Family Camping

Your quick guide to getting your family camping adventures started.

Now, more than ever, we want to encourage our children to spend time outdoors appreciating nature and enjoying life in the wild. To feel the dewy morning grass beneath bare toes, to hear the dawn chorus in the wilderness and to lie under a starlit sky and wonder at the beauty of this wide world.

A family camping trip is the perfect place to make great memories and enjoy happy times together.  But before you pack the car with the marshmallows, the sleeping bags and the spare socks, take some time to prepare your camping expedition and be sure that they will be epic adventures and not miserable disasters!

Here is our quick guide to camping en-famile. Whether you have babies, toddlers, wobblers, petulant teenagers or reluctant spouses… or all of the above… follow our easy steps to making time in the wilderness a wonderful family experience.

Planning

Perhaps in your youth you grabbed a two-man tent, a bag of cans and a few tins of beans and headed to festivals. Fun weekend family camping is the anti-thesis of this scenario. But don’t worry, it is still fun. Family fun. Especially if you have remembered the essential toilet rolls, battery power packs, milk etc.

Take time to research where you might like to camp. Decide first if you are going completely off-road, or if you would like to have amenities, a toilet/ showers and a chip shop nearby.  There are plenty of family- friendly campsites to cater to all requirements.   From beach to mountain, from lakes to rivers, Ireland offers a wonderful selection of picturesque places to set up tent for the night. It is up to yourselves to decide if you want to go it alone, or have civilisation on hand.

Food and Essentials

Lists are your friend here.  Make a list of meals and snacks for while you are camping and shop accordingly. Include all the needful items such as toilet rolls and water.  Over time, you will get smarter at knowing what works and what doesn’t for your own clan. Appetites are usually better in the great outdoors so make sure you bring plenty of food to bulk up on.   At Outdoor Adventure Store we stock a range of exciting instant meals.  The gourmet, Wayfarer range are long dated and easily prepared so work as a great standby for hungry mouths.  Some stalwart campers learn all kinds of hacks for camping.  They bring pre-cooked frozen stews to thaw in time for dinner. They break all their eggs into a plastic bottle at home for easy carrying and easy scrambling. See some Camping hacks here

Equipment

Stoves and Fires: You may have romantic ideas about a roaring campfire but reality often brings nasty weather, damp wood or a camping site that does not permit such luxuries as open flame (If you really want this experience, then include it at your planning stage.)  The likelihood is that you won’t cook for the whole tribe on an open fire and there are many other options available.   Trangia’s are lightweight fast and reliable storm-proof stove systems used by outdoor people all over the world. A Trangia burner is an ingenious original product that is well worth investing in. You can purchase a storm-proof stove system that comprises of a kettle, two windshields that fit together, a burner, a couple of non- stick pans, a non-stick combined lid/fry pan, and a pan grip-handle to make most meal times easy for you.   Most importantly, it’s a safe way to heat food for your family.

Tents:   A family size tent with a canopy is the ideal solution for all families heading into the wilds. The canopy is a godsend when the sun in blasting down on wee bare arms, or when the rain showers halt outdoor play for a while.  It is also a welcome space for chatting parents to escape in the evening, as the tired-out tots snore away the days adventures.  An investment in a state of the art family tent is exactly that!  An investment, which compares favourably in monetary value to every other type of accommodation out there and will allow you to enjoy the outdoors together for many years to come.  Do not be tempted to squash two or four children into one man or two-man tents. It may seem like a good idea, but those shoulders sticking out may cause the tent to touch the fly sheets and this can cause damp, not to mention the claustrophobe inside can lead to arguments.  Tents come in all shapes and sizes and even if you need to borrow an extra one for the teens, it is worth it for all to be comfortable.  You are making happy memories here after all!  Check out the air beam tents with fibreglass poles and ample room for everyone from Granny to the dog. Orava 600xl Tent.Don’t forget to pack extra tent pegs.  Like socks in a washing machine, tent pegs have a tendency to disappear.

Sleeping Bags:   Choose a sleeping bag for the weather, the season and the type of camping you plan to do.  Like duvets, sleeping bags have tog ratings, making it easy to pick the most suitable bag.   A simple child’s sleeping bag is relatively inexpensive and they pay for themselves quickly.  Not only will they be used in your family camping excursions, but they will be hauled out for sleep overs and dragged in front of the telly on those lazy Saturday mornings.    Double sleeping bags are readily available, so there is no need to go back to the days of zipping two singles together.  Unless you think that is romantic, in which case, off you go and no complaining when there is a zip like indentation on your back in the morning! 

Torches and Headtorches:  A good hand torch or headtorch is indispensable for camping with the brood.  The torch is absolutely essential when searching for bugs under hedges at dusk, or when finding the loo in the middle of the night and seeking out that one favourite teddy in a dark tent.  See our guide to head torches here: Brighten up your world with a head torch!  Make sure you have plenty of batteries or a trusty power pack for recharging. Galaxy rechargeable Lantern

Extras.   Folding chairs are comfortable after a day of hiking in the hills. Hammocks are fun. Footballs and Frisbees find a new lease of life in the outdoors.  

