We've asked Advnture's writers, contributors and partners for their personal take on the five pieces of outdoor gear they couldn't live without; the essential pieces of kit they treasure above all others.
Here, Advnture contributor Fiona Russell talks about his five favourite items of hiking gear and what it is about them that makes them so special. As a keen trail and hill runner, Fiona loves exploring in her home region of the Scottish Highlands and year-round.
Montane Women’s VIA Snap 4L Running Vest Pack
The Montane Women’s VIA Snap 4L Running Vest Pack is the perfect fit and so comfortable that I hardly know I am wearing it. It comes comes with me on almost every run and if I need a larger pack for longer runs, I choose the Montane Gecko VP 5+ running vest pack.
Both have plenty of expandable volume and sit high on the back and shoulders, so the pack feels a bit like an extension of your body, rather than carrying a more traditional rucksack with waist-belt.
Flexible water bottles are easily accessed from the front of the pack and on-the-go, with no need for a hydration bladder and tube (unless you want to use one).
There is also a large zipped pocket at the front that easily fits my large mobile phone. I like to be able to whip my phone in an out of the pocket so I can check navigation and take photos. It's handy to have it where I can easily reach it without needing to take off the pack.
There are a couple of small mesh side packets under the arms for keeping bits and pieces of food, which, again, I can reach while still running.
It’s such a neat pack and so easy to wear that I can’t imagine running without it. It’s a bit sad that Montane no longer make the female-specific version and, when this pack wears out, I'll need to rely on the unisex version, which is almost as good but not quite.
Flanci skort (and skapri)
There are several reasons why I count my collection of Flanci skorts as a must wear. Firstly, every time I catch sight of the brightly coloured and funkily designed running skorts, they make me smile. This gives me an element of motivation to put on a skort and go out for a run.
The design is also very practical with tight-fitting undershorts and a loose skirt (connected) that provides a flattering look. Like many women, I am not keen on having my upper thighs and bum on display in tight lycra, so the skort gives me body confidence.
The long shorts legs protect from inner thigh chafing and they don’t ride up, like some other brands of skort.
The Flanci skort has useful side pockets on the legs, a zipped pocket at the rear and it is supremely comfortable. Made by a British company in Britain, Flanci has created the best skorts I’ve ever tried.
In the winter, I wear a Flanci skapri (like the skort, only with longer legs).
Garmin Enduro sports watch
I like keeping track of my routes and the kilometres I've run, so I have long relied on a GPS sports watch. The Garmin Enduro is one of the best I've owned and the biggest bonus in my opinion is how long the battery lasts. Even with daily use, I only need to charge it every three or four weeks.
I don't use all the functions but I do like the breadcrumb navigating – this uses less battery than full mapping – heart-rate, step counting, different spots modes and the read out that tells me, according to my VO2 recordings that I am far younger than my actual years!
I have the lightweight titanium model that is very easy to wear and durable. I also appreciate the interface with the Garmin Connect app that allows for easy and automatic syncing.
There is now an updated Garmin Enduro 2, which I might consider if I ever need to upgrade what I currently own.
Saucony Endorphin Edge trail running shoes
I have many pairs of running shoes and as part of my work as an outdoors journalist, I receive plenty to test throughout the year so the shoes that I choose to wear the most frequently deserve a mention in this list.
If I am heading out for a straightforward trail run, I wear the Saucony Endorphin Edge running shoes. It’s likely I’ll be mixing trail with some tarmac and maybe a bit of softer, grassy terrain on hills and I find these shoes work really well.
The cushioning and 6mm heel-to-toe drop is the right balance for this sort of running, while the grip offers adequate traction but without being too aggressive.
Saucony has developed the shoes to include a carbon-fiber plate 'to aid speed'. I'm all for extra speed and while I have no idea if they do make me run a faster pace, I like how comfortable they are. The bright pink colour is also fantastic.
If it’s a muddier run on steeper slopes and with more off-path than on-road, especially in winter, I’ll choose another new favourite pair of trail running shoes, the women’s Inov-8 Roclite G 315 GTX V2s. As well as providing great traction thanks to the Graphene G-GRIP outsole and 6mm lugs, they also have Gore-Tex waterproofing and a nice fit.
inov-8 Extreme Thermo Mitts
I suffer with Raynaud’s syndrome and even in summer I usually need a pair of gloves for running. I always have the inov-8 Extreme Thermo Mitts stashed in my running pack, just in case.
In winter, it’s rare to see me without the gloves on, and I have two pairs so I can make sure one pair is available.
The inov-8 Extreme Thermo Mitts are insulated, fleece-lined and breathable. I prefer the mitts because they allow my fingers to stay together and give warmth to each other, rather than being separated in more traditional finger gloves.
I sometimes add a waterproof over-glove for extra weather protection or a down insulated glove when temperatures drop still further.
- Best trail running shoes: for comfort, agility and protection
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Fiona Russell is a widely published adventure journalist and blogger, better known as Fiona Outdoors. She is based in Scotland and is an all-round outdoors enthusiast with favorite activities including trail running, mountain walking, mountain biking, road cycling, triathlon and skiing (both downhill and backcountry). Aside from her own adventures, Fiona's biggest aim is to inspire others to enjoy getting outside and exploring, especially through her writing. She is also rarely seen without a running skort! Find out more at Fiona Outdoors.