OUR TRAVEL EXPERTS ARE IN-STORE AWAITING YOUR QUESTIONS
If you're visiting a country you've never been to before, or planning a backpacking trip that will take you around the globe, it's important to be prepared. Between them, our travel experts have been to most corners of the world, so they're well placed to help you find the right equipment to take on your trip. When you're a long way from home the little things can make a difference, so find a travel expert and make sure you've got the right gear with you. And don't forget your passport.
Giacomo Puelles - Store Manager
Store: KENSINGTON HIGH STREET
Born in Peru, Giacomo has been living in the UK since 2009 and is a Trek and Travel expert. He's been on many hiking and mountaineering trips across the South American Andes, visiting Lima, Uruguay and his home country of Peru, and he recently spent 2 weeks traveling deep into the Amazon rain forest by boat.
Giacomo also lived in North America for 8 years and spent a lot of this time on road trips visiting all corners of the country, and searching out good rock climbing spots.
Lake Titicaca. "One of the highest lakes in the world and breathtakingly beautiful."
Tara O'Rourke - Manager
Store: COVENT GARDEN
Travel expert Tara hails from North Vancouver, so being based in London already gives her a head-start when it comes to travel expertise. As a child, her family would take her on road trips across the USA, and when she finished college, she embarked upon a backpacking trip across Western Europe with her sister.
With a deeply-rooted thirst for adventure, Tara then undertook a lone trip backpacking across the Middle East. Encompassing Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Israel and Egypt, she witnessed every aspect of the region - both the good points and bad - but considers Syria one her favourite places to visit. "The people were just amazing and some of the most friendly I've ever met."
Since then, she has lived in Ireland, toured Europe and spent time as a resident in Dallas, Texas - a place she would use as a base to roadtrip the American Mid West and Canada. Never one to keep still, she has also toured South America, ranking Southern Bolivia as one the most beautiful in the world, and recently joined the Haglofs Arctic Weekend in Sweden... it's safe to say Tara doesn't leave many stones unturned!
Tara's next adventure will be 18 days spent visiting Vietnam this summer.
Will uses his Masters degree in Geology and Mining as a thinly-veiled excuse for travelling all over the world. Throw a dart at a map of the Earth, and chances are it will land somewhere he's been.
From trekking in the deserts of Namibia to 3 months working in Mongolia's hostile Gobi, to panning for gold in Northern Ireland, Will has criss-crossed the face of the earth like few others.
He has climbed South Africa's Table Mountain, skied throughout the Alps and been dog sledding in Finland.
Closer to home, Will loves the variety of the UK and considers the Cuillin of the Isle of Skye and moors of the South West some of his favourite places in the world.
Will knows that travelling isn't always as smooth as brochures make out. While in Mongolia, he had the misfortune to contract a parasitic infection for the duration of his 3 month trip(not ideal when you're the only English-speaking person around). And while cycling through the Pyrenean mountains he crashed his bike, breaking two ribs and giving himself whiplash. Will considers this all part of the experience, with adversity a crucial element in his travelogue.
Lots of places. "Any desert! Or the Isle of Skye or Pyrenees."
Liz Boden - Assistant Manager
Store: MANCHESTER 130 DEANSGATE
If a traveller were to draw their route everywhere they went, resident travel pro Liz Boden's would form a cobweb over continental Europe. Despite being frustratingly predisposed to travel sickness, she loves the open road and has been all over France, Spain, Austria and parts of Italy.
A huge cycling fan, Liz has followed the Tour de France around its home nation for years, while in winter she turns to snowboarding for her kicks.
With a big year ahead, her upcoming adventures will include a honeymoon and getaway to the snow!
France. "I love seeing the Tour de France roll into Paris each year, and the waters around Annecy are the clearest I've ever seen!"
Tom 'TC' Clinton
Snowboarding & Travel Expert
Store: COVENT GARDEN
Tom 'TC' is Covent Garden's resident snowboard department manager and also one of our in-house travel experts. TC has been snowboarding for almost 20 years and visiting Africa for even longer.
So first, the snowboardy bit...
Studying French at the University of Leeds meant that TC was able to spend an entire season in the French Pyrenees, snowboarding every weekend predominantly in Cauterets. He's been a part of Ellis Brigham and TSA for over 5 years, helping the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Brooklyn Beckham choose their first setups. Legendary soul singer Sade once told him she was her 'biggest fan'. A self-confessed obsessive gear-head, he knows probably all there is to know about snowboard tech and his other love; fly fishing!
Now for the travelly bit...
TC's family run a game reserve on the eastern cape of South Africa. He visits annually and has been on safaris in SA, Kenya, Mozambique, Botswana, and Namibia. He has helped track a wounded wildebeest in driving rain, and once managed to combine his love for snowboarding with the arid terrain of Mozambique, by teaching local kids how to snowboard on sand dunes near their village – a snowboard safari if you like! He is hoping to improve his off-road driving when he visits later this year.
"For snowboarding, I regularly go to the Portes-du-Soleil, mainly due to its size – on the French side, Morzine and Avoriaz are legendary within the snow-sports community – my favourite run being Prolays thanks to all its super-fun side-hits and general mellow nature. My favourite place in Africa has to be the Okavango Delta in Botswana the huge variation of terrain. It means you can view game both in classic savanna but also in the wetlands from small traditional canoes called 'mokoros'.
