SHOPPING GUIDES

FROM FIRST TREK TO LAST LEG

How to choose your hiking pants 

When venturing into the unknown, we often spend so much time in choosing the right gear and jacket that we forget to ensure we protect what will get us there: our legs. Hiking pants play a crucial role in providing comfort, protection, and mobility on the trail.

Columbia is renowned for its high-quality hiking apparel, and in this guide, we will walk you through the factors to consider when purchasing the perfect pair of hiking pants. By the end, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge needed to make an informed decision and find the ideal hiking pants for your needs.

1. Consider the Material:
Columbia offers a variety of materials for hiking pants, each with its own benefits. Here are a few options to consider:

  1. Softshell: This material offers a higher level of comfort along with more insulation, additional protection out in the cold and greater durability. It is slightly heavier and warmer compared to other alternatives. This type of hiking pant is ideal for winter hikes, hikes with a high altitude and in unstable environments where conditions change rapidly.
  2. Water repellent: This fabric has been treated to prevent water from penetrating the fabric and allows it to slide off, making it ideal to wear on hikes where you are likely to incur light rain or snow.
  3. Quick drying: Pants made of this material absorbs and disperses water, which enables it to dry faster and are better suited for adventures in dry environments.

2. Fit and Mobility:
Proper fit and freedom of movement are essential for hiking pants. Look for the following features:

  1. Articulated Knees: Hiking pants with articulated knees offer improved range of motion, allowing for comfortable movement on steep ascents and descents.
  2. Gusseted Crotch: A gusseted crotch enhances mobility by providing extra fabric panels in the crotch area, reducing restrictions and allowing for wider strides.
  3. Adjustable Waist: Look for pants with adjustable waistbands, such as elastic or belt loops, to ensure a secure and comfortable fit.

3. Weather Protection:
Hiking pants should offer protection against various weather conditions. We recommend you consider the following features:

  1. Water Resistance: Look for pants with a water-resistant finish or a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating to keep you dry during light rain or drizzle.
  2. Sun Protection: If you frequently hike in sunny environments, choose pants with built-in UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) to shield your skin from harmful UV rays. Our Omni-Shade™ Broad Spectrum UPF 50 sun protection technology protects you from sunburn to ensure that when the sun hits, you are covered.

4. Storage and Practicality:
Having enough pockets and useful features can greatly enhance your hiking experience. Here’s what to look for:

  1. Cargo Pockets: Opt for pants with spacious cargo pockets to store small items like maps, compasses, or snacks, allowing for easy access on the go.
  2. Zip-off Legs: Convertible pants with zip-off legs offer versatility, allowing you to transform your pants into shorts when the weather gets hot. Our Silver Ridge™ Convertible Pants are perfect for just that.
  3. Reinforced Panels: Some hiking pants feature reinforced knees and seat areas, providing extra durability in high-stress zones.

With the right pants, you’ll be well-prepared for your next hiking expedition and allow yourself the freedom of movement to go beyond your human limit. Check out our full range of hiking pants here.

GOING ON A “SOLE-STRETCHING” ADVENTURE?

How to choose the right hiking boot 

Tired of slipping through the babbling brook, tripping over rocky terrain, or sliding through narrow gorges as you hang on for dear life? Are your soles worn out or are you new to hiking and your trainers are just not cutting it? Choosing the right hiking shoe is often based on personal preference and the type of terrain you will be embarking on. Before you make your footwear investment, you’ll want to consider a few things to ensure you select the perfect hiking companion for your feet. 

What type of terrain are you trekking? 

Your environment sets the scene for the type of shoe that you will be choosing.  

There are 3 types of hiking terrain to consider: 

Easy trails:
These trails are typically located in large open spaces such as prairies or valley bottoms. These trails have stable and even surfaces with only a few slight hills.  

Uneven trails:
These can be found in mountainous or undulating landscapes. Hikers should be cautious of rocks, roots, and mud along these technical trails. The terrain is often steep and slanted, which can put a strain on your legs and ankles.  

