Hurrah. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, after all, with the UK’s isolation apparently ending in 2021. But this means preparation. Serious preparation. Think of all the activities you’re going to do; all the hobbies you’ve been fantasising about, watching YouTube video after video on extreme divers or sailing or hikes back in the before-times. To help you get prepared, we’ve listed five things for the patient outdoorsman to treat himself to while he’s stuck waiting at home — essentials to get you going with a new activity, or an upgrade to your old kit.
1. Hiking boots
A common complaint about hiking boots is that they haven’t got any prettier since the eighties’ – somehow resembling Jim and Doris’s hand-me-downs from their Grand Canyon tour. The INOV-8 Roclite G 345 GTX (phew) not only looks like the future, but is technically top-class, too. This is a boot that not only gives you confidence in front of the mirror, but across all kinds of terrain; built with graphene grip for traction – perfect for wet walks – and a durable mesh upper for protection and comfort. Want something more classic (but still useful)? The Danner Mountain 600 would be the informed pick.
2. A surfboard
It’s easy to forget that Britain has so many great surfing spots. For members of the global community, it’s Cornwall, not California, dreamin’ as they flock to the likes of Fistral Beach to enjoy the world class surf. If you’re starting out, you don’t have to import a top board either. The likes of Roger Cooper have been handcrafting surfboards for decades in Wales, his ‘Mini Mal’ shape becoming the go-to for beginner and amateur surfers. Then there is the selection of new, upcoming brands like Olero in Dorset, who produce minimalist, performance-built surfboards crafted from scratch and available only in limited runs. Buy a good, all-round surfboard, and enjoy the British coastline for years to come.
3. Climbing shoes
Bouldering, or indoor-climbing, has become more accessible over the years: enjoyed by both long-time climbers and amateurs. One of the first things the newcomer faces is the unusual fit of the shoe; tighter or more arched depending on the kind of climbing you want to do. For a great all-round choice, try Italian brand La Sportiva. Their Miura has long been considered the one-shoe-fits-all shape, used by both beginners and professionals. Keep in mind that if you are prioritising one form of climbing over another, seek out the most purpose-built shoe.
4. Snorkel set
With holidays now on the horizon, many of us will be dreaming of a secluded tropical beach far away. And perhaps a touch of snorkeling. But here’s the thing about borrowing someone’s overused snorkelling equipment: it’s uncomfortable, a bit gross, and often badly damaged. So why not invest in your own to bring with you? For the snorkel itself, the TUSA Hyperdry II is a benchmark for comfort, built to prevent an accidental gulping of seawater following a harsh current. It also comes in lots of pretty colours. For the mask, stick with TUSA for their Freedom CEOS model. Made to suit all face-shapes, the silicone is thin but rigid, and you have a wide field of view. Again – lots of pretty colours…
5. An inflatable paddleboard
Your new hobby doesn’t have to be extreme. Paddleboarding is an enjoyable, drifting water activity that can be as fast or gentle as you like. For the most innovative, compact version to bring with you on holiday, Red Paddle Co is the OG who makes the most prolific inflatable stand up paddle board on the market. With its unique ‘Speed Tail’, which influences the flow of oncoming water, and ease of movement (thanks to a v-shaped hull) this is some serious kit. Both beginners and professionals go for the Ride MSL edition, which is versatile enough to remain fun and quick without throwing you down a canyon pass at breakneck speed. Don’t forget to pick up a reliable pump, leash and travel bag too!
Of course, for the outdoorsman to stay safe and happy, skin health is vital. It’s all good having the best equipment to take outside with you, but remember to apply protection while out making the most of our post-lockdown world.