But camping is about getting away from it all.  It is about letting the world drift away for a while and enjoying a simpler time in nature, as a family.  If you can manage to get your teenager off sending snapchat’s long enough to Instagram the happiness being outdoors brings you, you will be instilling in them a love of the wild and a respect for nature.

Happy Camping!

Brighten up your world with a head torch!

Light up your life with a reliable, durable and practical head torch.

Choosing a head-torch

Running down a dark trail.  Your heart rate is pumping. You’re in the zone with legs pounding and headphones thumping as you follow the beam of light from your head torch, when suddenly, disaster strikes. The lamp goes out!

A good head torch is an essential asset for hiking, camping or running.  It’s the difference between an easy experience and a potential disaster. A good headlamp is especially needed if you enjoy sleeping under the stars and/or expeditions in deep damp caves and other dark places.   So much more practical than a hand torch, a head lamp is truly a godsend when dusk turns to an early night on your adventurous hiking trip or when camping in the wilderness.  Also, it has to be said, they are absolutely amazing if you read in bed, but your partner prefers a black out bedroom!!

For the great outdoors you need to choose a head torch that won’t leave you in the dark at a critical moment. One that is easy to wear and shines its light just as bright as you need it. 

Enjoy our short but essential guide to buying the best head torch to suit your needs.

Light Output

The light output of your torch is measured in ‘lumens’.   So, the more lumens of power, the brighter the beam. The higher the lumens, the higher the energy consumption so this needs to be taken into account when choosing your headlamp. If you need, or like, a really powerful light beam, then an extra battery pack or one of our rechargeable head torches might suit your needs. The Light output can vary on head torches and some are even smart and can tailor the output to your needs.

Beam Distance

Hiking and running need a long beam while pottering about the campsite is best suited to a short beam. After all, there is probably no need to shine a full light on tents camped a few miles away while you seek the can opener at your own fireside.  Choose an up to 50m fixed beam when running in urban partially lit streets, and an up to 150m focus if hitting the unlit trails.  Some reasonably priced headlamps offer a wide beam, which is also useful for nocturnal outdoor adventure. The Tikka head Torch offers two lighting modes that cleverly adapt the quantity of light to each situation.  Maximum brightness is 80 lumens over a distance of 50 meters, which is pretty adequate for most activities. Or upgrade to the Tikka plus, with 140-lumen, this headlamp offers both spot and flood beams, a one-touch boost for quick access to max brightness and red LEDs for night vision without eye fatigue. It also features several lighting modes suitable for long-range lighting, proximity lighting or rapid movement.

Battery Time

It’s best to make sure you have power in your torch, than lighting candles and cursing the darkness… or something like that!   For the average runner or hiker, a standard head torch will offer anything from 6 to 15 hours running time before it needs a new battery or a hook up to a power supply.  If you want long battery time, with recharging options, then choose a top of the range head torch.  Consider your options carefully before purchasing as there is little point in having excellent beam distance and massive lumens at your disposal, if the equipment is lying sad and out of power at the end of your rucksack.  If your head torch projects 10,000 lumens over 500 meters, then your battery will last a whole ten minutes!   However, that is a helluvalot of lumens and your average torch will probably beam somewhere between 60 and 750 lumens so battery life should be much more practical than this.  Our trained staff at Outdoor Adventure Store will be pleased to advise on the best choice for your needs. 

Brightness Level

All of our headlamps offer at least two lighting modes to adapt the brightness to each situation. There’s also a new breed of head torches that use a Managed Light Output. These torches use light-sensing reactive technology to monitor the incoming light and adjust brightness accordingly. The top end of this market even allows users to monitor and adapt the light output via a Bluetooth app for maximum control of output and battery management.

Keeping it Light

 Keeping it light is essential for your neck muscles!  A heavy head lamp will become uncomfortable on a long night run or as you hike long distances.  There is a head torch to meet your specific activity and it is worth considering an ultra-compact and ultra-light headlamp if a heavier light will bring you down.  

State of the Art

Among the best of the best rechargeable head torches on the market is the ACTIK CORE headlamp offering 350 lumens of power, which, combined with its mixed beam, makes it ideal for outdoor activities like mountaineering, running, hiking and backpacking. Red lighting preserves night vision and prevents blinding any other members of your group. Its reflective headband helps you to be seen when a light is shone on it, and is equipped with an emergency whistle for rescue situations.   

So, whether you are using your lamp to navigate lonely damp mountain caverns, to get an early start on the hiking trail or aid with the spring lambing, there is a head torch suited to your needs.  Weight, functionality, durability and power sources are the things you need to keep in mind and as always, Outdoor Adventure Store have a range to suit all needs and at great value too.  Lighten up with a great head torch.

Climbing the walls for fitness sake!

The rising popularity of Ireland’s indoor climbing walls.

More and more people are literally climbing the walls every weekend!