Off-trail:
These trails are characterized by uneven and often unstable surfaces with loose rocks. The trails are usually unmarked, requiring hikers to focus and move efficiently. Hikers may need to climb over obstacles, cross rivers, and even use their hands for short sections. Our Omni-Grip™ non-marking traction rubber helps you keep your balance and navigate difficult terrain with ease. 

Flexible shoes are best for easy trails as they allow your feet to move naturally, these shoes are often lighter and as a result they reduce fatigue on shorter journeys, allowing you to trek through your terrain faster. Opt for our Drainmaker™, Capsule Hatana™ and Facet™ range if you are looking for a lighter shoe that offers you increased flexibility. Technical terrain will require hiking shoes with high stability rankings with a higher cut to allow ankle support. Features you’ll want on your hiking boot if you are off to tackle technical terrain include a rubber toe, heel protector, side and instep protection including thicker outsoles to increase the durability of your hiking shoes. It should be noted that this typically makes your shoes heavier but will offer better traction and protection compared to a lighter hiking shoe. Luckily, our RidgePlus™ and PeakFreak™ hiking boot range offers you Techlite® technology to offer you the ultimate protection while the lightweight midsole provides long lasting comfort, superior cushioning, and high energy return, keeping you fatigue free on the track when you need to opt for sturdier hiking shoes. If you are hiking in wet conditions, you’ll want to opt for water resistant shoes that protect your feet from dampness. Check out our Newton Ridge™ Plus waterproof Amped Hiking boot with a waterproof seam-sealed construction.  

How heavy is your backpack? 

If your backpack is light-weight, flexible hiking shoes will do the trick. If you have to carry a tent, a stove and food. Then you should look for more sturdy shoes with a high cut to give you extra stability on technical terrain. 

Are you a beginner, a novice or a seasoned trail junkie? 

 If you have just started out on your hiking journey, you’ll want to opt for a light, low cut shoe that will give you free foot movement as you progress to lengthier hikes and more technical terrain. If you are an experienced hiker tackling very technical trains and mountain climbs, you’ll need to opt for stable, high cut shoes that will support your ankles. 

We hope these tips and tricks will help you find your way to your feet’s best hiking buddy. Give tough terrain the boot and check out our range of hiking shoes here. 

ALL WRAPPED UP

How to choose the right jacket for your outdoor adventure 

When embracing the outdoors, having the right jacket can make all the difference in staying comfortable and protected against the elements. Use our nifty guide to help you choose the right jacket for your next adventure.  

  1. Determine the type of activity:
    Different outdoor activities require different types of jackets. For example, if you’re going hiking or backpacking, you’ll want a lightweight jacket that’s breathable and can easily pack down into your backpack. If you’re going skiing or snowboarding, you’ll want a jacket that’s insulated and waterproof. Consider our Rosie Run™ ladies insulated jacket or our Timberturner™ mens jacket for your next overseas ski adventure or your trip to the Maluti mountains. If you need something lighter for your hiking adventure, it would be best to opt for our Flash Forward™ windbreakers or Kruser Ridge™ softshell jackets. Keep in mind that if you are going to encounter extreme conditions on your hike, you’ll need to opt for jackets with Omni-Heat™ technology.
  1. Consider the weather conditions:
    Think about the typical weather conditions you’ll be facing during your outdoor activity. If you’ll be in wet or rainy conditions, you’ll want a jacket with a waterproof or water-resistant outer layer. If you’ll be in cold conditions, you’ll want a jacket with insulation or a heavy-duty outer layer. Our Tech Trail™ and Titan Ultra™ is great for braving hot and dry conditions as it offers cooling technology and sun protection as you trek across the dessert. If you are planning on embracing snowy, windy and wet conditions, our Labyrinth Loop™, Powder Lite™, Heavenly™ and Joy Peak™ jackets are ideal.
  1. Look for features:
    Columbia jackets come with a variety of features to enhance your outdoor experience. Look for jackets with adjustable hoods, cuffs, and hemlines to customize your fit. Pockets are also important, with options for keeping hands warm, holding personal belongings or securing important items to ensure you have as much freedom of movement as possible.
  1. Check the materials:
    Columbia uses a range of materials, such as Omni-Tech®, and Omni-Heat®, to provide durability and comfort. Each jacket’s material provides different benefits and will affect how the jacket performs in various weather conditions. Be sure to look at the materials used in the jacket and consider how they will hold up in the conditions you’ll be facing. You can explore all our tech here.

