What Walking Gear Do You Need?
Planning for a walk requires organisation and method – and that also goes for the clothes and gear that you intend taking with you. One of the attractions of a walking is that it requires such a low financial investment to get kitted out: little more than a pair of comfortable supportive shoes and clothing suitable for the weather and time of the year.
The Right Shoes
The following tips will help you buy the right shoes:
- Try them on late in the day – your feet tend to swell as the day wears on
- Wear socks similar to those you will be walking in – perhaps you like wearing thicker socks
- Do they feel flexible – do they support your weight?
- Is there enough space in the toe-box for you to wiggle your toes? When you push off, your toes will want to expand and spread
- Is the heel firm enough? It should be firm but not rigid
- Walk around the shop. If they are not comfortable, don’t buy them. Don’t fall for sales talk that they will wear in and expand – they probably won’t.
The Right Socks
It is essential to kit yourself out with socks that not only protect the feet from injury, but disperse or ‘wick away’ perspiration which would otherwise eat into the lining of your shoes. Since each foot can sweat as much as a cup of perspiration a day, shoes can be easily damaged and they can become uncomfortable, causing corns and blisters. The best socks are those which provide cushioning and which draw perspiration away from your feet leaving them dry and cool – blends of synthetics with cotton or all-synthetic socks such as orlon, polypropylene and stretch nylon, or a mixture of these. Change your socks every day and, on long walks, if your feet perspire a lot, change your socks whenever they get wet. Consider socks that are padded in high-impact areas like the heel and toe and others with additional cushioning on the sole and top of the sock. You really will be ‘walking on air’.
The Right Clothing
After choosing suitable shoes and socks, the next thing is to consider the type of clothing you are planning to wear – and that depends on the weather:
Hot weather. During hot weather, wear light-coloured clothes to reflect the heat and light. Although cotton is comfortable, when you sweat it gets wet, and tends to stay wet. So go for synthetic fibres, such as polypropylene, that wick moisture away from the skin and dry quickly. If you’re walking in the sun it’s an idea to wear a brimmed hat.
Cold weather. We’d certainly recommend picking up some North Face clothing from Blacks on-line. On cold days, the trick is to make sure your extremities are kept warm. Cover your head and neck, and wear gloves. And wear several light layers of clothing that you can add or remove while you walk. Start with an inner layer of synthetic wicking materials (such as the ones used in hot weather). Then follow with an insulating layer such as wool or a lightweight fleece material, with a zipper to warm up or cool down during your walk. Your outer layer should be water resistant and a wind stopper. Never let the rain put you off. Water-resistant fabrics such as Gore-Tex or Sympatex are light, they breathe, and they work. They may not be cheap, but they are a good investment for walking in inclement weather.