Basics

Before you step out your door, make sure that you have the right equipment for your hike. According to Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, the essential ingredients for a decent and, more importantly, safe hike are:

  1. Map
  2. Compass or GPS receiver
  3. Sunglasses (To be used in warm or cold weather. You can suffer snow blindness on top of a mountain without the correct eyewear)
  4. Sun cream
  5. Food and Water
  6. Extra Clothes
  7. Torch and/or headlamp
  8. Basic first aid kit (Bandages, aspirin etc.)
  9. Matches
  10. Knife

And finally…

Boots

Boots get their own section because they are the most important tool for any hiker. The most minor but extremely common hiking injury is blisters and, once you get them, it’s very hard to get rid of them without resting up for a few days.

Hiking Boots

Hiking Boots

Go for boots with a good grip that are weatherproofed and durable but can breathe in warmer weather as well and give you good ankle support. Walkers often choose heavy boots with soles that have a thick profile and high heels, which help prevent ankle sprains. However, heavy boots are, well, heavy and this can tire a walker out.

There is another school of thought that favors light trainers with thin soles, which mean you can feel every step you take and are less likely to stumble and sprain something. Still, less grip on the shoes means more chance of slipping and, if the surface is rocky, you will wear them through. Think carefully before you go for the slim option. If you do decide on trainers, Equest has some good ‘trainer style’ boots, but most shops and websites will have special recommendations, so look around.

It’s important that you wear your boots in slowly. Make sure that you have good socks on and don’t allow any creases, as these will rub in your boots. Go for short walks, only an hour at first, and build up to your target time slowly. By the time you’re ready to set out on any major expedition, your boots should feel like a second skin.

This excellent site can help you when choosing your equipment. Again there’s a whole section on boots, including how to tie your laces. You just need to register for free to view the articles. Of course with boots you must always go to a shop and try them on first! The Hiking Website is also useful and includes an online shop.