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Staycation: Everything you need for a walking holiday, from hiking boots to backpacks

From hiking boots to a first-aid kit, these are the must-haves to pack when exploring the great outdoors

Louise Whitbread
Friday 21 August 2020 11:59
Whether you're heading out on a leisurely meander or tackling one of the UK's mountains, these are the items that will keep you safe, warm and dry
Whether you're heading out on a leisurely meander or tackling one of the UK's mountains, these are the items that will keep you safe, warm and dry

As travel restrictions for Brits continue to change, holidaying in the UK for a staycation has become a popular option, and even the only one for many people.

Not only can you stay close to home, but you can also explore regions like The Peak District, the Pennines or Ben Nevis that offer beautiful scenery.

One of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors is with a walk, hike or ramble through cliff-top fields, meadows, up fells, hills and mountains and through national parks.

So ensure you are well equipped by wearing the right clothes, bringing safety equipment and keeping hydrated that will all make for a safer and more enjoyable day out.

Look out for the weather temperatures too, as good ol' Britain can quickly change with little notice from a heatwave to thunderstorms and there’s nothing worse than being caught out without shade or shelter from the elements.

Whether it’s a wandering meander, a planned circula route or day spent hiking in the hill, here’s the essentials you should bring with you.

You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

Clothing

First up is clothes, which will keep you warm, dry and comfortable if you plan to walk for a lengthy few hours.

In the UK, rain is often inevitable, but don’t let that spoil your day, and be prepared with a waterproof jacket.

This Haglofs grym evo jacket (Haglofs, £248) came out on top in our guide to the best waterproof jackets for women. As one of the most comfortable shell jackets we tested, it has welded seams and waterproofed outer fabric that kept us dry during heavy storms.

Keep the rain from ruining your day our with a waterproof jacket (The Independent)

Made with 100 per cent recycled materials, it’s doesn’t pack down as neatly as some other jackets do, but to make up for this, it's three layers work to keeo you warm when you need it, and cooler when you don't.

It’s also available in a men’s version too for £217, that we would highly recommend.

However, if you were looking for a men’s style that packed down compactly to fit into a backpack, we were also impressed with this Adidas terrex windweave insulated hooded jacket (Adidas, £169.95).

The best part of this jacket is that it folds down into its own pocket to make carrying it hassle-free (Adidas)

Our reviewer commented: “The synthetic insulation kept us warm but allowed for good temperature regulation when we were working harder on more technical trail sections. The ripstop fabric stood up well on overgrown parts of our walk so we weren’t constantly feeling it snag on branches and brambles.”

There’s also a balaclava-style hood that will come in handy for wind-whipped areas of high ground.

Keep your bottom half warm and comfortably covered with these Fjallraven abisko trekking tights (Fjallraven, £150) that ranked highly in our review of the best walking trousers that will see you through the toughest hikes.

For a lightweight pair of bottoms, try these leggings (Fjallraven)

Available in both men’s and women’s styles, our reviewers found them so comfortable, it’s easy to forget your wearing them.

Despite wash after wash from muddy trails, they kept their shape too. We liked that they have a large map pocket and a zippered pocket, fit well under waterproof trousers should it be raining but also have thick bum and knee panels if you plan on sitting around a camp after a hike.

They’re particularly useful for warmer summer months, when you may need insulations, but not layers upon layers.

If you want to protect your scalp from sunburn, keep the sun out your eyes without sunglasses or stop a biting wind from whipping your face, head out with a hat.

We love this UO utility bucket hat (Urban Outfitters, £18) that’s a sunny yellow shade.

This fetching yellow design will add a bit of colour to a stormy walk

Which type of footwear you wear will make a difference between blistered heels and sweaty toes and maximum comfort that keeps you going for hours.

If you’re expecting rain, look for waterproof styles, rather than just water-resistant for the best protection. No one wants soggy, wet socks.

Our top pick for women is this Ariat skyline summit (Ariat, £170) that won’t need breaking in, so if you order a pair just before you head to the hills, they won’t rub against delicate areas of skin.

Touch but not stiff, this leather pair will keep comfortable and dry (The Independent)

They’re a winning combination of the toughness of leather, and the flexibility of mesh fabric, making them a breathable boot you can wear year-round.

Our reviewer said: “The soft suede leather is waterproofed with Gore-Tex, the soles offer great grip and stability even on tough terrain, and the boots look very smart, too.”