The indoor climbing wall was once the sad afterthought in children’s play centres, lurking unused behind the slides and the coloured ball parks.  It was the little used addition at the back of the odd gym with dust gathering on the coloured holds.  Not anymore!  Indoor Climbing Centres are the fastest growing fitness trend for this year.  Once favoured by rock climbers for training and keeping fit in between their mountain adventures, they are now a regular part of many sport and fitness enthusiast’s daily regime’s.  The hardened traditional climbers must now take their turn behind indoor climbers embracing this alternative to the gym. It is a fun way of getting fit. Many indoor wall climbers have no intention of ever climbing outdoors and view heading up the walls after a day at the office as a chance to destress and to get fit.   The weather in Ireland also lends itself to indoor activities too.

Climbing Centres are exciting.  They are basically a multi-coloured playground for adults!  These adrenalin infused centres are also safe places to try an extreme sport without the ever present danger of falling to your death. (Always a plus!) Enthusiasts say it is a very social activity too, as conversation and interaction is more frequent than with your regular gym experience.  Perhaps hanging off a wall by your fingertips is conducive to chatting… who knew?

Where is my nearest indoor climbing wall?

Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Galway all boast excellent climbing walls centres. There are smaller walls in other locations and Google will help with finding your nearest indoor climbing experience.  However, a full list of recommended climbing centres are available from the mountaineering Ireland website. www.moutaineeringireland.ie. These venues do regular route-setting on the walls, which means there is a constant flow of new challenges for climbers of all levels. Most of the centres have induction courses and training sessions for newbies and they can offer instruction and coaching to climbers of all abilities.  Whether they want to improve their skills or personal performance, or just try something new.

Bouldering versus Lead Climbing?

Boulder climbing has overtaken lead climbing in popularity and is by far one of the most popular sports worldwide.  Bouldering is solo climbing a rock or boulder some 3-5 meters high, with no harness or rope while lead climbing is climbing the holds, but with a harness and or ropes.  Both are skilled activities which challenge the senses, the body and the mind.  While you are not too far off the ground with bouldering, the adrenalin definitely pumps and the sense of achievement is huge.  The Wall is Dublin’s best and biggest bouldering wall with over 1000 square metres of climbing surface and a wide range of angles and features.   A good pair of climbing shoes makes a huge difference to the ease of traversing, while bouldering as grip is definitely a plus.   The thrill of climbing without ropes in a safe environment is a real draw but for many, lead or rope climbing has a sufficient thrill factor and is just as challenging on the body and the mind.

What you Need?

Shorts and T-shirts are the usual choice of attire for indoor climbers. Common sense dictates that you shouldn’t have pieces of clothing flapping around as you traverse the boulders, but there are no hard and fast rules for what you should wear.  A regular pair of sports shoes will do just fine for your first try at lead climbing and most centres will have specialist climbing shoes for hire, if you prefer. While climbing shoes are not essential, they will definitely enhance your climbing experience.   Harnesses and ropes are always provided.

So, mostly you just need a go-to attitude and a sense of adventure!

Child’s Play

One of the joys of indoor climbing centres is that they cater for all ages, so they are perfect for family outings, birthday treats and rainy weekend adventures.  The variety of routes on offer and the safety standards mean the young people can build confidence and core strength on suitable climbs.  The brightly hued holds are colour coded for difficulty and the routes allow even small people to achieve dizzying heights in a safe way.  Of course, there is always the embarrassment of having the kids out-climb you on the walls, but their happiness should be a comfort to your bruised ego.

Progressing to the rocks of the real world

Budding climbers often use indoor climbing walls to gain experience of working with ropes in order to progress on to outdoor rock faces.  It’s a wonderful way to pick up many skills and gain experience. However, the transition to climbing outside is not just about fitness level and a working knowledge of the ropes. Searching for climbing holds in the gym is one thing, but facing that grey rock for the real-world equivalent that may be subtly blended into the rock face is another. For this reason, it is recommended that you join a club, or choose an experienced mentor, when you move from the climbing walls to the outside world.  Ireland has many rock climbing and bouldering clubs, who welcome new members while sharing their experience and camaraderie on the cliffs and craggy rocks of Ireland.

The popularity of indoor climbing overtook its outdoor counterpart in the past year. This is only a taste of what is to come as more athletes get a taste for scrambling over boulders and shimmying down climbing walls!  Sports climbing will make its debut in the 2020 Olympics in Japan and no doubt this will cause another surge of interest.   So, this weekend if you feel like climbing the walls… you know exactly what to do.

Reference

5 of Ireland’s secret islands to visit in 2019

Island Hopping – Irish Style

As the dark days of January set us dreaming of new adventures to enjoy for when the snow clears, the winds die down and the light returns it is the perfect time to make plans for some Irish Island Hopping later in the year.  It is fascinating to think that this small island of Ireland has some 80 smaller islands off its coastline, just waiting to be explored. Twenty of these have people living on them all year round while other wild and unspoilt islands remain uninhabited all year long.  Many others have holiday homes to attract a seasonal population who spend the summer months avoiding mainland madness but never brave the winter winds on these secluded spots.

