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    frequently asked questions

    What is your returns policy?

    We want you to be 100% satisfied with any online order placed with us. Therefore if you wish to return an item for whatever reason you may contact us by email at [email protected] within seven days stating the reason for return.
    Goods can be returned for a full refund if they are faulty or if the wrong item has been dispatched. If the goods have been dispatched as ordered, they can be returned for a refund, but only for the cost of the goods if they have incurred a delivery charge. All returns must be organised within 21 days of receiving your order. Items must be unused and still have their original packaging and labelling attached. If you are returning any goods for exchange, we are not responsible for the carriage back to us or the postage back to you again, please consider this when changing your mind.
    Nothing in these conditions affects your statutory rights as a consumer. The card used for the purchase will be credited with the original purchase amount (less any delivery charge paid where appropriate.)
    Footwear Returns
    Any footwear returned to us must be in its original condition, including boxes and footbeds.
    Health and safety Conditions
    Any items that we deem unhygienic will not be processed so please clean faulty goods if returning them.
    Please note that if items are returned you should ask for proof of postage from your post office as we reserve the right to refuse a refund if an item is lost whilst being returned. Any item bought online can also be returned instore within the terms and conditions of sale, just remember to bring along your receipt.
    Returns Address
    Great Outdoors Ltd,
    Chatham Street,
    Dublin 2,
    Republic of Ireland
    Phone: +00 353 (1) 679 4293
    Email: [email protected]

    What are your delivery terms and conditions?

    We offer free shipping to all addresses in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland for any order over €50, regardless of the weight of the order placed.
    Delivery Information for the Republic Of Ireland and Northern Ireland
    We ship all orders over €50 free to all addresses in the Republic of Ireland regardless of the weight. Orders under this amount will be charged a flat €6.00 rate. We use DPD 3 Day and this includes insurance on all parcels up to €150.
    Tel: 00 353 1 6794293 (9.30am - 5.30pm) Monday to Friday
    All Internet orders received before 12.00 noon will be shipped with DPD the same day. Internet orders received after 12:00 noon will be shipped next day with DPD (approx delivery time Ireland 2-3 working days). Delays may be experienced during certain times of the year and if this is the case we will contact you as soon as possible via email.
    Delivery times are usually between 08:30 and 17:30 Monday Friday. All deliveries will need a signature on receipt and if there is no one present to receive the delivery a card will be left. For your convenience, we are happy to ship to your work address. Following collection by DPD from our store we can provide online tracking information for your order.
    All Canoe And Kayak deliveries are included in our Free Shipping. This usually involves delivery via Ace Express or DPD depending on the size and weight of the boat.. Alternative arrangements can be made depending on location, although this is strictly at Great Outdoors discretion.
    We reserve the right to change these conditions due to unforeseen circumstances or if an item has run out of stock and has to be specially ordered in. We will keep you posted of any changes to the best of our ability.
    Delivery Information for England, Scotland and Wales
    We charge €15.00 to ship our online orders to all England, Scotland and Wales addresses. Tel: 00 353 1 6794293 (9.30am - 5.30pm) Monday to Friday.
    It has been our experience that delivery times to these countries will take 3-4 days to arrive. Please be aware that delays may be experienced during certain times of the year and if this is the case we will contact you as soon as possible via e-mail or phone.
    Delivery times are usually between 08:30 and 17:30 Monday Friday and online tracking information will be available following collection of your parcel from our store.
    Delivery Information for other European Union Orders
    DPD use a number of zones to calculate shipping charges to countries in the European Union and these charges are shown below:
    Zone 2 - €30.00; Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Netherlands.
    Zone 3 - €35.00; Austria, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden.
    Zone 4 - €50.00; Norway, Switzerland.
    Zone 4A - €50.00; Bulgaria, Czech republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia.
    Zone 7 - €70.00; Russia (Moscow & St. Petersburg), Turkey.
    Delivery Information for the United States
    We currently charge €70.00 ($94.00) to ship our online orders to the United States and Outlying Islands. No VAT is charged to US customers. Tel: 00 353 1 6794293 (9.00 - 5.30pm).
    We have successfully shipped online orders to the US - our system has been designed to take the non-applicable VAT off the final sale amount and then add the shipping charge. Local tax rates may apply to these orders once they arrive into the US. This is payable to FedEx on receipt of the goods.
    Delivery Information for Rest of World
    We can ship to anywhere in the world through DPD. If you cannot find your country listed above, contact us on 00353136794293 (9.00am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday) or via email, [email protected] to organize shipping.
    Available to Order Items (Out of Stock Items)
    Inclusion of any product on our website is not a guarantee of it being in stock at the time of ordering. Great Outdoors stocks the one of the most comprehensive ranges of equipment in the country. However situations beyond our control may occasionally result in an item(s) being temporarily unavailable.
    Items discontinued by manufacturers or that are no longer available that season we endeavour to remove from our website as quickly as possible, but remember, we are only human after all.
    If we are unable to supply any item(s) within 14 days, you will be contacted by telephone or email to offer alternatives or cancel your order. Available to order items, marked to follow will be sent automatically when they become available. We do NOT make additional charges for this service.
    In any case, we aim to deliver goods within a maximum time frame of no more than 21 days from receipt of order. If we are unable to do this, you will be contacted to make arrangements for any necessary refund to be issued.

