Help! Find me the best Festivals of 2019

From Body & Soul to Forbidden Fruit and Electric Picnic, there are plenty of summertime festivals to excite, delight and thrill all the ardent festival campers this coming season.

So, dig out the dinky flat heeled ankle boots, the Boho clothes you wouldn’t normally wear, plonk on the obligatory flower hair wreath and your on point witty T shirts to start planning those weekends full of music, street food and way, way too little sleep.

Its Festival Time!

Ireland really knows how to do festivals!  These days there are just so many to choose from. From good clean family fun to hippy trippy eco warriors or just blasting it out to sounds with the gang.  Our unique Festival guide will help you plan your summer events and make May to August fly by in a haze of festivals….

May

‘Life’ comes to Mullingar on the 24th-26th May. Life is the festival of dance music and yeah… it will be waking up the sleepy surroundings. Located in the amazing surroundings of Belvedere House where the grounds and the lake are a perfect background for the chance to make your moves to international and local dance music talent.  Electronic music fans throng to Life and it is easy to see why. Celebrating its 15th year, this is Ireland’s most revered and well-established electronic music event, in other words this is the dance music mecca.   

June

There are so many festivals to enjoy in June.

Forbidden Fruit kicks the month off at Kilmainham, in the grounds of the iconic Museum of Modern Art, Dublin.  The June bank holiday is the perfect timing for this six-stage festival event which offers an eclectic range of music over all tastes and styles. An awesome line-up includes Elbow, Skepta, Danny Brown and Mura Masa. Comedy, art and great food combine to make this gig an annual go –to event for so many die-hard fans.  Cocktails, parties, fashion and lots and lots of amazing sounds make Forbidden Fruit a Festival that represents the diversity, uniqueness, fun and craziness of the capital city.  

Solstice brings Midsummer madness in Cavan. Fake beaches but real craic. A food village, the Sunset stage and the club arena nightclub make this festival sound like the place to be in June. The Facebook page is alive with beautiful people having beautiful fun.   Solstice only started last year with its inaugural festival and all reports were pretty positive.  On the downside, they have yet to announce their acts for 2019, while tickets have been on sale for the past few months.  But then, maybe it’s all about the ambiance and making the longest day of the year seem like the shortest. June 22nd in case you don’t know when the Solstice is.

Body and Soul ( 21st– 23rd June) in BallinLough Castle, Co Meath is often referred to as the ‘grown up’ festival, and caters well for those who haven’t quite left their raving days behind, but like some concerted  recycling and  hot stone massages before they dance it out in the big tent.  A Fantastic line up in a beautiful setting with little interesting arty bits and musical cameos behind every faery tree, Body and Soul is more than just a yoga-momma day out.   Super friendly (yeah, even family friendly-vibe) and well organised event, this festival does exactly what it says on the Marquee… it restores the equilibrium to the Body and Soul. Choose the quiet tent camping area, if you have had adverse reactions to lost drunk visitors stumbling in on top of your cosy sleeping bag. Choose the normal camping sites if you want the option of late-night revelling and partying.   There is a family friendly site too, if you have wee ones in tow.  

Sea Session, Bundoran 21st -23rd June.  Donegal’s surf music festival is headlining 2019 with Sigrid, the Sugar-hill gang, The Two Door Cinema Club and a host of other excellent music. This is an awesome line up to accompany all the tanned beautiful people camping out along the Wild Atlantic Way for one of Ireland’s super fun events.  Sea Sessions is in its 12th year and unsurprisingly, it sells out every single year and has dedicated festival returnees. It’s a festival for the fit and freaky, for the buffed and tanned and for all who love to bop to music by the ocean waves.  Body Boarding, surfing, volleyball and numerous other exhausting events are enjoyed by the happy crowd.  Of course, an equal number of festival goers enjoy lifting pints and swaying gently to this cool, slick line-up.