Most island hopping tourists chose to queue for the ferry to Ireland’s wonderful and scenic islands, ( Aranmore, the three Aran Islands and Clare Island, for example) there are others who opt for the path less travelled, or the sea less traversed,  and seek out the unusual and lesser known islands.    Dreaming of intrepid treks to some of Ireland’s remote and secret islands is the perfect antidote to the wild winds and the sideways rain.

We list just five of these special places, to whet your appetite for an upcoming Spring and Summer of island hopping, hiking and trekking to the least known of our gorgeous islands off this gorgeous big island.

Gola Island

This beautiful island is one of many off the coast of Gweedore in County Donegal. The last of its inhabitants reluctantly left in the mid-nineties, but they still maintain their houses on Gola and often spend time there in the summer months. An area of spectacular views with fantastic walks and clean beaches, Gola also provides some of the best rock climbing in a wild, remote and amazing setting.   Check out some guided rock-climbing with these amazing adventurers: uniqueascent.ie  and your ferry service is here gaothdobhair.ie. A ferry service operates during the holiday season and on request for the remainder of the year.

Inishturk

The furthest of the islands off Mayo, Turk is the lesser visited.  Most day-trippers and tourist pile on to the Clare Island Ferry, leaving Turk to the more adventurous.  Both islands are well worth a visit but the longer boat ride to Turk will reward you with empty beaches, not a whiff of a stag or hen weekend and a calm, quirky island which is a joy to hike.  Perfect for snorkelling and swimming, Inishturk has a community owned shop and pub where you can enjoy a bowl of chowder while gazing at the miraculous Mayo Galway coastline.  A birdwatcher’s delight and a great spot for families wanting an easy walking trail that is just that bit off the beaten track. There are several B&Bs open for business and the Island is Irish speaking.  Ferries are from Roonagh Pier in Mayo.

Lambay Island

Ok we agree that an island off the coast of Dublin can never offer complete seclusion and a trip away from the all of the maddening crowds.  But you will have a lesser crowd if you opt to visit this stunning isle in the Irish Sea just 4km from the north Dublin coast, near Skerries.   Four people call this island home.    The most amazing fact about Lambay, is that it is home to a happy family of wallabies.  Yes, you read that right.    Dublin Zoo ran out of space and the marsupials were brought to the island by the Barings Family. Apparently, they have adapted well to life on the island. Home also to the only grey seal colony on the East Coast.  Lambay is considered to be one of the most amazing places on the East Coast for walking trails.  It is perfect for Dubs who don’t want to go too far to have a really different experience. skerriesseatours.ie  run the ferries to the island.

Sherkin Island

Sherkin Island is only 10 minutes offshore from Baltimore in West Cork, but it is a whole world away from mainland worries and mundane life.  A beautiful place of wild natural scenery and unspoilt nature.  There are good fishing spots on the rocky headlands and if you are lucky, you might get a glimpse of seals, otters and the odd school of dolphin or porpoise. It is actually used as a base for whale watching! An easy walking trail leads around the island.  Sherkin Island Horseshoe and the best thing for walkers, is that this wee part of the world is said to attract a warmer micro climate.  Not sure if this is true, but it would be worth the boat ride to find out.  Sherkin is also famous for its magical sunsets, so it’s ideal for a perfect overnight camping experience.

Skattery Island

You don’t have to go too far to explore the magic of Skattery Island. A few kilometres off the coast of Clare and in the estuary of the Shannon River, this small uninhabited island, offers plenty to see and do.  From the monastic ruins to the amazing views it is unsurprising that Skattery has been deemed a European Destination of Excellence. Walk in the footsteps of the 6th Century monks who once lived here in solitude.  The ruins of the monastery and a modern church make the tranquil pathways an interesting and unique walk.  There is an abundance of birds and wildlife and fantastic views.  The ferry takes just 30 minutes from the mainland and tour details can be found here

Islands promote a feeling of freedom and pure escapism.   Ireland is blessed to have so many little gems of isles just begging for exploration. It seems as if you leave all your daily drudge behind and enter a place where time has stood still.   Spending time on these lesser known pathways, perched out in the sea has many benefits.  The unspoilt beauty of these remote areas abounds in nature, no litter, no crowds and while getting there can be part of the challenge, the rewards are many.

Once you board that ferry and head out to sea, watching the mainland receding into the mists and looking ahead to the new and exciting land to explore, you will become hooked on Island hopping Irish style.

So, start planning those short breaks, or long weeks spent on Ireland’s lesser known islands.

One New Year’s resolution for 2019 – Go outdoors!

Resolve to spend more time in the Great Outdoors in 2019

This is one New Year’s resolution that will surpass all others. One New Year’s resolution that will make all the others seem like redundant wishes. Here is one resolution that is achievable, fun and covers all bases.

The most popular New Year resolutions include: getting more exercise, eating healthier, sleeping better and learning new skills. Most of these good intentions dissolve into unfulfilled good intentions by the time spring time comes around.  Not this year!  The resolve to enjoy this amazing country from the top of that hill, from the water’s edge or from the gentle beauty of a wooded forests, will tick all those boxes without you even noticing!  (Too much!).

