ireland

I took my first steps as a backpacker on the Wicklow Way. It was quite the learning curve and rather painful but interesting enough that I wanted to take another hike.

But why was it painful and what did I learn?

I had all the wrong gear and did very little research before my first couple of trips. That’s why my shoulders were ruined and my backpack was the size of a small car!

It’s true, I didn’t really enjoy my first few trips. I spent most of these hikes lamenting the weight of my backpack. Also, I was dealing with far too much uncertainty. This was the result of failing to research and plan my trip properly. As for “what did I learn”? I’d like to share some tips with you in terms of planning a multi-day hike in Ireland.

Here’s a quick overview of the points I will discuss:

– Narrowing Down Your Choice of Trail

– What to Consider About Your Intended Route

– Planning for Your Safety and Emergency

– What to Consider about Food and Water on the Trail

– What Gear to Pack for a Multi-Day Hike

– A Final Word about Wild Camping on the Trail

How to Plan Your First Multi-Day Hike in Ireland

1. Narrowing Down Your Choice of Trail

It’s important to know and think about the key parameters of your trip. The following questions should help give you an idea of what I’m talking about:

How many days can you afford?

Do you want to stay off the beaten path and camp all the way?

Are you wanting to hike between towns and stay at a bed & breakfast each night?

What’s your comfort level when it comes to wilderness or hiking in remote areas?

As you can imagine, no two trails are the same in Ireland. Some are rather remote, while others consist of some rather big climbs. Take the Bangor Trail in Mayo, for example, this trail passes through a large wilderness area.

If you live in Dublin, the Wicklow Way is an obvious choice and a great one too. For those in Cork, I’d take a look at Sheeps Head Way for a camping-only trip. The Kerry Way is another beautiful trail with lots of accommodation in between.

📷 @hiiker_

2. What to Consider About Your Intended Route

The Distance

You should know the precise distance between the starting point and endpoints of your hike. Ideally, you will also know the distance with which you are comfortable hiking every day and the amount of time/days you can afford to spend on the trail.

For instance, the Wicklow Way is 127km and many hikers take between five and seven days to complete this trail. This means you might need to hike 19km on average over seven days or 25km over five days, so good hiking boots are important. The length of each section is slightly different so you should never assume or only use averages as a guideline.

One of my great mistakes was to underestimate how much longer it takes to cover distances with a heavy backpack. Similarly, if you hike in the mountain or through boggy areas, you can expect to cover a lot less distance than a path-like trail. My general advice is to take as much time for your hike as possible. Otherwise, you might end up needing to rush in order to reach certain destinations or finish on time.

The Route

It’s worth taking a look at your maps every evening and knowing how many kilometres until the next camp/stop. But also take note of any water sources along the way and any significant climbs that lie ahead of you. While I try not to plan every last detail of my trips, it’s better to know this kind of information before setting out every morning. It saves you hours of guesswork and wasted time thinking about where you might stop or what time you’ll arrive.

3. Planning for Your Safety and Emergency

Tell Someone About Your Trip

Unfortunately, in the case of many fatal accidents and serious injuries, the hikers have failed to notify a friend or family member about their trip. It only takes a few seconds so make sure to drop someone a message. Ask them to check that you’ve “checked in” or returned safely from your hike.

First Aid Kit & Emergency Blanket

If you don’t want to buy a first aid kit, it’s easy to make one of your own. I also recommend packing an emergency/space blanket. Knowing that I have one of these in my backpack is something that brings me great peace of mind. You can use these blankets for extra insulation in very cold weather but also in times of emergency. I was grateful for my own emergency blanket one day when my sleeping bag slipped into a river. Without that blanket, I’m not sure what I would have done to keep warm that evening.

Paper Maps and Downloads for the Trail

There’s a number of apps that you can download to help with navigation on the trail. I recommend picking one but it’s also crucial to carry a paper map and compass. Just so you know, I recently wrote this post about how to use a map and compass.

Mark Down Exit Points on Your Map

Many of the waymarked trails in Ireland will take you to remote places in which you need to be careful. This means paying close attention to navigation, taking care with your footing, and keeping an eye on the weather. There’s always a possibility that you will need to get off the trail. This can happen due to injury, extreme weather or maybe even running out of food or water. Either way, it’s important to know at all times exactly where and when you can exit the trail.

Charging and Re-Charging Your Gear

I always make sure to charge my camera and phone in each town. However, you might not reach a town every day. Regardless, I believe the powerbank to be a necessity for hikers in case of emergency. My personal favourites are the 20,000amp powerbanks by either TP Link or Anker.

LifeVenture Thermal Blanket

4. What to Consider about Food and Water on the Trail

Planning for Water on the Trail

Dehydration is a common cause of illness and exhaustion on the trail. I always urge others not to use their water “sparingly” – unless necessary. In other words, you should try to carry sufficient water so that you can drink whenever you want. It’s also a risk to assume that you will find a water source on any given day or rely upon rivers, lakes, etc which might not be suitable for drinking. With this in mind, try to fill up your water bottles in towns Then make sure that you carry a water filter for stocking up on the trail. I’ve had giardiasis twice over the years – once on the Pacific Crest Trail and once on my walk around Ireland. It’s a sure way to end your trip but easily avoided if you invest in a decent water filter.