Bulmer’s Festival.    Every Thursday is Festival time at Leopardstown Racecourse.  From June 6th to August the 15th, All summer long, Leopardstown brings you a fantastic line-up of live gigs, great food, and thrilling horse racing on the Racecourse. Bulmer’s Live at Leopardstown has all the makings of a great night out, with a difference. Concert & Racing for only €17! The great thing about this gig is that the kids can come too, for a lower ticket price, naturally. So, get ready to enjoy bands like The Stunning, The Bay City Rollers (who??) and many others.  Free shuttle buses and Luas at certain times.  Book the next block of Friday’s off from work and enjoy Festival Nights

July

Longtitude.  We love Longtitude!  In Marley Park, Dublin from the 5th to the 7th   July.   However, it seems a bit mean to tell you that CardiB has been announced as the last headliner in this awesome festival. Why?  Because it is all sold out folks!  Yes, 2019 tickets have been snapped up. But should you win some on a radio show or blag some from a friend then you are in for a treat. Longtitude has a rep for attracting the younger festival goers (18-25) and is one of Dublin’s biggest outdoor music festivals.  Sell a kidney or donate a limb for a ticket to this gig. Trust us, you won’t regret it.

August

Another Love Story Festival takes place in Killyon Manor, near Kinnegad, Co West Meath from the 16th to the 18th August.    It’s really hard to describe this event and probably because we have not been, but mainly because the organisers say this

Out of the quickest of thoughts, the faintest of notions, the momentary flash of imagination’s incandescent light bulb & the heartfelt meanderings of a group of friends – Another Love Story came to life. A bespoke weekender of music, art, conversation, food, fun & frolics nestled in and amongst the glorious grounds of Killyon Manor.’

Hmmm…. The intriguing website and eclectic musical line-up promises a more genteel festival than the norm and with a whimsical arty type edge.  It’s still camping!  It’s still festival time! But it is probably not the place for the bag o’ cans and the throw away BBQ.  Dig out the wicker picnic basket and the box of merlot.  Class line-up of music too! 

Electric Picnic.  It’s synonymous with being young in Ireland.  How many of today’s yummy mummy’s and hipster dads popped their festival cherry at The Picnic, it is still the most popular outdoor music event in Ireland, and a big hit for first time and veteran festival goers.  Over the years its audience has graduated from its ‘breakfast rolls and leave the tent behind image’, into a music loving, fun following audience and Electric 2019 is another well organised, well attended festival.    But, let’s not get too excited as tickets went on sale in December 2018 and sold out in 15 minutes.  2020 beckons lads.  Let’s not get left behind.

Some of our Festival deals now on!

For more info on any of the festivals:

Life-festival

Forbidden Fruit

Solstice Festival

Body and soul

Sea Sessions 2019

Bulmers Festival

Longitude

Another love story

Electric picnic

What you need to know before buying a Wet Suit

Get Thick

It is Ireland.  The water is rarely warm.  Choose a wet suit with the magic of neoprene for the chilly Atlantic waves and the icy sting of the Irish Sea. Neoprene has proven itself as maintaining great flexibility under all temperatures.  It is the best option for a good wet suit.  Before purchasing a wet suit, consider the thickness of the neoprene and the protection it gives.  The thickness of a wetsuit starts at 2mm and goes up to a chunky 6mm of protection.  Don’t think that a denser suit will restrict your movements. Designs have improved greatly over the past years and a 6mm wet suit will not impeded your amazing surfing/diving/generally awesome skills in any way.  The wet suit will be thickest around your torso, and then the legs and then the arms.  This is cleverly designed to give optimum warmth to your core. It also makes life easier for wild water swimmers, kayakers and other water sport enthusiasts as the arms keep working, the core is protected. If you are still wondering just how thick you need to be, from a wet suit perspective, then let one our trained staff at Outdoor Adventure Store talk you through the options.  Obviously, if you are navigating giant waves in the North Sea on a chilly November morning, you should opt for the heaviest density of 6mm. If you really don’t take your clothes off for anything less than 21 degrees of rare Irish sunshine, you will be grand with the 3mm. In fact, 3mm is the most popular wet suit as it covers most options for Irish water sports.

