How to stay active in winter

The chill of winter has been making its way around South Africa for several weeks now and much as we prefer the long, dog days of summer, there still are plenty of great activities to do all winter long. In fact, one of our favourite winter outdoor activities is trail running. Avid trail runners know that the most beautiful aspects of winter trail running also add to the challenge. Our winter trail running tips will help you stay safe and comfortable as you enjoy trail running in colder temperatures.

Snag a friend

Even if you prefer to run solo, winter trails can get lonely. Trail running through the winter months with a friend (even one that is four-legged) keeps your mind off the cold, and is safer. If you can’t convince anyone else to hit the trail, make sure you let a family member or friend know where you are headed and when you plan to return.

Aim for a midday run

If you can, run when you have the best light. Saving your run for the middle of the day means that you will benefit from the most natural warmth and sunlight. If you must run early in the morning or late in the evening, be sure to carry an extra layer of clothes in case of icier temperatures.

Start out cold

If you are comfortably warm when you run, it is likely that you will quickly become overheated on the run. Dress as though it is 4-7 degrees warmer than it actually is, to have the optimum number of layers on. Once you get moving and your blood starts pumping, you will stay warm for the duration of your run.

Be sure to stay hydrated

Winter trail running can trick you into thinking you’re not working as hard, which can lead to dehydration. Hydrate before and after you run, and carry water with you on longer runs.

Our recommended gear

Depending on the day’s forecast, wear between two and three layers. Here’s a go-to system fit for the coldest days: 

If it is only moderately cold, swap out the jacket and if it is just a little chilly out, simply a long-sleeve shirt should do the trick. For winter running pants, consider leggings, especially if it’s a particularly cold day, and don’t forget to accessorize. A chilly trail run is far more enjoyable if your neck and ears stay warm, so we highly recommend our neck warmer which provides excellent, versatile protection for your neck, face and ears.

With these tips, you are ready to hit the trail in these nice crisp temperatures. Share your experience with us, we would love to hear from you. 

 

5 tips to reduce your energy bill and help the planet

Saving energy has always been important for our pockets, but also for the climate. Now, with the world being a bit in turmoil, our next energy bill will most likely be higher than usual. There are many ways how to save energy to reduce our energy bills. And guess what? There is a way of saving energy by wearing wool. Do you think this sounds crazy? Hear us out and read about the 5 ways how wool can help you reduce your energy bill. 

1 Wash less often

We have mentioned many times in some of our other blog posts that garments made from wool are odour resistant. This means your merino garments will not start to smell when you wear and sweat into them. You can easily get 3 wears out of your merino t-shirt before you might want to wash it. So, how does that save energy? If you wear a garment several times before washing, you don’t run the washing machine as much, which saves energy (and water and detergent by the way). 

2 Refresh without washing

Another energy-saving tip about merino wool is that a wool garment can be refreshed without actually throwing it into a washing machine. Wool can release smells into the air by just hanging in the fresh air. If fresh air is not an option, you can hang your wool garment in your bathroom after you have taken a hot shower. The moist air will do its magic of freshening your wool garment. If your wool garment has a stain, you can try removing it with a damp cloth as wool often doesn’t absorb stains, they just stay on the surface of the fabric. 

3 Wash cold 

Of course, once in a while, you do want to throw your wool garments into the washing machine. If you read the washing instructions carefully, you will notice that only a cold wool cycle is recommended. Wool cycles on a washing machine tend to either wash with cold or 30 °C warm water. Wool does not do well with higher washing temperatures, but rest assured, your garments will still get clean. The benefit of washing at lower temperatures is of course the saving of energy. In addition, wool cycles tend to run shorter than a regular cycle, which also saves energy. 

4 Air dry

Some drying machines have a special program for wool, however, wool dries best on a good old clothesline and this takes up no energy at all. Some wool garments like a heavy wool sweater will prefer to be lying on the clothesline, but most garments can handle the hanging on the clothesline.  

5 Reduce your heating temperature and stay cozy up in wool

Besides reducing the consumption of electricity, we can also reduce the energy used for heating. By reducing the room temperature in your home by one-degree Celsius, you can save up to 6% on heating costs. With winter just around the corner, however, freezing in your home may not sound so inviting. But, you can reduce your room temperature and stay cozy by putting on an extra layer of wool. This can be a wool sweater or a base layer, so you will stay comfortably warm, save some money on your energy bill and do something good for the planet.

