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Summer gear guide for outdoor adventures

OS Team • Gear guides • Jul 31, 2023 • 10 mins

In this summer gear guide, we asked the Ordnance Survey team about their best outdoor product for summer and how it helps them enjoy their time outside.

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Summer is the season for getting outside and having the right outdoor gear can enhance your experience. Whether you’re looking for something to keep the kids entertained, or eager to explore somewhere new, or maybe you just want to make sure you’re comfortable – there’s outdoor gear for a summer of adventure. Here are some of the best products, recommended by us, here at Ordnance Survey.

Short Walks Made Easy Cornish Coast

Short Walks Made Easy Cornish Coast

Short Walks Made Easy guidebook

Recommended by: Bel Dixon, Associate Product Manager (New Product Development Physical Products)

How long have you worked at OS?

I’m incredibly lucky to have worked at OS for around nine months and I’m even luckier to have been an OS Champion for about four years.

How do you like to get outside? 

Any way I can! I live in south Devon so I spend a lot of time using my OS maps (paper and digital) to have adventures on Dartmoor, Exmoor and around the South West coast. I love sea swimming, kayaking, hiking and gig rowing, and find the maps incredibly useful – both for planning activities and also for navigating while out and about.

What’s your proudest moment in the outdoors? 

Some of my most powerful outdoors memories are linked to times spent volunteering for the British Exploring Society. This personal development charity helps young people grow by having adventures in remote places. I’ve helped lead expeditions with them to the Himalayas, the Canadian Yukon and Iceland. But some of my proudest moments have actually been while we were training for those trips right here in the UK. On these, youngsters who’d spent very little time in remote locations used Ordnance Survey maps to learn navigation and survival skills on Dartmoor. Seeing their development and their pride in their achievements - and seeing the part OS maps played in that - was really special.

Bel Dixon using her Short Walks Guidebook 

Bel Dixon using her Short Walks Guidebook

What's your favourite piece of outdoor gear this summer? 

Maps and books, especially this Short Walks Made Easy series. I’ve always been a bookworm and a map geek. I fell in love with the South West when I moved here to study decades ago. So, products that bring these three things together tend to be a winner for me. This edition of Short Walks Made Easy Cornish Coast – is really, really good. It zooms in on some of the very best bits of Cornwall and showcases some really interesting routes.

What makes it so great? 

I love the fact that the Short Walks Made Easy series makes exploring beautiful places really accessible. Each walk has an introduction that brings the place and route to life and very clear maps. The planning info is spot on – including how to get there by public transport or by car, distance/duration, cafes and pubs, the kind of terrain to expect and what footwear you need. Then there are things that help you have a deeper understanding of the wildlife and history of the place; things like Nature Notes and the Stories Behind the Walk. Best of all, this book has QR codes (all new guidebooks in the series will have this feature when released and current editions will have this feature added when the books are next printed) which link directly to the route in the OS Maps app – so you can see exactly where you are while you’re walking the route on Ordnance Survey’s digital app. So, I love the Short Walks Made Easy range because they help people do what Ordnance Survey is best at – have fantastic experiences while being active outside and making memories with family and friends.

Take a sneak peak at some of the short walks in the series. 

dryrobe® changing robe

Recommended by: Tom Bennie, Senior Marketing Manager 

How long have you worked at OS:  2 ½ years

How do you like to get outside?

Pretty much any way I can! I’m a keen hiker, runner, cyclist and swimmer – if it can be done outdoors, then I’ll give it a go! Living in the South Downs National Park and only about half an hour from the nearest beach means I have some amazing places to explore on my doorstep. Although always happy to go a little further afield as well. 

What’s your proudest moment in the outdoors? 

Last year I ran my first ultramarathon. It’s always been on my bucket list to do and was an amazing experience. Running 50km in the Peak District certainly had it’s ups and downs (topographically, physically & emotionally!) but it is something I’ll remember for a very long time. I’ve already signed up for my next one!

dryrobe® changing robe 

Tom showing off his new dryrobe® changing robe

What’s your favourite piece of outdoor gear this summer? 

One of my favourite things to do in the summer is getting out for a swim. It’s not often in the UK that it’s warm enough (for me at least) to venture into open water but when the opportunity arises, I love heading down to the beach or a nearby swimming lake. Having a dryrobe® to take along has been a gamechanger. It keeps me warm and dry before and after swimming and I don’t need to worry about those awkward and uncomfortable moments getting changed whilst trying to hold a towel around myself!

What makes it so great?

When you’re getting out of the water after a swim, even in the summer, it can be pretty chilly. Having something that I can put on straight away, even before I dry myself, is fantastic. I feel the cold, so the fleece lining of the dryrobe® is a real treat. It’s waterproof which helps on the odd occasion I find myself swimming in the rain - I can get dry and stray dry easily. Most importantly, having something to get changed in is fantastic. No more embarrassing towel changing or trying to awkwardly do it in the car – modesty preserved!

