What Are The Ultimate Walking Essentials?

6th November 2013

Each walker is unique - from their preferred style of walking and the shoes they wear to what they pack in their rucksacks and who they take with them!

Thats why we not only wanted to share our favourite walking must-haves for gentle walks but we also spoke with a selection of people in the industry, all of who offer a unique outlook on walking for all abilities.

Are you ready to discover our ultimate walking essentials and some expert top tips?

Here are Cotton Traders' favourites for gentle walks:

For women's clothing it's all about fleece this season...and lots of it!


  1. We love this deeply soft fleece lined shirt - it's just the thing for throwing on over jeans and a T-shirt for an easy, casual feel.
  2. A fleece-lined, water-resistant gilet is great for casual walks in any season.
  3. This 3-in-1 waterproof jacket provides warmth, convenience and protection from the elements.
  4. This quality Fishermans knit is perfect for evenings in front of the fire - whether we're at home or in a cosy, country pub!
  5. Jeans? Yes! For gentle walks, a pair of comfortable jeans can work wonders and these feel like an old favourite from day one.
  6. Warm walking boots with ankle support mean we mean business (and style!)

For men's clothing favourites are classic, casual and packed full of practical features.


  1. Cable jumpers are classic, stylish and reliable, and one of our all-time favourites.
  2. These breathable walking trousers are great for steeper inclines when you're out and about this winter.
  3. Our Windermere jacket is the ultimate waterproof - it'll keep you warm and dry, whatever the weather.
  4. For a leisurely stroll, these light jeans will keep you comfortable.
  5. Say no to numb fingers with these suede gloves - unbeatable for protection and luxury.
  6. Desert boots are back and we love them! Definitely one of our favourites for gentle walks over the coming months.

A few favourites from keen walkers:

Who better to speak to than those that do it the most and those that do it for a living!?

We spoke with our friends at Exodus, an activity and adventure holiday company who specialise in walking and cycling. Their walking and trekking programme manager has some fantastic walking essentials for the Cotton Traders community:

  • A good pair of walking boots with ankle support
  • Good quality woolen socks to prevent blisters
  • Walking poles to support movement, help your balance and take pressure off the knees
  • Good base layer top in a breathable fabric that wicks away moisture
  • Merino wool top to keep you warm/cool, whatever the weather
  • Breathable waterproofs
  • A woolen hat in case the wind picks up and it gets unexpectedly chilly
  • A sun hat
  • A water bottle is essential for staying hydrated
  • Rucksack cover to keep your day pack dry in a downpour
  • Waterproof case for your phone (a zip lock bag is perfect!)
  • Whistle and first aid kit if you're walking in more remote areas

We also spoke to Mike from Walking Englishman; 'Obsessed with all things walking', he is keen to inspire others to enjoy our great British countryside! If you're wondering what you should be wearing this season, Mike shares with us his walking essentials:


"I always walk with rain gear - top and bottoms - even in summer as conditions can quickly change at altitude. I tend to wear light walking trousers and a good quality short-sleeved walking top, and carry a second short sleeve walking top to be worn at height to compensate for the change in temperature.

In winter I wear heavier gear; a two-piece walking jacket with inner fleece lining. If conditions are warmer I can wear one of the two layers and fold the other into my rucksack. I still wear the light trousers but this year I am buying some heavier walking trousers and a new pair of light bottom trousers to wear in rain/ snow and if it is cold.

When it comes to shoes I choose to wear three season leather boots for altitude climbing and lighter canvas boots for low altitude and dry weather. I find it best to wear proprietary walking socks and carry a spare pair as well, in case I have to wade through a stream and water gets over my boots."

Thanks Mike!

Next we have John, a keen walker who loves the Yorkshire Dales, Yorkshire Moors and the Lake District. He shares with us his tips for non-clothing essentials:

  • Watch - With nights closing in earlier and earlier, a watch is a vital piece of equipment to monitor your progress along your chosen route, against available daylight.
  • Torch - A head torch will leave your hands free. Get a modern LED option with a long battery life
  • Hot drink - It's essential that you stay hydrated - even in winter, you still perspire! Dehydrations can be a real problem, quickly causing disorientation. In colder weather, it makes sense to make one of your drinks something warm. Take a stainless steel flask that won't shatter if dropped. To avoid 'off flavours', do not make up flasks of tea/coffee with milk. Keep this in a separate secure screw-top bottle - they're quite cheap from walking shops.
  • Food - It's less fun eating sandwiches in inclement weather. Consider taking snack/cereal bars that can be kept in your pocket and munched while walking. Dried fruit and nuts are also handy.
  • Camera - Do not pack away the camera because summer has ended. Autumn colours provide an opportunity for gorgeous photographs and the air is often clearer than in summer. The type of camera depends on your enthusiasm for photography but even a modest modern digital camera is capable of stunning results.
  • Sunglasses - Low sun at this time of year can cause you to squint, potentially causing headaches.
  • Gaiters - Gaiters prevent snow/water getting into your boots. They also keep the bottoms of your trousers cleaner and keep your legs warmer. The best types are breathable with a rubber strap under the instep rather than a cord which frays quickly on rocks.
  • Rucksack liner - Most rucksacks are not waterproof. Use a rucksack liner to ensure contents remain dry.
  • Lip salve - Harsh winds can soon dry your lips out. Apply lip salve regularly to avoid uncomfortable, chapped lips.

For more advice from John, you can find him at Happy Hiker.

Finally, we have Philip from Section Hiker. Philip enjoys all types of hiking and spends his time exploring and getting out in the fresh air, whether that's in Scotland or his native US.


Here he shares his opinions on walking shoes:

"Get yourself a comfortable pair of shoes for walking. If you're walking on established trails or paths, running shoes are your best option because they require little break-in time. Running shoes are also a lot 'softer' and have more give that hiking boots, which can cause friction blisters unless they're very well broken in."

Other useful tips:

A great definitive list of walking kit from Trekking Britain. - Thank you to Katie and Ralph for your comments on our Facebook page! A walking companion and raincoats are definitely high on our walking essentials list too.

Thank you to everyone for all your contributions! What are your walking essentials?

sure to keep an eye out for our upcoming article on exciting ways to stay fit and healthy this winter!

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