    What is your privacy policy?

    Privacy Policy
    We at Great Outdoors respect your right to privacy and comply with our obligations under the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2002.
    The purpose of this Web Site Privacy Policy is to outline how we deal with any personal data you provide to us while visiting this web site. Naturally, if you are not happy with this Web Site Privacy Policy you should not use this web site.
    By visiting this web site, you are accepting the terms of this Web Site Privacy Policy. Any external links to other web sites are clearly identifiable as such, and we are not responsible for the content or the privacy policies of these other web sites.
    Types of Information Collected
    We retain two types of information:
    This is data that identifies you or can be used to identify or contact you and may include your name, address, email address, user IP addresses in circumstances where they have not been deleted, clipped or anonymised, telephone number, and billing and credit card information. Such information is only collected from you if you voluntarily submit it to us.
    Like most web sites, we gather statistical and other analytical information collected on an aggregate basis of all visitors to our web site. This Non-Personal Data comprises information that cannot be used to identify or contact you, such as demographic information regarding, for example, user IP addresses where they have been clipped or anonymised, browser types and other anonymous statistical data involving the use of our web site.
    Purposes for which we hold your Information
    We use the Non-Personal Data gathered from visitors to our web site in an aggregate form to get a better understanding of where our visitors come from and to help us better design and organise our web site.
    This web site uses 'cookie' technology. A cookie is a little piece of text stored by the browser on your computer, at the request of our server. We may use cookies to deliver content specific to your interests and to save your personal preferences so you do not have to re-enter them each time you connect to our web site our cookies are not available to other web sites. Cookies are required on the Great Outdoors website to allow users to access the Member's Extranet. No personal information is recorded, and the cookie is automatically deleted when you log out or close your browser. You are always free to decline our cookies, if your browser permits, or to ask your browser to indicate when a cookie is being sent. You can also delete cookie files from your computer at your discretion. Note that if you decline our cookies or ask for notification each time a cookie is being sent, this may affect your ease of use of this web site.
    Personal Data
    We will process any Personal Data you provide to us for the following purposes:
    to provide you with the goods or services you have ordered;
    to contact you if required in connection with your order or to respond to any communications you might send to us;
    to send you the Great Outdoors Newsletter/Event Alerts and to communicate with you about association activities.
    Please note all credit card or other payment information is transmitted using SSL encryption. All payment information details, including credit card numbers and bank details, are permanently deleted from our servers when the payment has been processed.
    Disclosure of Information to Third Parties
    We may provide Non-Personal Data to third parties, where such information is combined with similar information of other users of our web site. For example, we might inform third parties regarding the number of unique users who visit our web site, the demographic breakdown of our community users of our web site, or the activities that visitors to our web site engage in while on our web site. The third parties to whom we may provide this information may include potential or actual advertisers, providers of advertising services (including web site tracking services), commercial partners, sponsors, licensees, researchers and other similar parties.
    We will not disclose your Personal Data to third parties unless you have consented to this disclosure or unless the third party is required to fulfil your order (in such circumstances, the third party is bound by similar data protection requirements. We will disclose your Personal Data if we believe in good faith that we are required to disclose it in order to comply with any applicable law, a summons, a search warrant, a court or regulatory order, or other statutory requirement.
    Sale of Business
    We reserve the right to transfer information (including your Personal Data) to a third party in the event of a sale, merger, liquidation, receivership or transfer of all or substantially all of the assets of our company provided that the third party agrees to adhere to the terms of the Web Site Privacy Policy and provided that the third party only uses your Personal Data for the purposes that you provided it to us. You will be notified in the event of any such transfer and you will be afforded an opportunity to opt-out.
    Your Personal Data is held on secure servers hosted by Equinox. The nature of the Internet is such that we cannot guarantee or warrant the security of any information you transmit to us via the Internet. No data transmission over the Internet can be guaranteed to be 100% secure. However, we will take all reasonable steps (including appropriate technical and organisational measures) to protect your Personal Data.
    Updating, Verifying and Deleting Personal Data
    You may inform us of any changes in your Personal Data, and in accordance with our obligations under the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2002 we will update or delete your Personal Data accordingly. To find out what Personal Data we hold on you or to have your Personal Data updated, amended or removed from our database, please send an email to [email protected] which will be sent directly to the Great Outdoors offices. Any such data subject requests may be subject to the prescribed fee.
    Changes to the Web Site Privacy Policy
    Any changes to this Web Site Privacy Policy will be posted on this web site so you are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any time we decide to use Personal Data in a manner significantly different from that stated in this Web Site Privacy Policy, or otherwise disclosed to you at the time it was collected, we will notify you by email, and you will have a choice as to whether or not we use your information in the new manner.

