WALKING is one of the easiest and cheapest forms of exercise. Whether it’s regular, short strolls around your neighbourhood, or a longer, more challenging countryside trek, it's important to make sure you are properly prepared. Once you’ve got the things you need, you can set off in confidence knowing that a little rain shower or a sudden burst of sunshine won’t spoil your day.
Here's our Top 10 list of Walking Essentials:
1. Light backpack – you will need to carry some things with you, such as a water bottle and a snack, and you might want your hands free for climbing over styles, low walls etc. You will also want somewhere to store any clothing that you need to shed en route, e.g. a jacket or hat. Although you must carry enough of what you need, depending on the length of the walk, don’t end up with an unnecessarily heavy pack which will only become a burden itself.
2. Base layer and fleece – be ready for keeping warm in cold weather, but also being able to remove one layer when you warm up. Choose a base layer that ‘wicks’ moisture away from the skin will prevent you feeling too sweaty as you walk. A fleece is a light but warm and comfortable layer that won’t be too heavy if carrying it in the backpack.
3. Light waterproof jacket – be prepared for wind or rain, even if the sun is shining when you set off. The British weather can be very changeable and you might be miles from any decent shelter when the heavens decide to open!
4. Comfortable trousers – avoid a tight waist, denim, or fashion trousers that will be uncomfortable once you have been walking a while. What feels comfortable for daily stroll might not suit a long walk. Choose a stretchy fabric that will allow your legs free movement.
5. Waterproof overtrousers – keep them in your backpack ready for that sudden downpour. Pop them on over your trousers to keep your legs dry, and they can be returned to the backpack once the rain passes.
6. Walking boots – your feet will obviously be taking the brunt of the walking so make sure you have well-fitting, comfortable walking boots. Your shoes could be the difference between an enjoyable walk and a miserable day out. If you are unsure, take advice from a reputable stockist.
7. Cushioning/breathable socks – you don’t want blisters spoiling your day, especially if you are halfway into your walk and have still got a way to go. Look for socks with underfoot cushioning and ‘wicking’ to remove moisture from your feet.
8. Walking poles – if you want a little more help, walking poles like those used for Nordic Walking, will provide support, stability, and help to ease the pressure on your knees.
9. Hat and gloves – although probably not necessary for summer walking, they’re worth keeping in your rucksack.
10. A map and compass - it's all very well being dressed for the elements but your fun could be spoiled if you end up getting lost.
And remember, if you are planning a challenging walk, make sure someone at home knows what your route is likely to be, and your estimated time of return.