How to choose the perfect waterproof jacket for your hiking holiday

We’d done the whole Tour de Mont Blanc together, sharing the views from the high mountain passes, sheltering from the odd summer shower. We’d walked the dry stone route in Mallorca although admittedly most of the time was spent at the bottom of my rucksack. But now, after years of hiking adventures together, my waterproof jacket was looking a bit tired.  All good things come to an end and as my old jacket headed off with my daughter on her travels, it was time to find a new lightweight rain jacket for my next hiking trip to Austria.

How to choose the perfect Waterproof Jacket Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

With all outdoor clothing, I like to have a good look around a specialist store like my local Ellis Brigham in Bristol, where I can try on plenty of different styles and pick the brains of the knowledgeable staff. Over the years I’ve learned there are a few things to consider when choosing the best waterproof jacket for your hiking holiday. When you’re caught up the mountain in a downpour, you’ll be glad you took the time to make the right choice so here are a few things to consider;

View from Seefelder spitz in Austria Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

View from Seefelder spitz in Austria

How does the jacket fit?

Call me vain but I do appreciate a jacket that fits well, for both comfort and good looks. It’s worth trying on a few different womens waterproof jackets in the store as different companies may fit you better than others and since I’m no longer a stick insect I’m always looking for a flattering fit. If you anticipate the extremes of heat and cold that you get when hiking at altitude, you’ll want to allow room to layer t-shirts and fleece under your jacket. On the other hand a jacket that is oversized or flaps around is not a great look. I also like a jacket that is not too short and falls around my hips, so I won’t be revealing any flesh when I bend over to lace up my boots. I’ve noticed that the better quality (and therefore more expensive) jackets may offer a more tapered fit that is more flattering.

View from Seefelder spitz in Austria Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

View from Seefelder spitz in Austria

Those little design features

Look out for additional features in your jacket that might be worth paying a little more for. For example most quality hiking jackets will have zips under the arms that you can open for ventilation, if you get a hot and sweaty, without having to take off the jacket. You may also notice a breast or sleeve pocket which could be useful for storing small items such as your phone, tissues or lipsalve. The hoods on a more expensive jacket may have extra features like a visor or adjustable elastic drawstrings to keep the rain from dripping onto your face. Other useful features to look out for are a hood that zips away into the collar and 2 way zips that open from the bottom and the top.

Tete Nord de Fours on the Tour de Mont Blanc Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Tete Nord de Fours on the Tour de Mont Blanc

How light is your jacket?

Depending on the time of year that you plan to do most of your walking, you should consider the best weight for your waterproof jacket. My annual hiking trips with my friend Julia have mostly been in August and September when the weather is sunny and warm. This means that my jacket needs to pack up small, since most of the time it stays in my rucksack, only coming out on chilly mornings, at higher altitudes or during the occasional shower. I know I can always layer my lightweight waterproof jacket with a long sleeved t-shirt or fleece for extra warmth if the weather closes in.

If you are hiking in Europe in the spring and autumn however, you’ll probably be wearing your jacket most of the time, at least at the beginning and end of the day, until the sunshine and walking warms you up. In this case I might look for a jacket that has a bit more substance, or perhaps one that has a removable lining for extra versatility.

Climbing the Piccolo Cir Via Ferrata in Val Gardena South Tyrol Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Climbing the Piccolo Cir Via Ferrata in Val Gardena South Tyrol

The waterproof fabric

The fabric that’s used in your jacket is a big factor in the price you pay and depending on your hiking requirement you may need a higher technical performance. At the entry level you often find cheaper waterproof fabrics that are combined with a mesh lining. These jackets are perfectly waterproof but they may not be as breathable as the higher priced technical fabrics. The inside layer may feel clammy against the skin once you get walking and work up a sweat, so these are better for situations where you’ll be wearing another layer under the jacket.

As you move up the price scale you’ll see branded fabrics, the best known of which is GORE-TEX. These fabrics offer much greater breathability, so you don’t get that clammy, sweaty feeling as you heat up or cool down. The standard GORE-TEX jackets are durable, waterproof and windproof for everyday wear. They also offer an Active range designed for higher intensity sport offering a lighter fabric with greater breathability, and a Pro range which is more durable for skiers and mountaineers. Some manufacturers have their own proprietary breathable, waterproof fabrics that do a similar job to GORE-TEX – there’s a useful guide on the Ellis Brigham website. Because there are a wide range of different options in terms of weight and breathability, and the technical performance comes at a price, it’s worth calling on the expertise of the shop staff to explain these options to you.

