Fitness / 07.09.2018

Tried and tested: the Three Peaks Challenge hiking gear

By Hattie Parish
From hiking must-haves to recovery essentials

This August, healthy Editorial Director Ellie and Lifestyle Writer Hattie took on the Three Peaks Challenge, along with some colleagues from our company River. From multiple training walks through to the big day, we tested a lot of hiking gear, clothing and equipment, as well as food and recovery products. Here are our top picks:

Clothing

Tops

From training in a heatwave it became clear we’d need a new T-shirt for each mountain – not least for our own comfort but also for the sake of those around us! We tested three price points, and these came out on top (no pun intended):

Smartwool Merino 150 Baselayer Pattern Short Sleeve T-Shirt 
Merino really is a wonder fabric, keeping you cool when it’s warm and vice versa. This t-shirt did not fail to deliver, and was super lightweight too – essential when rucksack space is limited.
£56.99
cotswoldoutdoor.com

Berghaus Voyager Short Sleeve Crew Tech T-Shirt
Thin enough to be layered and breathable too, this tee was very comfortable and a flattering fit too (not something you can often say about hiking gear).
£28
Available at berghaus.com and selected specialist outdoor retailers

Quechua MH500 Short-Sleeved Mountain Hiking T-Shirt
Don’t let the price fool you, this shirt was just as effective in terms of sweat-wicking and breathability as the two costlier options. While perhaps a little less comfortable, it still provided ample protection from heavy backpacks.
£7.99
decathlon.co.uk

Sprayway Akka 1/2 Zip Pullover
It’s a good idea to keep one lightweight layer in your rucksack which can be popped on under your jacket if it gets chilly towards the summits. This jersey fleece kept us warm but not sweaty, with the option to zip all the way up when the wind starts howling.
£55
sprayway.com

Trousers

Zip-off trousers, while undeniably stylish, were also a must.

Sprayway Escape Combi Trousers
These are quick-drying, which was essential, and three zipped pockets meant plenty of space for snacks. Removing the lower sections is easy and fuss-free, perfect for when it warms up – as was the UV protection of UPF50. They’re very easy to move in and didn’t restrict when scrambling up sheer rock faces.
£75
sprayway.com

Quechua MH550 Modular Mountain Hiking Trousers
These also did well in the mobility stakes and are light and breathable. The abrasion resistance on the knees was a nice (and, as it turned out, necessary, touch) and while the fit wasn’t as comfortable as the Sprayway pair, for the price they’re great value.
£34.99
decathlon.co.uk

Waterproofs

We were lucky enough to spend 90% of our time on the mountains in thick cloud and so made good use of our waterproofs, but they’re always a necessity, even if the forecast is kinder to you. Rain may look like an impossibility at the bottom of a mountain, but a few hundred metres up is a totally different story.

Sprayway Era GORE-TEX Jacket
This was a real carthorse of a jacket. We’d liken it more to a coat, which, while still lightweight, felt more sturdy than a single layered cagoule-style waterproof. With multiple pockets, great ventilation and adjustable toggles for almost everything, it proved a trusty companion on the mountains.
£180
sprayway.com

TOG24 Vettel Performance Waterproof Jacket
A lighter option, but still offering total protection from the rain, this one fared well in warmer climbs and handled sudden showers well. Plus, it squashes down to almost nothing in your rucksack. A must for short day hikes or training.
£80
tog24.com

Sprayway Atlanta Rainpant
There’s not really much to say about a good set of waterproof trousers. Pretty? No. Functional? Yes. And that’s exactly what these are. Nothing is getting through these, and they can be thrown on over regular walking trousers when the heavens open and adjusted around boots.
£45
sprayway.com

Boots

Arguably the most important bit of kit, we recommend getting your boots well in advance and testing them out on long training walks. We loved the  – they were sturdy, fit like a dream, completely waterproof and failed to create ANY blisters on three long mountains.
£170
lowa.co.uk

And all the other bits…

We were advised by our guides not to overlook the little things – literally. Your sock and even underwear choices can make a huge impact on your time and comfort. Take a trusty winter hat and gloves, and consider the following:

Stance Hike Socks
These socks come in a bunch of cool designs, are sweat-wicking and super comfortable. Plus, a reinforced toe and heel mean they don’t wear on those agonising descents. As with tops, you’ll want three pairs.
£18.99
stance.eu.com

Bridgedale Merino Trekker socks
It’s our hiking favourite merino again – here combined with Bridgedale’s Coolmax® for ultimate dryness (read: no blisters). These are so soft yo’ll end up wearing them round the house on Sundays, but make no mistake, they’re sturdy and offer day-long protection.
£18
bridgedale.com 

Runderwear – antiVPL  and low rise  
Chafing is one thing you really don’t want to be thinking about halfway up Ben Nevis. Made for runners, runderwear are ergonomically designed to move with your body, and offer great sweat-protection.antiVPL – £18, low rise – £16
runderwear.co.uk

