Walking for Enjoyment
A guide to using the right walking gear and equipment for day hikes.
I love walking. A short walk out in the fresh air, it clears my head and lifts my mood even in the rain. I’m happy to walk alone with our dog, with friends or my children, who are thankfully now much more capable and don’t whinge!
How far do you walk? There’s nothing better than the feeling of achievement when you have pushed yourself to do something. Of course everyone has a different level of what they can manage physically. All we can aim for is to do our best within our limits. When it comes to walking it might be just to the end of your road or a short walk along the seafront. If you are fitter maybe you’ve ambitions to hike up Machu Pichu or Mount Kilimanjaro. As you know on this blog I try to cover walks and days out for all abilities and types of family.
Walking in Snowdonia
In a few weeks time I’ve been given the opportunity to walk up Mount Snowdon in North Wales. This has been on my to do list for a long time. Even though it will be mad weekend dash (I only realised it was a five hour drive from Devon once I had agreed to the trip) I am really excited to be going and taking the girls with me.
Snowdon is popular and has many well trodden paths, however I am certainly not taking it lightly. It’s approximately 3 hours up and 3 hours back down and I know we need to be prepared. The weather is very unpredictable in place like Snowdonia. We have chosen to head up Pyg Pass and back down via Miners which are relatively easy options.
I’ve been lucky enough to trek all over the world, but it’s been a while since I needed to sort out proper walking gear. I have been looking online to research what to wear, what to take and what I am missing.
What to Wear
For a longer day walk it really is worth being prepared. I’m thinking of walks across Dartmoor or even some sections of the coast path where you can’t dash back to the car in 20 minutes or escape the weather in a cosy pub and dry off in front of a log burner.
Comfortable and Appropriate Clothes
1. Layered Tops – make the most of the technology that allows you to wear light layers that you can easily carry. Take spare tops in your bag especially if you set off in good weather
2. Walking trousers ( no jeans), need to be light weight and ideally shower proof. Or if the weather looks likely to turn, pack waterproof over trousers as well. I discovered last year walking the dog that mine are no longer watertight!
3. Waterproof jacket – the weather in the UK is so unpredictable so don’t leave home without one. There is a great selection of coats including a new autumn range on the Hawkshead website (you can click here to view). They stock a number of different well known brands like Regatta and Craghoppers.
4. Walking boots or sturdy walking shoes – if you are walking over rocky or uneven ground you may want to have boots with ankle support. Make sure they are waterproof, ideally with a waterproof membrane like Gortex. You can also buy a waterproof spray to add yourself to older boots. I’m a fan of Brasher boots but there are plenty of excellent brands to choose from. Take spare laces as well.
5. Socks – good quality, breathable thick socks or two pairs will help keep feet safe and blister free. Carry spares in case your get wet feet.
Top tip – Make sure you try out your boots and socks combination before you set off on a long walk and break new boots in on short walks before a big hike.
6. Hat – in summer or winter, and gloves.
7. Rucksack: big enough for storing spare layers, socks, accessories and snacks when you’re out hiking. I recently picked up a good value 25l one from a special event at Lidl (lets hope it lasts the test). It’s also sensible to have a rucksack liner or put your spare clothes in water proof carrier bags.
Useful Extras and Emergency Planning
We all want to have an uneventful walk, whether you go 2 miles or 22 miles. However you just never know what might happen or how the weather might change. Don’t cast this part aside. Better to be safe than sorry and check them off your list:
Here is a list of recommended extras to carry:
Sun protection: sun cream, sunglasses, sun hats and lip balm.
Pen knife, rope and whistle: Just in case you find yourself in an emergency situation.
First aid: Plasters – include microporous tape which is ideal for hot spots before they turn into blisters. Don’t be afraid to make your group stop and wait while you tape up rubbing patches. It also helps to keep normal plasters in place. Paracetamol and medications plus bite cream and insect repellent in the summer.
Map and compass: Ideally make sure at least one member of your team can map read! Don’t rely on having a phone signal. I’m a bit of and Ordnance Survey map geek, but these days you can also download the maps onto your phone and use them offline.
A torch and spare batteries: If your hike runs into the early evening, you might need some artificial light to guide you safely back to camp. Head torches are very useful.
Emergency contact details: Tell someone your plan and keep details in your rucksack of who you are and who to contact in case of emergency. If you’re new to an area, make sure you look up some nearby places to divert to like pubs, villages or even a farm. The last thing you want is to be stranded on a hike in an emergency with no idea of the closest pitstop!
Food and Drink: Take more water than you think you need, it’s important to stay hydrated as you hike. Pack food, sandwiches, snack bars, dried fruit and nuts.
Mobile Phone: Take a fully charged phone with you – not just for selfies at the top of the hill!
Camera: Not essential walking gear, but if you can, pack one for your walk. If you like using your phone you may need to take a portable battery charger.
Toilet Paper: no explanation required. Just be mindful of what you leave behind!
All this talk of hiking got me looking back through my old photos.
I was lucky enough to spend 6 months backpacking in South America which included a lot of hiking. Here’s a picture of me in Peru (18 years ago!).
I hope you find this a helpful guide which has been written in collaboration with Hawkshead, who also have useful guides on their website to like how to choose a pair of hiking boots or use hiking poles.
I am really looking forward to our trip to Snowdonia. Have you been walking in there? If so do you have any top tips for me?
If you are looking for some walks in Devon and Dorset take a look at some of the South West Coast path routes I have covered such as this one from Beer to Branscombe.
Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links with Hawkshead.