Lonely Planet’s 101 Things to Do on a Walk book

Recommended by: Kirsty Lemare North, Head of ECommerce

How long have you worked at OS: 3 Months

How do you like to get outside?

Being outdoors is a huge part of my life - I walk round the nature reserve next to my house daily, run, climb and head to the sea whenever I can.

What’s your proudest moment in the outdoors? 

I did the Three Peaks Challenge in 2022 to celebrate turning 40. The views were AMAZING, and I raised money for a charity that supports families having the toughest times, so it felt like a lovely way to make a difference. I’m not a party person, so this was my idea of fun.

101 things to do on a walk book for children

Kirsty's daughter loving her 101 things to do on a walk book

What's your favourite piece of outdoor gear this summer?

I love heading out with my children; my daughter is four and getting her into the fresh air to explore the world is the best part of my day. She sees things as incredible, that I sometimes miss, but she’ll do anything to get a piggyback instead of use her feet, and that’s why we take the Lonely Planet’s ‘101 Things to Do on a Walk’.

What makes it so great?

It has mini challenges and ideas that are accessible, quick and free and it keeps her engaged through our trips. It’s very visual, so she can understand what she needs to do without lengthy reading. It’s also lightweight, so comes with us and she’s planned all our adventures for the summer. Next up, the beach for fossil hunting, shell painting and making a journey stick! I love it – making perfumes and finding bugs reminds me of being a kid myself and why I fell in love with the outdoors too.

Mac in a Sac Origin 2 Poncho

Recommended by: Nicoletta Cremona, Social Media and Influencer Marketing Executive

How long have you worked at OS?:
Two years

How do you like to get outside?

In the summertime you’ll find me out on my paddleboard most weekends either exploring the coasts of Cornwall or Dorset, or rivers in Hampshire. All year round I enjoy long countryside walks and the very occasional run!

What’s your proudest moment in the outdoors?

I don’t think I have one *big* moment that I’m proud of, but I’m definitely someone who finds it difficult to prioritise going outside everyday due to the millions of distractions in life. So, I like to take the quick win of feeling proud every day that I do take a proper break during the working day and spend some time outdoors instead of looking at a screen of some sort (be that phone, TV, computer!). 

Mac in a Sac at Glastonbury  

Nicoletta sporting her very fashionable and practical Mac in a Sac at Glastonbury

What's your favourite piece of outdoor gear this summer?

I went to Glastonbury for the first time this year, and I knew straight away that a good quality raincoat and poncho needed to be on my essentials packing list in case the weather was bad. However, being a bit of a girly-girl there was a big caveat here that any poncho or coat coming with me had to be colourful and match my outfits! The other issue of course was that packing space for a festival is somewhat limited to what you can carry on your back and in two hands, so I had to whittle it down to having one or the other really. 

That’s where the glorious fluorescent Mac in a Sac Poncho came into play meeting both my space-saving and fashionista needs! Mac in a Sac’s poncho is the perfect in between, it’s long enough to keep your whole body and arms dry, has an adjustable hood and is completely waterproof and windproof. It’s also big enough that my 6ft 5" partner could wear one too and be kept dry. I could put a cosy fleece on underneath if I needed extra warmth, and could even fit my backpack underneath it (imagine a big pink turtle), if it rained while making the mammoth trek from the car to the campsite.

As well as the features listed above for keeping you dry when needed, the poncho had some brilliant lesser-known festival uses that made it very versatile in other areas too. For example, a picnic blanket/ floor space saver at Elton John, for locating friends in large crowds (you certainly cannot be missed in one of the bright colours!), a shade maker when pegged between two tents to escape the sun for a little while, and a pillow for those power naps in between sets! It comes in a small bag which it folds down to fit, so takes up very little room in your backpack. Or when you are using it, the small waterproof bag could be used as somewhere to store your phone to protect it from the elements too.

What makes it so great?

As a seasoned festival attender the durability of the poncho over others I have tried is much better and actually waterproof rather than showerproof! It also meant not having to rely on one-use ponchos which are single-use plastic. I now have a poncho that I can use time and time again at festivals.

No one likes having to hold their hood in place so the adjustable hood is a great feature too and means your hands are free for dancing, holding a beverage, getting the perfect snap of your favourite artists whilst balancing on someone’s shoulders. Whilst I bought the poncho with plans for summer festivals in mind, it’ll definitely be coming with me on paddling and walking adventures throughout the summer when it’s too hot for a jacket but there’s risks of summer showers. 

Den Company Den Kit

Recommended by: Celia Way, Partnerships Manager

How long have you worked at OS?: I’ve worked at OS for just over two years, joining shortly after having my second child.

How do you like to get outside?

We’re an outdoorsy family. My partner and I are out on the bikes or on foot most days. We’ve gone for the strap-them-on-and-take-them-with approach to raising children, so they’ve been cycle touring, mountain biking, wild swimming, hiking and exploring with us pretty much since birth.

What’s your proudest moment in the outdoors?

