Clothing and Equipment

There is always plenty of information on the latest gear in Walk Magazine but for short walks in urban areas or easy countryside, all you need is a good, comfortable pair of shoes that won’t cause blisters, and ordinary comfortable clothing. 

Footwear

Wear tough shoes that are a good fit, with arch support, a slightly elevated heel and ‘breathable’ uppers such as fabric or leather. Casual shoes or quality trainers with heavy soles will do.  Some trainers are now sold as “urban walking shoes”.

If you go walking regularly, you could invest in a pair of proper walking shoes from a specialist outdoor shop. These are usually made from fabric with specially moulded soles. As well as protecting the feet, they should be much more waterproof than ordinary shoes or trainers, important if you do longer walks in wet weather.

Photo - Amelia Calvert

Lightweight walking boots give your ankles better support, important if you’re walking on rough paths and up and down a lot of hills, and will be more waterproof still. But you might find them too heavy for everyday walking.

Wellington boots are adequate for very short walks if it’s very wet, but not for general walking as they don’t allow your feet to breathe properly.

Tougher walking boots are recommended for rougher conditions, particularly in mountainous areas in winter weather. Ask in a specialist outdoor shop for advice.

Clothing

Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothes appropriate to the weather.  In Scotland it’s always advisable to take a waterproof top layer or anorak. Several layers of clothing are best, since they insulate better and you can take them on or off as needed – for example, a T-shirt; then a sweatshirt or fleece, then a waterproof jacket on top.

Most people find loose fitting trousers, shorts or jogging trousers most practical. Some trousers that are comfortable in everyday use can rub painfully once you’ve walked in them for half an hour.

Keeping waterproofs in good condition is essential, there is helpful information and guidance on our website.

Jeans aren’t ideal unless they’re very comfortable and the weather is fine, as they get very heavy and uncomfortable when wet and take a long time to dry.

For people who walk a lot, outdoor shops sell lightweight clothes that will keep you warm and dry while allowing you to sweat naturally.

Food and Water

As with any other physical activity, you need to replace water lost through sweating. Still water (tap or mineral) is by far the best for this as it’s quicker and easier to drink than sparkling and doesn’t contain sugars or other additives.  Some walkers also like to take a hot drink in an insulated flask, especially in colder weather. Try to drink regularly, rather than waiting till you’re very thirsty. Doctors say you need at least 1.2 litres of fluid a day (6-8 glasses), more if you’re particularly active.

Food will boost your energy, and also give you the opportunity for an enjoyable break. Stick to healthy eating rules by eating fresh fruit rather than sugary bars for energy, although sugary snacks are useful as an emergency standby. Remember chocolate will melt in warm weather!

Backpacks

A small rucksack or backpack, is the best way to carry food, drink, maps and guidebooks, spare layers of clothing and other essentials.  It will be much more comfortable and better-balanced than bags held in the hand or over one shoulder.

If you walk regularly, there is a huge range of clothing and equipment on the market to make your walking more comfortable: a good pair of boots, proper walking socks, a lightweight breathable waterproof jacket and a well-made daypack are all very useful items.  For walking in challenging terrain, proper clothing and equipment are essential. 

Further information here on safety and equipment 


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