    What steps do you take regarding environmental responsibilities?

    Environmental Responsibility
    Great Outdoors is committed to meeting the requirements of the Irish Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations.
    Free Take-Back of WEEE
    Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and waste batteries must never be placed in your waste disposal or recycling bins. WEEE is taken back free of charge at electrical retail outlets on a one-for-one like-for-like basis. There is a bin for small batteries in your local store. Local
    authority civic amenity facilities also take back WEEE and waste batteries free of charge. WEEE and waste battery recycling is free.
    Products for return under this agreement can be taken/sent to our store on Chatham Street, Dublin 2. Also note that the item being returned does not have to be the same brand as the one being purchased.

    Are any of your hiking boots completely waterproof?

    If you are backpacking in wet conditions — which could entail prolonged rain, dew-soaked grass, melting snow, un-bridged creek crossings, or even just high humidity — your feet are going to get wet.
    It is very difficult to physically seal off footwear from external sources of moisture; quite simply, water can enter the shoe or boot through the large opening into which you insert your foot. It can drip into this opening, like during a rainstorm or while walking through dew-covered grass, or pour into it, as happens when fording a creek that is taller than the height of the opening.
    Waterproof versions of any hiking boot will have an inner liner which is breathable to an extent. If breathability is important choose a boot without such a liner and accept the greater potential for leakage.
    Since the nineteen eighties when lightweight fabric boots first appeared on the scene there has been a difficulty in rendering them weatherproof for those of who live in a damp climate. The first attempt was to add a layer of polythene into the boot lining. This had the twin disadvantages of being easily torn and being a plastic bag around the foot. Later, more successful efforts have been based on the development of waterproof, breathable membranes inserted in the boot or shoe.
    There are now innumerable brands of these on the market and all offer varying degrees of breathability and generally a much higher degree of water resistance. So long as the liner is unbreached the boot will remain waterproof from the liner in. A liner will not prevent the outer part of the boot soaking up water and a sodden upper will reduce the breathability to virtually zero therefore it should always be borne in mind that the liner is best used along with rather than instead of waterproof treatments and sprays for best effect.
    Any liner no matter how good will impair the breathability of the boot or shoe. This should be seen as the price you pay for the shoe being waterproof. Given that the breathability of any boot lined or otherwise is quite poor to begin with this reduction may create quite a damp microclimate in the boot.
    If moisture control is very important don't get a waterproof lined boot. If this is not possible then get used to changing your socks during the day and airing your boots as much as possible. There is not yet such a thing as 100% breathable in any footwear. Even super light, super breathable running shoes get a bit damp during a long jog.
    So - to sum up - we have plenty of high-quality waterproof shoes and boots, that will keep your feet dry if you step in a puddle; unless that puddle happens to be so deep that it is higher than your footwear!

    Are any of your backpacks completely waterproof?

