Traci Schauf takes Craghoppers on a weeklong hike
Although the company has been around since 1965, Craghoppers clothing is relatively new to the U.S. I just tried out three pieces provided by the company on a week-long backpacking trip through the Ouachita National Forest.
Two of the pieces I tried were from the NosiLife line. Nosi is short for no mosquitoes, and this is some of the best insect repellent clothing I’ve used. I wore these clothes literally night and day for seven straight days. My hiking partner picked off ticks by the dozen over the course of the week. I found only two ticks on me the whole week. This repellency is by far the clothing’s most outstanding feature.
I had two problems with the top as serious hiking clothing. It’s mostly cotton, which doesn’t wick sweat well and stays cold and wet. I knew this ahead of time, and carried a light wool sweater to slip on when I stopped for breaks.
The other problem was the slightly low décolleté. If I’m wearing clothing for sun and bug protection, I want it to cover as much of me as possible! For future serious hiking, I would purchase the long sleeved nylon NosiLife Kochin shirt.
The two minor complaints aside, after several washings, and totally sweat soaked, this shirt still repelled bugs like crazy, was extremely comfortable, and wore well under many miles of backpack straps without pilling or snagging. I will use it again and again when I want to wear insect repellent clothing and want to look dressed up doing it!
The other mosquito repellent piece was a skirt that offers UPF protection and a great quick dry fabric. The skirt was very comfortable on well-maintained trails (not for bushwacking!), but my favorite use for it was as a biking skirt. I can wear it riding in all sorts of weather, the fabric dries in minutes, and it looks great after being packed in a bag, crushed in stuff sack, or worn from wet to dry. It has become a staple in my work wardrobe, since I bike to work a lot. It has a cute flare cut, and the bug repellency was every bit as good as the Atoll top.
The final piece I tested is probably my favorite. The Kiwi convertible trousers are made of a fantastic stretchy material that made all day hikes up steep hills, well… not a pleasure, but less of a pain! The flat seams rode well under the backpack hip belt without causing hot spots, and I love the zippered pockets. The zippers on the removable legs performed well for dozens of legs off-and-ons over the course of the week. The material held up through a lot of briars and brambles with only minor snags and no rips.
My only complaint about the trousers: they need some sort of waistband adjustment tabs. I always have trouble getting waist bands to fit properly, and I lost five pounds in seven days of hiking, making the waist way too loose. By the end of the week I felt the trousers were slipping down as I walked. Perhaps a Velcro adjustment tab would do the trick, but the company really needs to address this issue. I made a tie belt of webbing to solve the problem for now, and these will still be the first pair of pants I grab for when I plan a hike.
Traci Schauf pens the blog The Adventures of Mother Nature, a rompin’ good read.