Get Inspired: The right equipment for Hiking & Rambling
If you enjoy the great outdoors, there is no better way of experiencing the countryside than at your own pace through hiking or rambling.
Being at the mercy of the elements can be both exhilarating and medicinal as you feel the stress of the week melt away, but it can also be risky if you don't have the right equipment.
Take the worry out of walking by reading through our checklist of hiking advice.
To find out out more about the benefits of walking, and to find other styles to suit you, see the Get Inspired guide to walking. To get ready for your outdoor adventure, read on.
Remember the mantra - Layer, layer, layer.
A thin layer of wool or man-made fibre next to the skin to 'wick' moisture away from your skin. On top of this a mid-weight or heavier layer for insulation. Wind protection should be a lightweight wind-shell. Always carry a good breathable waterproof jacket with hood and trousers. And don't forget a hat - even in the summer! Gloves - depends on the season, but keep them handy just in case.
Good footwear is essential
Never buy new boots just before you start!
You need lightweight boots, trail walking shoes or fell running/walking shoes for the easy bits and slightly heavier, more supportive waterproof boots for the wet days.
If you can't use two sets of boots then go for the mid-weight boots and make sure you dry them thoroughly each night. Oh, and change your socks regularly - always keep a spare pair in your backpack.
It's essential to have good map-reading skills and to be able to navigate accurately with a compass.
If it's been a while since you did this then get out and practise. Handheld GPS devies are much cheaper now and are easy to use - but you do have to learn how to use them and also to practise. To use a GPS safely you need to apply normal hill navigation skills to the GPS or you could end up trying to walk directly up a cliff, over a cliff or across a river.
Smart phones work well in some areas and you can use the GPS apps with no problem - but remember there could be big sections of the walk with no signal so don't rely on your mobile or map apps.
Carry a first aid kit and know how to use it. There is no point in taking a huge one. A few sensible essentials are:
- Blister Plasters - the very best things for blisters
- Band-aids of various sizes
- Antiseptic cream
- Painkillers - aspirin, ibuprofen, paracetamol
- Strapping tape for sprains and to hold down those band aids that won't stick
- Any regularly taken medication
It's a good idea to let someone know that you have gone on your hike, and tell them where you started the walk and where you intend to walk to.
Mobile phones work well for sections of the walk, but there are long areas without any signal. So do carry a phone but don't rely on it too much. A battery pack charger or a second phone saves you being out of battery when you really need to make a call.
Don't carry too much. Remember that weight is not your friend!
Always carry a compass, map, headlamp and multi-purpose knife, but leave anything heavy at home. And don't forget to bring some water to keep you hydrated and some snacks for energy.
If you are going on a long hike that could take more than a day, it might be a good idea to use a baggage carry services. Walking trails like the Pennine Way are used to ramblers and this kind of service is widely used. When you leave the B&B your overnight bags are delivered to your next stop which means that you walk each day just with a small pack.
Are you inspired to try walking? Or maybe you are a keen enthusiast already?
See our full list of activity guides for more inspiration.