Why Merino is essential for your next hiking trip?
Given the enormous amount of time, we have spent in our homes to help curb the spread of the coronavirus over the past year, it most certainly leaves us craving wide-open spaces and the fresh outdoors. For many South Africans, we are fortunate enough to have an abundance of mountains and trails to make the most of time spent outside. Hiking in the outdoors has been shown to boost both physical and mental health. But having the right gear for a day out is key to enjoying the very most the great outdoors have to offer. Here are a few reasons why your next hike should include Merino gear:
In order to enjoy the outdoors most, our body must remain comfortable in all conditions. When it comes to temperature regulation, it is highly dependent on moisture between the skin and the clothing. The thermal conductivity of water is 25 times higher than the thermal conductivity of air which means that when you are wet, you lose body heat much quicker than when you are dry. Your body heat is actually transferred to wet and cold clothing. Merino wool clothing keeps thermal conductivity more or less the same as the thermal conductivity of air is, thus keeping you warm when wet and in cold conditions. Thus, merino wool gear helps you to stay comfortable in a range of hiking conditions.
Unfortunately, not all great hikes can be completed in one day. Many of the most bucket-list-worthy routes, such as the Camino de Santiago, are many days in length and take months if not years of planning. Packing smartly and minimally is an absolute must as you do not have many options to do laundry but at the same time, you do not want to be carrying too much luggage on your back. This makes merino clothing a must-have for the wool’s ability to remain bacteria-free and suppress body odours. Merino clothing is famous for being stink-free even after being worn in very sweaty conditions for days or even at a time.
For those unfamiliar, moisture-wicking fabrics pull moisture away from your skin by absorbing it into the fibers. The moisture then moves through the fabric and evaporates through the exterior. Merino is touted as having high levels of moisture-wicking because of its ability to retain a lot of liquid relatives to its weight (much better than synthetics). Again, this is a natural property of the wool and another significant benefit to overall comfort.
If you are interested in trying out merino wool for hiking, then have a look at some of our suggested merino wool hiking items here.
Now, once you’ve stocked up on some amazing gear for your hike here are a few of our favourite hikes around South Africa to put your Core Merino to the test:
Go Baviaans Leopard Trail
The Leopard Trail is a 4-day and 3-night hike set in the magnificent Baviaanskloof World Heritage Site Wilderness Reserve. This is a slack packing hike – each day the team at The Leopard Trail transports your bags and food from one overnight hut to the next, leaving you to walk with only a day pack. This is true wilderness hiking featuring a single-track path taking you through the inaccessible mountains of SA’s third-largest wilderness area.
With the Baviaanskloof hosting 7 of SA’s 8 biomes, the Leopard Trail offers an unparalleled diversity of landscapes. It is a moderately difficult hike with the longest day being 22 km. The route is designed for people of good hiking fitness. Click here to learn more or book your next adventure.
Rim of Africa
This demand is best suited for fit and experienced hikers, but it is certainly one for the bucket list. In its full, it is a traverse of the Cape Fold Mountains and is divided into 9 traverses, each varying between 7 and 10 days in duration and therefore can be done all at once or in segments. You will experience endless ridgelines, rock formations, crystal clear spring water, swimming in mountain pools, sleeping under the stars. The Rim of Africa happens once a year in springtime (Sept-Nov). Places on this experience are limited. To learn more click here.
Magoebaskloof Hiking Trail
Magoebaskloof Hiking Trail lies in the incredible Magoebaskloof forest near the small town of Hanaertsburg in Limpopo. The trails are laid out on the forestry estate, but most of the walking is through magnificent sub-tropical, indigenous forest, over craggy ravines, and alongside cascading waterfalls, pristine mountain streams, rivers, and dams. There are a number of huts available and thus one can hike anywhere from 1-5 days with a variety of routes. Although the trail can only be hiked in one direction, it can be made to be circular, so it is convenient to organise the same start & endpoint. Click here to learn more.