On with the walking boots – packing for a walking holiday

Hard as it is to believe at the moment, it is summer in the UK and with lovely long days and mild temperatures, it is time to get out the walking boots and make the most of our wonderful hills, valleys and scenery. If you have a walking holiday booked, you are probably watching the forecast with close attention as you get out the backpack and dust off the equipment.

Walking Boots for Usway Burn in Northumberlands Cheviot Hills
Ideal for a rapid if bone-rattling descent to the Usway Burn in Northumberland`s Cheviot Hills. Image credit: Cheviot Walks

Preparing for a holiday is a good time to check over your kit and make sure that everything is ready, and to replace items that need it – you don’t want your precious time off blighted by equipment problems. If you are out of practice with packing, why not adopt a logical ‘feet to head, walking boots to beanie’ approach to loading the backpack to make sure nothing important gets left out.

Starting at the feet; walking boots or shoes are obviously the number one essential for enjoying your holiday. Check your boots over, give them a good clean, check the inners for any worn bits that could cause blisters and end-for-end the laces to prevent breakages. If laces are badly worn, buy a new pair. If the boots have done one trip too many, bite the bullet and replace them in good time for your holiday. If you have a pet brand that works for you, go with that – but keep an open mind for new developments. For instance, Haglofs sell boots and shoes designed with Scandinavian experience and knowledge of their conditions; this translates very well to the UK. They prioritise waterproofing, grip and weight which are all vital factors. With the walking boots sorted (and tested on some local walks if they are new) don’t forget to look for some new socks to help keep feet dry, cushioned and comfortable.

Trousers may need layers even in summer; starting right from the inside, Patagonia have some excellent underwear designed to keep you cool and comfortable, as even the best technical clothing can fail if the under layers aren’t right. Moving outwards, Columbia have a wide selection of trousers in shorts, knee length and full length, as well as convertibles for those who like the versatility to cope with rapidly changing weather.

Your top half needs the same consideration. For the next-to-skin layer, have a look at Icebreaker’s Merino range which uses the best wool from New Zealand, where the sheep (and the people!) cope happily with conditions ranging from hot to wet to windy, often all in one day. Merino has big advantages over ‘standard’ wool in that it is not itchy to wear, stays soft and is resistant to pilling, and also doesn’t get smelly which is a problem with some synthetics. For the waterproof outer layer, the tried-and-tested breathable shell is indispensable – if yours is suffering from being stuffed in one too many backpacks, Berghaus continue to offer a wide range of waterproof and windproof tops which are both protective and lightweight.

Finally, that all-important headwear – to keep the sun off and the heat in. Marmot offer all kinds of hats for all kinds of weathers, from cool and comfortable sun hats and baseball caps to fleece beanies for when the sun goes in and the temperature drops.

So with kit ready from walking boots to hat, make a final check, reconfirm travel and accommodation, get out the maps and start looking forward to your holiday.