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  1. Everything you need to know about staying sun safe

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    Make sure you stay sun safe this summer

    With summer in full swing, no doubt you have lots of fun, adventurous plans in the pipeline.

    Whether it’s hiking, camping, cycling, hitting the beach or planning a picnic in the park, there’s no better time to be outside, filling your lungs with fresh air and getting some much-needed vitamin D!

    And while it’s great to enjoy the warmer weather, it’s also important that you’re up to scratch on staying sun safe.

    No one wants to spend their leisure time burned or with sunstroke, or worse. So, to ensure that you and your family can have fun in the sun without worry, we’ve put together a handy guide for everything you need to know about sun safety.

    Cream Up

    Sun exposure can happen even on a cloudy British day, so if you’re out and about this summer, the number one rule is to slap on the sun cream regularly!

    Harmful UV rays are responsible for a number of ailments, from sunburn and premature ageing to more serious conditions such as skin cancer. That’s not to say you can’t safely enjoy the sun. Opting for a sun lotion of at least SPF30 and applying it every two to three hours if you’re outside for long periods of time can help protect you from sun damage.

    When buying sun cream, you should look for one that has at least a four-star UVA protection to ensure that it meets EU standards. You should also make sure it hasn’t past its expiry date. Most have a shelflife of two to three years.

    Sun protection factor (SPF) is a measure of the amount of ultraviolet B radiation (UBV) protection in the cream. This is rated on a scale of 2-50+, with 50+ offering the strongest protection and 2 offering the least. Sun creams that offer both UVA and UVB protection, sometimes referred to as ‘Broad Spectrum’, are the ones you should ideally opt for as they give you the best protection.

    So, how much sun cream should you apply for the best coverage, to stay sun safe?

    If you’re an adult, the equivalent of two tablespoons should do it. Although a good rule of thumb is the more the merrier, so don’t be afraid to apply it in excess!

    Applying plenty is particularly important for children and babies, whose skin is much more sensitive and vulnerable to sun damage. Babies under six months old should always be kept out of direct sunlight, and all children should be covered up with protective clothing, as well as being coated in a strong lotion with a high SPF.

    Whatever age you are, don’t forget to reapply lotion once you’ve been in water, even if your cream claims to be ‘water resistant’. The fact is, water washes it off, and when you’re in the ocean or a cool pool, you might not feel yourself getting burnt. Topping up your cream as soon as you’re out of water can reduce your chance of sun damage and keep the burn at bay.

    Seek the shade

    If you’re planning on spending the whole day outdoors, so to stay sun safe, make sure to hit the shade between 11am and 3pm, as this is when the sun is at its strongest. Even if you can’t avoid it completely, finding shady spots or shelters where you can eat lunch or take a break can help you escape the effects of sunstroke and keep you feeling cool and refreshed.

    Protect your eyes

    It’s super important to keep your eyes covered when you’re out in the sun. Being at the beach or anywhere that you’re exposed to bright sunshine can cause temporary burn to the eye’s surface, resulting in a painful sensation similar to sunburn of the skin.

    Reflected light from water, sand or concrete is also tough on the eyes, so it helps to have a good pair of sunglasses on hand to keep your peepers protected. Opt for styles with UVA/UVB protection and make sure they cover the whole of your eyes, so there’s no room for sunlight to creep in behind them.

    Know your limits

    While no one is exempt from the dangers of the sun, there are some people who are more at risk than others and they may need to take more precautions to stay sun safe.

    If you have pale skin, freckles, or red or fair hair, you should always wear a high factor sun cream and cover your skin with protective clothing and a hat. This is because pale skin is more prone to burning than darker skin tones.

    That’s not to say that those with darker skin are out of the woods. If you have any moles, you should regularly keep a close eye on them, and always cover them in the sun. If you notice any changes such as the appearance of a new mole, or a mole that has changed in size, shape or colour, it’s always best to check in with a doctor, just to be safe.

    Anyone with a family history of skin cancer should take extra care in the sun, as should anyone exposed to intense sun that their skin isn’t used to, such as when you’re on holiday.

    The better you know your skin and your limits regarding sun exposure, the easier it will be to protect yourself during summer expeditions.

    Stay hydrated

    Sun safety and keeping hydrated come hand in hand. Dehydration and heat exhaustion can lead to a multitude of issues, including dizziness, headaches and vomiting. The key is to stay hydrated, more so if you’re out in the sun for long periods of time.

    If you’re planning a hike or any similar outdoor activities, make sure to take along a reliable water bottle and keep it topped up regularly. Just make sure to steer clear of sugary drinks, caffeine or alcohol as these can lead to dehydration, as opposed to keeping it at bay.