 

Finally, you may argue, that saving energy is all nice and well, but if you need to spend more money on a wool garment compared to garments made from other fibres, the saving part is not really noticeable, is it? This may indeed sound counterintuitive, to spend more money on a garment to save money during the maintenance of the garment. However, research has shown that wool garments last longer compared to other fibre garments, this means you get more value out of the garment compared to having to buy something new again and again because the garment wears out easily. If you want to find out more about this aspect, you can read all about it in one of our other blog posts here and here

 

We hope you found these 5 energy-saving tips useful. Please let us know if you have another energy-saving tip to share when it comes to taking care of your laundry. 

 

8 tips for no-impact camping

With the Easter holidays coming up, some of us may consider going camping. Camping allows us to emerge ourselves entirely in nature and experience the wild and basic life. Experiencing the great outdoors is a wonderful recreational activity that includes adventures, being active, whilst also calming our minds and nurturing our souls with beautiful memories. Being based in South Africa, we are also lucky to be living in such a beautiful country with many wonderful camping opportunities. 

However, like any activity, camping can also have a negative impact on the environment, threatening the habitat of wildlife and vegetation. If we want to enjoy nature in the near future, it is important to camp sustainably and to leave no impact. In this edition of the Core Merino blog post, we provide you with some hands-on tips on how to camp with care. 

Use what you have

Like with any activity we embark on, we have the tendency to invest in new gear and equipment that we only use once or twice a year, if at all. Instead of buying new camping gear, use what you already have or borrow equipment from friends and family. This is also relevant for your clothes. If you for example already own some merino wool garments for hiking or biking, you can make good use of the same garments during your camping trip, wearing them day and night and staying comfortable throughout.

Pack sustainably

It may seem convenient to pack disposable items such as plastic bags, cutlery, and cups as you can then dispose of them during the trip. But you guessed it, disposable plastic items are not sustainable and should never be disposed of in nature. Find sustainable and reusable items instead, and carry everything with you at all times. 

Carpool to your destination

Another point to consider when camping sustainably is how to actually get to your camping destination. Try to use as few cars and camper vans as possible to keep carbon emissions low. Besides, fewer cars driving on the road means a smaller abrasion of rubber from wheels that end up as microplastic in our beautiful environment. You may also research public transportation options if available. 

Stay on trails 

Once you have arrived at your destination, be sure to only stay on existing trails. It might be tempting to go off-trail to catch a particularly beautiful view or feel more adventurous. Unfortunately, you may inspire others to follow suit. This will lead to trails getting wider and side trails developing. This means that soil is compacted and erosion progresses. In addition, slow-growing vegetation will get damaged and may not grow back, while insects will find it harder to move on the compacted soil. Most likely the existing trails will anyway lead you past the most beautiful spots, so just stick to the paths most traveled. 

Camp on campsites

The same can be said about campsites. Only set up camp in designated campsites instead of camping in the wild. Setting up a tent, shuffling around your camping chairs, and cooking all have an impact on the soil, vegetation, and wildlife around you and should therefore only be limited to pre-defined areas. 

Respect wildlife

One of the magical moments in nature is when we encounter wildlife. Be sure to always give any animal you encounter on your trip enough space to not disturb them unnecessarily and to keep them and yourself safe. Another important point is to not leave any food lying around. On the one hand, food may attract wildlife such as baboons, which can get quite annoying or even dangerous in case it attracts more dangerous animals such as a lion. Finally, human food is unhealthy for most wildlife creatures, and they should not be exposed to it. 

Be fire safe

A little campfire might seem quite romantic, or might even be more comfortable during a cold night. Nevertheless, fires can not only be unsustainable, but also very risky. Inform yourself about the fire policy within the camping grounds you are in. It may be a severe dry season when fires are not allowed at all. If campfires are allowed, be sure to only use an existing fire pit and do not start a new one. 

Leave things better than before 

Finally, when it is time to leave, make sure you do a proper clean-up. Sweep the entire camping grounds to ensure you did not leave any garbage behind. Even pick up garbage that is not yours, take everything with you, and leave things better than before.  

 

We hope you will soon start an adventurous, magical and sustainable camping trip. Do you have another tip on how to camp sustainably? Do leave us a comment and share your camping insights with us. 

 

 

We have to be honest, none of us at Core Merino are experts on bikepacking. But we have been fortunate to regale in stories with quite a number of our customers who have taken our gear out on their own bikepacking adventures, which has left us with a deep desire to give it a try because you can cover a lot more ground more quickly than a normal hiking trip. Now, with quite a lot of research under our belts, we thought we should share some of our tips with you.

