10 Things to pack for a walking holiday
1. Layers and Merino wool
Walkers often endure strange fluctuations in temperature: it might be bone-chillingly cold, but plodding up that steep hill is still going to cause perspiration. Make life easier with easily dispensable layers. Fleeces and Merino wool jumpers are especially good bets for the outer garment, as both are lightweight and unlikely to utilise much packing space.
2. Spare socks
No one likes having wet feet, and even the most waterproof boots can struggle to keep out bogs and swamps. The solution, then, is to always carry a spare pair of socks. Merino wool is again the recommended material: in sock form, it can be worn for several days without getting pongy or blister-happy.
3. Smarter clothes
Will you be eating out during evenings? Those mud-splashed canvas trousers and chunky boots might not be the most suitable attire. Be sure to have a few shirts or skirts plus some nicer shoes at hand should you need to scrub up.
4. Swimming costume
Do any of your hotels have a pool or Jacuzzi? Is there a sea, lake or beach you’re likely to encounter? It sucks to miss out on bathing opportunities so always try and have a swimming cozzie in your daypack.
5. Plastic bags
These fulfil two functions. Firstly, as “stuff bags”, they can be used to compress air from clothing or other items, freeing up suitcase space. The other possible role involves a more traditional use: those bags act as a segregated space for dirty undies. Bring a bin bag, too, as a last resort against rain.
6. Hat and gloves
Basics, right? You’d be surprised how many people forget these when heading to a mostly balmy country, and thereby risk being freezing on high-altitude or seaside sections. Finger-grip windstopper gloves are best for hands, because they allow you to still use GPS devices or turn map pages without removal, while a beanie hat is the easiest headgear to pack.
7. Sun protection
When the sun’s beaming, UV protection is vital; by walking all day and in open, exposed spaces, trekkers are especially prone to sunstroke and sunburn. Re-slop it every two hours. Bring sunglasses too, to ease the strain on those precious peepers.
8. Stomach supplies
Thermos flasks are a great bet: light but high-volume enough for two. Ask each morning’s accommodation for some tea and coffee. Cereal bars and nuts help keep up energy, while water bottles are a must. All the wisest walkers also bring a daily chocolate bar: at times when morale is at a very low ebb, or fatigue firmly setting in, a sugar jolt can work wonders.
9. Emergency kit
Head and hand torches (plus batteries), a whistle and a penknife all make sensible additions. Better still is a bivouac shelter, in case you get badly lost and must sleep al-fresco. Most vital, however, is a first-aid kit. A careless bunch, hikers are prone to cuts, plant stings, blisters and many more injuries.
10. Map holder
While most perambulators use GPS these days, a large number still favour Ordnance Survey-style paper versions. Newer examples of these have a waterproof coating, but those using old OS editions or printed walk notes run the risk of rain or wind making it mighty hard to navigate. An easily portable plastic map or notes holder helps no end.