All weather walking

Your foray into the big wild adventurous world doesn’t mean taking a 20 mile trek into the wilderness Bear Gryllis style.  A gentle walk around the local lake or forest trail is enough to get the heart rate pumping and the adrenalin flowing.  It is worth noting that, as you walk, your body releases chemicals called endorphins which interact with receptors in the brain to reduce pain and improve your mood.  If you happen to be passing some of the most beautiful views in the world at the same time, well, that is just a win-win bonus!  Walking also increases levels of serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin and dopamine are clever brain chemicals and neurotransmitters that influence mood in a positive way.   No wonder walkers are always smiling as you pass them.

Wrap up warm and wear suitable footwear for the terrain you choose. Get good wet weather gear so you are not stuck home on ‘soft Irish days’ and in the words of that eponymous sports-wear company ‘Just do it’.

Check out some great walk suggestion here: 

Cycling for fun

Cycling is on the increase in Ireland, both for recreational purposes and as a way of getting about for daily business.  In Dublin, over 95,000 people are cycling every day. This represents a 50% increase in people using bikes over the last six years.  At the same time, we are reliably informed by undisclosed sources that the number of stationery exercise bikes being used as clothes horses, being side-lined to the garage or resold on buy and sell sites, are on the increase.  But let’s face it, bikes are more fun outside!  When we consider the improvement in the quality of cycling gear, helmets and clothing, over the past few years it is little wonder that more people are pedalling about. The government investment in greenways and cycle lanes has made cycling a much safer family activity.  Little wonder that there are more people out and about, freewheeling happily up and down Ireland’s lanes, byways and highways.  Cycling festivals have started to gain popularity too and they offer a fun challenge to novice and expert cyclists while giving the chance to make new friends.  Check out www.cyclingireland.ie   for details and find yourself some great warm waterproof gear right here for guys & here for girls and pedal through the puddles without a care in the world.

Fresh Air

Your New Year Resolution to breathe fresh air does not need drastic actions on your part.  No need to plan grand expeditions up Carrantouhill or off to Kilimanjaro (‘though both challenges sound awesome!).  Simple daily acts will change your way of thinking.  Bring your morning coffee into the garden or out on to the balcony.  Enjoy the morning sky and nature waking up around you as a perfect start to the day.  Spend lunchtimes in the park.  On Sunday afternoons you can scoff smugly at the lines of cars parked at the beachfront watching the waves through the windscreen (What is that about??). Take hot chocolate out under the stars.  Leave the car at home and walk to the post office.

Once you start enjoying the great outdoors a bit more all those other resolutions… sleeping better, eating better, getting fitter, learning new skills and feeling more positive…will slip right into place. Make 2019 the year of your very own Outdoor Adventures!

Happy New Year from all the staff at Outdoor Adventures Stores.

The best Christmas gifts for the active man

When socks become a welcome present

Why are men so difficult to buy gifts for?  It‘s not a problem that only plagues the opposite sex…, even guys don’t know what to buy for guys and often opt for the predictable vouchers or booze options.   Amongst the universally despised Christmas gifts is the classic pair of socks.  Apparently, a pair of chain store socks says I don’t really care, while a pound store pair of Xmas themed comic sock is never really that funny and just looks silly in February.   But the Christmas sock gift is a much misunderstood present.

SOCK it to me

It is not the choice of gift, it is the choice of sock that is the issue!

A warm, cosy pair of Merino wool hiker socks is the last word in sock luxury. The blend of yarns help make the socks abrasion-resistant while the mix of fibres wick moisture from the inside to ensure dry feet.  Wicking is the technology that keeps feet comfortable when walking and trekking in warmer climates.  A good pair of hiking socks is the gift that keeps on giving (to your guys’ feet!) for the whole year ahead!

For the budding mountaineer who drags his reluctant feet to extremely cold environments, there are amazing Summit Socks.  These little beauties are designed with dense cushioning for extra warmth, extra impact resistance and ultimate comfort.  Even if your man never gets too far beyond the car park on the nearest hill, these are socks that he will love for ever.

HATS off for Christmas

Hats get bad press as Christmas gifts too! This is entirely the fault of the giver and no reflection on the choice, style and quality of hats available.  Save your own footwear by shopping online and check out the great headwear available for the outdoor adventurer on our website.  If the poor guy has only had inferior hat experiences up to now, it is probably your duty to get that one great hat to bring a blissful smile to all those post-Christmas beach walks.     The joy of a light, warm, beanie hat with an internal micro fleece headband, is not to be sneezed at. In fact, it’s so warm, there will be no sneezing, even in artic conditions.  Team it with a classic Polar Buff to maintain body temperature and prevent heat loss.

GIFTS so good, you might just keep them for yourself.

Of course, there are lots of other gift ideas for the outdoorsy types right here instore and online!  Adventurers, hikers and trekkers of all ages will love a thoughtful present from our range of hand torches, head torches, cooler boxes and multipurpose Swiss army knives.   A First Aid Kit for that practical hiker!  A Trangia stove for the hungry hiker!  A flip top thermal mug for the soup eating trecker and some Trekmate protex gloves for the warm hearted (apparently, they have very cold hands!).