Keep in mind that investing in a high-quality jacket will pay off in the long run with its durability and performance. By investing in the right jacket, you will stay comfortable and protected during your outdoor adventures and allow yourself to stay in your adventure zone for longer. Now go and get out there, way, way out there! 

A TRICK UP OUR SLEEVE

How to choose the perfect hiking shirt  

When it comes to hiking, wearing the right shirt can make a significant difference in your comfort and performance on the trail. We don’t design shirts to sit in a store window, we rigorously test its technology way, way out there, checking every detail and its ability to adapt, to ensure you can go beyond the summit. Here is some guidance on key features you need to consider when choosing a hiking shirt:

1. Fabric Selection:
Choosing the right fabric is crucial for a hiking shirt that performs well in various conditions. Consider the following options:

  1. Synthetic Fabrics: Columbia offers hiking shirts made from synthetic materials like polyester or nylon. These fabrics are lightweight, breathable, and moisture-wicking, making them ideal for hot and humid conditions.
  2. Merino Wool: If you prefer natural fibers, consider a hiking shirt made from merino wool. Merino wool is soft, odor-resistant, and provides excellent temperature regulation, making it suitable for a wide range of weather conditions.
  3. Blends: Some hiking shirts combine different fabrics, such as polyester-spandex blends, to provide enhanced stretch, mobility, and moisture-wicking properties.

2. Moisture Management:
When you work up a sweat in the great outdoors, it’s important to choose a shirt that effectively manages moisture. Look out for these features:

  1. Moisture-Wicking: Opt for a shirt with moisture-wicking properties that draw sweat away from your skin to the outer layer, where it can evaporate quickly. Our Omni-Wick™ technology provides advanced moisture management by moving moisture from the skin into the fabric where it spreads across the surface to quickly evaporate, keeping you cool and your clothing dry when the perspiration hits hard.
  2. Ventilation: Consider shirts with strategically placed mesh panels or ventilation zones to promote airflow and enhance breathability, keeping you cool and comfortable.

3. Sun Protection:
Protecting your skin from harmful UV rays is crucial during outdoor activities. Look for hiking shirts with the following sun protection features:

  1. UPF Rating: Choose shirts with a high Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating, which indicates the level of sun protection provided. A UPF rating of 30 or higher is recommended for adequate protection. Our Omni-Shade™ technology offers sun protection with a UPF rating of 40, keeping you cool and comfortable while protecting you from the sun’s harmful rays.
  2. Collar and Sleeve Coverage: Consider shirts with collars and long sleeves for added sun protection. Some shirts offer roll-up sleeves or built-in sun cuffs for versatility.

4. Fit and Comfort:
A well-fitting and comfortable hiking shirt is essential for unrestricted movement and overall enjoyment. Pay attention to the following factors:

  1. Fit: Determine whether you prefer a loose, regular, or athletic fit. Consider the intended use and whether you’ll be layering the shirt.
  2. Mobility: Look for shirts with ergonomic designs, underarm gussets, or articulated sleeves for enhanced mobility and range of motion during active pursuits.
  3. Flatlock Seams: Shirts with flatlock seams reduce chafing and irritation, ensuring a comfortable fit, especially during long hikes or backpacking trips.

5. Additional Features:
Consider extra features that can enhance the functionality and convenience of your hiking shirt:

  1. Pockets: If you need storage space for small essentials, choose shirts with chest pockets or zippered pockets.
  2. Roll-Up Sleeves: Shirts with roll-up sleeves and button tabs allow you to adjust the sleeve length according to weather conditions and personal preference.
  3. Odor Control: Some shirts feature odor-resistant technologies to keep you feeling fresh, even after extended periods of wear.
  4. Stain resistance: Look for shirts that offer easy clean-up. Our Omni-Shield™ Blood and Guts technology is the ultimate in water-and-stain repellent fabric as it provides long lasting repellency without impacting breathability or the feel of the fabric.

So go on, roll-up those sleeves and take the shirt off our backs to go beyond your summit!