My waterproof jacket is great for walks in the Wye Valley Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

My waterproof jacket is great for walks in the Wye Valley

My choice of waterproof jacket

So what did I choose? After trying on plenty of different jackets I settled on the Patagonia Torrentshell from Ellis Brigham which cost £109. Surprise Surprise it’s practically the same as my old jacket!

Although I tried on a lot of brightly coloured jackets I concluded that neutral white would work with more of my wardrobe and so I’d be able to wear the jacket around Bristol as well as on my hiking trips. I was also impressed by the Ellis Brigham Service, since they were able to order a few different jackets from their catalogue so that I could try them in my local store at no extra charge.

My new waterproof jacket is very light and packs up small. Although it’s not the most expensive of the range in terms of fabric, it was perfect for my walking holiday in Austria where I wore it occasionally on the cool mornings or when we got to a highpoint like Seefelder Spitz which was cooler and a little windy.

Have fun choosing your waterproof jacket and even more fun on your next hiking trip!

Thanks to Ellis Brigham who provided me with my Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket for the purposes of this article. Heather travelled to Austria with Headwater Holidays – you can read about her adventures here.

Day 1 – A high mountain walk (and a tumble) in the Gaistal Valley of Austria

Day 2 – Hiking in Austria – the views from the cross at Seefleder Spitze

Day 3 – Hiking in Austria – a Rifleman’s Parade and Mental Power Walk at Seefeld

More hiking gear info:

What equipment do you need for hiking in Europe?
How my Leki Micro Vario walking poles saved my legs on the Tour de Mont Blanc
How to choose the perfect hiking boots for the Tour de Mont Blanc (and other mountain trails)

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Waterproof Jacket

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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Exploring Venice with my Maxwell Scott leather backpack + reader offer

When my Maxwell Scott leather backpack arrived in the post, the smell of the leather transported me instantly to Italy, the home of the true leather artisan. Although Maxwell Scott is a British Company, they work in Tuscany with some of the best craftsmen to produce a range of handbags, briefcases and wallets that have a timeless style. These are bags that your friends will admire as the leather mellows to become an old friend. If, like me, you have a daughter with an eye for the good things in life, you may just find her ‘borrowing’ your Maxwell Scott bag and never giving back. Read on to find out how you can get a special 10% reader discount on this and other items in the Maxwell Scott range.

Heather wearing the Sparano leather backpack from Maxwell Scott Bags in Venice - San Georgio Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Heather wearing the Sparano leather backpack from Maxwell Scott Bags in Venice – San Georgio

Since we were off to Venice, I had the opportunity to see how my Sparano leather backpack fared when out sightseeing in the most fashionable surroundings. I like to dress up a little when I travel so I needed a bag that would be elegant enough to compete with all those effortlessly stylish Italian women. But practicality came into it too, since as a blogger I travel with my camera and a fair bit of other gear, and need to have my hands free for photography.

Check out my video below with my Sparano leather backpack in Venice

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Sophie- Anne wearing the Sparano leather backpack from Maxwell Scott Bags in Venice Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Sophie- Anne wearing the Sparano leather backpack from Maxwell Scott Bags in Venice

I chose the Sparano because the size was just big enough to carry everything I needed but still quite neat and compact, although there’s a smaller Popolo backpack if you only need to carry a phone and your designer sunglasses. My daughter also had her eye on my bag and soon we were sharing it during our sightseeing excursions around Venice. If you are also tempted, check out my 10% reader discount .

Heather wearing the Sparano leather backpack from Maxwell Scott Bags in Venice Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Heather wearing the Sparano leather backpack from Maxwell Scott Bags in Venice

Here’s what Sophie-Anne had to say about ‘our’ Sparano Leather Backpack;

“The best thing about this bag is the fit as it sits comfortably on your back with no awkward gap between the bag and your spine and the straps do not dig in – areas where other bags have failed. It is clear that this is a high quality product shown by the beautiful leather, lining and overall design. Invaluable when travelling, this bag can go from airport, to day, to night, to activities, to strolling around town. The classic style also makes it easy to pair with any outfit a fashion concious individual might have in mind.”

Sophie- Anne wearing the Sparano leather backpack from Maxwell Scott Bags in Venice - Rialto market Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Sophie- Anne wearing the Sparano leather backpack from Maxwell Scott Bags in Venice – Rialto market

Since Venice is such a tourist hotspot you do need to keep an eye on your valuables, and I liked the fact that there was a neat outside pocket, but also a secure zipped inside packet to tuck away your purse and phone. The bag took me all around town with room for my guidebook, camera, a bottle of water and a few other blogger necessities.

