The weather’s gorgeous, you’re feeling fit (thank you Nordic walking), and you fancy a lovely day’s walking with friends. But how to prepare and what to take? Here’s your handy checklist.
Shorts might seem like a good idea on a hot day but brambles and nettles etc have grown over most paths by mid-summer, so light weight walking trousers or leggings are a better choice if you don’t want your legs shredded or stung. It also cuts your chances of ticks latching on.
Non-cotton, wicking tops are a must. Whilst short sleeves are cooler, long sleeves better protect against horseflies and many have built-in SPF. BAM bamboo clothing is a favourite with many of our club.
An additional long-sleeved technical top and/or waterproof are worth taking, even if the forecast is good. You cool down very quickly in a chill wind and an unwelcome shower can ruin a walk if you’re unprepared.
You definitely want to do all you can to avoid getting blisters. They’re painful and can spoil your day. Take Compeed plasters (they’re the best) and apply as soon as you feel a hot spot. Ideally do your utmost not to get them in the first place, which means:
- Properly fitting walking boots/shoes.
- Good socks - ones without rough seams and which wick the moisture away.
- Taping any worry areas with microporus tape in advance. Or consider wrapping sheep’s wool (there’s plenty lying around in the fields – don’t wash it) around your toes – apparently it’s amazing.
- Taking your boots off during breaks and/or changing your socks.
Either take a water bottle(s) or use a bladder-type hydration system with drinking tube. Rob, one of our walkers who does lots of long walks, prefers a bladder when it’s warm as it can be a pain getting bottles out of a rucksack and you could inadvertently get dehydrated because you don’t want to stop/unstrap/get water etc.
It’s definitely a good idea to dissolve an electrolyte tablet in your drinking water (SIS Go Hydro is my favourite). They taste decent and replenish the salts and minerals you lose through perspiration.
Water is heavy so don’t carry all your day’s needs if you can replenish on the way.
How much food you take depends on the length of your walk, the amount of space in your pack, and whether you’re stopping at cafes for breaks.
A nut, seed and dried fruit mix is a great snack and jelly babies provide a quick fix if you’re flagging. Other popular choices are bananas, chocolate and flapjack. Rob says keep small snacks handy and have them before a hill to give you energy, not as a “reward” at the top. If he’s doing a long day with an early start, he often takes a flask of hot water plus an instant porridge pot to have just before he sets off so he’s fuelled up and ready to go.
What style and size of daypack is a personal thing. I like the Osprey range. Whatever you use, ensure it has a chest strap to keep it firmly on your shoulders. Some also have a supportive hip belt to help take the weight.
If you don’t know the route you’ll probably be following one created by someone else or one you’ve put together yourself. Either way you’ll need a map. I now mostly use the OS phone app which is amazing. If you’ve created your own route using the app, you can print it off as a handy back-up. Obviously you can also take paper maps.
Other handy items
- Mat to sit on (Multimat is one of the best)
- Small first aid kit
- Spare shoe lace
- A section of gaffer tape rolled round a pencil or similar
- Battery pack plus lead (if you’re relying on your mobile for maps)
- Change of socks (to stop blisters)
- Plastic bag/ dry sack
- Seasonal extras - suncream, sunglasses, cap/hat, insect repellent.
Finally, if you're interested in wild flowers, butterflies etc there's a fantastic app which can tell you then and there what you're looking at. All you have to do is upload a photo. The app's call iNaturalist and it's free.
Have a great walk and don't forget to post photos on our club Facebook page.