As a travel blogger, I have sometimes find myself having a very unwanted fashion dilemma when I travel. Especially on active and outdoorsy trips, like my recent hiking trip in Spain. I want to dress for comfort, in sturdy hiking gear and sportswear – but I often wind up appearing in photos and videos, which means I’d prefer to look nice. Whilst I don’t want to be trotting around jungles in dresses and glittery sandals, I do want to find some non-boring, feminine active wear that doesn’t make me look like a frumpy, sweaty mess. So, I teemed up with Columbia Sportswear to discover some of their more stylish walking gear for my next active holiday.
Get Your Hike On: Stylish Walking Shoes
For active trips and hiking, sturdy shoes are a must. But hiking boots can take up a lot of room in your luggage and you don’t always need them. And (forgive my vanity) they aren’t always the prettiest shoes. After endless searching, I’ve finally found a solution. Multi-Sport shoes are a lightweight option that combine features suitable for various sports. The idea is to have a light hiking shoe, trail running shoe, and approach shoe (for rough rocky terrain) and climbing shoe all in one – saving you from having to pack multiple shoes for your next active holiday.
Women’s Conspiracy™ IV Outdry Trail Shoe
The Conspiracy™ IV Outdry Trail Shoes from Columbia are like a hybrid between hiking shoes and trainers. They’re almost as light as my running trainers and just as compact. But they’re sturdier and have great ankle support, which means I can wear them for gentle hikes and long walks. Better still, the design is sleek and quite stylish; they don’t really look like hiking shoes. So they’re perfect if you’re hiking in the morning but walking around a city in the afternoon.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been putting the Outdry Trail Shoes to the test. The Omni-Grip™ rubber outsole promises advanced traction, so I wore them to abseil down Avon Gorge earlier this month. I was really impressed (and relieved) by the grip these shoes offered. Rubber soles also give bounce so they’re great for walking in. The Techlite™ midsole is really comfortable, and with their breathable construction, these multi-sport shoes feel less hot and cumbersome than hiking shoes. They took quite a while to break in thanks to their rigid build, so make sure you spend some time getting used to them before heading off on a full-day hike.
Simple but Stylish Walking Gear
Women’s Zero Rules™ Short Sleeve Shirt
There are other benefits to buying decent sportswear. Unlike my go-to baggy t-shirts from a budget high street store who shall remain nameless, the Zero Rules™ Short Sleeve Shirt is actually designed for exercise. The fabric has industry-leading Omni-Freeze ZERO™ cooling technology which is sweat-activated, to keep you cool. It also boasts Omni-Wick™ wicking, so it absorbs sweat without those nasty wet-patches (I could really have done with this in Guatemala!) and Omni-Shade™ UPF 30 sun protection.
In terms of sportswear, this is a pretty high performing t-shirt, and it’s especially perfect for hiking in hot weather. But more importantly, it’s quite stylish, as sports tops go. It’s still fairly basic, but much more flattering than a baggy tee. The side seams slope inwards slightly, giving a subtle bit of figure enhancement. And, as a slightly-larger-than average-bust-size*, the soft v-neck is way more flattering for me – perfect!
*Read more: The importance of a decent sports bra for travellers.
Women’s Fast Trek™ II Jacket
Packing for active trips is all about layers. It’s always handy to pack a lightweight fleece jacket, which will be perfect for outdoor activities in any season, without taking up unnecessary luggage space/weight. Columbia’s Fast Trek™ II Jacket weighs next to nothing, so it’s perfect to throw in a backpack just in case the weather lets you down (as it so often does in England). Fleeces are rarely stylish, but they are practical, and this one isn’t too obtrusive.
The fit is fairly flattering; it goes in at the sides slightly rather than drowning me in fleecy bagginess. Alright, I’m probably not going to win any style awards in this one, but it’s a simple jacket and it’s not hideous (as I tend to think most fleeces are). Practicality-wise, the Fast Trek™ II Jacket is a winner. There’s a discreet, zipped arm sleeve pocket, and the zippable side pockets are perfect for carrying my phone. Plus, it’s clearly high quality. The perfect, lightweight solution for warmth on a hiking trip or active holiday.
The items in this review were provided free of charge by Columbia. As always, all words and opinions are entirely my own.