Hillwalking In The Times Of The Balaclava


Balaclava Times

I have often asked myself if this is just my personal perception, but it seems to me that hillwalking is becoming more and more popular. I love hillwalking and I can answer that question to myself easily, but why are there more people into hillwalking nowadays than let’s say 30 years ago?

Certainly it has to do with publicity, with health related fitness issues, with the growing need of city people to leave the city and have a break in the outdoors, and probably a good number of other reasons that I can’t think of.

However, I stumbled upon one of these other reasons when I found an article entitled “When balaclavas were de rigueur” by Dave Hewitt: The evolution of climbing gear!

Dave tells his readers that back in the 1980s, when he climbed his first Munro, balaclavas were a standard hillwalking gear. Made from coarse wool, they were itchy and prone to leave you with eczemas on face and neck, but they were also warm. And that was not the only clothing that has become anachronistic on the Scottish mountains: Tweed breeches, cagoules, overtrousers made from plastic bags, thick woolen socks were how hillwalkers set out to conquer Munros.

In the 1990s he went over to use a mix and match approach that included woollen bunnets, synthetic-thermal hats, baseball caps and ski goggles.

Dave has also an interesting contribution about hillwalking alimentation and explains how samosas came to be his preferred hill snack whereas a Mars bar is to be avoided.

It’s a witty article with a good sense of humour and interesting insights about past climbing days and nuisances. I really enjoyed reading the article, here’s the link if you would like to read it for yourself: http://outdoors.caledonianmercury.com/2011/01/08/when-balaclavas-were-de-rigueur/001478

What do you think about the article? Do you have experiences with old-fashioned climbing gear? I would love to read your comments!

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