An unusual, useful and welcome Christmas present for those who have everything comes in the form of the amazing Jumping Jack.  Never lose your energy again with a jumping jack, portable power back up.  From credit card size to give the phone that extra battery life when hill walking in the wilderness, to  a compact, lightweight yet powerful emergency jump starter and universal battery charger that can bring life back to the  car engine or charge your phone or tablet.  All are small enough to fit in your glove box, handbag or backpack.

Christmas comes but once a year, but an Outdoor Adventure Store Gift will keep giving the love for the years ahead!   Excellent quality and a wide selection of outdoor clothing and accessories will solve all your gift giving problems.   So shop until you drop, get the list checked off and spend the rest of the Christmas shopping days where you prefer to be… having those outdoor adventures!

When surfing gets extreme along the Wild Atlantic Way

Surfing is one of the fastest growing sports in Ireland.  The upsurge of surf schools and clubs along the Irish coastline is testament to the interest in this exciting and exhilarating pastime. What was once an activity exclusive to tanned, bleached haired hippy dudes, is now a mainstream water sport. From Dublin to Donegal and from Kerry to Tramore, surfers are paddling out and (sometimes very shakily) riding the waves back to shore.  The improvement in wet suits and waterproof gear has contributed to making surfing a more popular leisure pursuit, particularly in the cold Atlantic water. Enthusiasts from any part of the country don’t need to drive too far to find waves on this beautiful island, and even Dublin folk can find surfing down the road in Britta’s Bay.

But, when the ice cream vans have boarded up for the winter, the shoreline surfers change. When the sun umbrellas are packed away and the tourists are confined to tramping over beaches muffled up in scarves, hats and mittens, surfing takes a more serious turn. Yes, there are still some novices in the quieter spots on those rare calm days, but the winter is the season of extreme surfing and Ireland is right up there with the most audacious wave riding anywhere in the world.

Wild Atlantic way extreme surfing is not for the faint hearted.  30 and 40ft waves tower above surfers and spectators alike.  Mullaghmore in Sligo has some legendary waves for the bravest heavy water riders.  Local surfers like Conor Maguire, who grew up surfing the Donegal coastline and always pushed himself to heavier and heavier waves. Irish surfers know the risks involved in heavy-wave surfing, but it has not hampered the rise in brave souls getting towed out to monster waves in Irish waters.  International surfers have started to arrive in their droves too.  From October to March, the chances of a perfect storm of waves tempts surfers and spectators alike. Weather conditions that would  may send most of the population huddling for the fireside and the TV, brings extreme surfers and fans to the clifftops and the beaches, to witness human resilience and wave riding skill at its best.

No wave has the mythical reputation of the great Aileen.  Situated off the coast of the iconic Cliffs of Moher, Aileen is the mother of all monster waves when she appears.  As majestic as the cliffs themselves, Aileen is as beautiful as she is frightening. The thunderous, 12m barrel wave that assaults the Cliffs of Moher is described by scientists at NUI Galway as the nearest thing to a “perfect wave”.

 ‘After the discovery of Aileen’s, many who had seen it were left in doubt as to whether it would be possible to ride at all. But Lahinch surf school owner John McCarthy was undeterred; he became the first surfer to take on the colossus of Clare, and his experience has since pried open a world of possibility and helped put Irish big wave surfing on the map’  

Surfer John McCarthy recalls ‘The wave itself is one of the most terrifying waves in the world that you’ll see,” McCarthy says, “so when you go out and you see a wave like that…your initial feeling is just absolute fear and… you know, you’re scared for your life. It took quite a while before we could ride it successfully.”  After surfing the big waves for a decade, John has ceased tackling these magnificent monsters, citing safety issues. The risk of injury or death is extremely high and these big waves demand a lot of respect from the wave riders. Conor has suffered fractured vertebrae and broken ribs among minor injuries. There is of course, a support team, who tow the surfer out and swoop in on their jet-skis if there is a sign of difficulty.  Extreme surfers go out as a team and return as a team, but it is in that wonderful moment of beauty as a surfer rides a huge barrel wave, disappearing and emerging in the angry surf, that the effort and sacrifice melts away and we are all held in a moment of complete awe and reverence, before it all comes crashing down with the waves.

Extreme wave riders have pushed the boundaries of surfing in Ireland and put the Irish surfing scene firmly on the International map.  Not everyone has the time, the money or the commitment (never mind the skills and complete craziness) to surf heavy water, but they are ambassadors for the unspoiled beauty of Irish coastlines and their complete suitability for surfers of all skill levels. As the reputation of Irish surfers grows internationally and we welcome more enthusiasts to the sport in Ireland, it means a welcome boost to Irish tourism.

Whether you surf for fun and thrills or for extreme adrenaline hits Outdoor Adventure Store can keep you warm from head to toe with winter gear. We have a great selection of wet-suits, booties, hoods and gloves and all the essentials to keep you cosy on the shore and in the water.  Link to water-sport stock

First Ski Trip? A guide to the essential ski gear you need- and what you don’t need.

