Unlocking the hiker’s high: hit the trails with tips from a mountain rescue expert

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Unlocking The Hiker’s High: Hit The Trails With Tips From A Mountain Rescue Expert Unlocking The Hiker’s High: Hit The Trails With Tips From A Mountain Rescue Expert
The highly trained Dublin Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team volunteers come from all walks of life and are united by a shared love of the outdoors and devotion to keeping hillwalkers and hikers safe.
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There is a feeling when you reach the summit. Every upward step, laboured breath or downpour; somehow it all fades away once the end of the journey comes into view. This is the hiker’s euphoria, a mixture of relief, accomplishment and awe. It’s a feeling that once belonged to life-long climbers, a well-kept secret among an elite group. Today, however, more and more everyday explorers are catching the bug. The hiking community is expanding rapidly and the secret’s out. There’s magic in those mountains.

With more than 900 developed trails across the isle, ranging from easy to expert, Ireland is rated as one of the top hiking destinations in Europe. The dog-friendly and aptly named challenge of the Devil’s Mother, Leenane, the looped walks of the Glen of Aherlow, Kerry’s mystical Mangerton, the waterfall-embellished forest park walk at Glenariff; there’s a climb for everyone on this small island.

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Before you pull on your hiking boots and fill the flask, there are some essential tips everyone should be armed with to ensure their best foot is put forward. While the explosion in hiking’s popularity is terrific and demonstrates a newfound appreciation of the natural beauty all around us, the more people that take to the trails, the more crucial it is to ensure everyone remains safe, warm, and dry while exploring.

Even on sunny days it’s important to bring a good outer layer on your hike – you never know when the weather will turn or a fog could roll in

When it comes to safety and making the very most of a hiking experience, leading technical outdoor brand Helly Hansen works 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 apparel partner, Helly Hansen has worked with the volunteer members to develop a bespoke uniform that enhances and supports the team’s vital work in upland areas of Dublin and Wicklow. The 70-strong, highly trained DWMRT volunteers come from all walks of life and are united by a shared love of the outdoors and devotion to keeping visitors safe. Decked out in HH’s professional-grade bespoke uniform drawn from Helly Hansen’s 145 years of heritage, experience and expertise, it’s a match made in mountainous heaven.

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Helly Hansen outdoor gear has been worn, tried and trusted by outdoor professionals worldwide - and with good reason. Designed by outdoor enthusiasts for outdoor enthusiasts, the company has consistently developed technology to give its gear the edge. Think HELLY TECH®, the brand’s waterproof and breathable outer layer; LIFA®, a revolutionary fabric technology that moves moisture away from the body, allowing users to stay warm and comfortable. Helly Hansen also developed the renowned three-layer system, which the brand introduced in the 1970s, offering protection in unpredictable weather conditions and changing activity levels.

Gerry Condon of DWMRT is a rescuer with 35 years of experience

Gerry Condon, chairman and public relations officer with DWMRT, is a rescue volunteer with 35 years of experience, a qualified emergency medical technician (EMT), and swiftwater rescue technician.

“We could spend up to 10 hours on a mountain, so we need very specific clothing,” he shares. “We usually get the call-out to a situation when the weather is really bad. When Helly Hansen approached us, we decided we would try out a few jackets and see if they stood up to the challenge of the harsh Irish conditions. Not all gear does, but Helly Hansen’s clothing performed beyond expectation.”

For Condon, one reason the volunteers’ partnership with the brand works is Helly Hansen’s genuine commitment to listening to the team’s needs.

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“We want to evolve and ensure we have the best gear to meet every challenge. Helly Hansen considers the small details, things you might not think matter but can make the difference when it comes down to us performing our best. Take the position of the pockets, for example, they have been strategically placed to allow us easy access to our maps and other equipment. They have also designed our jackets with sleeves that can be shortened and lengthened so that any volunteer can wear them.

“Those are just some of the details that allow us to work seamlessly and save our energy for what matters.”

When choosing an outer layer, look for features like zip placement that isn’t impeded by backpack straps, a fabric that has good breathability for summer hiking, and a hood that is adjustable to fit over a hat or helmet

As for what everyone should know before heading uphill this summer, Condon says there are four main pillars to note.

Plan and prep

“Firstly, preparation is vital. We have all become dependent on 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 a nice-to-have - it’s essential.”

In the loop

“Always let someone know when you are due to leave, your planned route, and when you will return. That way, they can raise the alarm if you’re not back when expected - it can be a life-saver.”

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Gear that is waterproof, breathable and compatible with helmets, backpacks, and harnesses is important for the rescue team to go about their often grueling work in comfort

Snack smart

“Fuel should never be an afterthought, even if you only plan a short excursion. High-protein snacks like nuts, granola, and sweet boosts like chocolate will help spur you and your gang on. Many courses are in remote areas, so don’t expect to be able to grab a sandwich or coffee at the top of the mountain.”

Climate control

“Weather is one of the biggest determinators of risk when exploring. Therefore, having the right kit is so critical to keep you protected,” Gerry advises. A base layer; a mid-layer (such as a fleece); and a good waterproof outer layer, such as the Helly Hansen Verglas Infinity Shell Jacket, will see you through most days on the mountains, allowing you to shed or add layers as the weather dictates. A good jacket is a kit staple for hikers of all abilities.

Before you hit that trail, remember that whether you’re a seasoned climber or stepping out for the first time, staying safe, warm and dry aren’t just the practical elements. They are the key to unlocking that hiker’s high, savouring that view from the summit and getting home safe.

Find favourite hikes from mountain professionals at hellyhansen.com/guides/trails

For your nearest Helly Hansen stockist, see hellyhansen.com/en_ie/store-finder

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