Regular readers know that we love our woodland and coastal walks. We aim to go for at least one long walk a week. One of the things I love about walking is that in good weather conditions you can just walk out of the house and go. It’s a hobby that you don’t need to invest any money in to begin and over the years will save you lots of money as it’s a fun free day out. When you begin to walk more regularly and in all weathers you’ll find there is some kit and equipment that can help keep you more safe and comfortable during your woodland walks. Here are ten essentials for your next woodland walk:
Pick a pair of comfortable shoes or boots with a good grip and you can walk for miles easily in all weathers. As we have a lot of rain in the UK, woodland walks can often be muddy all year around making walking wellies a good option. I used to buy cheap wellies and replace them often when needed. While this might make sense for children as their feet grow (although of course our older kids pass down their wellies to the younger children), once your feet are fully grown it makes sense to invest in a good quality pair of wellington boots that will last you for life. My friend once told me if you need to find the best wellies ask a horse owning friend as they use their boots every day. Women’s horse riding boots are ideal for mucking out, horse riding and dog walking. They are perfect for a walk in the countryside.
One top tip is to always leave a bag of wellies and walking shoes in your car boot so you always have the correct footwear ready for a muddy walk!
2. A Lightweight Jacket
Another essential that keeps me walking all year around is a pack-away waterproof jacket. Even on a nice day I’ll always pop one in my bag or pocket, as you never know when the weather will change and on a wet day this will keep me nice and dry. They also make a great surface to sit on. I find wearing a light waterproof over a cardigan or hoody keeps me nice and warm. An insulated lightweight jacket is ideal for layering up and keeping you warm and dry. Long, heavy winter coats can wear you down so preserve your energy for walking with a lightweight coat.
3. A Water Bottle
Most of our woodland walks take place in the middle of nowhere with no facilities nearby so we make sure we always have plenty of water. We each carry a refillable bottle of water with us and we usually have spare water in the car so we can top up on our return.
4. A Hat
In the summer I wear a sun hat or cap to protect my hair from the heat. I have dark hair that really absorbs the heat from the sun. In the winter I wear a “wool” beanie hat. They always say to keep your whole body warm wear a hat and this is so true. In extremely cold weather add gloves too.
For shorter walks we pack a couple of high energy snacks to keep us going. For longer walks we pack sandwiches for a picnic half way around. This makes it more of a “day out” than just a walk for the kids.
6. Walking Socks
Once you increase your walking mileage you’ll come to appreciate the benefits of walking socks. They can help keep your feet warm in winter, cool in summer, are quick drying and can even prevent blisters. They make a great affordable gift for walkers too!
7. Sun Screen
When needed, don’t forget to apply the sunscreen. Remember it’s on those cool, windy days when it will most affect you. I tend to wear sunscreen between February to October but some people recommend it is used all year around even in the UK.
8. A Rucksack or Waist Bag
While walking, it’s best to carry a bag that keeps your arms and hands free. For solo long walks and runs I use my waist bag (yes a good old fashioned bum bag). They’re just big enough to carry a bottle of water, fruit, keys, phone and loose change. For family walks I pack a rucksack. Now the kids are older I do encourage them to bring their own bag and supplies as it’s better for my own back but it also encourages them to be independent and prepared for their own walks in the future.
9. A Route Planner
If we’re walking a circular or familiar route then we don’t tend to pack a route plan. However, if you’re exploring new areas a map is essential. Routes are available on phones but don’t reply on them in case your phone breaks or your battery runs out. If you’re not confident at using the sun to check your direction then pack a walking compass too.
10. Phone, Money and Mini First Aid Kit
Many people like to head out for a walk to escape from the world of screens and social media. It’s best to pack your phone though just in case of emergencies. Your can switch it off until needed. I always have a mini first aid kit on me anyway as our son is on Warfarin (due to his heart condition). It’s a good idea to always pack a mini kit for any cuts from brambles and sticks or falls.
As I mentioned earlier, the beauty of a walk in good and familiar conditions is you can just head off without any preparation and cost free. But these ten essentials can help to keep you comfortable and safe, making your walk more enjoyable.
What items are essential to you on a woodland walk? For some people it is a walking stick, for me it’s my camera and for my youngest it’s a bag or basket to collect treasures in!