    Sunburn SOS

    If you do happen to get burnt after a day in the sun, the first thing you should do is sponge the sore skin with cool water, before applying a soothing after-sun lotion, Aloe Vera cream or calamine lotion.

    If you’re suffering from a bad dose of sunstroke to go alongside your sunburn, make sure to drink plenty of water, and take painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to help reduce the inflammation and ease the pain.

    If at any point your skin starts to blister or swell, or you feel unwell with chills, high temperature, headaches, sickness or dizziness, go visit your doctor.

    No matter what summer adventures you’re planning, staying sun safe is essential. If you want to know more about how we can help keep your whole family healthy and happy in the sun, get in touch with our team or check out what’s on offer in our sunshine-friendly range.

  2. The difference between walking boots and trekking shoes

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    It’s incredibly important to have a pair of comfortable footwear when you are walking or trekking.

    With footwear, you need to pick the right choice for your feet, activity and terrain. Without them, it can lead to bruised, sore feet that could end your walk or trek earlier than expected.

    As similar activities, it can be confusing to understand the difference between walking and trekking, and why they may use different footwear.

    That’s why we’ve put together this guide so you can tell the difference between the two and pick your perfect footwear.

    Walking boots

    Walking, or hiking, is a leisurely activity of walking long routes or nature trails. Walking is generally completed in a day, but can involve overnight stays in camping sites, hostels or huts along the way.

    Walking boots are sturdy, thick boots that provide protection for your feet. With a tough sole and high ankles, walking boots help provide support for your foot and prevent you from spraining or rolling your ankles.

    The thick protective material will also limit your range of movement, which can feel too restrictive for some walkers. The material will also need breaking in before big walks, otherwise, the shoes can be uncomfortable and cause rubbing or blisters.

    Walking boots are also made with waterproof materials to keep your feet dry in wet conditions.

    However, the waterproofing and thick material mean that water vapour can’t escape easily.

    So, if you need to cross rivers or your feet are fully submerged in water, your shoes will take a long time to dry out. If you wear them in the summer months, your feet will sweat more easily and can cause blisters.

    Overall, walking boots are strong, sturdy waterproof boots perfect for the colder months. They are also durable and can last you up to 1,000 miles when looked after.

    Trekking shoes

    Trekking is a multi-day long distance walk, where you will carry all your luggage and essential items with you. In general, trekking is a more challenging activity than walking and takes places in areas where other means of transport can’t access.

    Trekking shoes, such as trail runners, are made from lightweight and more flexible materials than walking boots. The lightweight material offers more flexibility, giving you a better range of movement in your feet.

    Trekking shoes are perfect for those who prefer lightweight footwear and are the ideal choice to get an overall lightweight kit. The shoes also need no breaking in and are ready for action right away.

    Designed with a low-cut ankle and multiple mesh patches, trekking shoes give you maximum breathability. As they are fast-drying, they are great for crossing rivers or through the summer months.

    However, trekking shoes aren’t as waterproof as walking boots and can’t offer the same amount of warmth through the winter.

    The lightweight material also doesn’t offer the same amount of protection as walking boots. With narrow soles, you can feel bumps and rocks under your feet which can be uncomfortable on the long days.

    Overall, trekking shoes are a lightweight, breathable and fast-drying shoe. However, they don’t offer the same protection, warmth or durability as walking boots.

    On average, trekking shoes should be replaced every 500 miles to prevent potential damage to your feet.

    Conclusion

    Overall, walking boots are tough, durable and waterproof boots that protect your feet. Trekking shoes don’t offer the same protection or durability but are more lightweight, breathable and flexible.

    When choosing between walking boots and trekking shoes, it’s important to bear in mind the weather and type of terrain you are going to face.

    During the summer months, or places where you are likely to cross a river you may prefer the fast-drying trekking booths. However, in wet, and colder months the waterproof walking boots may be the better fit.

  3. What are gaiters and when should you wear them?

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    Many backpackers and hikers swear by gaiters and use them year-round.

    Despite offering essential protection, gaiters are often overlooked and get confused in a long list of outdoor equipment.

    That’s why we’ve put together this guide so you know what exactly gaiters are and when you should be wearing them.

    What are Gaiters?

    Gaiters are lightweight, breathable and waterproof pieces of fabric that cover the upper boot and lower part of your legs.

    Working with your boots, gaiters protect all the tiny nooks and crannies that are vulnerable in certain weather or environment conditions, such as the top of the boot.

    In wet, muddy or snowy conditions, gaiters are essential for keeping your feet dry and can also provide an extra layer of insulation.

    In drier weather, gaiters will also protect you from debris such as rocks and sand that can uncomfortably lodge themselves inside your footwear.

