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:

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.


The art of layering (wool) clothes

With June upon us, it is officially wintertime in South Africa. This means we are looking at 3 months of colder temperatures and the possibility of snow if you live in the mountainous areas of our beautiful country. 

Cooler temperatures also mean we dress differently in more long sleeve shirts, heavier sweaters, and winter coats and jackets. However, the struggle is to find the right balance between feeling comfortably warm and not becoming too hot and sweaty. So, at Core Merino, we were asking ourselves, what is the answer to reaching this comfortable stage? The answer is: Layering up!

What does layering up mean? It’s a method of combining different layers of clothes that ensure good warmth and breathability but is also flexible enough to adjust whenever your activity level or your environment changes. 

The layering method is very commonly used in countries that have cold weather during most of the year such as Northern Europe. To get in-depth insights into layering, we contacted a wool friend in Norway about how Norwegians dress in cold weather. This is the reply we got:  

“Think three layers. Wool in two layers and a wind-proof third outside layer. Think air – not too tight. Feet and head need to be toasty.”

Keeping this in mind, let’s peel apart the layering system layer by layer to find out how to stay comfortable without getting too hot in cold weather. 

1st layer or base layer

The first layer of a winter outfit is next to the skin. This layer will regulate your body temperature and transport any moisture away from your body, so that you stay warm, but not overheat and don’t feel wet. The most important here is to choose next to skin items that are super soft and don’t irritate your skin. Some people are more sensitive than others, so make sure you can test the fabric to see if you would find it itchy or not. 

Wool Long Johns or Leggings

A base layer to keep your legs warm would be a pair of long johns or wool leggings which can be worn underneath your jeans or trousers. 

Have a look at the Core Merino leggings.

Long sleeve wool t-shirt

Another important 1st base layer is the long sleeve wool t-shirt. Same as the long johns, it regulates your body temperature and manages your moisture in such a way that you don’t feel wet.

Long sleeve wool t-shirts come also in all different styles and fabric thicknesses. Choose a lightweight one if you don’t freeze easily and a heavier one if you get cold quickly.

Take a look at our long sleeve crew t-shirt for women and for men.

Wool Vest or Singlet

Another 1st layer is the wool vest or singlet, which is a sleeveless undergarment worn underneath a long-sleeve t-shirt. This additional first layer might not be for everyone, but is a good tip for when it is icy. For this base layer, we strongly recommend that you choose wool and not cotton. Cotton worn as a first layer would absorb any moisture from your skin and feel wet. The wet fabric on your skin will feel uncomfortable and may also make you feel cold. If you choose wool instead, the moisture would be transported away from your skin into the air and ensure your skin stays dry.

The Core Merino collection also offers a sleeveless tank for women and men.

Wool socks

We all know cold feet can ruin every outdoor activity. As our friend from Norway wrote that it is important to ‘keep your feet nice and toasty’. Therefore, it is important to invest in a good pair of wool socks. Make sure you try the thick socks together with your boots. Your boot should not be too tight when you wear your thick socks as the wool needs a bit of air to do its job of keeping your feet warm.

We are currently working on a range of merino socks so look out for them later this year!

2nd layer or mid-layer

The second layer goes on top of your 1st next to skin base layer. This is a layer that gives some extra warmth, but it is also the layer that can easily be taken off if you need to as temperatures or your activity may change. 

Wool Jumper

A wool jumper is, of course, a classic wool item to wear. As jumpers tend to be a bit bulkier, they can trap much more air which is what essentially keeps you warm.

Mid-layer shirts

Depending on your outdoor activity and your third layer, you might find a wool jumper too heavy and prefer a heavier wool shirt. These tend to have a heavier fabric of 250 g per square meter than the base layer which is often around 130 to 200 g per square meter. These shirts often come with a zipper to be easily worn with the base layer and also be taken off or put on more easily.

The Core Merino long sleeve 1/2 zip is a perfect mid-layer to check out. 

3rd layer or outer layer

The outer layer is the layer that needs to protect you from the elements and therefore needs to be wind and/or waterproof.

Wind resistant trouser and jacket

The jacket and trousers need to be made of a wind and waterproof fabric that will most likely be made of synthetic fibre. For freezing temperatures, your third layer may even be filled with padding made of downs, polyester fleece, or even wool fleece. There are more and more jackets and trousers available that are filled with wool wadding, but you may have to hunt for them a bit more. 

For wind and rain protection check out our Core Merino Jacket waterproof softshell jacket for men and women


Your gloves also need to be wind and waterproof and should have some extra padding to keep your hands warm. Typical skiing or snowboard gloves will work well in snow and icy weather.  


The importance of keeping your head warm goes without saying. You need a beanie that covers also your forehead and your ears. When you are out in the snow, your jacket should also have a hood to protect you from snow and wind. If possible the hood should have some fake fur at the edges as that works best with keeping the snow and wind out of your face.

Scarf or neck warmer

While your jacket will close up nicely around your neck, you do also need a scarf for extra protection and warmth. Depending on the wind you might even wish to pull your scarf over your chin to protect your face as well. A normal wool scarf will do, or you might prefer a neck warmer. 

Have a look at our neck warmer as well. 


Hopefully, this little explanation of how the layering system works is of value to you and that you have a great winter while staying warm, comfortable, and toasty. 

Don’t forget to check out our Layering Bundles to secure yourself a special winter deal. 

Core Merino Layering Bundles for women and men



6 Tips to get more out of your workout clothes, save money and the planet

Workout clothes are designed to support you in the best possible way while you are out running, cycling or pushing your limits at the gym. This is ensured through a special design, fit, manufacturing as well as fibre content of workout clothes. Examples are flat seemed or no tags, so they don’t irritate your skin or special panels to ensure extra breathability where it is needed most. 

Fibre content, meaning what the fabric of the garment is made of, also plays an important role in the garment’s performance during your workout. Workout fabrics are designed to protect you from the sun, keep away the bad odour, keep your skin dry and make you feel comfortable. Ultimately, they serve a purpose to keep you warm and protected in any season.  


Given the unique functions, our workout clothes provide us with, it should be no surprise, therefore, that they might need a little more maintenance than your usual everyday t-shirt. Here are some tips that apply to all workout garments irrelevant to the fibre content: 


  • Avoid using fabric softener as it tends to coat the fibres which reduce the ability to absorb the moisture
  • Avoid using the tumble dryer which makes gym clothes lose shape and also reduces the quality of the garment. This can also cause a garment to shrink.
  • Don’t leave your gym gear in your bag, take it out to air or if it’s time, put it in the wash right away.
  • Wash your gear inside out, the inside is usually dirtier, and this method also protects the more technical side of the garment. 
  • Avoid hanging your active gear and rather fold and stack the items.  Some fabrics are stretchy so hanging them can cause them to stretch out.
  • Wash your activewear in cold water to prevent fading and to preserve the shape.


While you most probably want to wash your synthetic garments after each wear (with good reason as they tend to stink quickly), when it comes to merino wool garments for sporting adventures, you are actually encouraged to wash them less. Merino wool lasts longer if you take advantage of its natural odour resistance, stain resistance and ability to bounce back to its original shape allowing you to wear your garments more and wash them less. Merino wool workout garments should therefore only be washed after the second or third use – it’s a mind shift that is easy to make in times of water and power shortages. 


Finally, when you are looking to buy a new workout garment, pay some attention to the quality of how it is made and what it is made of. Stop buying the same shoddy quality over and over, and rather invest in quality and learn to take care of it.