    Let’s explore the differences between Waterproof and Water-Resistant.
    Waterproof means the bag can be submerged completely underwater for long periods of time, and there won’t be one single drop of water that enters the interior. Think of a balloon, completely sealed off from the outside world.
    The process of making a bag 100% waterproof can be achieved a few different ways. But it comes down to three things…
    1) materials
    2) construction techniques
    3) cost
    The materials, obviously, have to be 100% waterproof. Every bit of this material needs to be cut into panels and joined together to achieve the shape of a bag. Think 3D puzzle. If there are stitched holes where these panels meet, it isn’t waterproof. Needle holes mean water can get in. Even if they use silicone over those holes, the silicone will eventually de-bond. The most common way of joining these plastic panels together to achieve 100% waterproofness is called Ultrasonic Welding. This is a difficult and relatively rare construction technique, and the machines are expensive, and they are run by highly skilled technicians. So if you really want 100% waterproof, be prepared to pay for it.
    Also, be prepared to have a relatively odd-looking bag on your shoulders or at your hip. Since they’re made differently, they appear different. They’re not ugly, but more than likely a 100% waterproof bag would look extremely out of place in a business meeting, and will not go with a suit. They have a tendency to be heavy, awkward and uncomfortable.
    Lastly, the access options for these bags are limited. The more handy access points there are, the more risk there is of water entering the bag through these access points. This is why these bags usually have roll-top access points, a closure method which is waterproof, as the opening folds over on itself two or more times to seal out water.
    Water-resistant is all most of us need.
    Let’s talk about what water-resistant means. It means the fabrics used generally aren’t 100% waterproof. The most common fibers are nylon and polyester. These fibers are woven together to create the fabric.
    Many of your traditional synthetic fabrics will include a layer or three of PU, PVC or some sort of soft TPE on the backside of the fabric, to help prevent water from sneaking through the holes between the fibers. This coating is usually sprayed or laminated on by the factory’s fabric supplier, before it gets to the factory cutting room. Occasionally a Teflon coating will be applied to the front of the surface of the fabric, to help water bead up and roll off the surface. Sometimes the fabrics used in the construction of a water-resistant bag are absolutely 100% waterproof. But if they’re not joined together with a waterproof method of construction, the entire bag won’t be waterproof. And if they are, the zippers need to be real waterproof zippers, not water-resistant zippers.
    With standard zippers, the teeth have openings in between them - these can let small drops of water in. Additionally, you’ll see zipper flap/covers used. These are usually just fabric which covers the zipper’s exposed teeth, a simple barrier to keep rain from dripping through the teeth.
    You might be in a tropical setting, on a boat, in the rainforest, etc. and out of nowhere - a sudden downpour! This is where you pull out your €30 sil-nylon pack fly raincover and wrap it over your bag. These work great. They pack away super small, and add that additional layer of defense, preventing rain from getting into your bag. Plus, then you get to use your favorite water-resistant bag, whether it’s made from leather, nylon, cotton, synthetics, etc.
    To be honest, water-resistant bags and their materials and construction work really well. During a serious torrential downpour, water will bead up on the outside and on top of the water-resistant fabric. But eventually, after quite a bit of rain, the fabric will become waterlogged and eventually soak up the water. So if piece of paper inside your pack is touching up against the wall of the bag it may become wet.
    That being said, water-resistant packs are great. They’re more affordable. They have better/more access points. They’re generally better looking and more comfortable (your opinion may vary). And you have more carry brands/products/options to choose from.

    I keep being told that layering is important - what does this mean?

    Enjoying the mountains to the fullest extent requires knowing how to dress. With the right clothes, an afternoon alpine thunderstorm can make for a surreal and magical experience. But, unprepared, that same storm might leave you recalling a shivering, wicked-cold, misery tour.
    When shopping for outdoor clothing, you've probably heard a lot about something called ‘the layering system’.
    Layering your breathable clothing can help you to keep warm, dry and comfortable through varying conditions, allowing you to add or remove layers depending on how you feel and the conditions you’re in. All the items should be lightweight and packable, and should fit inside your rucksack easily.
    It's easy to think that when the temperature drops, wearing the thickest clothing possible is the best idea, when in actuality most mountain climbers, runners, cyclists, hill walkers and dog walkers can all benefit from some variation of a layered clothing system.
    Carrying extra layers in your rucksack can help to keep you safe - the weather may be mild when you set off on your walk, but as you get higher into the hills, the temperature can and will take a sudden drop, and conditions can change in an instant.
    Worn next to the skin, creating a thin layer of warm air against the body
    Helps to wick moisture/sweat vapour from the skin to regulate body temperature
    Ideal on its own for aerobic activity, or warm days
    Avoid using cotton as a baselayer. Cotton soaks up sweat and stays wet, drawing the heat away from your body, leaving you cold.
    Worn over the baselayer to help trap in body heat
    Further wicks away sweat vapour
    Popular midlayers include fleece, softshell or in extreme cold and wet situations an insulated jacket.
    If you're out walking we'd recommend a thin fleece or midlayer for milder days, and a midweight fleece or midlayer during cold weather
    For resting, or passive exercise (like a trip to the pub, or watching a game) insulated jackets or down jackets are great to use in freezing weather
    Outer Layer (Shell)
    Protects you against wind and rain
    This layer allows the sweat vapour to pass through and away from the body completely
    This layer is usually a lightweight, packable and breathable waterproof jacket. An outer shell is an important piece in bad weather, because if wind and water are allowed to penetrate to your inner layers, you begin to feel cold. Furthermore, without proper ventilation, perspiration can't evaporate but instead condenses on the inside of your shell.