Store: ST. PAUL'S
Pippa has been on the move from an early age, thanks to her parents living and working in many different countries throughout Europe, Africa and Asia. Given her itinerant upbringing, it was probably only natural that she grew up with a love for new places and a desire to see as much of the world as possible.
Pip has only been in the UK since the age of 18, and before that her home life was mainly split between Switzerland and Germany. During her teenage years she got to see lots of interesting countries, such as Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Burkina Fasso, to name just a few.
Following a stint at University in the UK, Pippa then went to the States to work as a Wildland firefighter in Montana. From there she ended up backpacking around the States for 18 months, living out of her trusty backpack. So if you've got any questions about the right kit to take on a trip away, short or long, Pippa is the person to talk to.
Swiss Alps. "I spent a week once in the Swiss Alps doing travel maintenance, living in mountain huts near a lake. The scenery was incredible, and we got to go rock climbing during our time off. Nothing since has quite compared for sheer natural beauty."
Store: MANCHESTER 130 DEANSGATE
Nathan's lust for travel stemmed from his love of snowsports. He learned to ski in Italy before going on to spending a year in Whistler, British Columbia, where he learnt to snowboard. After a winter and summer living in one of the world’s top mountain resorts, he took to the road and set off on a wild off-the-beaten-track tour of Canada and the northern United States.
Having travelled the breadth of the North American continent in the most back to basics way possible, Nathan is a great source of knowledge if you’re heading out stateside.
Next year, Nathan plans on exploring the Antipodes, taking in an Aussie summer and a winter season in New Zealand’s Southern Alps.
Crown Land Campsites, Canada
. "I loved being able to freedom camp in Canada. You could just find these tiny clear felled areas that served as little free to use campsites, and wake up in the mountains beside a lake or forest, or winery!"
Store: COVENT GARDEN
Will has been travelling around Europe and the United States his whole life.
Having travelled to over 20 states and over 10 countries in Europe, he tries visit at least one new place in the world each year and has spent the past couple of years backpacking.
Last year Will spent 7 months hiking along the Pacific Crest Trail - a 2650 mile long hiking trail from the border of Mexico to the border of Canada along some of the most spectacular backpacking destinations in the world. Will said: "The trail took me through a variety of extreme environments and weather - desert, forest, alpine, glacial etc. Firstly up the San Bernadino mountain range in Southern California, then across the Mojave Desert to the Sierra Nevadas which lead the rest of the length of California, across to the Trinity Alps on the border of Oregon, and finally up the Cascades through Washington all the way to Canada. I lived out of my rucksack for 7 months, sleeping in a tent and living off the supplies I carried with me. I learned the art of ultralight backpacking - when you are hiking 15-25 miles every day, carrying as little weight as possible whilst making sure you are still equpped for adverse conditions is essential."
Consequently, Will is an adept backpacker, with excellent knowledge of how to survive in the wilderness, navigation, dealing with wildlife, adequate diet and necessary equipment.
'The High Sierras, a section of the Pacific Crest Trail that encompasses the famous John Muir Trail is one of the most beautiful areas on the planet. Especially around Yosemite National Park - with destinations like Half dome, El Capitan and many more, its not just a haven for backpacking, but for climbing too. There are so many places around there to spend a week or two amongst unbelievable mountains and wildlife it is a must for any avid outdoors person.'
Skiing & Travel Expert
Ryan started skiing at the age of four, when his parents took him to Westendorf, Austria.
Since that first time, Ryan has become addicted, getting out on the slopes at least once a year. Ryan realised getting the right equipment would be vital, and has since been striving to give everything a go, from testing skis and boots to trying out goggles and gloves.
Following the completion of his degree in sports and exercise management, Ryan spent a year travelling, including backpacking up Australia's east coast, camping from New Orleans to New York, finishing with a season in the Portes du Soleil region.
La Grand Bornand, France. "I love it because it's a very quiet resort off the beaten tracks. It also has some amazing freeride areas when the snow is good."
Skiing & Travel Expert
Emily spent most of her early years skiing over in the states at Heavenly, Lake Tahoe and Vail, Breckenridge and Keystone, Colorado. She first started skiing at age 8 and hasn’t missed a season since. She later found a way to keep her passion up at home by visiting Bassingbourn dry slope when not in the mountains.
As well as a passion for skiing, Emily also loves to travel, a family trait she’s inherited. Having been well travelled in her youth she then took a solo round the world trip, stopping off in 14 different countries and went scuba diving and skiing along the way. Her next aim is to visit all of the continents, only two more to go! Her favourite spots so far include Cambodia, Japan and New Zealand.
Lake Louise, Banff / La Plagne, France / Lake Tahoe, USA. "Lake Louise - always a great spot for great conditions and stunning scenery. La Plagne – so much to explorer with the combined Les Arcs pass and some great off piste to find if you know where to look. Heavenly, Lake Tahoe – a great family friendly resort with something for all abilities, with some amazing views!"
Trek & Travel Expert
Store: ST. PAUL'S
Trek and travel pro Hannah has been joining the dots of the world atlas for over ten years. With extensive experience backpacking around Europe, Asia and Africa, she knows what to expect, what to take and how to prepare for any adventure.
Of all her journeys, a two week trek in the Himalayas when she was sixteen remains the apex of her jet-setting career.
Brecon Beacons, Wales. 'The first and still the favourite! Though have recently got to explore the Lake District so it’s a close one.
Aims for this season? There are plenty of places in the UK I am yet to explore and top of the hitlist is the Yorkshire Dales'.