Start out small

It is easy to start planning a bikepacking adventure and plan for weeks and weeks of endless cycling to explore new places. Although this can be aspirational to build up to for, say a bucket list bikepacking trip across Europe, but for starters, we would suggest starting off small. Kick things off with a short overnight adventure to test out your new skills.

Planning your route

To plan a bikepacking adventure or to find new roads, we propose utilising a variety of websites and planning tools. Bicyclesouth.co.za is helpful for finding routes in and around South Africa and bikepacking.com can be a great resource if you are looking a little further afield. Being new at bikepacking it can be wise to geek out a little on route planning and utilise technology to help plan better routes, but once you are comfortable, you can have just as much fun by heading out your door and exploring.

What should I pack?

Your packing list will be a combination of what you’d need for a mountain-bike excursion and an overnight hiking trip. Don’t fret if you’ve never been backpacking or don’t have your own stuff. Although we all would love to have the latest and greatest gear, it honestly is not necessary when you are just starting out. You don’t have to have the newest, nicest bike or the latest gear to have a good time on your bikepacking adventure. Plus, if you are already a hiker you probably have just about everything you need with the exception of a bike and a few tools!

If you are needing any additional packs for your bike or other accessories, check out a few of our stockists for some great gear to kit out your bike for your next bikepacking adventure: Safarisusters.com or gravelandtour.co.za

Cross-Training tips to reach your personal training goals

 

Do you ever find yourself doing the same workouts over and over again and not getting the results you are hoping for? It could be because you are not mixing up your exercises enough through cross-training. If you think about it, how can you expect to become a better runner if all you do is run? The same applies to cycling, swimming or any of your other favourite exercises that you may prioritise over mixing it up and trying new things.

However, it can be quite hard to break an exercise routine to start including other forms of training. Our Core Merino Brand Development Manager, Monica, for example, is an avid runner. She loves nothing more than starting her day with a quick run on the beachfront or her favourite trails. If the weather doesn’t play along, she tends to hop on the treadmill instead of opting for a stationary bike, a swim or even a quick yoga class despite knowing that this should be the perfect opportunity for a little cross-training. 

Here is an overview of what combination of exercise will be beneficial for you, along with some tips on how to build cross-training into your routine.

Cycling

Not only can runners benefit from a bit of cycling, but cyclists can also benefit from running. So do yourself a favour and grab a bike and go for a pedal outside. Or if the weather isn’t playing, head over to your local gym and hop on a stationary bike or better yet join up with a spinning class. It is important to remember varied speeds and resistance create a heart-pumping, leg-burning workout which is significantly different from going on a run, even if you are doing hill sprints or other speed work.

Hiking/Walking

Walking itself actually makes for a great form of cross-training – especially if you are moving with purpose. A slouchy walk around the block will be more minimal than a hike on a local trail so keep that in mind and use it as an excuse to explore an area you might not have otherwise.

Swimming

Swimming makes for a great cross-training exercise because it won’t jeopardise your cardiovascular fitness. It may even help to prolong your cycling or running longevity. Start out slow, with just a few laps around the pool to help gain your sea legs if you are not used to swimming. Work to build up to do more laps overtime or if you have any arm or shoulder problems we suggest you try running with a flotation device. This exercise will offer similar benefits to running without the impact on your lower body. 

Strength Training

Strength training comes in the form of both upper and lower body exercises. Both are equally important to help avoid muscle imbalances, which can adversely impact your performance in the exercises you enjoy most, but also can lead to injury. Some great upper body strength training exercises include bench press, bicep and tricep curls, and pull-ups. As for your lower body, we propose various types of lunges, squats and jumps to ensure you work different muscles all while engaging your core.  By adding in a bit of strength training each week, you will build overall body stability and help strengthen your bones, which you will thank yourself later on.

Running

If you are a cyclist who has never run before it probably isn’t worth going all-in on the first outing, but with a decent pair of running shoes you can slowly ease into running. We recommend starting off with short distances with walking intervals. This way, you won’t burn yourself out on running by attempting to jump in and immediately run a five km.

Golf

Golf can actually be a great form of cross-training, as long as you walk the full 18 holes without using a caddy.

 

These are just a few exercises you might consider adding to your routine, especially if you are typically singularly focused on one form of exercise. Just remember, adding cross-training into your schedule will take time, so start off slowly by just adding in one day a week when you mix it up. Once you determine what you enjoy most, you can start adding those cross-training exercises more regularly. 