Heather wearing the Sparano leather backpack from Maxwell Scott Bags in Venice - Doge's Palace Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Heather wearing the Sparano leather backpack from Maxwell Scott Bags in Venice – Doge’s Palace

Maxwell Scott is based in York and sells the bags exclusively through their online store. Their understated but stylish designs are crafted in their factory in Tuscany using the finest hides, zips and fittings and the bags have a 25 year guarantee. Orders over £100 have free delivery in the UK but don’t worry, they also ship worldwide.

10% Reader Discount (limited time only!)

I’ve teamed up with Maxwell Scott Bags to offer a 10% reader discount on all their bags and other items. Just click on this special link; http://bit.ly/handbag10 that will take you to the Maxwell Scott Website and the 10% discount will be automatically applied when you add any items to your basket. The reader discount is for a limited time only until 16 August 2015.

St Marks square, Venice Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Sophie-Anne in St Mark’s Square Venice with the Sparano Leather handbag

About the Maxwell Scott Sparano leather backpack

The Sparano leather backpack costs £202 and may be ordered from the Maxwell Scott Bags website here. It features a draw string opening, a large polyamide interior with a rear zipped pocket and a small external zipped compartment and adjustable shoulder straps. The bag comes in 3 colours of vegetable tanned, full grain Italian leather; Night Black, Classic Tan and Dark Chocolate. We also loved the smaller Popolo backpack which is ideal if you are looking for a neater bag to carry just the essentials and don’t have to consider space for cameras like me. Click here for my 10% reader discount before 16 August 2015.

If you are visiting Venice….

We highly recommend Walks of Italy who offer a number of different tours in  Venice and other parts of Italy, which are ideal if you are only visiting for a short time. You’ll have an expert local guide to show you around and can often skip the queues at key sites. We took the 2 hour Venice Boat Tour which took us down the Grand Canal and many of the smaller canals with views of the key sites of Venice including a visit to the island of San Giorgio Maggiore where we climbed the bell tower with amazing views of Venice. Read my review of the tour here.

Looking for somewhere to stay in Venice?

For our 3 day stay in Venice I rented an apartment with Go with Oh and was able to use the €250 voucher that I won with Passports with Purpose blogger fundraiser. We chose this apartment in the San Marco district since it was so well located for all the main sites.

Thanks to Murissa from The Wonderful Traveller who hosted this prize contributed by Go with Oh and and for her tips on what to see in Venice. Passports with Purpose is a really worthwhile organisation which supports a different cause each year and you can win some really fabulous prizes so it’s definitely participating.

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Read about my Sparano Leather backpack from Maxwell Scott Bags

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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My luxury carry-on case from Knomo – Bolsover luggage review

If Knomo were your best friend, she’d be one of those cool, stylish people who lives life to the full – always on the move, trying out the latest gadgets, working on some interesting, creative project or other. Perhaps she’d be a photographer, designer or even a blogger, moving effortlessly from an informal business meeting to drinks with friends. Knomo is a girl who doesn’t really care about logos and labels, she just loves things that are beautifully designed and work for her lifestyle. Understated elegance is her trademark, she’s the sort of girl that always looks polished and put together, even though you can’t quite place what brand she’s wearing. Perhaps Knomo is a girl just like you or me, or perhaps with the perfect piece of luggage we can live her lifestyle too.

Ready to disembark MSC Splendida with my Knomo case

Ready to disembark MSC Splendida with my Knomo case

Of course I’m just having a bit of fun imagining the Knomo lifestyle, since Knomo is not a real person but a purveyor of luxury luggage, handbags and other finery that might just work in your lifestyle. If you’re looking for a classy bag with room for your tablet, laptop and mobile, that won’t shout “technology geek”, look no further. Or perhaps a case for that iPhone 6 that’s already on your Christmas list? Or even the perfect soft leather messenger bag that will keep the man in your life organised and looking good (Knomo’s not just for girls you know).

I made a short video below so you can see how I got on with my Knomo Bolsover case on my cruise

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To test out whether Knomo could cope with my aspirations for effortless style as well as accommodating all the technology that goes with a blogger’s lifestyle, I took the Bolsover trolley bag along as hand luggage on my MSC Mediterrranean Cruise. On the flight out to Barcelona to meet the ship we had one suitcase between us as well as a small carry-on case which was the perfect scenario for my Bolsover. In Placa Catalunya we stopped for a photo opportunity, enjoying the sunshine and the life in the square that is Barcelona’s beating heart.

Arrived at Placa Catalunya in Barcelona with my Knomo case

Arrived at Placa Catalunya in Barcelona with my Knomo case

Isn’t she pretty?