So, you are off on your first ski holiday!   The big question is which ski wear should you purchase and so that you don’t look like a complete novice on the slopes?  You need to look good, to feel good but without buying or packing unnecessary items.  At the Outdoor Adventure Store, we have years of experience in kitting out both novice and avid skiers.

So, before you take to the piste and embrace that first exhilarating swoop down the slopes, follow our simple and sensible guide to ski trip essentials.  Be warm, be safe and look awesome too!

Don’t go crazy on expensive gear and clothing.  Unless you are absolutely certain that you will be skiing in the future, it is advise-able to rent what gear you can at your ski resort.  Check the prices before you leave home though, as purchasing may be a more acceptable option.

Helmet: Helmets are not optional. Skip the ski helmet and you might as well hang an L plate on your back, as you rock a dual Loser/ Learner look!  Check with the resort as helmets may be available to rent with the skis. If not available, or if costly, then buy before you go. A helmet keeps your head and ears warm while on the mountain.

Goggles: Good ski goggles are not just for admiring the views without contracting a case of infamous snow blindness!    Ski goggles are for your safety but also protect your eyes from harmful UV rays, much like sunglasses do.

Outwear and Layering: To fully enjoy the experience of skiing, you definitely need the right clothing. Shivering in the snow is not fun!  Rummage through the wardrobe and see what you have that might work already but accept the likelihood that you will need to buy some items.  Choose carefully and always remember that the key to comfort is to dress in layers. We recommend, a base layer, a mid-layer and then a thick waterproof outer layer.

Base Layer: This is an insulating layer of clothing worn next to your skin. Sometimes, wrongly referred to as thermals. Call them what you want, the base layer is essential and cannot be scrimped on.   Cleverly designed to regulate your body temperature by moving moisture away from your skin, keeping your dry and allowing you to stay warm and happy in the icy mountain slopes.

Mid Layer:   The mid-layer should be the most versatile piece of clothing you wear.  It should be easy to take off and re-add as temperatures and aerobic output alternate. This is where you can add anything from a polo neck sweater to an insulating shirt, or a gilet.   Warmth without weight is the key, as you trap air between the layers. Yet, no matter how good your mid-layer system is, it is pretty useless if it is layered over a low-quality base layer.

Outer Layer:   A good ski jacket is a great investment, not just for the once in a lifetime ski trip, but for all your winter outdoor activities.  Maximum style, maximum warmth and comfort. The outer jacket should be waterproof and while the variety of ski jacket styles are vast, we recommend buying a proven brand name jacket. It is worth the investment. Be warm or be miserable folks!

Ski pants/Trousers: Ok, Face it folks, as novices, you are probably going to fall at some stage.  If you have to spend time falling on your rear end, it might be a good idea to keep it well covered.  An excellent pair of ski pants offer insulation, waterproofing, thermal protection and freedom of movement and you need all that when rolling gracefully in the snow!  Go for something a bit looser than your normal trousers and make sure that that fit over your ski boots.

Socks: It sounds weird, but thin socks are best as they keep you warmer and bulky socks do just that… they bulk up causing painful creases and making your feet cold.  Merino wool socks are advisable, or try out Langdons snow sport socks as they longer in length and elasticated for a good hold.

Gloves: Buy a good pair of ski gloves. It’s an investment that you will not regret. The difference between having frozen fingers and toasty hands is in direct proportion to your level of enjoyment and safety. Ski gloves should be waterproof, breathable and with a knitted cuff to stop the snow getting inside.

Boots: Rental ski boots are not always comfortable but the cost of purchasing ski boots for your first trip is prohibitive.  Buy good socks and ensure you have well-fitting walking boots for when you are not skiing.

Fashion extras: It is important to look chic on the slopes.  So why not team your new ski jacket with a cute beanie, a matching neck gaiter or some fetching ear warmers. Accessories to feel good. One of the most exciting sports in the world awaits your discovery. There is no doubt that once you have sampled the thrill of a ski holiday, the adrenalin pumping ski slopes and the fun of Après –ski socialising, you will immediately plan your return to the snowy mountain trails. For this first time, though, you need not spend a fortune on kitting you and the family for your life changing adventure. Sensible shopping on investment pieces and careful choosing of what is already available to you, will see you   comfortable, warm and stylish in the snow.

Our staff at Outdoor Adventure Store are more than happy to help you plan for this amazing adventure. Call in and see our range of awesome ski gear or check us out our online.

Hiking for Older people

Breathe easy.

This is not another patronising blog about senior citizens needing to take it easy on the trail.  At Outdoor Adventure Store, we are well aware from customer feedback and our own experiences, that there is no statute of limitations on backpacking. Anyone who has been left gasping for breath, overtaken by sprightly seniors striding up mountain trails can attest to the fitness level of many in the older generation.  It’s all about gaining and maintaining a level of fitness.

However, as our bodies age, we may find that we cannot do all the things we once did.   This is also true when there are temporary fitness issues due to illness and injury. So, it really pays to be aware of our limitations while we enjoy the great outdoors

If you haven’t been hiking before and you plan to take it up as a retirement past-time, it is best to see your GP first, especially if you have any medical conditions.  There are walks and hikes suitable for all levels, so once you get the green light health-wise, you can begin to have adventures.  Just like anyone else, be sure you have the appropriate clothing and footwear.

