Exploring the outdoors is for everyone, and if you’re just starting to make walking or hiking a more regular thing then we have some handy facts and tips that can help you enjoy it as much as possible.
Hit the hills, don’t sweat the small stuff!
Why choose walking?
Walking is simple, free, and one of the easiest ways to get more active, lose weight and become healthier.
Sometimes overlooked as a form of exercise, walking briskly can help you build stamina, burn excess calories and make your heart healthier.
You don’t have to walk for hours…even a brisk 10-minute daily walk has lots of health benefits and counts towards your NHS recommended 150 minutes of weekly exercise.
Take yourself off to a local trail in the country and you’ll be presented with so much beautiful, open space, you won’t quite know what to do with it!
Get closer to nature
In the country, you are surrounded by the singing of the birds rather than by the noise from the traffic. The countryside is surrounded by nature which has a soothing effect on both the mind and the body. A good walk can do wonders for your mental wellbeing. But it’s not just about the occasional one-off feel good factor. Being active has a whole range of benefits when it comes to mental wellbeing.
It improves self-perception and self-esteem, mood and sleep quality, and it reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue.
But, what to wear?
The first question everyone will ask themselves before they head out on their first hike is, ‘what should I wear?’
If you have little experience with walking or preparing for the outdoors in general, it can be daunting to kit yourself out properly on your own. Working from top to bottom, we have put together a guide to clothing and accessories for walking and hiking, so you know before you go.
Your Upper Half
Your first must-have is a waterproof jacket which will keep you protected, dry and comfortable when zigzagging through forests, hills and lakesides.
We all know how quickly the weather can change, and at higher altitudes, a sudden shift in weather can be dangerous if you aren’t appropriately prepared. Look for a good waterproofness level combined with significant breathable properties, as this will help you stay fresh when you’re on the move – ideal for brisk treks and mountain climbs.
Your mid-layer is just as important as the outer layer, as it insulates heat and can be used as a light cover-up when the weather is fine. A fleece zip-up is a good choice of mid-layer, as it is a multi-use garment and provides protection from icy winds and temperatures.
A base layer will complete your gear for your upper half, wicking away moisture when you’re getting hot and sweaty from exerting yourself, yet still insulating your body heat when you’re cooler.
Your Lower Half
A pair of quality walking boots to your outfit to make sure that your feet are able to tolerate the strains and stresses of walking long distances across diverse terrain. Trainers or slip-on shoes just won’t cut it on the hills and mountains, plus varied trails below. You will need a pair of boots that has a rugged grip sole, good support around the ankle and preferably a waterproof outer layer.
From the daily commute to a day out reaching that elusive peak, our rucksacks will see you through. Each is designed with comfort, durability and performance in mind. Crammed with great details like breathable air mesh and convenient pockets they’re guaranteed to make life a little easier wherever you’re heading.
Make sure you have the best clothing and equipment possible for your walk or hike.
Things to consider as a beginner
First-time hikers can often forget essential things that might not be the end of the world but can maybe make life a little more difficult uphill. So, here is what to do to avoid trouble…
- Take plenty of water with you
- Make sure your phone is fully charged (and invest in a portable charger)
- A traditional paper map will never let you down
- A packed lunch and/or snacks will provide a much-needed energy boost
- Pack some plasters, bandages and an emergency blanket (for those longer and steeper walks)
- Do not wear trainers (more so for hiking than walking)
- Bring a spare hoodie or fleece in case it gets cold
- Let someone know where you are hiking before you go
- Don’t rush it! You can go at your own pace!
Where to go?
Before you head out, ask yourself these questions to help you find the perfect trail and make sure that you’re 100% prepared:
- How long do you want to be out for?
- Are you going to take friends, go solo, or hike with the family?
- Do you know the route?
- Will you be back before dark?
- Have you told someone where you’re going?
These questions will help you pick the right trail or route and ensure you stay safe as you go. The last question there is vitally important; before you leave civilisation, make sure that you tell a friend where you’re off to, how long you plan on being away and remember to give them your contact number.
In need of some inspiration of where to walk? Take a look at the Top 15 walks in the UK that you can enjoy with the family.