Daring 2b different
One minute the sun is out, the next it’s hidden behind a cloud. Five minutes later I feel spots of rain and then nothing but a cool breeze. If you spend any time in Scotland’s hills you’ll know just how changeable the weather and temperatures can be.
But I’m only happy when I feel medium-warm (i.e. not too hot and not too cold). Whether I’m walking or running around Scotland’s countryside I absolutely hate to be too cold, too hot or too wet.
So what on earth does a girl like me wear for hillside comfort? In truth, it has been a long and testing trail to find the solution.
Over the years I’ve tried base-layers, mid-layers, kagools, Gortex, Simpatex, plus all combinations of the above. In reality, I’ve found the only way to maintain an even temperature is to continually swap between layers. At best I’ve found myself hot, sweaty and slightly irritable, at worst numb, shivery and thoroughly out of sorts.
I have also spent a great deal of time wearing baggy, made-for-the-guys garments in boring shades of navy blue and black. And at times I’ve been gob-smacked by the high price tags on some technical outdoor clothing kit.
But all this took place in a Time Before Dare 2b. The moment of Dare 2b enlightenment actually came in April on the side of an 860m high mountain on a remote plateau many miles west of the Highland city of Inverness.
Taking part in the 2009 Highlander Mountain Marathon, newly sponsored by Dare 2b, I had the good fortune to be kitted out in a few items of the company’s new mountainwear clothing.
From the outset I was impressed by the feminine cut and good looks of the Dare 2b Women’s Bombshell Multisport Tights, Fastpack Jacket and the Kink Softshell Jacket. Someone has clearly put a lot of thought into both the practicalities of this outdoor clothing range – as well as the attractiveness and value for money. (Thankfully, too, there is not a flower or hint of a blooming pattern in sight. Why do so many clothing designers think that women want their clothing to look ultra female?)
Unusually, the tights do not come in your average plain black either, but make clever use of an imaginative circle pattern of reflective detailing to add interest and enhanced visibility. I confess I was worried about chaffing while wearing these leggings for the first during a major outdoors event but through 13 hours of tramping across the hills I felt entirely comfortable.
The tights also made quick work of any sweat, wicking dampness to the outside before I could notice it and prevented all kinds of nasty bites and scratches that many other Highlander competitors faced thanks to coarse, scratchy heather.
Then there are the two jackets. While both come in a practical but pleasingly not-too-boring shade of soft grey, plus reflective detailing (again for enhanced visibility), they also feature an additional pretty-in-pink pattern design. (Funky circles pattern on the Kink and a cogs pattern on the Fastpack).
At £60 the Fastpack offers an economical buy. The jacket might be lightweight but it’s still fully waterproof, breathable and has plenty of zip, cuff, hood, pack-away detailing to keep most outdoor types happy.
But it’s the Kink Softshell (priced £45) that most impressed me. Made from super lightweight carbon bamboo Softshell, with natural wicking properties plus a Teflon coating to repel water I found I was able to run and walk for two days during changeable conditions of the Highlander in perfect comfort. In the blazing sun I was cooled to a medium-warm. In the wind, I felt medium-warm. And in the rain I also felt dry and medium-warm.
I have since worn this jacket for several Glasgow Triathlon Club running sessions, on a weekend’s walking expedition and while cycling around town. On every occasion I felt smugly medium-warm.
This jacket in particular has also attracted many favourable comments from my likeminded outdoors girlie pals. To find a piece of clothing that is both appealing to look at but without being overtly girlie and flowery, that is nicely tailored to fit the female physique and offers a highly practical solution to repelling our Scottish weather is clearly a winner. The fact that the Kink also benefits from being made of an antibacterial material that naturally deals with odour control shouldn’t be missed off the tick list of attractions either. I DARE you to give the website a closer look. www.dare2b.com