Minnie Burlton: I contacted Rohan, who said their Women’s Crossover Trousers would be the closest to the Thai Bags you have. Other outdoor manufacturers offer a selection of trousers in a short length, too, including Sprayway, Trespass, Regatta and Craghoppers. Although you may wish to alter them further, they would hopefully offer you a better place to start.
Out of all them, Craghoppers offers one of the largest ranges, so check out their website at www.craghoppers.co.uk for their latest lines. Make sure you try any trousers on in-store before you buy, though, as there’s no short cut to trying on different cuts and styles and lengths to see what suits you best.
Minnie Burlton: Personally, I would avoid second-hand items as it can be a hit-and-miss affair. You may be lucky and get a great deal. But, equally, you may also find you waste money and end up with items that aren’t any good and with no warranty to fall back on.
Besides, with so many online web deals and end-of-season sales, you don’t need to pay full retail prices. Check out www.gooutdoors.com and www.outdoormegastore.co.uk for good online deals, and high street shops such as Millets, Mountain Warehouse and Trespass for kit that’s good value even at full price.
Ebay often has individuals selling gear which is new and still in its original packaging, but is a fraction of the original price – just be certain of your clothes and shoe sizes before purchasing. It may take some legwork, but there are definitely deals out there waiting to be had.
Minnie Burlton: They’re called skorts, and I’m a big fan of them! They offer a combination of a skirt’s feminine lines and shorts’ practicality, but they seem to be more popular in America than the UK. At the time of going to press, I found various skorts online. But as the weather warms up and retailers start to bring out their summer ranges, I’m sure there will be many more available.
Royal Robbins offers the Discovery skort at £40, made from a quick-dry blend of nylon and spandex that feels like cotton. Its lightweight fabric is wrinkle-resistant and gives plenty of stretch in the right places. Another good option is Columbia’s Silver Ridge skort for £45, which is slightly shorter on the leg and made from quick-drying, anti-microbial and sun-protective shell fabric.
For more options, www.milletsports.co.uk stocks a range of skorts by Nike, Head, Adidas, Wilson, and Asics that are primarily designed for tennis, running, hockey or netball, but they may be suitable for walking. www.amazon.co.uk is also worth a look.
Minnie Burlton: Longer leg lengths are hard to find. Unfortunately, a 38-inch inside leg in a women’s cut is not a high priority for manufacturers to produce. Sam Crouch at Cotswold Outdoors recommends Fjällräven. “They offer trousers with a raw leg length, which means they can then be tailored to fit,” says Sam. “Leg length will depend on size, but they are detailed on the website. For instance, a UK women’s size 16 has a leg length of up to 94cm (37 inches). Or a size XL/20 goes up to a leg length of 96cm, which is just short of 38 inches.” Craghoppers offers a longer leg (35 inches on their size 16), and Haglöfs has long-leg options on some of their trousers (up to 89cm/35 inches in a size L). Otherwise, Isle of Skye-based Cioch does a Perfect Fit option, with made-to-measure mountain jeans starting from £120, or £195 for their ladies’ waterproof trousers.
Minnie Burlton: There’s a huge number of water bottles on the market, so you’re spoilt for choice. The best-known brands include CamelBak, Lifeventure, Sigg and Nalgene, which all make decent bottles that hold fast against leaks. Beyond the basics, you can also get bottles with built-in storage for stashing your credit card, cash or keys (check out the Contigo Water Bottle Kangaroo, £20.69, from www.amazon.co.uk). Or there are bottles with holes in the middle so they’re easier to grip (Ronhill Wrist Bottle is good value at £2.99 from www.milletsports.co.uk). Katadyn (www.katadyn.com) makes excellent bottles with integrated filters, so you can filter water from streams or lakes on the go. Its MyBottle Purifier, £55, eliminates harmful viruses, bacteria and protozoa, and the internal carbon filter also reduces chemicals and makes water taste better.
Minnie Burlton: According to Mike Sheehan, founder of Alt-Berg boots, 50% of people don’t need specialist footbeds, whether they’re off-the-peg or custom-made. They may help prevent foot strains and injuries for some, but for others they make no difference at all.
“Plantar fasciitis is more often caused by either the type of your foot (i.e. a high arch or supinated) or by excessive strain during ‘push off’, especially going uphill or if the foot is cold,” says Mike. “Most footbeds are focused on the rear part of the foot, so they have limited influence during ‘push off’. But it is impossible to generalize: there will always be exceptions.”
There are generally two types of footbed: orthotic, firm design and construction, which help to align the foot into a natural, neutral position; and cushioned, which absorb shock and give more spring during use. I often use Superfeet insoles, which you cut to fit, but Sorbothane work just as well. Sidas footbeds are moulded for a custom fit.
Minnie Burlton: There is and it's called a hip pack. Thery give you better stability by lowering your centre of gravity, while allowing more freedom of movement.
The Lifeventure Hip Pack comes in four sizes, from £12.99 to £23.99. The North Face Sport Hiker at £55 has two storage compartments, stretch water bottle pockets, and a removable padded shoulder strap. Opsrey make a lumbar pack called the Talon 8, £45, and Trespass offers the Waikaka hip pack for £17.99.
Minnie Burlton: The difference between nubuck and full-grain leather is how the outer surface is finished. Full-grain leather is sanded or buffed to create a fine ‘nap’ of short fibres, which gives nubuck its velvet-like feel.
To treat nubuck footwear, it’s important to use the right products. Using treatments designed for full-grain leather can flatten the nap, which will cause the nubuck to lose its texture. Nikwax offers two products to clean and then protect nubuck: Footwear Cleaning Gel, a soap-based gel that gently cleanses waterproof footwear; and Nubuck & Suede Proof, which is designed to preserve the nap of nubuck, make the leather water-repellent and help to keep it breathable.
“When using any products to treat nubuck leather, it’s important to test a small area first as they may cause very light-coloured nubuck to darken slightly,” says Nikwax’s James Robertshaw. “Using a nubuck footwear brush can also help brush off loose dirt and maintain the texture of the outer surface.”
Minnie Burtlon: Tim Kington, boot expert at Cotwsold Outdoor, told me: "Some modern boots do have more cushioned soles. However, increased cushioning is often at the expense of more support or durability, so it's important to match the boot to the activity beign undertaken." The Lowa Renegade GTX Mid, Salomon Quest 4D GTX, and Scarpa Terra GTX all have excellent cushioning, Tim said. I'd also strongly recommend looking at a more supportive footbed, upgrading the one that comes as standard to a product like Superfeet Green - gel pads probably won't help. And always get boots professionally fitted.