Affordable outdoors kit: great gear at budget prices

Save your pennies without compromising on great outdoors gear. Matt Swaine picks out some of the best-value gear out there. 

Walker descending a ridge in the Lake District National Park. (Photo by: Loop Images/UIG via Getty Images)

1. Softshell Ladies Zenita Pro Jacket, Keela, £64.94


Superbly durable, windproof and capable of dealing with light showers this women’s softshell is superbly warm and has zips under the arms for added ventilation. It has a comfortable inner fleece and a good range of pockets for stashing essential items and it’s well cut to offer a good range of motion.

2. Griffin Women’s Fleece, Mountain Warehouse, £39.99


This fleecy number comes with a velour finish that is incredibly cosy. There’s a hood for extra warmth two zipped pockets to stash essentials and you can unzip at the front and roll up sleeves to help with ventilation when you’re moving fast. This makes a great midlayer and combined with a baselayer and waterproof jacket will give you all the protection you need from the elements.

3. Lone Pine Jacket II, Lowe Alpine, £125


Triplepoint is a waterproof fabric that doesn’t have the brand awareness of other waterproof materials but still delivers all the technical breathability that most casual walkers need. This is a robust classic cut and full zip protection inside and out – a feature that is far more likely to keep you dry than most ‘waterproof zips’. The cut feels a little baggy but the hood is fully adjustable and we reckon this jacket will cover year round walking in all but the toughest of winter conditions.

4. Trail 25, Vango, £25


Vango are a great brand for low cost, but pleasingly well-performing tents and rucksacks. This pack is a good example of what they do well: a no fuss offering made from durable material with good sized side pockets and comfortable carry when fully loaded. The hipbelt is very narrow and won’t offer a lot of support but you’re unlikely to be carrying the kind of loads that demand more padding, so this is unlikely to be an issue.

5. ADS Longsleeve Zip Top, Keela, £19.94


Keela is an often over-looked brand that delivers great technical kit. Its Active Dispersal System spreads moisture out, moving it away from your body to keep you comfortable. This is a great baselayer to put next to your skin to stay dry and comfortable even when you’re working hard.

6. Indigo Headtorch, Alpkit, £12.50


Alpkit is known for great technical kit at low prices, like this three-LED headtorch, which delivers up to 13 hours of battery life in a compact 68g package. Headtorches are essential if you’re walking in winter, at night or plan to camp out and this one is robust, water-resistant and well worth the investment.

7. Nautilus sleeping bag, Snugpak, £24.95


If you’re planning on a summer walking holiday then this represents great value bedding. It’s not light or compact enough for backpacking or warm enough for colder nights, but it’s an ideal first-time sleeping bag for a summer campsite basecamp.

8. Merino Technical Socks, Snugpak, £10.95


Your feet can take a battering on longer routes and getting a good combination of boots and socks is essential. This Merino pair is soft and warm, features a padded sole and grips your foot to prevent blister-inducing ruckles.  

9. Compresslite Packaway Hooded Jacket, Craghoppers, £60


Insulated jackets are ideal for extra warmth when you stop for a lunch break and this one is windproof, light (400g) and packs down neatly into its own stuff sack. It is a superb technical top at a fraction of the price of similar products, with an impressively snug hood.

10. Saxon jacket, Keela, £84.95


You can spend hundreds of pounds on a waterproof jacket but there are lots of great ways to stay dry for less. Alternatives to GoreTex cost much less but still offer good technicality. This coat made from Flylite Aqua fabric is superlight at 250g, breathable to help move sweat away from your body and good for summer showers. 

11. Corey III fleece, Craghoppers, £30


Longer technical routes require a good approach to layering: a baselayer that will move sweat away from your body (see 1) and a midlayer fleece like this for extra warmth. Craghopper fleeces offer great value, excellent technicality and superb comfort – but do try them on first as this one came up surprisingly large.

12. Multi Zip-off Men’s trousers, Mountain Warehouse, £49.99


You can unzip at the leg to turn these into shorts, making them ideal for lightweight summer trips. They are quick-drying and feature lots of practical pockets, although those at the hips are surprisingly small. We found these on sale for £24.99, well below the RRP.

13. Titanium Waterproof fleece, Target Dry, £49.95


This warm outer fleece is waterproof, windproof and breathable. It won’t replace a proper waterproof jacket and it will take up quite a bit of room in your rucksack on sunnier days, but it’s a robust bit of gear, built to cope with wild weather and at under £50 is superb value.


14. Vector 25, Lowe Alpine, £35


Lowe Alpine make packs that are designed to last and for long-term value, they are hard to beat. This simply designed sack is a good example of what they do brilliantly – tough fabrics, great comfort and no gimmicks. It comes with a long zip and mesh side pockets for easy access to water bottles. A 25-litre pack will do for short walks but consider up to 45 litres if you plan bigger routes.

15. Classic Single walking pole, Vango, £9


Walking poles are far from an essential piece of kit, but if you appreciate the stability and walking efficiency they offer, then this three-part, telescopic, alloy option packs down relatively well. It features a comfortable handle and anti-shock.

16. Compass, Vango, £4


Pound for pound, this represents the best value on this page. A compass is essential the moment you head away from well signposted paths and on to open moorland. Learning how to use one properly is incredibly satisfying and you should always carry one in your pack.

17. Aluminium Drinks Bottle, Snugpak, £5.95 (500ml)

If you really want to keep costs down then you could reuse a plastic drinks bottle, but at less than £6 for a durable, lightweight, aluminium drinks bottle, this will deliver excellent value over its lifetime. It’s super-durable, comes with a screwtop lid and features a baked-on enamel inside that keeps drinks tasting fresh.  

18. Travelite Overtrousers, Craghoppers, £40

Waterproof trousers ideally spend most of their life stored in your rucksack, but they prove a good investment when you’re caught out a long way from home and the heavens open. These feature a long side-zip to make them easy to get on and good mobility and comfort when you’re plodding through the rain.  


Searching for bargainous boots? Click here for our top three pairs. 

Main image credits: Loop Image/ Contributor