Are you a big fan of cross-training? Let us know in the comments what your favourite cross-training exercises are!

Also, check out our post on how to include outdoor activities in your workweek.

Getting outdoors during the work week isn’t always easy so we’ve rounded up some tips to help you reap the rewards of getting out into nature.

 

Being an apparel brand focused on the active outdoors we try to spend as much time as possible mixing the outdoors into our day to day but it is not always the easiest task. But we also know that spending time outdoors can give a serious boost to our mental health. So, we rounded up a few tips and tricks to spend a few less hours in the office and more in the great outdoors.

Be Accountable

If you publicly commit to a new habit, it is more likely to stick, so tell your family, friends and colleagues about your plan to get outside more during the work week. Even better if you invite them to join in. Getting outdoors will help you keep a fresh mind and spark new ideas.

Nature in the Neighbourhood

You don’t have to live in the most adventurous town to experience the outdoors on a daily basis–urban centres are filled with parks of all sizes. Grab a map, find all the parks near your office and then make it a goal to visit them all.

Find some Breathing Room

Just not necessarily in a room – rather get out of the stuffy office and go for a walk. Even if it is just around the parking lot, walking has been shown to improve brain function.

Plan Ahead

It is easy to let getting outside during the work week fall off the radar once the week kicks off filled with meetings and other tasks. To avoid this, block time out in your calendar throughout the week to ensure you still get outside for fresh air.

Share your Stories

Kick off the week with a quick meeting to hear about what your colleagues got up to over the weekend. Not only will this help build camaraderie but you’ll likely come up with new ideas learning from your teammates.

Team Building

Break out of the conference room and plan your next team-building activity outdoors. Whether it’s a nearby hike, a paddling trip or even zip-lining, getting active together with your team forges stronger connections and ultimately keeps each other motivated once back in the office space.

Our frequent traveler and Core Merino Brand Developer Monica Ebert shares her insights for traveling light

 

As the world slowly but surely starts opening up again, we are very much looking forward to getting back to exploring and experiencing new places. But how many times have you taken a trip and not worn half of the clothing you packed? I know I have, but thankfully I have learned a few new packing hacks to make the next trip a little lighter. Even if you are not quite ready to hop on an airplane again, the below travel tips are also useful even on a staycation closer to home. 

 

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 rule for packing

I regularly am on the go and always struggled with packing until I discovered the 5,4,3,2,1 rule for packing. This ‘rule’ has been a game-changer for me, packing much more swiftly ahead of each new adventure. The rule stands for packing five pairs of socks and undies, four tops, three bottoms, two pairs of shoes, and one hat. By limiting the number of items you bring, it saves space and keeps you from having to lug around unnecessary items to help make your travels more smooth. Plus, there is nothing worse than having to pay extra baggage fees for overweight luggage. 

 

Pack in your favourite merino items

Sticking to the 5,4,3,2,1 rule for packing, you can minimise this even further, depending on the trip type and length, by only packing a couple of shirts but making sure to pack Merino ones. Because Merino wool is antibacterial, moisture-wicking, and breathable, it stays fresh for longer periods of time. This means you can pack even fewer items, saving even more space in your luggage. Plus, it is easy to handwash your merino tops, even if they do get a little dirty on your travels.

 

No more ‘just in case’ clutter

Another common thought while packing is, I should pack this ‘just in case’. And while sometimes these items do come in handy, it’s more than likely you can live without them. So, when packing, ask yourself, ‘will I 100% use or wear this item?’ before packing anything inside your travel bag. When you ask yourself and the answer is “maybe”, don’t pack it. If the answer is “but what if I need it?” still don’t pack it. Should the need actually arise, you can always grab it at a local shop, borrow it, or figure out a creative solution.

 

With these helpful tips, your next trip is sure to be a breeze so you can spend less time worrying about heavy or overweight luggage and have more time to explore your new surroundings. And if you’re not sure what to pack, have a look at our favourite travel picks here.

 

Tips and tricks to help you mend small and big holes in your wool garments

At Core Merino we love to sell our wool garments, however, we are also passionate about you keeping, wearing and loving your Core Merino products as long as possible. Why? Because it means you got your money worth, and it is also better for the environment. One way of extending the life of a garment is to repair it whenever small holes or tears occur. 

Lately, we have been getting some questions from you about how to best mend a wool garment, so we thought we put together a practical blog post for you to learn everything there is to know about repairing and mending your Core products if need be.

