What equipment do I need?
The answer to this depends on what type of walking you are doing. Hill (or fell) walking will require more safety equipment than flat walking, just because of the increased risk of injury. The list below is the essential kit for your walk, with optional extras, plus the added essentials for hill walking:
Sturdy boots/ shoes
I use a 40 litre rucsack, which is plenty for my needs, and fits everything in that I need (plus a little more). You also need to remember that you may need extra space to store extras, like additional items of clothing that need to be removed. Use a rucsack liner to put your equipment in. It doesn’t have to be a fancy dry-bag; a bin liner does the same job.
Map and compass
Always put your map in a waterproof case, or use a waterproof map. You also need to make sure that you know how to use them!!!
A good guide on how much fluid to take is about 1/2 a litre per planned hour of walking. this doesn’t all need to be water, but I usually take 1 litre of water along with a couple of lucozade sport drinks and a flask of coffee.
Food and other drinks
As mentioned above, not all fluid has to be water. If you want to take a hot drink, why not take hot squash? That way, when it cools down, it is still drinkable. As for food, you need to make sure you have enough for the length of time you are out. Personally, I have a good breakfast before I go out (usually porridge), and pack up a couple of sandwiches, a bag of crisps and a couple of cake bars for lunch. I also make sure I have a few cereal bars as snacks throughout the day.
Waterproof jacket (with hood) and waterproof over-trousers
They don’t have to be fancy, they just have to work!!!
I have my faithful baseball cap I always wear. It keeps the sun off my face in the summer, and the rain out of my eyes when its rainy. However, when the weather is colder, I have my beanie that I wear, but I will always have my cap in my bag.
Gloves or mittens
The type depends on your personal preference. I have a lined pair that are always in my dry-bag, ready for me to use.
Spare fleece top
Again, this is always in my dry-bag. It is also useful to have when you get back to the car; especially if it has been raining and you are wet through.
A head torch is best, as you are not restricted and can use both hands for other tasks.
It is always a god idea to know what the time is, and when sunset is. You don’t want to get caught out in the dark un-prepared.
First aid kit, whistle and survival bag
A small first aid kit is plenty, with small dressings and plasters. I also have a pair of tick removers in mine as I frequently walk through long grass and past sheep. A good whistle is also essential, as this is what you would use if your mobile phone didn’t work.
Make sure it is fully charged at the start of your walk, and if you have a portable charger, bring that as well. It is also good practice to have a separate camera for taking pictures so that you don’t run the battery down in case of emergency But please remember that there are some areas that don’t get mobie phone signal, so don’t rely on it.
Also, as appropriate to the season:
What do I wear?
It may sound obvious, but comfortable clothes. The trousers need to be light, and not restrictive. I like to wear ‘zip off’ trousers as these offer a little more flexibility throughout the seasons.
On the top layer, layers are key. It is better to wear several thinner layers than one thick layer, as you can take off layers as you get warmer (and you will), and also put them on again if you get cooler.
On your feet, wear well fitting boots along with comfortable socks. My favourite socks are my merino wool socks as these fit perfectly and are extremely comfortable when I’m walking. I will always suggest buying your boots from a reputable dealer that you can go to and try on the footwear. The problem with online ordering is that you don’t know how well they fit. And there is also the big question; fabric or leather boots? I prefer leather, as I find it easier to look after, and keep waterproof.