Whether you're new to walking or an experienced walker there are several items that are a must when out on a walk for your own comfort, safety and enjoyment! These items can differ slightly depending on what kind of walk you are going on but a variation of the items listed here are standard for most walks. Invest in good quality kit that will last and do its job whilst out on a walk. Here are our top picks!
1. Walking Boots
Probably the most important part of your walking outfit - the more comfortable your feet are on your walk, the less tired you'll get and you'll reduce your chances of injury. There are a few options when it comes to choosing a good walking boot, our favourite is the Meindl Mens Burma Pro MFS Walking Boot in Brown for men or the Brasher Womens Hillmaster II GTX Walking Boot in Chocolate for ladies. These boots have memory foam technology for extra comfort and Gore-Tex lining to keep your feet completely dry. The Mens Brasher is great for demanding hikes and the women's boot is great for hillwalking.
Read our guide to help you decide on the best boot for you.
2. Walking Socks
A decent walking sock is an absolute essential for any walk and can make all the difference to your comfort. Think of these as an extension of your walking boot, they work together with the boot to provide comfort, warmth and maintain a comfortable environment for your foot. We recommend the SmartWool Mens Hiking Medium Crew Sock as it is great for long hikes and it has extra merino wool in areas which are prone to wear which helps keep you comfortable and also makes for a longer lasting sock. Merino wool is a fantastic material for walking socks, you can read more about it here. Ladies might like to try the SmartWool Womens Striped Hiking Medium Crew Sock, it has all the benefits of Merino Wool, being naturally breathable, soft and it wicks moisture away from the foot working together with a good hiking boot your foot will stay comfortable on long hikes. These socks have elastic supported areas to help keep the sock in place and stop it from riding down off your foot and causing friction inside the boot.
3. Waterproof Jacket
As our weather is famous for its changeable ways, it's a good idea to have a waterproof jacket as a part of your dedicated walking kit. A lightweight jacket that will protect you from wind and rain as well as wick away moisture from your body is ideal as this will keep you more comfortable during a walk. Consider other technical aspects such as hoods, waterproof zips, pockets and draw-cords that will all contribute to the overall comfort and functionality of your jacket. We like the Berghaus Mens Paclite 3 Jacket as it is lightweight and easily packs away into it's own sack so it's perfectly compact for taking on a walk whether you need it or not. It's made from Gore-Tex which is a excellent material that is super breathable and will keep you dry. This jacket has a roll away peaked hood, zipped hand pockets and articulated sleeves so it's easy to see why it's one of our best selling waterproof jackets. It is also available in a women's design with all the same features and comes in some lovely shades that are highly visible when out walking.
4. Waterproof Pants
These are ideally lightweight and easily stowable so you can whip them out when needed, to wear over your walking trousers and then whip them away again. We recommend the Berghaus Mens and Womens Paclite Pants as these waterproofs are constructed from Gore-Tex and are not only waterproof but breathable, windproof and durable meaning they'll last season after season. Simply put over your walking trousers when caught in heavy rain whilst hiking. Perfect for year round wet weather.
5. Walking Trousers
Walking trousers are designed for durability and comfort out on the hills, we like the Paramount Peak Convertible Pant as it can be worn as a long trouser or converted into shorts for warmer weather walking. They are abrasion and water resistant with plenty of cargo style pockets to stash essentials and they have UPF 30 protection.
6. Walking Poles
These can be seen as an optional addition to your walking kit, but once you've used them you'll probably never want to be without them. Walking poles are great because they give you support and confidence over trickier terrain and there is evidence that they are beneficial health-wise as they reduce stress and impact on knee and hip joints. They can also help propulsion giving you greater speed as well as helping to spread load weight and help posture. We recommend a pair of Leki Micro Vario Carbon Walking Poles, which are ultralight yet super strong and durable and it is super quick to assemble and easy to collapse down at the push of a button. The collapsible pole system ensure a small pack size ideal for fast and light adventures, it is also a shorter pole suitable for the shorter/lighter hiker.
A useful walking tool when used with map, a compass can really help with navigating routes in poor light or weather and is at times essential. The Silva Expedition 15T Compass is ideal for hiking, climbing and trekking and gives excellent compass accuracy and precision. A great tool for advanced outdoor navigation, with mirror sighting as a feature giving you 45 degree angle assistance and a clinometer for measuring slope angle. The Silva 1-2-3 System makes plotting a compass bearing easy.
You'll need to carry some of this gear with you when it's not being used so a good rucksack is important. You'll want a lightweight, durable, waterproof rucksack and with hip padding and breathable back system for those longer more challenging walks with more kit. Rucksacks with a hydration pocket are good as well as a rain cover and wand pockets for things such as walking poles. We like the the Angstrom 28 rucksack from The North Face as it is a lightweight rucksack designed for fast trail hikes. It has a 28 litre capacity so plenty of room for your jacket, snacks and maps and it is hydration compatible, includes a rain cover to protect gear and includes side bottle pockets for keeping extra water and isotonic drinks to hand. We love the chest strap that includes a whistle for safety.
High cut gaiters are useful for thick terrain and grassy bushy areas to protect your legs or low cut gaiters for when there is a chance of rain or mud but you will not need a full gaiter. The Berghaus GTX Gaiter is an all purpose gaiter with an under foot strap. Waterproof, breathable and durable, great for keeping boots and trousers dry in wet weather.
10. First Aid Kit/Survival Kit
You'll want to keep this light and essential, some ideas to include are: Plasters, antihistamine, painkillers, electrical tape, tick twisters, windproof matches, torch, spare torch batteries if required, swiss army knife, whistle, flares. We like the Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight and Watertight 9 First Aid Kit and you can add or remove things as you wish. Remember to check your kit when you use it, replace and replenish and make sure any tablets have not expired.