If you’re a regular shopper in Decathlon, you may have heard of Quechua. One of Decathlon’s in-house brands, they are based at the foot of Mont Blanc in Sallanches, next door to the Decathlon Mountain Store. Surrounded by the glorious mountains, this is the perfect base for them to develop their hiking products, which are designed and tested in-house. Their head office is shared with Wed’ze, who were born from Quechua in 2007 and focus on ski and snowboarding activities.
Last month, along with some other bloggers, I was invited to spend a couple of days in Sallanches as a guest of Decathlon and Quechua to get to know more about the brand, as well as having the opportunity to test out some of their kit for myself. Anthony, our fantastic host from Quechua, really intended for us to try out the kit properly so local guide, Thibaut was invited to lead us on a 7km route up a mountain. Before departing for the hike, we had the opportunity to take a look around the Decathalon Mountain Store, which was equipped with a fantastic cafe/restaurant and boasted all the hiking equipment that you could possibly need.
I had initially dressed in lycra leggings (also by Decathlon) for the hike, but the blazing sunshine soon made it clear to us all that we would be more comfortable in shorts and Quechua were only too happy to fit us out. Most of the group opted for the MH100 Hiking Shorts, which retailing at just £7.99 are a bargain and they looked great. However, having larger thighs, chub rub is a factor for me and I often struggle to find shorts that don’t ride up. Just when I was about to resign myself to baking in my leggings, the Trek 100 Shorts* caught my eye. At £11.99, they are cheap and the material has some stretch to it, making for maximum comfort. They also have lots of pockets, which meant my phone was always within easy reach for photos. I have worn these a lot since, finding them particularly practical for bowling. We were also fitted out with the Quechua MH500 Waterproof Hiking Boots* for our upcoming mountain hike and I kept my fingers crossed that I wouldn’t suffer blisters from unworn shoes.
With our flasks filled and our backpacks loaded with snacks and lunch, it was time to head to Plateau D’Assy where we started our hike, trailing through a shaded forest which offered some much-needed respite from the blazing sunshine. Thibaut, our guide, was knowledgeable and instinctively knew when to take a break, making sure that we were all okay. We passed by mountain streams, stopping to fill our bottles with crisp, cold mountain water from the stream. On a blazing hot day, surrounded by the views of the mountains, the paragliders meandering above our heads, that water was one of the most simple and delicious experiences. We also tested out our boots by traipsing through the water and were pleased to report no leakage – these boots really are waterproof and don’t require any spraying!
After a while, the terrain changed and we found ourselves surrounded by lush, green meadows. The views were absolutely stunning and for once, I appreciated just being in the now, enjoying the sunshine and fresh air. That changed after a quick break for a snack and I have to confess finding the last half hour or so of our climb tough as my calves started to burn like they were on fire. However, the views at the top of the mountain, where we picnicked for lunch, with a view of Mont Blanc more than made up for it. Fresh bread, avocado, tomato and cherries, followed by coffee refreshed us all and re-energised, we set off for the descent. The boots really came into their own here, providing good grip over the rocky terrain.
The descent was faster than the ascent and we all made it back down in one piece, hot but happy. I’m also pleased to report that despite us all wearing brand new boots, nobody had picked up any blisters. However, it was a relief to remove them and let my feet cool down again!
I like going for walks, but this is the first time in a long while that I have gone on a multi terrain hike. Quechua, like all of the Decathlon brands, have worked hard to make their sports accessible for everyone, with good quality products available at affordable pricing. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to learn more about the brand and put their products to the test while spending time with some awesome people. Thank you everyone, those couple of nights away were just right for a mental refresh.