Honestly, I’m not just proud of myself, I’m proud of all the women who manage to keep going with their thing (whether its running, mountain biking, skiing, hiking, climbing, whatever) throughout the madness of pregnancy and child rearing. Yes, there might be times when you don’t do as much (and once you’ve had kids, you are definitely playing the long game), but it’s so important not to lose sight of how vital it is to your sense of self and your mental health. High fives to us all!

Children enjoying their new den kit

Celia's children and friends enjoying their new den

What's your favourite piece of outdoor gear this summer?

When heading out with kids, you can’t control the weather and the only certainty is the need for snacks and a sit down. So, this little den kit is a great all-in-one set for outdoor adventures. An activity, a place to hide out and it all fits in a little shoulder bag. It provides a great base for woodland exploring – obviously small people don’t sit still for long, but It’s quick to put up and to bundle away when you need to move on or head home.

You’ll want to add a few bits and bobs to really get the most out of it (mostly snacks). For example, it comes with a generous length of rope, but you’ll almost certainly need to cut it into a couple of lengths to rig up a stable shelter or bring some additional thin rope or twine. We took it out with some friends of ours and found there was also room in the bag for a magnifying glass and a minibeast guide. Our magnifying glass fits perfectly over the cup to make a little inspection chamber!

The Original Den Kit 

The Original Den Kit

What makes it so great?

The size of the camo tarpaulin it comes with is big enough to provide a really useful shelter – and it’s waterproof! The groundsheet is the perfect size for a little gang of feral kids or a small family picnic. There’s lots of scope for creativity and imagination – we tried out several configurations and there were some useful prompts on the card in the kit, both for types of shelter construction and knots to use. The bag itself is a lovely thing – the heavyweight cotton is machine washable, but the tarps would need to be hosed down to clean them. They aren’t the thickest, but they have a reinforced edge and fold up fairly neatly to go back in the bag. 

I’d recommend it to anyone with smaller humans in their lives. We’ve been using it with 2 -5 year olds, and while our two year old could handle the mallet, he was a bit of a liability with some of the more rickety constructions we tried, so I’d say 4+ would get the most out of it and older kids could easily use it without much (if any) adult supervision. It could be a super fun thing to take on a camping trip if there are trees around, or on visits to friends and family when you might want to keep the kids entertained for a while.

Osprey Daylight Waist Pack

Recommended by: Nicole Frith, Technical Product Manager (Consumer Services Platform)

How long have you worked at OS: 

Almost 7 years

How do you like to get outside? 

I enjoy running and walking, mostly from our door in Cheltenham and out exploring the Cotswolds. My partner and I started going for a morning walk at the beginning of lockdown and this is a habit that’s stuck. I run 5-6 days a week, either on the roads or trails near my house or at the athletics track. We try to get to the hills when we can. In particular, I enjoy walking and fell running in the Lake District, where I’m gradually trying to bag all of the Wainwrights.

What’s your proudest moment in the outdoors?

Last year, we went to Kenya for a wedding. Whilst there, we climbed Mount Kenya and summited Point Lenana (4,985m) where we we treated to the most spectacular sunrise over a sea of clouds. This was the highest I’ve ever been and torrential rain, snow and freezing temperatures on the way up made the ascent particularly challenging, so it was a real achievement when we finally made it to the top. Closer to home, I’m particularly proud of how I’ve developed as a fell runner. Whilst I’ll never be that good, especially at descending, it has allowed me to enjoy the hills in an entirely new way and it’s very rewarding to see small improvements in my confidence and capability over time.

    Osprey Daylite Waist Pack

    Nicole modelling her Osprey Daylite Waist Pack

    What's your favourite piece of outdoor kit/your gift suggestion? 

    I usually listen to audio books or podcasts when I run or walk, so often take my phone with me. On longer runs I’ll also take food and I’ll take wet weather kit if I’m out in the hills. I hate running with a rucksack as I find it really restrictive, so I am a big fan of bum bags and have several ranging from a small running belt right up to a 3l fell running bag. The Osprey Daylight Waist Pack is a perfect addition to my collection

    What makes it so great?

    The Osprey Daylight Waist Pack is a good in-between size – not too small so it can only take a phone but not too big that I can easily take too much kit. It’s got a sturdy waist belt which can be adjusted to sit on my waist or hips, depending on the kit I’m wearing. It has loads of pockets for my phone, money and food as well as a key clip to stop me accidentally losing it whilst I’ve rummaging around for food, water or kit. There are two main pockets which let me take a lightweight windproof layer for if the weather changes. I’d recommend this product for anyone who, like me, enjoys taking a few bits and pieces with them when they are going out for a walk when they don’t need to take a full rucksack, but wants to keep their hands free without the restrictions of a small rucksack.

    Our team thoroughly enjoyed sharing their favourite outdoor gear with you this summer and there's certainly something for everyone's kit list So, if your looking for something to buy that outdoorsy person in your life, and to treat yourself, head over to the OS Shop to find more great products to help you get outside. 

    Published: Jul 31, 2023 Edited: Oct 20, 2023

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