    Why do you recommend that I use walking poles?

    Trekking poles are an essential tool for hiking and mountaineering. Visit any major trail, and many minor ones, and you'll likely see hikers using trekking poles, matching poles, or walking sticks, specifically designed for hiking. Trekking poles allow your arms to help propel you forward and upward. Whether walking on flat ground or up steep hills, poles can help to increase your average speed. Poles reduce the impact on your legs, knees, ankles, and feet. This is especially true when going downhill. The extra two points of contact significantly increase your traction on slippery surfaces like mud, snow, and loose rock. Poles help you maintain balance in difficult terrain such as during river crossings, on tree root-strewn trails, and on slippery bog bridges.
    A discussion of trekking poles inevitably leads to this frequently asked question: Does it matter if I use one trekking pole or two? Some hikers, especially those out on shorter hikes, prefer to use just one pole, keeping one hand free. But, it stands to reason that engaging both arms to take the load off the knees is more effective than using one arm alone. Additionally, most experts agree that the balance and stability benefits of two poles are greater than one.

    Is cotton breathable? Why do you not recommend it?

    Cotton is a great, comfortable fabric - but not for outdoor activities.
    Clothing keeps you warm by trapping warm air near your skin. When cotton gets wet, it ceases to insulate you because all of the air pockets in the fabric fill up with water. When you hike, you perspire, and any cotton clothing touching your skin will absorb your sweat like a sponge. If the air is colder than your body temperature , you’ll feel cold because your cotton clothing is saturated and no longer providing any insulation. In addition, wet cotton does not wick water away from your skin. The best hiking clothes are made of synthetic materials that keep you dry as you start to work harder and sweat more. While you may be tempted to wear that soft cotton tee, don’t: it will actually just trap sweat and moisture and stay wet. In addition to being uncomfortable, this will also quickly lead to the chills if you’re heading up a mountain and the temperature drops.
    For example, a wicking baselayer shirt that is synthetic will move moisture from the surface of your skin to the outer layers of your shirt leaving the part of the fabric touching your skin dry. This is why layering is such an effective clothing strategy for hiking, because wicking fabrics move water away from your skin and up through your layers one after another, enabling the fabric near your skin to trap insulating air and retain your body’s warmth.

    Should I buy 50% DEET or 100% DEET?

    DEET ( diethyltoluamide), is an insect repellent that is used in products to prevent bites from insects such as mosquitoes, biting flies, fleas and small flying insects.
    The higher the percentage of DEET, the stronger the mix and the longer the protection provided by the spray.
    100% DEET is the strongest, this is maximum strength and works best in toughest environments (jungles, safaris, high malaria-risk areas). It is designed for use in areas at High Risk of exposing you to Malaria carrying mosquitoes (such as some of the exotic holiday locations in Africa). You can spray yourself down and have the deet in the product last for at least 5 hours. Up to 8 hours can be expected but if you find yourself out for longer, re-apply the spray to make sure you remain protected.
    50% and 55% DEET is for people with sensitive skin in high risk areas or people wanting ultimate protection in Europe. 55% is strong enough for medium risk areas (e.g. Florida) in fact its stronger than almost any deet based product you'll find for sale when you get there. These products are also sufficient for use in High Risk areas (Asia and Africa) as you can re-spray yourself every 5 hours.
    50% DEET is stronger than most products found on sale when you reach holiday destinations in low to medium risk areas (like Orlando and New Orleans where you typically see 25%-40% products). People with sensitive skin also find that multiple uses of half strength spray give them the same protection their friends and family can get through use of the 100% spray.
    30% DEET works great in England, Europe & the USA but if you're traveling to Africa or other high risk areas upgrade to one of the stronger strengths. 30% DEET is not designed or recommended for use in high risk areas. It gives excellent coverage and protection in England, Europe and North America but Asian and African countries require something a little stronger due to the increased risk of mosquito borne diseases.