About Food Preparations on the Trail

I used to take far too much food on my backpacking trips. Although, it’s better to have too much as opposed to not enough. Needless to say, you’ll need breakfast, lunch, and dinner for each day and snacks for in between. If you are new to multi-day hiking, you’ll discover that snacks are not a luxury but rather a necessity. After all, these snacks account for the fuel your body will need to keep hiking every day!

While many hikers focus on the easiest meals to cook such as instant noodles, my own school of thought is that you should bring whatever food you enjoy the most. Now, that’s not to say you should bring frozen chips and onion rings. I’m just saying there’s no reason to suck the enjoyment out of your trip by sticking to instant noodles only. Instead, I recommend you get creative. Think about things like porridge with fresh fruit, bagels with cheese or tortillas with chili in the evening.

Here are some foods which I find work really good for long-distance hiking:





Fruit slice/cake or similar

Peanut butter

Denny veggie sausages

Cliff bars

Knorr pasta sides

It’s also worth remembering that you might want to eat in town or grab a takeaway some evenings. I love nothing more than grabbing a takeaway and heading for the hills to set up camp with my bag of chips, battered onion rings and curry sauce!

5. What Gear to Pack for a Multi-Day Hike

You need to think carefully about what gear to carry on a multi-day hike in Ireland. Weather conditions change very quickly and you should always have both warm gear and rain gear at the ready and a good pair of hiking boots. I wrote this article recently in which I outline my own packing list. 

Here’s a quick word on some of the most important items:

Backpack – Only consider a hiking-specific backpack. These backpacks are specially designed to carry heavy loads and offer a lot more comfort in terms of fit.

Tent – Strike a balance between size and weight. For a multi-day trip, I usually take my Vango Banshee Pro 200 because it’s reasonably light but also highly durable.

Jacket – Make sure to have a jacket with sufficient warmth and one that can withstand the harsh environment here in Ireland. A good rain jacket such as a Helly Hansen Jacket is ideal for wet conditions.

For more information on what to pack – click here.

Vango Banshee Pro 200

6. About Wild Camping on the Trail

You won’t have to think about this one if you plan on staying at hotels or B&B’s every night. I wrote a post recently about wild camping in Ireland which should help if you are new to camping. I don’t wish to create any fear here (I love wild camping). However, if you lack camping experience or you’re not yet comfortable with the prospect of wild camping, you might not enjoy your first multi-day hike. For this reason, I just wanted to encourage you to learn more about camping before you get out there. Maybe experiment by taking a quick overnight camping trip somewhere familiar before you start a multi-day trail.

And here’s a few encouraging things to keep in mind about wild camping:

– Wild camping is generally safe if you do research and take the right precautions.

– There are no real dangerous animals in Ireland.

– Axe murderers do not live in the mountains or forested areas.

– The absence of other campers creates solitude and this is a wonderful thing!

– Wild camping is free and will help you save money.

  • There’s nothing like falling asleep in the wild and waking up with nature.

Anyway, that’s all for now – See you on the trail!

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.

Merrell Moab 2 GTX and 1000 Mile Socks Review

I first wore Merrell back in 2013 on a year long bicycle ride through Africa. It made sense to pick a light pair of hiking shoes rather than trainers or cycling shoes. It was also the right decision, and they lasted for more than 12,000km across the continent.

Now, that’s not to say cycling is a good way to test a hiking shoe but rather to explain why I went back to this brand for my current footwear – the Merrell Moab 2 GTX.

In this article, I’d like to take you through what I think you should know about this hiking shoe before taking a look at my experience with 1000 Mile Socks…

A Quick Look at the Merrell Moab 2 GTX

The Merrell Moab 2 GTX is reasonably light and one of the most comfortable and durable hiking shoes on the market. It provides excellent traction and stability, while keeping the feet dry and comfy at all times. I’ve tried some really nice hiking boots and trail shoes over the years but none that offer the same quality features in this price range. In fact, I’m still waiting for a notable downside that might change my mind or question the near perfect experience I have found with the Merrell Moab 2 GTX.


The thickness of the Merrell Moab 2 GTX exterior does a great job of absorbing blows from rocks and sharp edges. A solid sole protects the bottom of the foot, while a sizeable bumper protects the toes. While you will find sections of ripstop mesh and fabric overlays, these both increase the durability of the shoe exterior.


I’ve been testing the Moab 2 GTX on some very rocky ground in recent months and they continue to hold up incredibly well. That is to say, aside from some superficial scrapes on the exterior, they still look and feel new, while providing the same experience as when I first got them. I’d imagine the mesh areas are susceptible to tearing at some point but I’ve yet to see this on my hikes through some very rugged terrain.

Grip and Traction

I’ve been really impressed with the traction of the Vibram rubber on the outersoles of the Moab 2 GTX. This is something which Merrell haven’t changed and you will find the same tread pattern on previous versions of the Moab. Upon closer inspection, you should also notice the range of circles, dents and patterns which add to the overall traction. I also remember this being the case with my very first pair of Moab and how the shape and condition of the sole remained for quite a long time.


