Archive for Kit Blogs

Top Tips for Looking after your Tootsies

Some helpful advice from our friends at Outdoor Hire


Make sure the boots you have fit well and are comfortable.

Celebrities Leave for Denise and Fearne's Charity Trek for Breast CancerTry them out on a slope with the socks you intend to wear (good quality trekking socks), you should make sure that your toe doesn’t touch the front of the boot on decent, your heel doesn’t rise from the footbed and you get good ankle support.

Once you’ve got your boots, get out there and wear them in well.


Use moisture wicking socks designed for the purpose, with built in cushioning and support.

You will need to keep your feet warm and dry, so take several pairs.



Get out on some training walks, this will wear in your boots but it is just as important to condition your feet.

It’s important that the muscles, tendons and ligaments in your feet are strong enough to support you properly for long stretches of time without becoming painful.

General Footcare

Clip you toenails and once you’ve clipped them smooth the nail down with a file to remove rough edges.

Use talc on your feet in the morning before you put your socks on and also in the evening when you’ve stopped walking, this helps to keep your feet dry and comfortable.

Damp feet increase the risk of blisters and even trench foot.

Resting your Feet

When you stop for a break and when you’ve finished walking for the day, take your socks & boots off and give your feet time to rest and breathe.

Wear a pair of flip-flops or sandals in camp, take time to chill out and elevate your feet for a while, which will help to reduce swelling.

Blister Prevention

In addition to making sure your boots and socks are right for you, prepare for the worst by making sure your personal first aid kit is stocked with blister plasters such as Compeed and carry a roll of Zinc tape.

Be aware of any discomfort and sort it out as soon as you feel it.  If you feel a blister coming on stop and treat it as soon as possible, otherwise walking on with blisters can be extremely painful and can even reach the stage where you feel as if you can walk no further.

When Walking

Try to focus on your foot placement especially over rocky ground to prevent twisting your foot and placing unnecessary stress on your ankle.

By Steve Wilson



Sleeping Mats

Your sleeping mat goes by a number of names – mat, mattress, pad or the eponymous thermarest-neo-air-02thermarest but it’s probably the single most important factor in getting a good night’s sleep, giving insulation and cushioning from the cold hard ground. If you sleep cold then you’re better off upgrading your camping mat than your sleeping bag. Even the best sleeping bag insulation compresses beneath your weight and loses its insulation properties and if your mat isn’t highly insulated then you lose that heat to the ground.

There are three basic options for your mat:

AIR MATS are inflatable mats and pack down incredibly small and light. If of high quality they will have built in insulation and will inflate to a thickness of 7 to 10 cm providing fantastic cushioning.  They are inflated either by mouth or external or in-built air pump.

Pros:                                 Cons:
Very Light Weight               Expensive to buy
Small Pack Size                  Can be punctured
Excellent Insulation             May Be Difficult to inflate at high altitude
Excellent Cushioning
Easy to Deflate and Pack

SELF-INFLATING MATS comprise a foam core enclosed in an airtight shell. When the valve is opened the compressed internal foam expands sucking in air and inflating the mat. They seldom exceed 3 cm in thickness and so provide less cushioning than air mats but are usually significantly bulkier.

Pros:                                 Cons:
Easy to Inflate                    Bulky and Heavy
Good Insulation                  Expensive to buy
Good Cushioning               Can be punctured
Slow to Deflate

CLOSED CELL FOAM MATS are the simplest and cheapest mats available. They are made from solid closed cell foam and are light weight but very bulky to pack. They provide the least cushioning and insulation of the three types of mat and are really only suitable for short camping trips in warm conditions.

Pros:                                  Cons:
Light Weight                        Bulky
Very Inexpensive to Buy       Poor Insulation
Can’t be punctured              Poor Cushioning

exped-syn7-mattressGetting a good night’s sleep!

When it comes down to it this is what it’s all about, if you aren’t sleeping well it can have a massive impact on the enjoyment of your challenge. At Outdoorhire we recommend hiring an air mat with internal insulation such as the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir or Exped Synmat (see: The Synmat has a built in hand pump to aid inflation at altitude but is slightly bulkier than the NeoAir which has no pump and packs down very small. By hiring your mat you have access to the best products on the market for the cost of a cheap foam mat and we can supply extra-large NeoAir mats for the larger man.

For the ultimate in camping luxury make sure that you have a silk sleeping bag liner and an Exped inflatable pillow (
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Special thanks to for writing this blog for Charity Challenge.

What to look for when buying a sleeping bag

What does it all mean?

In Europe, the EN 13537 standard normalizes the temperatures at which a sleeping bag can be used. Tests provide four temperatures:

Upper limit is the highest temperature at which a ‘standard’ adult man is able to have a comfortable night’s sleep without excess sweating.  This rating is not normally used by sleeping bag manufacturers.

The three key rating to look at are:

Comfort rating is based on a ‘standard’ adult woman having a comfortable night’s sleep.

Lower limit is based on the lowest temperature at which a ‘standard’ adult man is deemed to be able to have a comfortable night’s sleep.

Extreme rating is a survival only rating for a ‘standard’ adult man. This is an extreme survival rating only and it is not advisable to rely on this rating for general use.

So when you’re selecting a sleeping bag for your trip look at the temperatures you are likely to experience and pick a sleeping bag with a COMFORT RATING which matches the lower temperature you will find.

Getting a good night’s sleep!

When in your sleeping bag you lose more heat through the ground than the air, so it’s important to insulate yourself by using a good sleeping mat, we recommend an inflatable mat with built in insulation such as the Thermarest NeoAir or Exped Synmat (see: ), which both have built in insulation. While in your bag it’s also a good idea to tighten the shoulder collar and hood drawstrings in order to trap your body warmth inside the bag.

If you feel the cold, it may be a good idea to add a fleece liner to your kit list which will add extra warmth to your sleeping bag.  Also getting up in the middle of the night for a pee is an easy way to get cold, so consider taking a pee bottle, to save getting up. For Outdoorhire’s selection of sleeping bags and liners which have been tested for their selected environment see:


Special thanks to for writing this blog for Charity Challenge.