A Good Fit

Make sure your wetsuit is a nice snug fit. Chafing is a real problem with ill-fitting wet suits and while the suit should not be cutting off circulation or causing pain, it is normal for this piece of clothing to be the tightest thing you have ever put on. Keep in mind that neoprene stretches when wet and with usage, so If you’re in doubt about the correct size – choose the snugger fit.  Trust us.  It will feel weird at first, particularly as you pull it over the legs and thighs. But, you do not want to be slowed down in the water by folds or air pockets so bear with it.    If a wetsuit wasn’t snug, it would not do its’ job of keeping you warm and improving your buoyancy.  The very purpose of the suit is to keep a very thin layer of water next to your body.  That means that the wetsuit is going to feel very tight, but comfy and touching your skin in the small of the back, backs of the knees etc.

Style.

Wet suits tend to come in the amazing colour range of black, with interesting shades of grey. No one complains about this lack of colour as style in wet suits is really more about the cut and the placement of the zipper.  The style depends on personal preference.  Do you prefer a full-sleeved or sleeveless version?  A Steamer, a Shortie or a Long John.   There are pros and cons to each, but a Steamer, or longer-sleeved wet-suit,  gives more buoyancy and warmth, while the sleeveless versions (a Long John) can be nice for those who don’t like their shoulder range-of-motion restricted, and is particularly used for sailing.  The Steamer design is the most common suit and the one you’ll spend most of your surfing life wearing. Examine the zip before you buy. Back zips run along the spine, making a big opening and so, they are the easiest type to get on.  At Outdoor Adventure Store we stock Typhoon brand, which feature the Storm Keeper Zip, a specialist zip featuring offset teeth that forms a minimum water penetration. The zip can often see water penetration, but this is greatly reduced when you choose a well-made brand.   Some choose front opening zips, but again it is entirely a personal choice.  

Accessories

Gloves, hoods and booties are essential extras which water sport enthusiasts usually add to their kit once they have begun the activities in earnest.   The addition of a good neoprene super-stretch hood with a snug face seal can make facing the winter white water rapids in your kayak a much more pleasant experience.  If you are a hardy wild water swimmer, then you need to have that protection from the brain numbing chills!   Booties not only protect you from the cold, they stop rocks and reefs from damaging your feet. Your feet will stay warm for a longer time. Your hands will be warmer with the addition of gloves, although generally speaking they provide protection from the air and wind chill and not just the water, particularly if you are surfing or canoeing.   Good accessories and the secret to all weather participation in your favourite water activities from surfing to snorkelling,  and just as it is important to buy the right wet suit, you should pick reliable brands in accessories, that will last the test of time and the rigours of your crazy water filled adventures. See our Wet-suit accessories here

5 of Ireland’s most awesome looped hikes – All within easy reach of Dublin

Looped hikes are the best option for a satisfying and exhilarating day’s hiking.  The reasons are as simple as they are logical.  You have the joy of ending up where you started. Not having to turn back and retrace your steps to the starting point gives you a huge boost psychologically.  Turning around to retrace your steps can induce a drudge like feeling. The end, the goal or the summit is the actual end of the hike. Phew!  It’s also good to keep the views fresh and the road new as you wander through our wonderful green and pleasant land.  On the practical side, there is no need to park a second car at the finishing place or ask a kind friend to be your taxi back to your own transport when the walk is looped.   Looped walks are awesome.  Even better if they can be accessed from the Capital city for that day trip to nature. A day of trekking and home for tea!

We have picked out 5 of the very best, stress free, minimum hassle, maximum pleasure, looped hikes, within easy reach of Dublin City for your enjoyment.

Wicklow

The garden of Ireland is always a first choice for those city dwellers who feel the call for solitude, beauty and incredible unspoilt nature. We have included two of the many looped hikes in Wicklow.  The first is a little shorter at an hour and a half hiking and the second presents more of a challenge. 

