Whether you’re a walking seasoned professional or you simply fancy a WALKING HOLIDAY, you’ve probably noticed the amount of walking gear you can buy. The question is do we really need all of this or can we make do with what we already have? Do we need to spend a lot of money or are less expensive products as reliable? First off a waterproof jacket would come highly recommended, and for obvious reasons, in the UK we have a lot of rain even in the summer months and so a waterproof jacket is a no brainer. However prices range vastly with many different features. The key things to look out for are whether it is actually waterproof; what fabric is it made from? How the jacket is constructed, is it a good fit, will hoods stay up and not let rain in? What about zips for pockets and adjustment toggles to keep you really dry? Generally the more you spend the better the fabric and the more the design has been thought through. However some of the less expensive jackets will certainly keep you dry if you aren’t worried about added extras such as a waterproof pocket for maps or a vent to keep you cool.
Definitely next to mention is footwear, your feet are doing a lot of work through all kinds of terrains so footwear is key to comfort and therefore your enjoyment of the walk. There is a huge range in most shops from shoes and boots for different seasons, leather boots, fabric boots and many different soles. Certainly confusing! To begin with its best to match your walking shoes to the season you’ll be walking in and the terrain you’ll be walking on, most will have labels to guide and inform you and make things a little bit easier. It’s good to keep in mind that if you’re on a COTSWOLD WALK or somewhere that it’s likely to be wet then Gore-Tex lining or full leather are great. Wet feet get very uncomfortable and are prone to blister which will really throw a spanner in the works for you. These days there should be no need to wear in walking boots, so make sure you really feel the fit is comfortable when you are purchasing them. You may have a favourite pair of trainers that you’d like to walk in that are super comfortable but it’s actually not advisable. They won’t offer any ankle support which is helpful if you’re negotiating lots of steps or steep trails. They also may not have the appropriate grip which can increase risks of slips and falls and will generally make walking more difficult.
As well as these items there are also walking accessories, these can be helpful but are certainly not essentials. Walking poles can help prevent sore legs and muscle strains but you will find most people walk without these without any problems. Waterproof trousers will keep you more dry and comfortable if it does rain but unless it’s going to be torrential downpours you could certainly walk without.
In conclusion it would seem that having some walking gear is sensible and quite necessary, however you’ll pay more for the details and extras which aren’t always needed but can be seen as more of a luxury. As long as you make sure the key aspects are covered then you needn’t spend a fortune on walking gear. If however you decide you’d like to splash out there will certainly be some great added benefits.