    Gaiters provide great protection across a diverse range of conditions. Whether you are facing thorny bushes, marsh land or even snake bites, the gaiters will provide you an extra layer of defence to stop anything from getting into your boots or trouser legs.

    Made from mostly synthetic materials, gaiters are breathable, lightweight and quick drying. Gaiters are designed to be comfortable for walking and hiking long distances in a variety of conditions, making them an essential item for your pack.

    From puddles to thunderstorms, gaiters will keep you waterproof, insulated and protected.

    Generally, gaiters come in one of two heights: ankle-height and full-length.

    Full-length gaiters

    Full-length gaiters are a perfect fit for extreme weather conditions such as deep snow or heavy rain.

    Covering the tops of your boots and most of your lower leg, full-length gaiters offer the most protection.

    If you’re in terrains covered in snow, long wet grass, thick bush or you need to cross streams, full-length gaiters are essential for you.

    Ankle-height gaiters

    Ankle-height gaiters are made to simply cover the top of your footwear and bottom of your trousers.

    They don’t have the same level of protection as the full-length ones, and are best used for less extreme conditions.

    This type of gaiter is ideal for outdoor wear, with a good chance of rain and mud. It’s also perfect for offering protection from bits of debris such as stones, sand or bits of twig entering your footwear.

    This type of gaiter can also be a great fit for off-road and fell runners to provide protection from debris.

    For runners that want a more lightweight and fuller protection, our padded running gaiters may be the perfect fit for you.

    Conclusion

    Snow, water and debris can find a way into the most waterproof of boots and trousers. Gaiters are lightweight, waterproof and breathable, covering the ends of your boots and trousers, providing you with extra protection from the elements.

    Gaiters protect you from a range of outdoor conditions, including muddy puddles, debris, deep snow, streams and thick bush. Small and lightweight enough to stash in your pack, gaiters can be used year-round for almost every condition.

    Ready to unlock the benefits of gaiters? Browse our range today.

  4. BMC Crag Code Of Conduct

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    The BMC has produced a code of conduct – the Crag Code – to encourage the sustainable use of crags in England and Wales. The code consists of ten important reminders for people visiting our crags – from respecting the rock and other people to keeping to established footpaths and keeping dogs under control. Whilst the majority of climbers and boulderers have a positive attitude towards crag access and protection, the BMC felt a code was needed to help prevent situations whereby access may come under threat.

    • Access: Check the Regional Access Database (RAD) for the latest access information
    • Parking: Park carefully – avoid gateways and driveways
    • Footpaths: Keep to established paths and leave gates as you find them
    • Risk: Climbing can be dangerous, accept the risks and be aware of other people around you
    • Respect: Groups and individuals  – respect the rocks, local climbing ethics and other people
    • Wildlife: Do not disturb livestock, wildlife or cliff vegetation; respect seasonal bird nesting restrictions
    • Dogs: Keep dogs under control at all times; don’t let your dog chase sheep or disturb wildlife
    • Litter: ‘Leave no trace’ – take all litter home with you
    • Toilets: Don’t make a mess – bury your waste
    • Economy: Do everything you can to support the rural economy – shop locally

     

  5. New Lifesystems Emergency Survival Shelters Now In Stock

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    Lifesystems have improved on their successful 2012 range of emergency bothy bags with an upgrade of the 2 and 4 man shelters. Not only are these lightweight  survival bothies bigger than last years versions, but they are almost half the price!

    So if you are planning on trekking or hill walking this Easter break then the Lifesystem Bothy Bag should be part of your emergency back-up kit.

     

  6. Winter Safety Advice: Prepare To Enjoy The Hills And Mountains

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    With Scotland’s hills and mountains at their most beautiful and most challenging, mountaineering bodies have issued a joint safety reminder, emphasising the need for preparation before heading out into the mountains. Whether you’re out walking or attempting a technical climb, the presence of snow and ice adds an extra dimension to the risks and rewards of a day spent in our wildest environments. The primary consideration of every expedition, whatever the season, should always be a safe return. But conditions in winter make particular demands: shorter days, low temperatures and conditions underfoot which can quickly alter. The benefits of recreation in the hills are numerous and widely recognised. Hill walkers and mountaineers find their lives are enriched by their experiences. These are best realised through planning and preparation, recognising all the challenges the journey may present.

    Preparation is an essential component of every day on the hill, and especially in winter. Preparation not only includes carrying the correct equipment – and knowing how to use it – but getting the latest weather forecast and checking the status of hazards like avalanche risk. It’s essential also to assess whether the chosen activity is within the ability of all the party as well as the time available. For many climbers and hill walkers, preparation is not just necessary but enjoyable. Preparing correctly displays the signs of thoughtful competence towards safe movement in the hills that is the mark of a good mountaineer. Effective navigation, knowing when your limits have been reached and whether to turn back, are also extremely important; turning back must not be considered a failure.