Ballineddan Mountain lies on the edge of the Wicklow Mountains and boasts wonderful views of the inland plains of Wicklow, including Lugnaquilla, Camarahill and Slievemann.   It’s a moderately tough trek, so it’s important to dress appropriately and bring wet gear.  The guide books warn of a steep ascent, partly on untracked heather and grass, which leads to the mountain summit.  Other than this it’s a fairly easy climb for the experienced hiker.  The broad, bare, grassy summit offers little shelter on wild and windy days but on a fine day it is a great walk.   The views at the top are definitely worth the effort and the descent is gloriously looped to bring you back to your starting point.  The whole trek is less than 5km from start to finish.   Find the route here:

Maulin Mountain Loop near Enniskerry, Co Wicklow is a tough 3-hour hike more suitable for the more experienced hillwalker.   It consists mainly of forest track and gravel path and provides a challenging route across the slopes of Maulin Mountain, with magnificent views into Glencree and overlooking the adjacent mountains and valleys.  At one juncture there is an incredible view of Powerscourt Waterfall and the Great Sugar Loaf. Instagram heaven.  In the distance Dublin Bay and the sprawling city are clearly visible.   A 6km trail with a 350 m climb, this looped track is not a regular Sunday stroll.  Just a short drive from the Big Smoke and set in the stunning Wicklow Mountains, it is definitely one for the looped walk wish list.  See the route here   

Offaly

An hour and a half drive from Dublin to the beautiful Sliabh Bloom Mountains, near the village of Kinatty in Co Offaly, the Glenafelly Eco Walk is a moderate trail with plenty of flora and fauna and bubbling streams to delight.  It’s a food choice for family outings as it provides plenty of diverse nature and not too much in the way of difficult terrain. The walk begins with scenic forest roads and a hiking trail by the river bank and continues with a short climb through mature conifers before leading to a gravel forest road.  Lucky trekkers might see fallow deer, pine martens, badgers or foxes on this unspoilt wilderness trail.  The Eco walk takes about 2 hrs at a constant walking pace.   Full Route can be viewed:

Louth

The Cooley Peninsular has breathtakingly awesome views and great looped walks that are easily accessible from the capital city. Less than an hour and a half drive from Dublin, the little port of Carlingford is a starting point for most of these trails.  We recommend the Slieve Foye looped hike, which offers incredible views over Carlingford Lough including the epic mountains of Mourne, sweeping down to the sea, on the other side of the bay.  This is a tough 3-hour hike and is reviewed here  with an excellent map and a great write up.

 “Slieve Foye isn’t a mountain to be frightened of, but it’s one to respect — even at the modest height of 589m, you want decent weather and an absence of low cloud to make your way safely among its rocky outcrops…  What a mind-melter of a view, from the majestic Mournes to the far-off Wicklow Hills down in the south, the Ring of Gullion out west and the sail-dotted waters of Carlingford Lough and Dundalk Bay in the east.”

This article will have you packing the rucksack and heading north at the next available opportunity.

Dublin

Ticknock – Fairy Castle Loop.   Literally on the doorstep! No need to travel far to enjoy some good mountain trekking.  The proximity to the growing Dublin population does mean that you will probably share the trail with like-minded city dwellers escaping for an hour or two.   This is a small price to pay for the convenience and enjoyment of Ticknock and the Fairy Castle Loop.  A scenic looped walk on forest road and path through the Three Rock Wood and upwards to reveal amazing views of the city from Three Rock Mountain and Fairy Castle.  At the top, there is a 360 degree panoramic view with the city to the north and the Wicklow Mountains to the south.  From Fairy Castle a muddy track heads west before you turn north and descend along the edge of the forest and back to the car. It is rough enough terrain so very much geared towards properly equipped and experienced walkers.   Good stout hiking boots and wet gear are needed.   Just an hour and a half of moderate hiking is all it takes to complete this loop.  

References:

https://outsider.ie/ireland/looped-walks-ireland/
https://www.irishtrails.ie/trail/Ticknock—Fairy-Castle-Loop/431/
http://www.walkingroutes.ie/

Baby carriers for hiking

And Baby came too…

So, your life now includes a small person too!  Congratulations! 

Hiking can be just as much fun as when you were one.  As you cope with the many positive changes that this new arrival brings to you (like a new found appreciation for sleep or a meal eaten with two free hands) you can also consider your new life on the trail together.  Baby comes too! A comfortable and practical baby-carrier is the best way to bring baby with you, without fuss or bother.