Holes happen

Just like sh**t happens, it is just one of those annoying things in life that holes happen, too, if we like it or not. Even though we do everything possible to make our Core Merino garments out of high-quality material, you will still sooner or later get a small hole or tear in your garment. That’s life. 

The reasons for holes and tears to happen can be plenty: 

  • A thorny bush that sticks out while you run past it
  • The fabric gets caught in a zipper or Velcro
  • Your cat or dog is too playful with you
  • Despite good precautions, a moth finds its way into your closet
  • The seams or hem wear out because you have been using and washing your garment many times 

No matter the reason, garments, including those out of wool, just wear out and get holes and tears. But, that is not a reason to just throw the garment out, you can easily repair it and enjoy the garment for longer. 

Why is it worth repairing your wool garment?

When you have a hole in your (wool) garment, it may seem easier to just replace it with a new one. We all have busy lives, and taking the time to mend a garment just does not seem to fit into our schedule. But before you do throw out and replace, consider these facts first: 

Repairing saves money

The cost for a new garment is much higher than the cost of repairing the garment yourself or even getting it done by a professional. Every new garment you are not buying saves you money. 

Better for the environment

As we already discussed in many of our other blog posts, manufacturing garments uses up resources such as water and energy. The fewer garments that need to be manufactured, the lower is the impact on the environment. Therefore, extending the life of a garment through repair helps save resources and protect our lovely planet.

Learn and cultivate a new skill

Our grandparents and maybe even our parents used to learn how to mend garments, it was a normal and important skill to learn. However, if you are part of a younger generation, you may not have been taught how to fix a hole or sew on a button. Therefore, you might find it interesting and challenging to learn a new and useful skill. YouTube and other media platforms have tons of video tutorials on how to mend garments, and we encourage you to try learning something new as it will make you feel good, trust us on this one. 

Increase your creativity

In one of the early Friends episodes, Phoebe covers a stain on her dress with a Christmas ornament before going out to a gala dinner. Now that’s a creative solution to the problem. Once you dive into the world of mending garments, you will also notice that there is more than one way to fix things. You may find yourself developing creative solutions that you never knew were within yourself. A creative mind is also a happy mind. 

Stress relieving

Finally, researchers also found out that working with a needle and thread can actually help you relieve stress and calm you down. There is something about concentrating on the task in front of you and using your hands, that helps us cope with stress. While we, of course, prefer being active outside to manage stress, you might like to throw in some needlework from time to time as well for the overall benefit of your body and mind. 

Enough about why you should repair your wool garments. Let’s now focus on how to repair them. 

How to repair your wool garment?

As mentioned above, there are many techniques on how to best repair a wool garment, and the best solution always depends on what needs repairing, your skill level, and your taste. Most importantly, it is always wise to repair sooner than later, meaning it is easier to fix a small hole than one that has grown over time bigger and bigger. 

Small holes

The easiest is fixing a small hole as you mainly need a needle and a thread. 

There are many tutorials out there on YouTube and websites, here is some to check out: https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/How+to+Darn+a+Hole+in+a+Knitted+Garment/27415

https://www.loveyourclothes.org.uk/care-repair

But basically, it comes down to this: 

  1. Find a thread in the colour of your garment, if you can find a wool thread that’s great, but also a cotton or polyester thread will work. Cut a piece of thread no longer than 40 cm, as it gets harder to work the thread the longer it is.
  2. Get a thin needle suitable for the fabric of your garment
  3. If your garment is made of very thin material, use a single thread, otherwise, you can use a double thread. 
  4. Pull the thread through the needle and tie a knot at the end.
  5. Turn your garment inside out and look at the hole. 
  6. Find a good spot near the hole to fix your thread to the fabric
  7. Now start sewing the hole closed by stitching 2-3 mm above and below the hole and closing the hole shut. 
  8. Tie off the thread by fixing it again with a knot, so the thread won’t become loose. 
  9. Voilà, you are done! Good job!

Big holes

Sometimes, small holes turn into big holes, or you did tear quite a big hole into your garment, to begin with. Big holes need a bit of a different approach and there are several techniques to consider. 

