It’s a feeling when you reach the top. Every step up, every labored breath or downpour; somehow everything fades as soon as the end of the journey comes in sight. This is the Wanderer’s euphoria, a mixture of relief, accomplishment and awe. It’s a feeling that once belonged to lifelong mountaineers, a well-kept secret in an elite group. Today, however, more and more everyday explorers are being infected by the virus. The hiking community is growing fast and the secret is out. There is magic in these mountains.
With more than 900 developed hiking trails across the island, ranging from easy to challenging, Ireland is considered one of the best hiking destinations in Europe. The dog-friendly and aptly named Devil Mother Leenane challenge, the winding trails of the Glen of Aherlow, Kerry’s mystical Mangerton, the waterfall-studded forest park walk at Glenariff; There is a climb for everyone on this small island.
Before you put on your hiking boots and fill the bottle, there are some essential tips everyone should be armed with to ensure they’re showing their best foot. While the explosion in the popularity of hiking is tremendous and reflects a newfound appreciation of the natural beauty around us, the more people flock to the trails, the more important it is for everyone to stay safe, warm and dry while exploring embark
Even on sunny days, it’s important to have a good outer layer when hiking – you never know when the weather might change or fog might roll in
When it comes to safety and getting the most out of a hiking experience, leading technical outdoor brand Helly Hansen operates at the very highest level (pun intended). Actively collaborating with outdoor professionals around the world, in 2020 the brand signed a five-year partnership with the Dublin & Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team (DWMRT).
As their clothing partner, Helly Hansen has worked with the volunteer members to develop a bespoke uniform that enhances and supports the team’s vital work in the Dublin and Wicklow Highland areas. DWMRT’s 70 strong, highly qualified volunteers come from all walks of life and are united by a shared love of the outdoors and dedication to keeping visitors safe. Kitted out in HH’s professional, bespoke uniform, drawn from Helly Hansen’s 145 year heritage, experience and expertise, it’s a match made in mountain heaven.
Helly Hansen outdoor gear is worn, tried and trusted by outdoor professionals worldwide – and with good reason. Developed by outdoor enthusiasts for outdoor enthusiasts, the company has consistently advanced technology to give its gear the edge. Think HELLY TECH®, the brand’s waterproof and breathable outer layer; LIFA®, a revolutionary fabric technology that wicks moisture away from the body to keep the user warm and comfortable. Helly Hansen has also developed the acclaimed three-layer system introduced by the brand in the 1970s, which offers protection in unpredictable weather conditions and changing activity levels.
DWMRT’s Gerry Condon is a rescuer with 35 years of experience
Gerry Condon, Chairman and Public Relations Officer at DWMRT, is a 35 year experience volunteer EMT, a qualified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and a Swiftwater Rescue Technician.
“We could spend up to 10 hours on a mountain, so we need very specific clothing,” he says. “Usually we are called to a situation where the weather is really bad. When Helly Hansen approached us we decided to try a few jackets and see if they would hold up to the harsh Irish conditions. Not all gear does, but Helly Hansen clothing has exceeded expectations.”
For Condon, one reason the volunteers’ partnership with the brand works is because of Helly Hansen’s genuine commitment to listening to the needs of the team.
“We want to evolve and make sure we have the best gear for every challenge. Helly Hansen considers the small details, things that you might think don’t matter but can make all the difference when it comes down to us doing our best. Take for example the location of the pockets, they have been strategically placed to give us easy access to our maps and other gear. They also designed our jackets with sleeves that can be shortened and lengthened for any volunteer to wear.
“These are just a few of the details that allow us to work seamlessly and save our energy for what’s important.”
When choosing an outer layer, look for features like zipper placement that won’t be impeded by backpack straps, a material that breathes well for summer hikes, and a hood that’s adjustable to fit over a hat or helmet
What everyone should know before heading up the hill this summer, Condon says there are four main pillars to consider.
plan and prepare
“Firstly, preparation is key. We’ve all become addicted to our smartphones, but battery life and coverage are never guaranteed, so investing in a map and compass and knowing how to use them isn’t nice, it’s essential.”
in the loop
“Always let someone know when you are leaving, your planned route and your return. That way they can sound the alarm if you’re not back when you expect it – it can be life-saving.”
Gear that is waterproof, breathable, and compatible with helmets, backpacks, and harnesses is essential to allow the rescue team to comfortably complete their often grueling job
“Fuel should never be an afterthought, even if you’re only planning a short trip. High-protein snacks like nuts, granola, and sweet boosters like chocolate will spur you and your gang on. Many courses are in remote areas, so don’t expect to be able to get a sandwich or a coffee at the top of the mountain.”
“The weather is one of the biggest risk factors in exploration. That’s why having the right kit to protect you is so important,” advises Gerry. A base layer; a middle layer (e.g., a fleece); and a good waterproof outer layer, like the Helly Hansen Verglas Infinity Shell Jacket, will see you through most days in the mountains, allowing you to shed or add layers depending on the weather. A good jacket is a staple for hikers of all ability levels.
Before embarking on this trail, remember that whether you’re a seasoned climber or hitting the road for the first time, keep in mind that staying safe, warm, and dry aren’t just practical elements. They are the key to unlocking this hiker’s high, enjoying the view from the summit and getting home safely.
Find favorite hikes from mountain pros at hellyhansen.com/guides/trails
To find your nearest Helly Hansen retailer, go to hellyhansen.com/en_ie/store-finder