All the fleet! Tents

Gear advice

Obviously a lot of our activities require quite a bit of specialised gear. As part of our ethic of open access we always aim to run activities which require you to own only the most basic of items yourself, usually appropriate clothes and footwear. Everything can normally be provided by the club (courtesy of our SFC allocation) or borrowed from someone else if needs must.

But there’s a limit to what we can provide and you may notice that some of the more active members have brought their own stuff and as a result may be a little cosier, comfier or more able to push their limits. If you’re going to attend an activity regularly we recommend you think about buying your own gear, starting with a few key items listed on this page.

The Stores

Despite its topographically challenged terrain Cambridge is not badly off for outdoor shops. There’s:

Its often worth checking stuff out in-store then shopping around online, there’s usually good deals to be had and it gives you chance to read some reviews, you can always go back to the store and buy it there after you’ve done your research.


Before you go buy stuff, its worth asking the committee, not only can we give you some brief advice on what to get we can help with discounts at most outlets, virtual or physical! If in doubt, you can normally get 10% student discount in most stores.

Walking boots

These are probably the most essential item if you want to come on one of our trips outside of Cambridge and you may not be able to participate in club run activities without them. Unfortunately we don’t have a large enough budget to maintain a supply of boots to lend out so they’re the one piece of gear we ask you buy yourself. They don’t need to be fancy, £30-40 from Sports Direct/Field and Trek (all one store) in Lions Yard will do. Just make sure they fit properly, you’v got some appropriate socks, and you’ve worn them in around the house before use!

Rock Shoes

Not cheap - full price rock shoes start at £60 but you shouldn’t be looking for the cheapest but the ones that fit! You’re looking for a tight but not painful fit, get advice from a sales assistant or take someone more experienced along. We recommend you try them on in the shops around town; all the shops listed above stock rock shoes. Afterwards, look for them cheaper online, especially on Joe Browns rock shoe clearance page and Rock+Run . Think about grabbing a chalk bag too.

Water shoes

If you're into kayaking these are the first things you should buy! Sadly, in the UK, most rivers can have anything from broken glass to bikes on the bottom. So we recommend you don't go kayaking in bare feet, but then again your naffest pair of running trainers may be a bit bulky to squeeze into a kayak with you. Make sure you pick yourself up pair of wetsuit shoes, they'll protect your feet from harm while also keeping them warm, and the best bit is you don't have to worry about them getting muddy and rivery because you don't have to wear them anywhere else. We'd recommend buying a pair from eBay, where you can easily find them for under £10. Shoes rather than boots work better as your feet will be less restricted and cramped in your boat. Another feature to look for would be a velcro strap to hold them on to your feet tight, otherwise you may find you only have one wetsuit shoe sooner rather than later...

Rash vests and Wetsuits

In the summer, unless you are paddling very cold alpine rivers, you can get away with a t-shirt and shorts. However on those slightly colder days or while paddling on river trips you might want to get a thermal rash vest, made out of synthetic material they dry quicker than other clothes and so they keep you warmer. During the winter, if you want to practice skills that involve getting wet or play polo, you might want some more neoprene! To summarise if its cold and you’re going to get wet you need a wetsuit, otherwise normal clothes and maybe some thermals will suffice.

Wetsuits come in many shapes and sizes, a cheap 3mm shorty (£25-30) will keep you very much warmer than nothing, but a full length thicker suit will keep you warmer yet. A longjohn style may be more comfortable under a paddling top while neoprene tops and shorts might be more flexible. Have a chat with people that own their own gear and shop around to see what you might prefer. Wetsuit Outlet have a pretty big range of gear and their prices are pretty competitive, while eBay offer a few cheap options.

Harness and Belay plate.

The keenest of climbers, and only those who want to join us on jaunts outside, might be advised to think about getting a harness and a belay plate. If you’ve tried the club harnesses you’ll understand why! A nice padded intermediate harness with plenty of gear loops, an HMS karabiner and a standard belay plate are the first things to buy. Popular models are the Black Diamond Momentum AL for the gents and the Primrose AL for the ladies; these are some of the cheapest fully specced harnesses on the market. You should be looking to pay £45-50 before discount - shop around online and make sure you get the right waist size! Any HMS karabiner will suffice (prices stat at £10), but if you’ve used the club belay plates, you will have seen the Belay Master ‘biners with the plastic guard which holds everything in place - these can be acquired for about £13. Basic belay plates such as the club ones can be had for as little as £12, if you’re little its worth contemplating a high friction design such as the \Black Diamond ATC XP; its also worth trying different peoples plates out before you make your mind up though.

Paddling tops/Cags

If you're serious about your winter paddling or you want to get into whitewater kayaking a cag is a very good investment. The best tops have latex seals around your cuffs and neck and they have a double seal around your spraydeck, the idea is that while you remain in your boat the water can only reach your hands and head, pretty cosy indeed! We wouldn't recommend you bother buying anything less than a "full dry" cag (i.e one with all latex seals), while pretty expensive (expect to pay £100+) they will last for years and years of regular use, you may find yourself dissappointed with the performance of lesser specced tops.Wetsuit outlet is probably the cheapest, especially their sale items, but Brookbank have the greater range. Ask the committee before you buy as they might be able to help you out with a discount.

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