Baby wearing

Carrying your baby close to you is a natural, practical and beautiful thing to do –According to the website www.babywearingireland.ie , carrying your baby in a sling offers a wealth of health benefits for both the baby and the person carrying them. It is as natural as it is practical. There are many different ways to carry your baby.  Age, weight and where you plan to travel have some influence over what you choose.  The baby wearing Ireland site not only allows you to browse a selection of stylish and comfortable baby-carriers to suit every shape and size, it also gives a link to the sling library, where you can book a ‘loaner’ carrier and try it out for a week or two.  Baby wearers report a closeness and comfort for both baby and themselves and many confess to popping baby in a sling at home to induce sleep and restfulness in a fractious infant.

Choosing your Carrier

For your first forays into the wild when baby is still a tiny bundle, it is best to use a front wrap or fabric sling.  Take care to keep the little one protected from the elements with hats, sun-cream, blankets etc. These are inexpensive and plentiful in style.  Smaller babies can enjoy the world from the closeness of these practical wrap slings.  Once baby has reached 5-6 months old and can sit up unassisted with good head/neck control, you can think about a sturdy back carrier for those longer treks and hikes.  There are lots of back carriers to ensure that all sorts of expeditions will be safe and comfortable for both you and your child. 

Soft structured carriers are one option.  These usually have a soft cloth panel which holds the baby against the wearer’s back, along with padded shoulder straps and a padded waist belt. They fasten with clips or buckles.  The positives with a Soft Back Carrier are that the baby is very close to you, so it is suitable for very young and some wearers say it feels more stable due to the low centre of gravity.  On the downside, they do not provide the same level of sun/rain protection offered by framed packs  and are often lacking in storage options for your gear (and let’s face it, you will be needing extra gear for the new adventurer).  One of the most reported difficulties with the soft fabric carriers is that they can become unbearably hot, since your bodies are close to one another, generating additional heat.

For the serious hiker and long trail trekker, a framed carrier is the best option.  At Outdoor Adventure Store, we stock the Award winning, Ranger Child Carrier as it is the lightest back carrier by British Standards on the market at just 1.7Kg.  It’s a perfect baby carrying rucksack. The Adventurer S2 child carrier is also a favourite tried and tested carrier which we like. This modernised version of the original Adventurer has updated fabrics throughout and a newly designed face pad.  Little people like the framed carrier as their face is not pressed against the back of a parent, but as they hold them high, they are free to enjoy the view just like everyone else.  They don’t suffer the same heat problems as close carriers as there is airflow between child and parent, and rain and sun accessories provide more serious protection than provided by a soft carrier.  Most importantly, baby-carriers are specifically designed for hiking so the weight distribution is ideal for wearing over a longer time.

A few tips for hiking with Baby.

Cabin fever can set in following the arrival of a wee one, especially, for those of us who are used to the wild side of life.  Hiking with your mini-me is a great way to combat those feelings and to enjoy nature and the clean fresh air together. Preparation might be a little different than your pre-baby days.  Remember to bring plenty of water and snacks! Especially if one of you is feeding the baby too.  Pack hand sanitizer, sunscreen, hat for baby, and extra baby clothes, for back packing carriers carry a small mirror for checking on baby without having to remove the carrier.  Don’t forget that baby may be at the level of small trees and guard against them getting hit by branches. Don’t be tempted to lean over while you are carrying the pack. Bend at your knees to keep your baby from falling out when you are reaching for something on the ground.

Baby steps

Becoming a parent changes many things in your life, but there is no need to forego your love of the great views, lonely trails and wilderness walks. Celebrate the great outdoors as a family.    It is probably best to gently wean yourself back into the great outdoors and not go off the beaten track for the first adventures.  Plan well and enjoy the freedom together bearing in mind that it is perfectly ok to turn around and head home at any time. Choose a comfortable and fuss free carrier and enjoy a great start to your Outdoor Adventures together.

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.

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.

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.