Spending some money for quality gear from The North Face is worth every penny
There is actually nothing that holds you back from exploring the great outdoors. You don’t need any special gear to venture out on your next hike. Here in the UAE and all across Asia, especially in the Himalayas, you will often be taken over by porters or shepherds with flip flops, shorts and a t-shirt carrying double the weight of your backpack and passing you with ease.
On the other hand, you have people who buy the most expensive gear just as a fashion statement or to look professional. But outdoor clothing is not about fashion. It is an essential part of your gear and should serve a purpose. Of course, we would be lying if we said we don’t care about the looks, so no matter of the importance of the clothing’s properties, style and fashion will always play a major role.
Finding the right gear for the UAE is not that easy since it is certainly not the typical hiking environment and product descriptions are more focused on rain, snow and other conditions in cooler climates. And if you look to one of the top brands available here, “The North Face”, the name even implies somehow a picture of snowy mountains and seems to be misplaced in a desert environment. This perception is very wrong and you get great gear that encourages you to “Never stop exploring” from The North Face.
Jackets are a piece of gear I often find missing in the backpacks of people going on a hike. In the winter months it can get cold and this year we even had some snow on Jebel Jais which should be proof enough that a jacket should be with you at all times. Also, rain showers can let temperatures drop dramatically. Yes, you will not freeze to death but choosing your gear correctly should give you the highest comfort possible to enjoy the hike.
The APEX FLEX GTX is a durable, stretch-woven shell with a waterproof gore-tex® membrane and the soft, knit face interior is breathable and fully weatherproof. The stretchy face fabric and a warm-to-the-touch inner layer are seamlessly fused for superior comfort. The jacket is 100% waterproof which would have been of great use this March with the frequent and intense rain showers and thunderstorms we had. More importantly, the jacket is light and protects you well from the wind. Especially for a 100% waterproof jacket, it’s still breathable and you don’t feel like you are wrapped in a rubber layer so it is your perfect outer shell in bad weather. The APEX FLEX GTX is certainly over engineered for the UAE but if you need a jacket for multipurpose need it is a great choice. The APEX FLEX GTX is the perfect jacket especially if you go hiking in other countries with a mild climate and a chance of rain and wind. So if you plan your next travel adventure for summer make sure you are protected from the elements and enjoy harsh conditions in style and comfort.
On a dhow trip in Oman last summer our Omani guide climbed up the sharp rocks on the shore barefoot. The dark stone was not only sharp it was also boiling hot. Do you need hiking shoes? Everything is possible, but the question is how much are you willing to sacrifice or how thick is the skin of your feet? When it comes down to hiking gear, in my opinion, the shoes are the most important part of all your gear since they have the biggest influence on the comfort on your adventure. No matter what properties you are looking for, a shoe has to be comfortable first of all. Even though you should wear in your boots before taking on long or multi-day hikes if the shoe is not comfortable from the beginning it certainly never will be. Therefore hiking shoes or boots are not like high-heels where you collect many of them, you usually have very few pairs which you will wear until they fall apart because they are worn-in and comfortable.
If there were only one pair of boots to choose for hiking all year round, it would be these. The Men’s Endurus™ Hike Mid GTX Boots are waterproof, breathable and incredibly comfortable, making them perfect for a wide range of mountain activities. On the outside, GORE-TEX® technology locks out the wet so your feet stay dry at all times and you can have fun in the Wadi if you find some water. A waterproof membrane also has the advantage of keeping powdery dust out of the shoe in dry and sandy conditions, but lets air ventilate. Shoes with open membrane will quickly be stuck with dust and you have to empty the shoes every couple of hours. Inside, a FlashDry™ collar lining fends off blisters and sweat. The mid-top fit gives you some extra support and coverage for the ankle. Underneath, an innovative new XtraFoam™ midsole resists repeat loading and recovers its original state, offering maximum comfort, support, and durability. This, coupled with a soft OrthoLite® footbed, gives you one of the smoothest rides out there. As for grip, the Vibram® XS Trek outsole provides enough bite to keep you locked on to even the slickest of surfaces.
If a wind and rain jacket is not an absolute necessity in the UAE, good shoes are and there would be no better choice other than the Endurus.
The choice is yours, spend some money for high-quality gear and go on adventures in comfort or go on a journey of suffering and safe a few bugs.
Available at The North Face stores
Dubai: The Dubai Mall and Mirdiff City Centre
Qatar: Ezdan Mall Doha
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Tested by: Daniel Birkhofer
Photos by: Jung Francisco