    I want to start hillwalking - what advice can you give me?

    Walking is a sociable, fun and healthy lifelong activity, and whether it’s walking in your local park or taking on the challenge of a day-walk on one of the many trails around the country, good planning and preparation will always make the experience more enjoyable. If you are new to walking, why not start with well-known walks close to where you live, such as in a local park or along a beach. As you get comfortable with these you can venture further afield, trying something a little harder as you grow in confidence. Move on to easy walks, mostly level with a good underfoot surface. It is better to do a walk well within your capabilities than to exhaust yourself. Build up slowly to increase your fitness.
    When walking, take your time, pace yourself and enjoy your surroundings and if you feel as if you are getting tired, don’t be afraid to rest or turn back!
    Before you Go
    Some pre-walk planning is always required to ensure an enjoyable and safe day out. Choose a walk that is suitable for you. Allow plenty of time – at least 1 hour for every 4km, and add extra time for any uphill sections, rests, eating, taking photos, etc. Find out as much as you can about the walk and how to get there in advance. Print off a downloadable map, study it and bring it or a hard copy map with you. Check the daily weather forecast, and be aware of dusk times as you should plan to finish the walk before then. Plan and pack whatever you need for your walk in advance, including all necessary clothing, a snack, drink and camera. If venturing on a moderate or higher grade walk, in addition to the above also bring a torch, whistle and extra clothing.
    Look after your feet. Start off by getting a good pair of boots which fit you. They should be suitable for the kind of walking you plan on doing – the rougher the terrain, the heavier duty the boot you will need. Also think about socks; most people use a very thin pair under a thicker pair to help prevent blisters.
    Carry a map and compass. The most efficient way of getting to where you want to go is to learn to use a map and compass. A GPS device or a smartphone can be a useful addition, but you should never solely rely on them. You can download maps or buy memory cards with maps on them, but always carry a hard copy too.
    Dress properly. What you need depends on the time of year and conditions –and remember these conditions may be completely different up the hill to what they were where you left the car. Start with a moisture-wicking baselayer then add insulating and windproof layers on top. Pack a waterproof outer layer, and maybe a hat and gloves. Gaiters can be invaluable in boggy Irish conditions – they look weird, but they’ll help keep your feet dry, and save you from having muddy trousers flapping around your ankles.
    Food and drink. Keep fuelled up and you’ll keep on striding, so remember to pack meals plus a few snacks and plenty of fluids.
    Be prepared if things go wrong. Every walker should carry some kind of emergency kit. A headtorch can be the difference between getting back to the car safely and a night on the hills, so always take one just in case. A spare warm layer, a first aid kit, and some extra food are also essential – even if you never have an accident, it’s amazing how often you’ll use them. If you are going somewhere remote or high up, or you are expecting bad weather, taking a bothy bag or a lightweight bivvy bag is a very good idea.
    Carry it all comfortably. You’ll need a bag to throw everything in, but it doesn’t need to be too big. Also think about poles – they’ll save your knees.
    Finally, remember that the right equipment is one thing, but the right preparation is another. So don’t forget to plan your route and let someone know where you’re going.

    I want to start climbing - what advice can you give me?

