What do you wear when you are out for a walk is a question I’m often asked, particularly by people equipping themselves for the first time.
As always, the type and amount of clothing worn will depend on the time of year, the length of the walk and the type of terrain being walked over. Here are a few tips that might prove useful:
Starting from the ground up – A pair of boots with a good grip and a waterproof liner are essential as they will both protect your feet and stop you from sliding around! Mid-length boots are better on rough terrain as they support the ankle.
Walking socks are one of the most important items of clothing and are generally made from a range of materials including Marino Wool, Polyamide, Cotton, and others. Different models are available in different materials and thicknesses. Good walking socks will have flat seams and will be designed to wick moisture away from the skin, hold their shape and grip the foot, reducing the risk of blisters. Some walkers, particularly in the colder months wear two pairs, a thin liner sock and a thicker padded one
The layering system combines a range of outdoor garments which utilise technical fabrics to provide the best possible comfort and protection from the elements. The system easily allows extra layers to be added or removed in response to changes in environmental conditions.
Base layers are the foundation on which an effective layering system is built. A technical base layer is much more practical and comfortable to wear than a cotton t-shirt or equivalent. In cold weather, a pair of leggings will provide extra warmth and comfort under trousers. Technical fabrics like Polypropylene offer warmth whilst also wicking moisture away from the skin and drying quickly. Fabrics like bamboo also work well as they are comfortable to wear, naturally antibacterial, and wick extremely well
A mid-layer is the insulation layer, providing extra warmth and some protection from the wind. In dry, mild conditions you may never need to put on your outer shell layer. Fleece, a polyester fabric often made from recycled plastic bottles. A Technical Fleece such as our Hirta will offer a good level of warmth as well as wicking moisture and drying quickly.
For the lower limbs, a pair of walking trousers are ideal as they are lightweight, very breathable, and water-resistant. Cotton, jean-type trousers should be avoided as they absorb moisture, take a long time to dry, and are cold to wear when wet.
Outer- (Shell) Layer
The outer layer provides water and windproof protection from the elements. For prolonged use on hills or exposed terrain a mountain jacket, which is robust, waterproof, and breathable is a good option.
For more casual walks on easier terrain in better weather, a lightweight option such as a pack-away jacket could be considered, but they would be less suitable in prolonged bad weather.
Waterproof trousers are also essentials on the hill and should always be carried. Even if only used in prolonged rain or snowy conditions.
An extra insulation layer is always very useful to have with you in your rucksack. A synthetic insulated jacket would be ideal as they provide great warmth and pack away small when not in use. Being able to put on an extra layer when sitting for lunch or higher on the hill can make life much more comfortable.
4. Hats and Gloves
Hats and gloves should be vital parts of the kit list all year round. In the summer months, it can still be very wintery and cold on higher ground. I personally always carry something like a headover which can work as a lightweight hat or can be worn around the neck. I also carry a few pairs of gloves as I’m really not a fan of cold hands and swap them as they get wet. Thinner gloves are fine much of the time but in colder weather, an extra pair of warmer gloves with a waterproof shell such as Mountain gloves are a great option.
A pair of gaiters are highly recommended and come into their own when walking through wet, muddy, or gravely terrain or through the snow. Gaiters will protect the uppers of your boots and your trousers and reduce the ingress of mud and water into the boots. They will keep your feet drier and more comfortable.
Most outdoor clothing is extremely durable and will last a long time even with regular use, so an initial investment in some decent gear will rarely be regretted.