OUTDOOR GEAR & CLOTHING RECOMMENDATIONS
Waterproof Outer Layer
Weather outdoors on the Scottish Islands can turn wet quickly and so it’s important to be protected from the elements. You might opt to layer up and go for a waterproof outer layer over your down jacket as an option to pop on if it starts to rain, or if you need more warmth and protection from wind. You can carry most lightweight waterproof over jackets in your camera backpack ready to put on if needed.
Fleece or Base Layer
It’s a good idea to layer up when it’s cold, giving yourself the option to take off a layer if you get too hot. A base layer or zipped fleece is a good idea as an intermediate layer and they can be thick or thin. There are plenty out there and it really varies on what you want to spend. Not always necessary to buy the best.
When walking on uneven terrain, you’ll need good sturdy footwear that’s got a thick sole for support. Something that supports the ankle will give extra protection should you lose your footing. There are lots of different styles and materials available, with leather being a popular option for durability and ease of cleaning. I have a pair of leather boots and also a lighter pair of boots that aren’t waterproof.
I bought these womens La Chameau wellies from Northwest Outdoors 2 years ago and they have barely left my feet since. I use wellies a lot and finding ones that are warm and comfortable but also safe to walk is hard to find. These have vibram walking soles and also are nice and high and fitted.
Mens Neoprene wellies for a little extra warmth
Ladies Osprey backpack
This one is for the ladies! Although I have and do use my mindshift gear backpack on most occasions, if I am walking for a length of time or climbing uphill I have never found a bag that sits better on my back than my Osprey backpack. There is just no weight when I am using my Osprey backpack as it’s all distributed evenly and seems to sit on the hips perfectly. There are no internal camera compartments as this is a mountaineering backpack rather than a camera one.
They have womens specific fit in all sizes and capacities. I can’t see my own backpack on the site as it’s a few years older now but I can only imagine that will have got even better by now. Best to go in store and try these on for fit. I found a massive difference when I went for the womens fit as opposed to just a general Osprey backpack. Mine carries at least two bodies and two lenses.
Mindshift Camera backpack
Simple hand warmers can make all the difference when you are out shooting for hours and your hand start to get cold. I always carry hand warmers with me. You can get packs of disposable hand warmers ones that are easy and fast to use.
Rechargable Hand Warmers
You can also get rechargable hand warmers – charge at home or on the go and take out with you. These are very effective as well.
Gloves will be essential on those frosty mornings if you don’t want to severely impair your dexterity of worse, end up with frost bite. As a photographer, it’s handy to have gloves that will keep your hands warm but still allow you to grip the camera. Gloves designed for cycling or climbing will also give you the grip you need and if you plan to use a smart device to manage your images in the field then gloves with touch screen capability built in will mean you don’t have to remove your gloves all the time.
I personally like Sealskinz gloves and these look quite good even though they are made for hunting!
Rainproof Camera Cover
When it comes to working outside in all weathers, it can be useful to have something to protect your camera and lenses if a heavy shower is passing through. There are a few options out there and here are a couple of different waterproof sleeves and jackets to protect your camera!
Cheaper waterproof rainsleeve from Optech
Storm jacket The Storm Jacket SLR Pro has a velcro opening on the bottom to accommodate the attachment of a tripod and manual focusing case, and shove it in a pocket. Made with high-tech AquaNylon fabric, Storm Jackets will never lose their water repellency and are rugged enough to withstand the rigours of professional use.
WHERE TO SHOP
If you are looking for physical as opposed to online shops I would recommend two independent shops in the Highlands.
First of all, Northwest Outdoors in Ullapool have a premises in Ullapool but also sell online. They are experts in outdoor kit and can give you any advice you need. Plus it’s always a great place to stop on your way over to the ferry from Ullapool to Stornoway! I try and buy a lot of my clothing from here en route as the guys in the shop really know their stuff.
Craigdon Mountain Sports
A great shop I head to in Inverness. An independent outdoor shop with 3 stores in Scotland and online as well. Great advice from patient staff members and a huge range of stock for all sorts of outdoor activities.