    For physical fitness, fun, and adrenaline, nothing beats rock climbing. Despite its daredevil reputation, rock climbing can be enjoyed safely by any reasonably fit person with proper instruction and equipment. We recommend that anyone interested in learning how to rock climb sign-up for a beginner class at a local climbing gym or guide school. There are some techniques and skills that are needed in order to rock climb safely. Climbing indoors is easy and safe, and it's a great way to try the sport and see what it is about. You can rent equipment, get instruction, and learn basic climbing skills.
    Perfect your moves and your rock-climbing skills before you head out to the real rock. Consider building your own climbing wall. That way, you can boulder, or climb to small heights, and practice your technique. To make an outdoor experience as safe as possible, go with experienced climbers. Hire a guide or take outdoor lessons from a guide service. Be responsible for yourself. Learn to tie your knots, check your knots, tie them to the rope, and check your anchors. Always inspect your gear before climbing—whether you own it or rent it. Frequent use inevitably results in some wear and tear.
    Climbing Harness
    Unless you are bouldering, you need a climbing harness. A harness consists of 2 basic parts:
    Waistbelt: This sits over the hips and must fit snugly.
    Leg loops: One loop goes around each leg. Many harnesses conveniently offer adjustable or removable leg loops.
    Rock Climbing Shoes
    Climbing shoes protect your feet while providing the friction you need to grip footholds. Most styles are quite versatile, but your climbing ability and where you climb are both factors in choosing the correct shoe. Rock shoes should fit snugly but not painfully tight. The general rule is that the harder you climb, the closer-fitting the shoe should be. Note: Rock shoes aren't comfortable for walking long distances. For the hike from your car to the base of your climbing area, wear "approach shoes" such as trail runners. Climbing shoes are for climbing only.
    Climbing Helmet
    When climbing outdoors, you should always wear a helmet made specifically for climbing. Climbing helmets are designed to cushion your head from falling rock and debris, as well as provide protection in the case of a fall. A helmet should feel comfortable, fit snugly but not too tight and sit flat on your head.
    These strong, light metal rings with spring-loaded gates connect the climbing rope to pieces of climbing protection such as bolts, nuts and camming devices. They are also used to make quickdraws and to rack (attach) your gear to your gear slings. You need at least a dozen carabiners on most climbs.
    Belay Device
    This is used to control the rope in order to secure a climber's progress. Used correctly, a belay device can be used to can catch a fall, lower a climber, play the rope out as the climber advances or reel in the rope to provide tension.
    A quickdraw consists of 2 carabiners connected by a sling (also called a runner). They greatly increase speed and efficiency when clipping bolts, making them essential for sport climbing.
    Climbing Rope
    No piece of gear is more important to a climber than the rope. A climbing rope is your lifeline and a very specialized piece of gear. There are different qualities of rope, and where and what you are climbing will determine which rope is best for you.
    The 2 basic categories of rope:
    Dynamic: This is a rock climbing rope because it has elasticity worked into it. It's designed to absorb the energy of a fall—even though the force of a fall can be very large.
    Static: This is a relatively stiff rope that, unlike dynamic rope, does not have much elasticity. It is used for rappelling and rescues.
    Climbing Protection
    Often simply called "pro," these devices are used in traditional climbing to secure a climbing rope to the rock. Placed properly in a crack or hole, they prevent a climber from falling any significant distance. Types of pro include cams, chocks and nuts, often referred to by trade names such as Stoppers, Hexcentrics or Friends.
    There are 2 basic types of pro, both of which come in a variety of sizes:
    Active: These have movable parts, such as a spring-loaded camming device (SLCD) that can adapt to fit a variety of cracks.
    Passive: These are made from a single piece of metal and have no movable parts, such as a Hexcentric.
    Clothing: Wear clothing that is not restrictive and won't get in the way of you or the rope. It should breathe and manage moisture so you stay warm or cool while climbing. If you climb outdoors, always plan for changing conditions.
    Chalk: Just like gymnasts, climbers use chalk to improve their grip. Chalk absorbs perspiration on your hands. Chalk is carried in a small pouch slung from your waist by a lightweight belt.
    Crash pads: A must for bouldering, these dense foam pads are placed under the climber to cushion a fall or jump.

    What is a GPS unit? Do they come preloaded with maps?

    Global Po­sitioning System (GPS) devices are a relatively new navigation invention, considering we've been using compasses and maps for hundreds of years. Used by the military for years, the government opened up GPS satellites for civilian use in the 1980s.
    Many GPS devices come loaded with maps that work in conjunction with the information from the satellite signal. Depending on the particular GPS unit you purchase, your device could come with road maps, marine maps, topographic maps, trail maps or ski resort maps. Keep in mind there are different GPS units for road travel, cycling, running and fitness, boating, fishing, flying and hiking. If your unit isn't loaded with the maps you want, you can purchase and download specific maps to the device. Maps vary widely in price. You can find some maps (like maps of national parks) online for free, or you can purchase device-specific maps from the manufacturer.
    Since construction is inevitable and roads are constantly changing, keeping your maps up to date is important. These days, most vendors include free or one-time-pay map updates for a wide variety of the devices they sell. But some companies charge for each map update — and they can be expensive. Be sure to check the map-update policy before you settle on a particular model.
    It's a great time to buy a GPS device. The category has fully matured, and competition from nav-equipped smartphones has helped drive prices way, way down. As a result, you can get a capable stand-alone GPS that can do much more than just help you find your way, for a lot less than you would have paid just last year.

    I want to start kayaking - what advice can you give me?