I must say that this gorgeous bag made me feel quite the jet setting girl about town. The luxurious red carry-on is piped in leather-effect trim and covered with a soft waterproof fabric that’s quilted in a diamond pattern. I love that rich, red colour, the shade of tomato ketchup or should I say a glass of good claret? It feels luxurious, elegant and expensive (but of course no more than I deserve!) There’s a sturdy metal telescopic handle that allows you to pull the case along easily in the aiport but slots down and zips away neatly when you want to use the bag as a weekender to drop into the back of the car, as well as a tactile but robust carrying handle at the top of the bag. I’m instantly impressed by the amount of shiny chrome zips and endless pockets – a girl can never have too many pockets in my opinion.

Lets take a look inside

Zipping open the main compartment of the case reveals four little side pockets to tuck way your underwear, jewellery or other small items with some straps to keep everything firmly in place. In the lid are two more larger pockets to pack your shoes and a half depth zip pocket to keep a book or kindle. Already I’ve counted seven pockets but that’s before I discover the extra zipped compartment that becomes your office storage area built into the lid.

You can tuck a 17 inch laptop in here, with some more sleeves and pockets for all those pens, chargers and other odds and ends, with a zip pocket for your tablet. That’s another six pockets and there’s more! On the outside lid there’s another full width zip pocket where I’d put a magazine to read on the flight and a cute little zip pocket set into the leather trim that’s the perfect size for your mobile. Two more pockets, what more could I ask for ?

Perhaps a way of finding my Knomo case again if I ever lose it? They’ve thought of that too. Inside the top compartment you’ll find a unique ID which you can register on the Knomo website. Now if you and your case are ever parted and it’s found by some honest citizen, Knomo will return your bag to you free of charge.

My Knomo case in my stateroom on MSC Splendida

My Knomo case in my stateroom on MSC Splendida

Who is the Bolsover case ideal for?

With all these compartments and zipped sections, this case is ideal for the elegant business traveller who’s away for a few days, or a leisure traveller like myself who always travels with a laptop and other techological paraphernalia. I have to find space in my luggage for a laptop, mini-ipad that I use for novels and online travel guides, a video camera, normal camera and all the associated batteries, cables and chargers (that’s where all those pockets come in handy). The Bolsover is a great weekend bag for those who like to pack in an organised way with a place for everything. This really is a case that you could hand to the porter at the smartest luxury hotel with pride and pretend that it’s packed with your designer wardrobe (Silly me! Who’s pretending? I know you only buy the best!)

What’s not to like?

If there is anything to watch out for with the Bolsover I’d say that if you are a truly minimalist and lightweight traveller, this may not be the case for you. The height of the case is slightly shorter than the maximum allowance for most airlines, which could be a waste of potential extra packing space if you are trying to maximise your allowance without paying for checked luggage. At nearly 3.4kg the case isn’t the lightest around and if you are packing all your technology it will end up being on the heavy side and an effort to get into the overhead locker on the plane, not to mention being a bit too heavy for those airlines that have a carry-on bag weight allowance.

My Knomo case in my stateroom on  MSC Splendida

My Knomo case in my stateroom on MSC Splendida

Here’s what I love

I love the way that the Knomo bags are all so stylish and elegant, yet they are also perfectly designed to fit your tablet, mobile, laptop of any other technology that you need to take with you for business or leisure. It may look like an elegant clutch but there’s room for your mobile, keys, credit cards and notebook. It may look like a sporty cross body bag for the girl on the go but you can still find room for your tablet and camera. I like the fact that you can keep all these things with you without revealing to the world that there’s an expensive laptop or camera inside. Smart but not shouty.

Check out the other items I love that match my Bolsover case

Left: Huntley Weekend Bag £149 Right: Maple cross-body bag £79 from Knomo

Left: Huntley Weekend Bag £149 Right: Maple cross-body bag £79 from Knomo

The Vital Statistics

Heather tried the Bolsover carry-on wheeled trolley in scarlet from Knomo. The bag has a zipped compartment that fits a 17 inch laptop at the front of the bag and is made with a quilted nylon exterior and leather style trim. The bag measures 45cm H x 29cm D x 19.5cm D and weighs 3.42kg. The Bolsover wheeled trolley costs £249 and can be ordered from the Knomo Website. Other matching items in the Fitzrovia Collection include the Maple cross-body bag £79, The Huntley weekend bag £149 and the Great Portland Shoulder Tote £119.

Thanks to Knomo who provided Heather with her Bolsover carry-on for this review.

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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