Walking Poles

Common age-related problems often include the knees and legs.  Many walkers complain of difficulties when descending hills or traversing rough ground. A good sturdy walking pole can steady the path and give support.  They provide extra stability and can lower the amount of stress on your legs and knee joints by taking the weight onto the poles, through your arms. Feel free to have a chat with our helpful staff to ensure you get the best walking pole for your needs. The length of the poles should be adjusted to suit your height and the activity you are planning. Generally speaking, lengthen the poles for descents, and shorten them for ascents and the length for walking along flat or gently slopes should be around waist height.

Hydration

As we get older, our body water content decreases and the risk of dehydration increases. The consequences of not being hydrated enough also become more serious. It is really important to bring enough water with you on every trip.  A bladder hydration system attached to your back pack can be very helpful its handy small drinking hose makes sipping water as you hike, much more convenient.   If the weight of carrying water for the expedition is off-putting, you might consider some water purifying tablets, so that you may avail of the local water.  Check out the many easy ways to bring enough liquids with you on your hike.

Be Prepared

Be sure you have a route planned with a distance that does not over extend you.  This is true for backpackers of all ages.  Take breaks and stop whenever you need to.  Plan your journey with this in mind.  Carry a comfortable backpack, suitable for your needs on the day. Wear good walking/hiking boots and a well fitted pair of socks. Make sure the phone is fully charged and that someone knows which route you are taking and your approximate return time.

Keeping the fitness level every day

Walk regularly, even if it’s just for 20-30 minutes a day. This will help keep your fitness level up and prepares you for longer rambles on the weekend. Good rain gear will make this much more possible in our climate.

Be realistic  

As a form of physical exercise, hiking offers several benefits to the older enthusiast. Walking regularly reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, colon cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes. Hiking is one of the most enjoyable ways to exercise. It burns between 180 and 266 calories every 30 minutes, a rate comparable to working out on a stair step machine or engaging in vigorous weight lifting.

But more importantly than any physical benefits, trekking in this wonderfully scenic county is uplifting, rewarding and good for your mental health. Stay young at heart, keep your heart healthy and get out and about in the wilds.

An inside look at walking the Camino de Santiago

What are your reasons for doing the Camino?

Are you thinking about walking the Camino de Santiago? There are many reasons why people decide to embark on this journey; to find themselves, to get away from their 9-5 jobs or simply to tick it off the bucket list. Whatever your reason make the most of your experience because it is YOUR Camino experience.

Here at Outdoor Adventure Store we spoke to two individuals about their experiences on the trail but most importantly what advice they’d give to someone walking the Camino for the first time.

Adam (30) is what you would call an expert on all things Camino, having walked three different routes; Frances, Del Norte and Primitivo all in just a month at a time. “Pack 7kgs or less including the weight of your backpack”, advised Adam. A light packer at the best of times, Adam only packed two pairs of trousers, three t-shirts, three pairs of underwear and five pairs of socks. “There are washing machines and washing facilities available along the way so don’t be too concerned with bringing a lot of clothes with you”, he said.

To keep the weight of his pack down Adam brought a light sleeping bag with him. He recommends the Vango Planet 50 or the Rock+River Travellite 60. If you’re walking the Camino in July you’ll only need to bring a sleeping bag liner with you to sleep in because it is very hot at this time of the year.

A piece of advice Adam gave us for anyone walking the Camino is to bring ear plugs with them. After 6 hours of walking a day everyone is exhausted and no doubt those who snore will snore that little bit louder.

Majella (28) a Camino novice, like many others, embarked on her first Camino de Santiago this year. Majella couldn’t get over how friendly everyone on the Camino was. “The Camino walk brings you through towns, villages, cities and forests in Portugal and Spain, I felt like I saw the real version and a bit of a touristic one”, explained Majella.

Like most people, Majella completely over-packed for her trip. Beginning her trip with a whopping 12kgs she quickly reduced her pack weight leaving a trail of items behind her at every opportunity.  Majella finished her journey with a pack weight of 8kgs; one pair of shorts, one pair of trousers, two quick drying t-shirts, a rain jacket and a cosy fleece for at night when the weather was a little chilly.

The only downside to Majella’s Camino adventure was trying to fit into her boots every morning after the six hours of walking she did the previous day.

Word of advice from Majella, “Go alone. It’s the best way. To go at your own pace, stop when you want to, talk to who you want. You’ll never be alone.”

A note from Camino de Santiago experts: 

“LEARN TO LET GO”
For whatever reason you decided to walk the Camino; meet new people, experience a new culture or just simply to take some time out, leave your worries at home.

“BE KIND TO YOURSELF”
Use your time on the Camino to look after yourself. Enjoy the company of others and your own, eat well and drink plenty.

“GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO REFLECT”
When you are out walking for hours on end day in day out you’ll have a lot of time and space to think. Think about what you want from life, contemplate your goals, what are your aspirations? Take this time to plan a positive future.