    If you’ve been tempted to go kayaking but think it might be too strenuous, or technical, or just too much of a hassle, it’s actually none of those things. Rather, it’s a fantastic, no-stress way to get some exercise and fresh air and see the world from a duck’s-eye view.
    Kayaks are typically built with fiberglass, wood, rotomolded plastic or Kevlar, and are designed for recreation for a number of different water environments, including lakes, whitewater rivers, and seas. At the heart of kayaking is paddling, but there’s a lot more to learn about the techniques and equipment to ensure beginners are safe, aware and enjoying themselves. It requires a certain degree of arm and core strength, it’s a sport that almost anyone can master with a bit of practice.
    Depending on the type of material, prices for the kayaks can vary greatly. Plastic is usually the cheapest, while Kevlar, considered lighter and stronger than other kayak materials, is the priciest. Built for specific environments, there are a variety of these boats available: whitewater kayaks, surf kayaks, racing kayaks, sea or touring kayaks, and hybrids, often labeled as recreational kayaks.
    Sea kayaks typically have longer bodies so they can cover more distance while whitewater kayaks are made of high-impact plastic so they can bounce off rocks while incurring less damage. Sit-on-top kayaks are the most commonly sold and ideal for beginners because they are stable, easy to get in and out of, and used for recreational paddling and fishing. Because sit-on-tops have wider beams, it’s easy to keep upright while also staying stable. A big distinction between kayaking and canoeing is the paddle. Canoes use single-bladed paddles while kayaks use two-bladed paddles.
    Many people use spraydecks, which is used to cover the opening of the cockpit, to protect their lower bodies and belongings from getting wet. Before using a spraydeck, make sure you know how to detach it quickly while underwater. It is recommended you forego the spraydeck if you can’t do so. Dry bags are useful to keep your personal belongings safe, especially useful if you plan on bringing a camera along for the ride.
    With an instructor, you can learn important skills and techniques faster. If you take lessons, you won’t need to invest in any equipment initially since the instruction fee usually covers equipment and you will also have a better sense of what to buy should you decide to purchase any. Be sure to begin in a safe calm environment — not the rapids. You’ll need to learn how to get in and out of kayak and basic paddling strokes before taking on difficult environments.
    Paddlers equipped with protective gear face less danger if they capsize than those who go without it. The bare minimum of safety gear for paddlers includes: Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) are essential paddling safety items. They provide buoyancy to keep your head above water if you capsize. It is very important to invest in a personal floatation device, aka a life vest, even if you’re in calm waters.
    Helmets are essential safety gear for whitewater kayakers and surf kayakers who may be suddenly thrown out of their boats in shallow water or in rocky areas. They should fit comfortably and fasten securely under the chin. Safety is very important and a helmet is absolutely crucial if you will be kayaking rocky waters.
    A first-aid kit. Paddling-specific kits are available, but your own homemade kit with the proper contents can be used as well. Store your paddling first-aid kit in a clearly marked, waterproof bag (or box) in an easy-to-access spot in your boat.
    Although appropriate clothing choices depend on the location, take into consideration the water temperature rather than the air temperature. If your kayak tips over, you’ll learn very quickly how important it is to plan for water temperature. Layers of quick-dry clothing are ideal, and hats, sunglasses and sunscreen are highly recommended. For footwear, wear sturdy, strap-on sandals or water shoes. Cags create a shell or protective layer between you and the outside world helping keep you dry, trap heat and reduce wind chill in order to keep you happier on the water and paddling for longer!
    When you’re learning you’re going to find yourself taking the occasional dip so a wetsuit, made from insulating neoprene rubber is a good idea. A long-john version, with no arms, is ideal for canoeing and kayaking as it gives more manoeuvrability. If you’re paddling a Sit-on-Top kayak on the sea though you may want to opt for a full version.
    Trousers, pantaloons, strides; these days many paddlers don’t bother with a wetsuit at all but use a combination of a cag and bottoms to keep them warm and comfy. Made from the same material as cags, often with reinforcing on the knees and bums to prevent wear they will usually have a neoprene waist and neoprene, or latex cuffs on the ankles to keep the wet stuff out.
    A good base layer will help keep you toasty, it wicks moisture away from your skin through its material. These are usually made from manmade fibres or natural materials like wool. Avoid cotton as it stays wet, doesn’t wick and will keep you cold if it gets wet. If it’s chilly then a fleece layer over the base one will seal the deal and keep you comfortable even on the coldest of days.
    Paddlesport-specific dry-suits are a relatively new thing but they have become understandably popular, as the represent the ultimate in dryness and comfort and eliminate any nasty cold spots around the waist and kidney areas. These will usually have a large watertight zip across the shoulders or chest and have latex seals on the neck and wrists.