What Gear Do You Need For Hiking In The UK
Hiking in the UK should be taken just a seriously as hiking in other countries, its all going to depend on where you are planning to hike. Hiking is not just done in harsh environments, hiking can purely consist of a wonderful stroll in the countryside. Even if your hike is more of a beginner trail, its still important to pack essential items for a days hike and extra equipment if you plan on camping out. In this post we outline some of the most essential gear to take when hiking in the UK.
The gear you will need when hiking in the UK will depend on where you plan on hiking, what environments you are hiking in and the time of year you decide to go. Read on to find out about some of the most essential items you will need when hiking in the UK.
For a beginner it can be easy to overlook one of the most essential items required for hiking and that is a decent backpack that will do a great job. Again the type of backpack, including quality and ergonomics will entirely depend on the kind of hiking your planning on doing. In most cases when hiking in the UK you will end up needing a waterproof backpack. Not underestimating the change in weather can be a major factor towards having an enjoyable hike or one that becomes a bit of a struggle.
Waterproof backpacks are fairly common place these days and you don’t have to spend hundreds of pounds to get a decent one although i would certainly recommend getting a waterproof backpack cover as this can add that extra water resistance to your already waterproof backpack. Its not just the rain that can cause discomfort when hiking, the heat can play a major role in your endurance and so choosing a backpack with breath-ability is essential.
Other features to consider when choosing the best backpack for hiking in the UK is the design, including storage, space and comfort. If you plan on hiking alone or for a long distance then you may need to consider the amount of space inside the backpack, enough to allow you to pack everything for your trip. Considering the distance and terrain that you are going to hike can determine whether you need to have a lightweight backpack or something more sturdy. Terrain that requires more of your balance may mean you need access to your items quickly and so consider a backpack with easy to access pockets.
With so much technology now built into our phones and our ability to research a location down to the last detail means the need for a compass has become less and less important. However put yourself in the middle of a foggy, wet moorland with no battery on your phone, then suddenly having a compass and map is important.
A compass is an item that should be included in every keen hikers bag and for a small piece of kit its certainly worth taking. Alongside the appropriate map it can be used to navigate you towards any location, the last thing you need when your lost is deciding to walk in the wrong direction and getting even more lost, believe me I’ve done it. Compasses don’t cost a lot and they can be vital in certain situations. If you want to learn more about how to use a compass then check out Ramblers post on using a compass.
This is the one thing you need most of all, they say water is the source of life and they are not wrong. Even on one the smallest of day hikes its so important to make sure you take enough water. When the sun comes out and its beaming down on you its water that will keep you going, providing you have adequate shaded breaks. Try taking as much as you can but don’t overload your bag with it otherwise you’ll be needing it more than you thought.
The amount of water you will need to take will depend on the kind of hiking your going to be doing. Its fairly obvious in a way as the longer your hike is going to take the more water you will need. If you plan to go out in the summer months or even during springtime you may consider taking more water. The weather in the UK can change very suddenly and those clouds that were a one point protecting you are now gone or thinned out. If you want to find out more about hydrating yourself during a hike have a look at the REI website where they take you through the appropriate hydration advice.
I like to use a stainless-steel container, it tends to keep water cooler for longer and is environmentally friendly compared to a single use plastic bottle.
A decent pair of shoes will become a lifesaver when walking long distances. Once I got my first proper walking boots I felt one hundred times sturdier when walking over harsh surfaces. You need a boot that’s going to support your ankles preventing any twisting. They also need to be comfortable and able to withstand a lot of use.
As well as having a pair of walking boots that are sturdy and will help prevent any unnecessary falls, protecting your feet from the elements is also important. Winter in the UK can be harsh and the cold can soon cause havoc with your body. When hiking in the UK you may choose to wrap up warm in a thermal coat and thermal trousers so why not consider that for your feet too. Wearing thermal socks is a way to keep your feet warm but also purchasing walking boots that are fully waterproof. there are many decent walking boots out there that will protect your feet in all areas. read our guide on Keeping Your Feet Dry Whilst Hiking.
This is the only thing I would recommend spending more money on as you get what you pay for. Try going into shops like regatta or go outdoors and trying on some boots then purchase them online as they are usually cheaper. Below are the ones I’m using now, click the image to take a look.
When hiking across landscape such as Dartmoor or the Lake District, many of the trails tend to look very similar and its easy to lose your way if your not careful. Sometimes its great to have information to hand about the route you are taking and something that will identify landmarks along your route.
A map is another essential item and if you live in the UK you should be using an Ordnance Survey Map. These maps show not only all the paths to take when hiking in the UK but also plenty of interesting features. Don’t forget Ordnance Survey have been around for well over 100 years and have records that show ancient roads, monuments and features, they also provide a brilliant idea of how steep something is, that certainly comes in handy when your tired. If your interested in learning more about how to read a map then check out the official Ordnance Survey website which provides some great tutorials on map reading for beginners and help for the more experienced to hone their skills.
First Aid Kit
This is sort of an obvious one but not something the basic hiker thinks of taking. For the size and price of a basic first aid kit its something even the basic hiker should think of taking.
There are many scenarios that can play out when hiking in the UK, its not just more far flung destinations that have their dangers. Many people don’t realise what can happen when out in the wild and some think its wise to be less vigilant because they are in the UK. Imagine being out in a remote part of the moors and cutting your leg on something hidden amongst the grass. Although a basic first aid kit will provide items like bandages, plasters, alcohol wipes and other tools, it is still recommended that you should pack some sort of allergy relief and painkiller.
Have a look at the REI website for recommendations on what to pack in your first aide kit, remember what you need may differ depending on where you are hiking.
Its not always obvious what sort of clothing to wear when hiking. When hiking in the UK there are certain conditions you are likely to meet. Firstly you are going to want to have a coat that is fully waterproof, the UK experiences a large amount of rain in the winter months and you will be sure to find some if your hiking around at that time. The Met Office have written a great article on the amount of rainfall in the UK and they show you the exact areas it rains the most.
Beside moisture you may find yourself blown away on higher elevations as the UK can become very windy at times. A coat that is going to shield you from this wind is vital as its not always the cold that causes the most damage its the wind chill. Rab do fantastic coats which are high quality and protect you from the wind. Its never easy choosing the correct clothing for hiking in the UK and hopefully this has helped you make a more informed decision on the coat you wear.
So what ever level of walker you are remember to always be prepared and make sure you take take these basic essentials with you. If you want to read about my latest hike on Dartmoor, have a read of my trip to The Hidden Red Lake.
This article contains affiliate links. This means if you click the link and purchase the product then I receive a small commission, from that company. I only recommend products that I would use myself.