For men, the best walking were these Adidas terrex free hiker parley (Adidas, £169.95), which will stand up to rugged terrain and adventurous hikes were

With a cushioned midsole and a water-repellent upper, this pair is the perfect hiking companion (The Independent)

It’s cleverly taken the innovation applied to its running shoes to a hiking style that will put a spring in your step.

During a full-day hike in some of the most remote parts of a national park, we found the upper to be extraordinarily comfortable, requiring no breaking in and was also highly breathable thanks to the design that provides ankle support too.

Our reviewer also liked that the upper proved to be water repellant so socks stayed pretty dry even after being semi-submerged in a moorland stream. It’s mostly made from upcycled coastal plastic waste.

Backpacks and what to pack

If you plan on spending a whole day exploring a new trail or successfully climbing one of the UK’s mountains, a backpack is essential.

We’d advise a volume of 20l for a day trip, as it’s not so heavy that it’ll weigh you down but has enough space to keep a waterproof jacket, flask, first aid kit and snacks.

One we loved is the Gregory Jade 28 (Sports Shoes, £83.99) that our reviewer found to be ideal for tricky terrains and weekend walks.

Comfortable and lightweight, this rucksack has enough room for all your gear and extra layers for when it gets cold (Sports Shoes)

It has a multitude of pockets, loops and lash points, so if you’re a serious hiker, this is the bag for you.

“It was one of the most comfortable packs we tested, with well-padded straps, built-in suspension (so welcome flexibility around the hips) and a close but sweatless fit. It was also one of the most generously sized packs, with its ample volume – almost 30l – easy to manage thanks to the many compression straps,” said our reviewer.

Should you only be going out for a short walk on flat ground or with local facilities nearby, you can opt for something smaller such as this Lefrik gold beat bumbag (Lefrik, £28), that we discovered in our guide to clothing made from recycled plastic bottles.

When you're heading off on a short walk, leave the rucksack at home in favour of this bumbag made from recycled plastic bottles (Lefrik)

It’s a vegan product, made from 10 plastic water bottles and half a metre of recycled PET material, which saves 90ml of water and 0.6kg of carbon dioxide, and is waterproof.

To keep your hands free, we’d suggest wearing the belt around your waist or slung across your chest. Make the most of the 2l main front compartment and zip pockets on the back for your phone, a face covering in case you pop into a local shop and hand sanitiser.

On a summery walk, keep a bottle of water with you to stay hydrated, but should the weather turn colder, a good cuppa on a quick break from walking is an energising boost.

Grab an insulated flask that can do both; keep hot liquids hot and cold drinks cold.

In our guide to the best, our favourite was this Blue Marble bamboo 360ml flask (Amazon, £19.95) that’s made from bamboo and stainless steel.

An insulated flask is perfect for a quick drink during a pitstop (The Independent)

Our testers found it kept drinks hot for eight hours and cold for 12, and even comes with two two sizes of stainless steel strainers, so you can make fresh tea or fruit infusions on the go. It’s easy to clean too.

Safety equipment

If you’re climbing steep slopes of a mountain or veering off into lesser-explored terrain, it’s important that you pack items that will help you navigate your way when lost and tend to any scrapes and cuts you might get walking in the wilderness.

Bringing a first aid kit is a must, we would advise using this Halfords essentials compact first aid kit (Halfords, £7).

This small first aid kit will fit in any bag and come in handy for any unexpected accidents

It’s ideal for unforeseen bumps and cuts, and is small enough to neatly fit into a rucksack with ease. In it you’ll find a triangular bandage, two alcohol wipes, one pair of gloves, five waterproof plasters, two medium bandages, two wound pads, two burn pads, one microporous tape and one emergency foil blanket

Should you be hiking somewhere where cell reception is poor, to save you getting lost, it may well be worth bringing a physical map you can consult for help.

Ordnance Survey maps have got you covered for navigating some of Britain’s most popular routes and regions whether it's the Yorkshire Dales, Snowdon or the New Forest.

We'd recommend buying the waterproof map version of your chosen hiking route

Its standard versions cost £8.99 and it’s waterproof ones a little more at £14.99. They all include a mobile version too that you can download for backup.

For more staycation activities, read our guide to the camping essentials and everything you need for a watersports holiday

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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