  • Buy a patch to sew it over the hole
  • Make a patch out of some fabric or another wool garment and sew it over the hole
  • Use a mushroom darner and weave the hole shut (see this tutorial https://youtu.be/qNH3irSYu6I)
  • Learn how to close the hole with the felting technique (see tutorial: https://youtu.be/Y0j6H1aK2pU)

Here are several websites that provide an overview of techniques on how to fix a big hole: 

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/sep/22/how-to-mend-moth-holes

https://clothes-doctor.com/blogs/journal/how-to-repair-a-hole-in-knit-fabric

https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/how-to-fix-holes-in-a-sweater-1106644

Replace buttons and zippers

Sometimes it is not a hole that needs fixing, and instead, it is a broken zipper or a missing button. Both can also be fixed, of course as well. 

Replacing a zipper can be a bit of a bigger task, and you might want to leave that to a professional or do some research online first. 

Sewing on a button, however, is an easy task and can be accomplished in 5 minutes once you get the hang of it. Ideally, you still have the button that came off. Otherwise, check if the garment came with an extra button sewn to the label inside or delivered in a small plastic bag attached to the swing tag. If you cannot find the original matching button, you can try to find a similar-looking button or consider replacing all buttons on the garment, so they all have the same look and feel. 

Here is a good tutorial on how to sew on a button: https://remake.world/stories/style/how-to-mend-your-clothes-during-quarantine-5-easy-stitch-fixes/

Mend seams and hems

Another area that tends to need fixing is the seams and hems of a garment. This can be actually the most thankful repair work, as you just need to redo the needlework that came undone, and even if you are not very skilled, it will hardly be noticeable. Watch this tutorial on how to mend a seam: https://sewguide.com/clothing-repair-mending-tears/

Take your garment to a professional

Finally, you can of course also take your garment to a professional garment repair shop or tailor and get your garments mended there. Small repairs usually do not cost a lot of money and when you are short of time or don’t have the patience to mend yourself, then this might be your best option. 

Cherish your tears and holes

When you are done with your repair, you might not be fully satisfied with the result, and yes, chances are that you can still see where the hole was. In other words, your garment will not always look as good as new. However, we encourage you to take a different perspective and cherish your tears and holes. These small imperfections can either represent a memory for the time when you were out and got caught in the thorny bush, but that may also be the time you ran your best time ever or saw the most beautiful sunrise. The other way to look at your fixed holes and tears is to see them as a form of custom-made or personalisation of your garment. The imperfection makes the garment different and special from all others. 

This is even an upcoming trend called visible mending. People around the world actually deliberately mend their garments in a way that is visible as an expression of their individual personalities. Margreet Sweerts is a visible mender, and she summarises her craft like this:  “There can be beauty in a flaw, a golden scar. It is a sign of life, it tells the story and history of a piece.” You can read more about visible mending here. 

 

We hope this blog post motivated you to have a go at repairing your wool garments, and that we provided you with a bunch of resources to get you started. If you have any questions or suggestions, then get in touch, and we will be happy to assist you in the best possible way. 

 

With Mandela Day right around the corner and the current crises we are facing in South Africa, we can’t help but feel the need to spread a little positivity and make sure we are all working to make the world a better place. Fortunately, Mandela Day is on July 18th which serves as a great reminder to us all to do our part, even if only through small acts, to help make the world a better place.

Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Clean up the beach, park, or local neighborhood.
  • Plant a community garden for everyone to enjoy.
  • Offer to fix things at a local school or community center.
  • Help someone find a job. Serve as a mentor to them and help put together and print a CV for them, or help them with their interview skills.
  • Donate books to your local library or run a book drive to collect and distribute books to under-resourced schools. 
  • Participate in a charity cycle, run, hike, or other activity, and raise funds for meaningful causes based on the kilometers or time spent on the activity.

Click here for more ideas on how to give back this Mandela Day.

By starting off with small acts to inspire change you will find the joy in giving back. By giving a little of your time each day to make an impact in your local community or by giving a little of your time to make a difference in someone else’s life, you can start changing the world around you.

There are unlimited ways to make a difference. Start with what you are passionate about and watch your actions have a lasting impact.

At Core Merino, we are all about getting out there and being active. Hiking is one of our favourite outdoor activities as it offers something for everyone to enjoy. However, also a hiking trip needs some planning and consideration. Therefore, we have put together this ultimate hiking guide for you to ensure you have a marvellous experience during your next hiking adventure. In this guide, you will learn how to plan, what to wear and pack as well as how to ensure your safety and a good experience for everyone. 

How to plan for your hike?

Even though things often don’t go according to plan, when it comes to hiking, planning does help ensure you have a good and positive experience. 

When is the best time to hike? 

First up, you should consider the best timing for your next hiking trip based on two factors. 

