Thursday, 3 September 2015

Carrying on walking to work, even if it's a bit wet

With the right kit, one is less inclined to hop into one's car when things get a bit wet.

After a dry spell, there's been a bit of rain and mud, so it's back to having a waterproof jacket to hand when I walk to work. It's not much fun being caught unprepared and getting drenched, but this tends not to happen. Weather forecasts are reliable most of the time, and having the right kit helps.

If you carry things in a backpack, you'll realise that most of them are not waterproof, and your stuff can get wet, which is not great if you're carrying books or electronic devices. Eventually after a bit of online research I got a backpack from Ortlieb, the German manufacturer of waterproof outdoor bags. It's a "Velocity" with a capacity of 20 litres, and is designed for cycling so you can attach an LED light or your helmet to the back. It's totally waterproof, robust, and will hold all the stuff I need to take to work.

Foam strips at the back hold it slightly away from the body and stop things getting too sweaty, and it has a waist belt and chest strap which might come in useful when I get my bike fixed. Its pretty comfortable to carry, and I'm glad I got it.

There is an alternative to waterproof jackets and bags: I've also got this poncho from Rohan, which is very cleverly designed. They call it a Canopy Cape. It's made from fabric derived from flysheets used in mountain tents: very light, silicone impregnated, and water-shedding. Although it's like a poncho, it actually has sleeves.

It packs neatly into its own front pocket which becomes a zip up pouch. It slips on very easily and will go over you and your  backpack, satchel and whatever else you happen to be carrying, so you don't actually need a waterproof bag. It's well ventilated because the sides are open, held together at intervals with press studs. When you no longer need it, it stows into the zippered front pocket with all the wet bits inside so you can pop it back into your bag without getting the contents wet.

As a bonus, there are handy loops at the side and you can join two of them together to make a tent.

It's not just the rain which can make the walk problematic in this sort of weather. My route to work includes a footpath by the side of some fields, and this can get muddy if it's been raining.

For some time I've been putting my work shoes in my backpack, and walking in wellies if I think the route might be muddy. Mine are made by Aigle, and are supposed to have soles like hiking boots. They certainly seem comfortable for walking, so while I haven't done any comparative testing, I'm glad I chose them.

An option which I haven't actually used, is this pair of "festival feet" overshoes, costing £3 from Tiger, which might come in handy at a pinch.

The problem is dealing with them once I get in to work, which I haven't really thought through. They could be chucked into a plastic bag, but then they might need to be taken out again for the walk home, and so on.

There's supposed to be a Norwegian saying: "There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad dressing". I wouldn't quite agree with them, but I have found that the right "dressing" does help.

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