Original BUFF
The most versatile piece of kit you’ll own, this proved itself time and time again – as a hat, a scarf, a face protector and as an added comfort when attempting to sleep between mountains. Moisture-wicking (as with everything else), it’s super light but keeps you super warm when needed.
£16
buffwear.co.uk

SOLE Active Thick Insoles
If you need extra arch support, your boots are a little loose, or you just want some extra comfort, these are a must. Moisture-wicking technology keeps feet fresh and cushioning absorbs shocks on rocky terrain.
£35
yoursole.com/uk

Adidas Tempest Running Sunglasses
No, we didn’t run up and down three mountains. But when the sun shines down on rocky terrain you can’t afford to be even temporarily blinded, and thanks to their close fit and ‘Traction Grip’ technology, these glasses won’t slip off sweaty faces.
from £85
sportsshoes.com

Össur Formfit Pro Knee Support
Arguably knees take the biggest hit on mountains, and with the healthy team already the proud owners of a couple of dodgy ones, these were a must. Comfortable and moisture-wicking, this compressive support eased some of the pain (all would be nigh on impossible), and realigns the kneecap – perfect for those with patella issues.
£83.72
ossurwebshop.co.uk

Equipment

Berghaus Freeflow 25 Rucksack
A perfect size for longer hikes, this rucksack has a smart ventilation system to help keep you cool. The design lifts the bag away from your back, and less contact = less sweat. It’s compatible with hydration packs like CamelBak, fully adjustable and comes with an all-important bag cover.
£75
Available at berghaus.com and selected specialist outdoor retailers

Quechua NH100 20L Hiking Backpack
This was basic but did the job, and for the price you can’t complain. Water bottle holders on the sides and a zipped pocket on the front proved incredibly handy, and one of the benefits of a simple design was not getting stuff lost. Though it’s not as adjustable as the Berghaus, it includes waist straps for weight distribution, and is comfortable to wear with any hiking attire.
£6.99
decathlon.co.uk

Komperdell Explorer Compact Powerlock Poles
We would recommend training with these, which we did not! From our limited experience they appeared sturdy, tended not to slip and the telescopic design meant they were easy to carry when not in use. Great for absorbing some of the downhill shocks, and a must if you have knee issues.
£79.95
firstascent.co.uk

Forclaz Onnight 50 Trekking Headlamp
Essential in poor light and low visibility (of which we had a lot), this head torch gave a broad beam of light and went the distance.
£3.99
decathlon.co.uk

Sustenance

While in the bus between mountains we guzzled down essential and more substantial meals (think pasta salads, sandwiches and the occasional hot noodle pot), we also needed on-the-go fuel we could easily take on the mountains:

Grenade bars
These see off hunger like nobody’s business, and provide a good energy boost. Our favourite was the Dark Chocolate Mint flavour.
from £1.59
In-store and at hollandandbarrett.com

Nakd bars
Easy to carry and in a range of tasty/nostalgic flavours (tricking your brain into thinking you’re eating a Bakewell tart at 1,300 metres is a blessing), these were a firm favourite with the team.
99p
In-store and at hollandandbarrett.com

The Protein Ball Co
Super handy and super delicious, these protein balls, with 15g of protein per 100g, helped aid recovery as well as see off hunger pangs.
£1.99
In-store and at hollandandbarrett.com

Recovery

It’s fair to say we’d never felt DOMs like we did the few days after the challenge. While foam rolling and stretching were high on our list of priorities, after climbing three mountains a bath is somewhat more appealing.

BetterYou
BetterYou have a fantastic range of recovery products. We used their joint spray in-between mountains, magnesium flakes in the bath when we’d finished, and the magnesium body lotion literally all over our bodies afterwards. When absorbed through the skin, magnesium supports joint and muscle function and aids muscle relaxation.
from £9.99
In-store and at hollandandbarrett.com

Weleda Arnica Muscle Soak Bath Milk
Arnica has long been used to soothe aching muscles, and two capfuls of this in the bath brought blissful relief. With a pleasant, almost medicinal scent, it was a struggle not to drift off!
£14.95
In-store and at hollandandbarrett.com

OOFOS recovery flip flops
They’re not going to win any beauty contests, but OOFOS recovery shoes saved us the next day when we turned up to work waddling like penguins. They absorb 37% more shock than traditional flip flops, cradle your arches and reduce stress on sore feet, knees and lower back.
£40
oofos.co.uk

You can still sponsor team River here – they’re raising money for three wonderful charities: Demelza Hospice, The Katie Piper Foundation, and Dog’s Trust

And you can catch us chatting to Editor Anna about our Three Peaks experience on the healthy podcast – click here to listen.

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Tried and tested: the Three Peaks Challenge hiking gear
Article Name
Tried and tested: the Three Peaks Challenge hiking gear
Description
Climbing three mountains is no joke, so we made sure we had the best hiking gear available. Find our edit of the best clothing, equipment, sustenance and recovery products that we used for our Three Peaks Challenge.
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Healthy Magazine
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