Firstly: you don’t actually need a lot of walking kit to go for a walk, which makes it one of the cheapest and most accessible leisure activities. However, there are various items that make a day walk considerably easier, more comfortable and more enjoyable. If you’re walking in upland or remote areas, it’s also sensible to pack a few bits of additional kit to help you stay safe. Here is some advice from Pinnacle Walking Holidays.
What to have in your Walking Kit
All seasoned walkers will tell you that having the correct clothing can make such a difference between a happy hike and a bad slog. But this doesn’t mean simply buying lots of ‘technical’ outdoor walking kit. The key to comfort is the principle of layering. Basically, this means adding or removing layers of clothing in response to changes in weather conditions, as well as your own body temperature. Always pack well.
This next-to-skin layer wicks away sweat to help keep you warm when it’s cold, cool when it’s hot, and as dry as possible at all times. Long-sleeve or short-sleeve is down to personal preference, as is synthetic or merino wool. The latter is warmer and tends to smell less, though synthetic layers are improving in performance all the time. Synthetic layers also tend to slide more easily under other layers, which can aid comfort and make it easier to remove or add clothing. Layers with a higher collar can help to protect the back of the neck from sun or windchill, and a zip can also aid cooling. Thumb loops are useful in eliminating gaps between sleeves and gloves.
The traditional midlayer is a polyester fleece, which is light, warm, soft and quick-drying. Other midlayers include ‘hard face’ fleeces and softshell jackets (which have a durable, windproof outer), hybrid garments (to warm your core and wick sweat in areas like the underarms) and ‘active insulation’ midlayers (loosely-woven insulation that offers lightweight warmth but excellent breathability).
In cold conditions, you can wear an insulated down or synthetic jacket instead of or in addition to a midlayer. This can be a useful spare layer to carry in your pack too, to put on during rest stops.
In Britain, it’s always advisable to carry a hooded, waterproof jacket, sometimes called a ‘hard shell’. This provides windproof weather protection.
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Lightweight yet rugged trousers, made from a quick-drying fabric.
Waterproof trousers, ideally with at least a quarter-length leg zip to easily fit over walking boots if the heavens open.
Wear cushioned, wicking walking socks. These come in various different weights (thicknesses) for different conditions and seasons. Many walkers opt to wear a pair of thin liner socks and a thicker outer pair.
Boots or Trail Shoes
If you walk mainly on good-quality paths, trail shoes can be a good lightweight option, but on rougher ground, wear comfortable and supportive boots. In winter, you’ll need stiffer boots, especially if using them with crampons.