I think most people that use the Moab 2 GTX will appreciate the extent of support and stability they offer. It’s more rigid and stable than any trail running shoe which makes them especially suitable for hiking on rocky or uneven terrain. That being said, even though the shoe feels planted, the flexibility of the Moab 2 GTX is also rather useful. In other words, the Moab 2 will bend etc without it feeling as though the shoe is slipping away from your feet.


I know many hikers who agree that the Merrell Moab 2 GTX is one of the most comfortable hiking shoes out there. They often slip onto the foot and feel solid the moment you do so. With a cushioned collar and tongue and a refined insole, they feel soft around the ankles but then rigid and reliable in every other area. You’ve got nice padding on the heel and decent arch support, which is more than I could say for my three previous pairs of trail shoes.


I believe this is a major reason as to why the Merrell Moab 2 GTX is such a popular hiking shoe in Ireland. They are priced the same as previous versions of the Moab and yet offer an even better product and overall performance. I also think they’re suitable for any hiking distance and just about any type of weather conditions, while the sheer strength of the material means they should potentially last for a number of years.


The Merrell Moab 2 GTX is certainly not the lightest option for hiking and weigh approximately two pounds. But this is nothing new for a hiking shoe which offers so much protection from the elements. With this in mind, I believe they strike the ideal balance between weight, flexibility, and protection, not to mention comfort and the price.


The Moab 2 GTX are surprisingly breathable which is largely due to mesh along the top and sides. I say “surprising” as this is something you might not expect with such a durable and waterproof hiking shoe. This makes the Moab 2 ideal for hiking in warm temperatures, while ensuring an equally comfortable time in wet or muddy conditions.

And in case you might be asking yourself, it’s the Gore-Tex that makes these shoes waterproof and reasonably light at the same time.


The Merrell Moab 2 GTX have a really nice fit and offer lots of space for the toe box, while still fitting snug to the feet. Merrell have continued to focus on what made previous versions so good and then added some slight tweaks to improve upon the overall experience. They are ideal for warm weather hikes but also waterproof which is certainly useful while hiking in Ireland. If you wanted extra ankle support, you might choose the boot but either way, the Merrell Moab 2 is my hiking shoe for 2021.

Shop the range from Merrell

1000 Mile Trail Sock – My Choice for Long/Mid Distance Hiking

1000 Mile is a sock brand from the UK that gives a blister-free guarantee with every pair of socks which means they should last for at least 1000 miles. It’s not the reason to invest in a pair of 1000 Mile socks but testament to their strength and performance.

Trail Sock or All Terrain? Most of the socks by 1000 Mile are double layered which is great for the winter months but often too warm for the summer. For this reason, I use the Trail sock on my long distance hikes and the All Terrain option for local day hikes. While the all terrain version provides extra padding and protection for the heel etc, I just find the lightweight version to strike a better balance for longer hikes/adventures.

What I Really Like About 1000 Mile Socks

1000 Mile also use merino wool for all of their products. Merino wool dries out really quickly and can also wick away moisture with ease. The 1000 Mile socks also have a

band-like toe and midsection which helps keep them in place, and they are light and super comfortable and never itchy in my own experience.

But what else makes them so suitable for hiking in particular?

1000 Mile socks are slightly thicker than most other blister-free socks. They hold their shape nicely and fit snug to the foot. After many cycles, I can say they perform just as well after multiple washes and often live up to the blister-free guarantee. That is, I can say that not everyone I know has had such luck but they’ve certainly helped keep my own feet in pristine condition.

I personally own four pairs of 1000 Mile sock and carry at least three of these on long distance hikes. After all, socks are compact and lightweight and a priceless piece of kit when you end up with wet feet for whatever reason. They also dry quickly which means you can usually wash 1000 Mile socks on the trail and I often hang them up to dry on my backpack while I’m out hiking.


1000 Mile socks are my current first choice for hiking. I wore them on my 3,000km walk around Ireland and another 700km on the Camino de Santiago. They are just the best hiking socks that I have tested in Ireland and this includes socks from many of the biggest names in the outdoor industry. The truth is, when you hike long distances on a regular basis, it’s often the socks that can have a greater impact than the shoes. What’s more, the low cost of 1000 Mile socks has made these socks one of the first pieces of gear to find a home in my backpack.

Final Thoughts on My Hiking Shoes and Socks

I’ve gone through many types of hiking shoes in recent years and often stuck to trail runners in the past. Trail runners are often a hybrid between a hiking shoe and a running shoe which makes them especially light and comfortable. However, this also means they are often without the protection that comes with the Merrell Moab 2 GTX. I also find trail runners can be rather uncomfortable in wet conditions and without the traction you get with a purpose-built hiking shoe like the Merrell Moab 2 GTX. After combining 1000 Mile socks with the Moab 2, I also believe most hikers will find a light and reliable system that will not only feel good but also help keep away the blisters.

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!