I think most of our readers who are interested in hiking, trekking and mountaineering have heard of Decathlon, right? The company is one of the top sellers for sports and outdoor gear in the world. A few months ago they approached us to discuss the possibility of a gear review for one of their product series.
We came to an agreement and they soon provided us with some clothing to test during our adventures.
We decided to review the gear on one of Greece’s most interesting mountains in the area of Evritania, West Greece. The weather conditions were pretty tough: cold, rain, snow and ice, combined with rough terrains and mud, in several places along the route. But we like a good challenge!
The Decathlon Gear!
We would test this cool gear from Quechua:
- A softshell trekking jacket for women
- A pair of waterproof snow boots for women
- A pair of waterproof snow boots for men
- A 3 in 1 trekking rain warm (3 in 1) jacket
We were very curious to see how the boots from Decathlon perform while moving from snow / ice to dry terrain, as well as how they would perform in muddy, slippery terrain.
Jackets and softshells were a challenge too, since along the route temperature was not always low. We wanted to see if the jacket’s inner shell would be sufficient enough to provide body temperature per condition.
Keypoint: We used our boots without prior “breaking in”. We didn’t use them on any terrain before our hiking/mountaineering. Breaking in your new boots is something recommended for almost all boots out there, yet we thought that the materials were quite soft, and were curious to see how they would perform without any prior use.
We decided to take a trip to the area of Karpenisi. Karpenisi is located in Evritania area (West Greece) and is one of the greenest areas of Greece with lots of mountains, forests, rivers, a via ferrata and more.
It is around 3 hours from Athens, Greece and suitable for different levels of hiking, trekking, mountaineering, rock climbing and canyoning. Bonus: there is plenty of good food in the area!
Due to thick forests, rivers and heavy rain, this area is rather cold in winter time. But when the sun comes out it can get really hot, so clothing must be appropriate.
This was our second tour in Karpenisi. You can read about our past experiences here.
Mission Location 1
Easy hike from Kefalovrisso to Klafsi
Mission data: Total hiking time: 4 hours – Route length: 7km – Alt. difference: ≃ +100m., -200m.
On day 1 we arrived at the area of Kefalovrisso. Our hiking path began with walking along the river, crossing a bridge and then getting deeper into the forests.
The terrain was quite easy to walk on, yet we encountered some uphill paths and muddy grounds along our route.
It was really cold so we started with full gear on (rainwarm jacket for me and softshell jacket for Maria). This is me wearing full gear (jacket & hardshell).
The hardshell has ventilation zippers under the armpits, so it was easy to open them in order to avoid not necessary sweating.
However after around 15 minutes of walking, the external hard shell was removed.
The softshell construction was rather interesting. At the side areas, the soft mesh that allows air circulation did a really good job and under-armpit sweat entirely evaporated. This was the case for the hardshell as well.
Wearing just a thermal shirt and the softshell jacket, I was really comfortable hiking. I was sweating far less, and my body temperature remained relatively stable while on the move. We didn’t carry or use any fleece jackets either.
Maria was wearing her waterproof softshell jacket and a thermal shirt, and she was just fine too. At some points, we dipped our boots into the river to see what would happen. Our feet stayed dry!
Look at those warm women’s boots Maria is wearing.
On muddy terrain, the boots performed perfectly, gripping well on different types of ground. Moreover, they were a great fit for both of us and our feet felt very comfortable, even without the breaking in.
Part of the hike was on asphalt road. We had no problem with that as the boots were soft enough to allow proper movement, without pressure on the ankles or any other points.
Below you can get an idea of what the forest looks and feels like. Isn’t it amazing?
After around 4 hours we reached the village of Klafsi.
Mission Location 2
The Tough One: Mountaineering at 1970mt Helidona mountain top
Mission data: Total hiking & mountaineering time: 8 hours – Route length: 12km – Alt. difference: ≃ +1200m., -1200m.
This one was far more difficult than the first one, as it was a continuous, uphill path. The route started from inside Palaio Neo Horio village. The first 2 km were on a mountain dirt road, which was a good warm up.
After that, we took the vertical path towards our first station, the fountain of Hatzilakos, which is where we refilled our water bottles.
Our boots had performed well so far, but as many hikers / climbers know, the real test comes when you are going downhill. We will get to that part soon!
At the fountain, we encountered the first snow, and there was more and more as we were heading towards the top.
Our softshell jackets did the job again. The hardshell jacket was used during breaks to keep us warm. The temperature ranged from -5 to -2 (Celsius), so even for short breaks we needed extra clothing.
Enjoy this video from the fountain area.
To clean up the mud from the boots (in order to increase adhesion), we simply dipped them into fountain water! That is the best thing with waterproof boots – you can wash them while wearing them and your feet will stay dry. Leather boots will absorb water which you really don’t want, especially while walking in the rain or through snow.
Another thing we noticed with these boots was that our feet did not overheat. Sometimes, waterproof boots can cause that due to simply… being waterproof. In other words, the waterproof membrane doesn’t allow the sweat to evaporate. With these boots, we didn’t have this problem.
Starting our trek from the fountain, we mostly walked on and through snow.
At around 1700mt, the field changed to alpine, and there were no more trees to protect us from the cold wind. We were walking slowly towards the top, step by step, breath after breath.
Walking was not as easy as before, since every step had to be carefully performed to avoid slipping and getting any injuries.
Strong, cold wind was blowing against our faces. At some points the hardshell was needed, but it was quickly removed after shifting to areas with no wind.
We encountered frozen snow and ice for a length of 10 meters, around 80 meters from the top. Our team leader ordered the whole team to stop and return, apart from 6 people (us included) who made it close to the top. The decision was based on the suitability of boots, and we were very happy to have the perfect gear.
The view was majestic as we could see all other mountain tops, the lakes below and large forests extending to all directions.
That was an amazing experience. We managed to stay there just for 5-6 minutes against the strong, cold wind.
Then we began our descent.
The ground was rather slippery and we tried to trace the footsteps we left while going up. Needless to say, this was not easy as it was very windy and fresh snow had started covering our steps.
We started descending very carefully, to avoid slipping, as the terrain under the snow was mostly rocky.
Eventually we made it to the base ground, from where we started walking back.
It was around 3:00 pm and we spotted that a good part of the path inside the forest, close to the fountain, was covered with ice. This was frost and humidity that had turned to ice due to really low temperatures, and it hadn’t been there when we were going uphill.
Our boots performed well, but what also helped was our training to walk properly on such terrain. This is something we all need to remember: good quality gear helps, but training on different terrains before you start trekking is necessary.
Walking back downhill didn’t cause any issues on our toes. This was a good sign for the boots’ performance and fitting, but we also used proper trekking socks to add cushioning and eliminate friction.
We ended up in the taverna in the mountains enjoying some pretty good roasted goat meat with season salads, Greek cheeses and wine, Greek style!
The perfect ending to a challenging but also rewarding day.
Conclusion on Decathlon gear
Proper trekking gear must ensure three things: Safety, Comfort & Flexibility under changing circumstances. These were the points we really wanted to put to the test. Can someone enjoy the outdoors while being safe at the same time? Can trekking gear be durable and lightweight at the same time?
These specific boots, jackets and softshell jackets passed our test, and the prices are great too. We totally recommend them. Go to the Decathlon store / e-shop for your country and get some. We were given ours from Decathlon.co.uk. Visit their site for ideas.
Our last tip: Many people are surprised to find that Greece is an all-year-round destination. Make sure you enjoy hiking on the Greek mountains when you are in Greece.