Guide to a blissful snowy outdoor experience in cold temperatures 

 

Temperatures are nice and warm again in our beautiful country, South Africa, as we look forward to the summer and some time spent at the beach. However, some of us consider going skiing in the Northern Hemisphere. Considering hygiene rules, ski resorts are opening up for business and look forward to a good skiing season. (For more information on skiing season 2021/22 and the pandemic rules, check this website). As we write this blog post, there is a current travel ban for South Africans to fly abroad due to the newly discovered Omicron virus variant. However, we hope the travel ban is soon repealed and that you can still continue with your skiing plans. 

 

That brings us to the question of what to pack for a skiing trip with cold and snowy weather? The answer is obvious, of course: your suitcase should be filled with a selection of merino wool garments. But what do you really need? 

 

One of our colleagues actually lives in Germany and has been going skiing all her life. We asked her to put together a list of items for you that of course includes plenty of essential wool items and more. 

 

The basic rule for cold destinations

The basic rule is: wear wool next to skin as the first layer, then wear something that is wind and waterproof on the outside and as the last and outer layer. You probably require one or more layers between the first and the last layer, but that is your personal choice and depending on the activity and actual temperatures. If you feel you need even more layers in-between the first and the last layer, make sure they are all breathable.  

Let’s break this rule down one by one to make it easier for you to prepare and pack.

 

First Layer

The first layer is also called the base layer and includes all garments that you wear next to your skin. These should be ideally out of merino wool due to its many benefits (read more here) of keeping you warm, comfortable and dry, no matter what the outside temperature and what intensity your activity level is. Cotton base layers will get wet and clingy and actually let you feel cold quickly. Synthetic base layers easily get too hot and start to smell as you start to sweat. Merino wool however has been a fibre of choice for many skiers over the last decades as it keeps warm but not too hot while not developing any odours. 

 

Merino wool long johns or leggings

An important base layer is the leggings, or also often referred to as long johns. They keep your lower body warm underneath your skiing trousers. 

https://coremerino.com/merino-wool/leggings-men/

 

Sleeveless tank or shirt

For your upper body, you can either choose a sleeveless tank or a short or long sleeve shirt made from merino wool, depending on your preference. We recommend wearing a sleeveless tank as your first layer, as the cut of sleeveless tanks usually is snug around your upper body and will therefore keep you warm but also not feel bulky underneath the other layers. 

Sleeveless Tank Men Core Merino Front

https://coremerino.com/merino-wool/sleeveless-tank-men/

Sleeveless Tank women Core Merino South Africa

https://coremerino.com/merino-wool/sleeveless-tank-women/

 

Wool Socks

A very vital part to keep warm doing winter sports is your feet. Therefore, a good pair of wool socks is essential to take with you as nothing else will ensure your feet stay warm despite the temperature but also not make your feet sweat as you start to move in the snow. 

Second Layer 

Once your first or base layer is sorted, you will want to think about the second layer. This layer is there to give you that additional level of warmth during cold temperatures but is also the layer that can come off easily if you start to get too hot because you are maybe taking a break in a cozy chalet for lunch or a hot chocolate. 

 

Heavy long sleeve shirt

You may already be wearing a lightweight long sleeve shirt as your base layer, however, as a second layer, it is recommended to wear a slightly heavier weight and more loose-fitting garment. Often a zip-neck shirt is a good choice as you can flexibly open or close the zip to regulate your temperature. Choosing wool as a second layer is also good, as the first and the second layer will then work well together in managing moisture and body temperature. 

https://coremerino.com/merino-wool/long-sleeve-crew-t-shirt-men/

https://coremerino.com/merino-wool/long-sleeve-crew-t-shirt-women/

Layering

https://coremerino.com/merino-wool/1-2-zip-long-sleeve-shirt-men/

 

Sweater or fleece jacket

As an alternative to the long sleeve shirt, you can also choose a woolen sweater or a fleece jacket. This will add extra warmth if you tend to freeze more easily. We would always recommend a wool sweater over a fleece jacket, as most fleece jackets are made of polyester. Synthetic fleece jackets will keep you warm, but not live up to the task of preventing you from overheating. Also, fleece jackets shed a lot of microplastic fibres during wear and washing, which is something to avoid. 

Second pair of socks (if needed)

For those of you who tend to get cold feet quickly or if temperatures are way below freezing point, you may want to put on a second pair of woolen socks. If you double up on socks, you need to make sure that there is no strange friction that may cause you blisters. Also, check if you can fit your foot comfortably into your skiing boots with two socks on. If the shoe becomes then too tight, the woolen socks cannot do their job well of keeping your feet warm, and you will still get cold feet. Wool requires a bit of air around the feet, as this trapped air between your feet and the wool is what ensures warmth. 

 

Outer layer 

Once you figured out your first and second layers, it is time to look at the outer layer. According to the basic rule, this layer needs to be wind and waterproof. 

 

Skiing jacket and trousers

An obvious outer layer for skiing is of course a skiing jacket and trousers. These are designed to let you move freely on the skiing slopes while also protecting you from the elements. In most skiing jackets and trousers, the inside filling is a synthetic wadding or downs. However, if you are into wool as much as we are at Core Merino, you can also find brands that offer skiing jackets and trousers filled with wool wadding. These will keep you just as warm but help you not to overheat. 

Scarf or neck warmer

While most skiing jackets close high around your neck, you may still want to wear a scarf or neck warmer. Both items are widely available out of soft merino wool, so you will not feel itchy at all, but still be comfortably warm and protected from the wind blowing down your neck. 

Core Merino Neck Warmer great for running

https://coremerino.com/merino-wool/merino-neck-warmer/

 

Beanie, headband, and helmet

Like your feet, your head is one of the most important to protect while out in the mountains. Therefore, be sure to pack a beanie or headband to keep your head and ears cozy. There are also many beautiful merino wool products available and these will again make you feel very comfortable and never too hot. Another option is also to wear your neck warmer on your head. 

 

In some skiing resorts, wearing a helmet is mandatory. In some places, only children up to a certain age need to wear a helmet. However, when you look around, close to 80% of skiers wear a helmet on the slopes as that is the only safe way to prevent serious head and face injuries. Therefore, inform yourself about the local rules and put your safety over convenience. 

 

Gloves

Like your feet and your head, also your hands will be one of the first body parts to get cold. Therefore, wearing thick skiing gloves that are also waterproof is important. There are many styles, fabrics, and filling combinations to choose from. If you search thoroughly, you can also find skiing gloves filled with wool, if you want to stick with the wool theme. 

 

Sunglasses

Sunglasses are another key item to bring with you to the mountains. Even if the sky is filled with clouds, the sun still has a strong impact, and you cannot see well without sunglasses, so make sure you don’t forget to bring them with you. 

 

Sunscreen

Another critical outer layer is sunscreen. As already mentioned, the solar radiation is very high up in the mountains in both clear and cloudy skies. Protecting your face from sunlight is therefore vital, as otherwise, you will end up with a strong sunburn without noticing it at first due to the wind. The rest of your body will be well protected from the clothes you wear and if you chill a bit in the midday sun on one of the restaurant terraces in your first or second merino wool base layer, the merino wool will protect you from the sun as well as it has a natural built-in UV protection. 

 

Skiing boots

Obviously, you will also need to bring with you or rent locally your skiing boots. Take the time to get some good assistance while choosing the right boots, as this will determine your skiing experience. 

 

We hope this guide proves helpful to you to prepare and pack for your next skiing adventure. Is there a garment that we missed? Let us know in the comments below. 

 

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.

 

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.

 

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