     

    The BMC, the MCofS and the SMSF continue to offer advice on good practice in the hills, acting as a resource for mountaineers and hill walkers of all standards to make their visit to the mountains as safe as possible.

     

    General advice  and  information

    www.thebmc.co.uk

    www.mcofs.org.uk/mountain-safety.asp

    Weather

    www.mwis.org.uk

    Avalanches

    www.sais.gov.uk

  7. BMC – Working For Hill Walkers

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    The membership of the British Mountaineering Council (BMC; www.thebmc.co.uk) is made up of approximately 75,000 climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers. The majority of the members participate in hill walking and about 20% of them are purely hill walkers who don’t go climbing. The name may not make it obvious that the BMC works hard for hill walkers.

    Its work for hill walkers includes:

    • Campaigning for access and conservation

    • Publishing good practice advice and organising training events

    • Lobbying government on issues and legislation

    • Working with partners locally and nationally, such as the Mountain Safety Forum, National Parks, land managers, conservation organisations and other representative bodies.

    • Funding projects to protect the mountain environment

    • Providing specialist insurance cover

    • Negotiating member discounts with outdoor shops and service providers

    The British hills offer beauty, challenge and adventure, as well as the opportunity to keep fit and healthy. So it’s no wonder that hill walking is such a popular activity, attracting people of all ages. Walking in the uplands requires a collection of skills, including navigation and hazard avoidance. It is important that participants are prepared with some basic equipment and knowledge in order to enjoy hill walking safely.

     

     

     

  8. Help And Advice For Starting Hill Walking

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    For those who are relatively or completely new to the activity of hill walking, ‘New Hill Walkers’ by the BMC highlights some essential skills you should learn and develop on your trips into the hills and mountains, and provides a reference base of resources for learning the required skills. The free, 28-page booklet contains chapters on clothing and equipment, navigation, hazards, walking in winter, access and the environment, and emergency procedures.

    Download the booklet for FREE

    There’s good advice on choosing footwear and a rucksack as well as practical info on dressing to cope with the demands of weather and seasons in the hills. Insulating layers are the key to all day comfort – as the guide says:

    The range of temperatures experienced in one day will often be greater in the hills than in cities. Clothing to deal with such variation is therefore required. With the weight of your rucksack contents an important consideration, choosing items that fulfil a range of functions is a good idea. Waterproofs double up as windproofs for example.”

    It makes the point that, “It is better to wear several relatively thin layers than a single thick one, because the layers trap air which is a good insulator, and you can regulate your temperature more effectively by adding or removing layers. Materials which do not absorb moisture are better because wet clothes will make you feel cold.” Plus, “The baselayer should wick moisture away from your body, and so keep your skin dry and prevent excessive chilling every time you stop. As well as providing insulation, a thin midlayer also allows moisture to wick.”


  9. Courses On Winter Hill Walking

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    If you’re planning on hillwalking, then ‘Hope for the best; plan for the worst’ is a sound attitude. Just carrying an ice axe and crampons when you’re venturing over the tops in winter conditions is not enough. You have to know how to use them competently and to be able to read the terrain and weather safely.

    A course at one of Britain’s top outdoor centres will give you an excellent start:

    Plas y Brenin – the National Mountain Centre – www.pyb.co.uk

    Glenmore Lodge – the Scottish National Outdoor Training Centre – www.glenmorelodge.org.uk

    Useful info, advice and occasional courses and talks can be found at the British Mountaineering Council (BMC); it’s not just for climbers but a useful resource for walkers as well – www.thebmc.co.uk

     

  10. Keeping Warm In A Sleeping Bag

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    Just jumping in to a sleeping bag at the end of a day out on the hills is not necessarily going to keep you warm during the night. Follow our top sleeping bag tips for keeping snug:

    • Sleeping bags are not warm – it is your body heat that warms the air in the insulating fill.
    • The warmer you are when you get your head down, the faster your bag will warm up.
    • Spread out your sleeping bag when the tent is pitched so it can loft fully.
    • Sleeping bags liners will extend comfort ratings.
    • A hot meal will boost your body temperature as will even a short walk.
    • We breathe out a lot of moisture so, as all fills start to lose their performance when damp, avoid burrowing into your bag; make sure the hood is held snug around your ears.
    • Wear fresh socks to bed; a pair used only for bedtime.
    • Wear baselayer top and leggings will not only help in staying warm, they’re appreciated if you have to get up in the night. Keep a warm jacket handy.
    • Have a warm hat handy.
    • Air your bag each day to avoid damp building up and reducing its insulating value.

     

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