1 How many days do you want to spend hiking? You may just want to do a hiking trip over the weekend close to where you live, or you want to travel a bit further to a National Park. You will need a different number of days depending on the hiking trip, including arrival and departure times. 

2 When do you want to go hiking? Is the month or season when you are planning to go hiking suitable for the hiking trail you have set your eyes on? Some trails may not be accessible during the winter months, during a rainy season, or might be overcrowded during the peak season. Inform yourself about the local recommendations of the best time to hike certain trails. 

Who will join your hiking trip?

Some hikers prefer to be hiking on their own, but often hiking in nature with a good friend, your family or even a hiking group can elevate your experience even more. Find out who will join you and consider the number of people in your plan. Can’t find anyone to join you? Try searching for a hiking group on Facebook or Meetup or ask for guided hiking tours at the National Park or local tourism office.

Where to hike – South Africa Hiking trails in National Parks

You can find information about all the hiking trails available at our National Parks in South Africa by clicking here, but here are a few of our favourites:

Eastern Cape – Addo Elephant National Park – Alexandria Hiking Trail

Close to the home of Core Merino, the Alexandria Hiking Trail is a 32 km, two-day circular trail. The first day is 18.5 km and the second day, 13.5 km. The trail, located in the Woody Cape section of the Addo Elephant National Park, is a meander through untouched wilderness and almost unparalleled biodiversity. Hikers traverse three distinct environments: ancient forest, dunes, and coastline with magnificent views of the bay, Bird Island, and almost endless dune fields. Birders and nature-lovers can expect to be endlessly fascinated by the birdlife, changing scenery, and pristine environment. This coastal hike in the Addo Elephant National Park is for serious hikers who enjoy the natural beauty and open space of the Eastern Cape.

Northern Cape – Augrabies Falls National Park – Klipspringer Hiking Trail

There is no better way to truly experience the geology, flora, and fauna of Augrabies Falls National Park than hiking through the park itself. The Klipspringer Hiking Trail offers the chance to do just that, with 39.5 km of some of the most beautiful scenery you will find in the Northern Cape. After visiting the mighty Augrabies Falls, you can embark on one of the most breathtaking and satisfying journeys available in this part of South Africa. The trail consists of three days of hiking. The first day is 14 km, the second day is 13 km, and the third 12.5 km. This hike can be quite demanding, so it is necessary to plan for quite a rigorous trip.

Freestate – Golden Gate Highlands National Park – Rhebok Hiking Trail

This two-day hike takes you through the incredible 28 km stretch of the Maluti Mountains in the Free State and is only suitable for fairly fit hikers. The circular route passes numerous streams, rock pools, ravines, and waterfalls. Also, be sure to look out for plenty of wildlife in the park, which includes eland, black wildebeest, blesbok, springbok, and zebra. Hikers may also spot grey rhebok, mountain reedbuck, and oribi. The overnight hut is situated in an incredibly scenic spot next to a stream. Start early on both days and pack for changeable weather conditions – anticipate thunderstorms in summer or snow, sleet, and mist in winter. If this rigorous trail is not what you are looking for, Golden National Park has a number of other day trails, for those after a shorter walk. 

Inform yourself about the requirements to complete the hiking trail

Some hiking trails require some good planning ahead for you to successfully and safely complete the trail. Inform yourself about how many days are needed and what the lodging possibilities are, as you may need to bring a tent if there is no accommodation you can book in advance. 

Another important factor is water supply. This means you need to find out if fresh drinking water is available throughout the trail or if you need to bring water for the entire trip or have a water filter at hand. The same kind of planning goes for food. Finally, you also need to think about the bathroom situation. Most likely toilets will not be available along the trail, therefore inform yourself about the local loo etiquette and plan accordingly. 

Collect local knowledge and maps

Once you decided when and where to go, it is time to acquire some maps of the trail and surrounding area. Most likely mobile phone reception will not be available in the remote areas of the trail, therefore consider acquiring actual paper maps or download maps to your phone, but bring an extra set of phone batteries for the latter. In addition, do some research on the internet on local websites or blogs where fellow hikers have documented their experience of the trail you are considering. Any detailed knowledge about the area, the wildlife, things to see, places to eat will help you make the best out of your trip.

What to wear on your hike?

Another important factor to ensure you have a positive experience is planning what to wear. Keeping your body comfortable and well protected from cold, heat, sunshine, and rain has a direct influence on your energy level and your mind. There isn’t an ultimate list of what to wear as it depends on when you hike and for how long you are planning to hike. However, here is a list of essentials that will most likely be part of your hiking wardrobe from top to bottom. 

