When the weather starts warming up (or indeed throughout the winter for the hardcore hikers among us), lots of us start thinking about going on longer walks. But what clothing and equipment is needed to have an enjoyable and safe hike in the countryside? Read on for some top tips on what to wear when walking and hiking.
When hiking, you can never underestimate the power of layers. At higher altitudes the weather can be very unpredictable and can change from bonnie blue skies to a whiteout blizzard in an instant. The beauty of layers is you are able to add or take off depending on varying temperatures and weather types. Generally for hiking and walking clothing we recommend the rule of three.
Obviously if you are hiking in cooler temperatures it is recommended to take additional layers including thermals. We would recommend erring on the side of caution, if unsure whether you will be warm enough, always take a spare layer just in case. It is easy to take a light fleece layer off and stow it in a backpack!
|Highlander Pro Base Layer|
|Ridgeline Norwegian Half Zipped Fleece Top – Autumnal|
|Musto Essential Evo Microfleece|
|Trespass Windermere Waterproof Jacket|
Your feet and legs do most of the work while hiking. We cannot stress enough how important it is to ensure your feet are as comfortable as possible. You can achieve this by:
- Investing in a pair of good quality pair boots or shoes
- Ensuring you wear appropriate hiking socks for your feet and the terrain
- Wearing in any new footwear prior to long hikes.
Wearing the correct socks can severely reduce your chance of getting uncomfortable feet while walking. For more info on socks, check out our guides:
We touched on this in the part about layers but waterproofs are so important that we felt they needed their very own section! Getting wet when the heavens open is a sure-fire way to allow your body temperature to drop, chafing to start and generally to just make a walk miserable. Wearing a fully waterproof coat or jacket and a good pair of hiking trousers that will keep water out will prevent this.
When it comes to waterproof trousers, it depends what you find comfortable. You may opt for water repellent hiking trousers or a pair of walking leggings and have a pair of waterproof over trousers at the ready in the event of a downpour. Read our guide on The best Outdoor Trousers for every eventuality.
|Highlander Outdoor Gear – Stow & Go Waterproof Jacket|
|Hoggs of Fife Struther Waterproof Jacket|
|Craghoppers Classic Kiwi Trousers|
|Regatta Pro Packaway Waterproof Overtrousers|
Keeping extremities warm will make a huge difference to body temperature. A good pair of socks, warm insulating gloves and a heat trapping hat will help keep you warm when it matters. For anyone that suffers from earache when exposed to wind for prolonged periods, hats or headwarmers are a must.
For warmer months, hats can act as a shield to keep the sun out of your eyes. Even in cooler months, exposure to sun can leave you with sunburn so it’s important to wear the correct equipment to minimise the risk. Browse our full hat collection and check out all our caps and hats with brims and peaks.
|Highland Cow Fleece Neck Warmer|
|Knitted Bobble Hat|
|Vintage Baseball Cap|
For a day long hike, you are going to need hydration and energy. There are many things to think about when planning what food and drink to take. How much you will need depends on how far you are planning on going. It is important to stay well fuelled and take regular breaks throughout the day. Camel back type drinks pouches can help you to keep hydrated, or a simple flask that will tuck into a rucksack pocket can work equally well. If you are planning a winter hike, it may be advisable to consider taking water in a thermal flask to stop it freezing and a warm drink to warm you up if you get chilly. Hot food can be a real pick-me-up after a day in the hills, thermal flasks and food containers are ideal for storing in your rucksack until you need some energy.
|Grisport 500ml Drinks Bottle|
|Stanley Food Jar – 0.7l|
|Highlander Travel Mug|
A backpack/rucksack with multiple straps is essential for any longer walk or hike. They spread the weight evenly across your shoulders and back (unlike a shoulder bag) so will be comfortable when walking longer distances. For short to longer walks that you can do in a day, we would recommend a daysack anywhere between 15-25 litre capacity depending on:
- Distance you are walking
- What time of year (lots of layers vs. just a few!)
- Location you are walking.
Any good daysacks of this size will still be fairly light even when fully loaded. It will easily fit in all your additional layers should you want to take them off, all your safety supplies and any food and drink you are taking. View the full Cherry Tree rucksack collection here.
|SLX Performance 5L Waistpouch|
|Grisport Tour 15L Rucksack|
|Highland Discovery 65L|
|Trek 33L Rucksack|
Even if you adhere to best practice with regards to walking and have the highest spec hiking clothing and equipment, things can still go wrong. It is important to be prepared for all eventualities, particularly when hiking in the mountains. All responsible hikers should take a first aid kit with them on longer hikes. We would also recommend considering the following if appropriate:
Headtorch – particularly if you are doing a sunrise or sunset walk but this could also come in handy if your hike takes longer than expected. We recommend the Highlander Wave 3W.
Blister plasters – blisters are sometimes inevitable if you are doing a long hike, it’s a good idea to have a pack to hand in case one of your party starts to suffer.
Walking poles – not everyone likes walking poles however some hikers wouldn’t be without them. It’s personal preference but poles can really help on uneven ground when you need a bit more support. The Highlander Skye Ultra Light walking pole is super lightweight and features a comfortable grip.
Map – nowadays lots of people use GPS to navigate on a walk but it is always good to have a back up in case technology fails. Lots of hiking jackets, such as the Highlander Boreas Winter Jacket, feature a map pocket to keep paper maps intact in wet weather.
Insect repellent – this one largely depends where you are walking. If you are planning on doing hikes – particularly in the North of Scotland – we would recommend investing in some insect repellent.
Consider gaiters – if your hike involves trekking through undergrowth (woodland, heather etc.) or bogs, gaiters can be of huge benefit. They will prevent wet trousers and soggy socks as well as keeping bugs and ticks out.
Wear suntan lotion – even if you do not think it’s particularly sunny, UV rays can still be harmful. When hiking up high with wind, temperatures feel cooler than they are so you may not notice yourself burning. Use a high factor for your face.
Waterproof phone case – if your phone isn’t waterproof, consider a waterproof case. This will mean your method of contacting someone in the case of emergency is protected in the event of water getting into your rucksack or pockets.
Do your research – nowadays there is plenty of information on popular walks to be read on the internet so you can get a feel for what your journey might be like. Additionally you might want to consider getting in touch with a local walking group or following some on Facebook. Walking community members often have lots of helpful tips and know the best spots!