  • Hat to protect you from sun or rain
  • Sunglasses – even in wintertime when you are high up in the mountains or close to the ocean, you will need to protect your eyes
  • Sunscreen – despite if you are expecting the day to be cloudy, protect your skin from UV radiation at all times
  • Underwear that will keep your skin dry (merino wool is here a good option)
  • Merino wool t-shirt – short sleeve or long sleeve (or any other moisture-wicking shirt that keeps your skin dry in hot and cold conditions
  • An extra layer in case of weather change e.g. a rain jacket, or a windbreaker
  • Backpack
  • Hiking pants or shorts
  • Merino Wool Socks to keep your feet dry and free from blisters
  • Comfortable hiking shoes with good grip and support for your ankles

Also, read our blog post about why merino wool is ideal for hiking. We also offer a range of garments very suitable for hiking, have a look here.

What to pack for your hike?

Packing for your hiking trip is never easy, as you want to avoid carrying too heavy a load on your back, but you also don’t want to miss out on any essentials you may need. Watch the scene of Reese Witherspoon in the film ‘Wild’ when she packs her backpack for her 1000 miles hiking trip to better understand what we are talking about: https://youtu.be/3YBNNfPF7o8

Here is a list of things that may be handy depending on local conditions and length of your trip, these are in addition to the list above of what to wear: 

  • Additional layers of clothes for when the weather changes such as mid-layer garment, warm jacket, gloves, or beanie) 
  • Change of clothes (although with merino wool clothes you will need less items)
  • Maps, compass, or GPS device
  • Snacks or meals if required
  • Water bottle (and if needed a water filter)
  • A rubbish bag to collect and store your rubbish
  • First aid kit including an emergency blanket
  • Matches or firelighter
  • Tent, sleeping bag if needed
  • Insect repellent
  • Toilet kit (tissues/wet wipes or even a trowel)
  • Phone with camera

How to stay safe during your hike

After you did a lot of planning and are finally out and about hiking, there are a few things to consider on the trail to ensure you and your hiking buddies stay safe. 

  • Know your fitness level and hiking abilities. When you reach a point that may be too hard for you to complete, do not hesitate to turn around, safety always comes first. 
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you estimate to be back. Consider wearing a personal locator beacon. 
  • Inform yourself about the weather forecast and any local changes along the path that may alter your trip, e.g. a flooded or closed path.
  • Stay on the trail whenever possible. When you need to leave the trail, try to stay on durable surfaces like rocks, gravel, or sand. 
  • Camp on durable surfaces during the night. 
  • Inform yourself about local wildlife and appropriate safety precautions.

How to be considerate of nature and other fellow hikers

Finally, there are also a few rules to follow to ensure you protect the beautiful environment around you as well as ensuring everyone on the trail is having a good time. 

  • Never leave any rubbish behind and pick up any rubbish you find on the way. 
  • If you have to go to the toilet without there being a toilet, bury your waste in a little hole that is at least 60 meters away from any water source, trail, or campsite. On some trails, this is not permitted, and you will need to take your human waste with you.
  • Leave everything as you found it. This means avoiding damaging any plants or trees and leaving natural or cultural objects where you found them. 
  • As South Africa is in most regions a very dry country, you need to be careful with any campfires and reduce campfire impacts as much as possible. For example, use existing fire rings or consider using a camp stove instead. Never leave a campfire unattended and make sure it is entirely extinguished when you move on. 
  • Watch any wildlife from afar only. Move slowly and without making loud noises. Do not touch, feed, or pick up any wildlife as this can be harmful to the animals as well as for yourself. 

Besides nature and animals, you will also be meeting other fellow hikers. Just like you, they are there to enjoy themselves, therefore keep some basic courtesy rules in mind: 

  • Make way for anyone passing by including bikers. 
  • Say hello to anyone passing by to ensure a friendly atmosphere on the trail.
  • Make yourself be known if you are bypassing someone from behind, so they do not get startled. 
  • Ensure you have your dog or other pets under control at all times.
  • Avoid yelling, loud music, and any other loud noises on the trail.
  • If you are hiking in a bigger group, walk in a single line behind each other, to make way for other hikers. Never take up more than half of the path. Don’t walk next to the hiking path, so you can walk next to each other, as this damages the soil. 

We hope this hiking guide provides you with some useful tips for your next hiking adventure. Is there anything we missed, do let us know in the comments below. 

Take a look at our Core Merino hiking collection here.