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Level Things Up
“Walking is a brilliant full-body workout. And while walking and hiking are one and the same, hiking tends to be more rural and on trails, woodland or mountains. With more challenging terrain, expect to work more muscle groups, especially in your legs, glutes and core. If you’re using hiking poles, you’ll also work your arms and upper back. Hikes can be as short as an hour or as long as a full day. If you’re fit but new to hiking, aim for a two to four-hour hike. For your first hike, it’s worth seeking out well-known routes that have something special about them – a beautiful view or a great pub or café at the end always makes for a good walk. These kinds of hikes will give you a buzz and allow you to test your kit in relatively safe and well-trodden places. The more confident and practised you get at route-planning, and the more stamina you build up, the longer and more adventurous hikes you'll be able to achieve.” – Katy O’Neill Gutierrez, founder of Blaze Trails
“One of the biggest rules when hiking is that you should leave no trace. Even a banana skin takes six years to decompose. When hiking, you may also see stone stacks on certain routes or trails, especially in the hills. These are official stone cairns, which provide essential guidance for lost walkers, especially in thick mists and low cloud. Sometimes people build their own stacks, which may look nice and mean something to the builder (or keep children occupied), but they can mislead walkers.” – Andrea Harris, hiking expert from CEP
Ease Yourself In
“It takes 20 minutes for muscle groups to warm up and for the cardiovascular system to start working efficiently, so start your hike at a gentle pace. It you start fast, you’ll be exhausted a quarter of the way into the walk. This is particularly relevant if you’ve had a long car ride to the start.” – Andrea
Schedule In Rest Stops
“However fit you are, make a conscious effort to schedule in rest stops for refuelling, even if you’re not hungry or thirsty. If you don’t, you risk your energy levels crashing halfway through your hike. At the same time, you should always schedule in an extra hour on a full day’s hiking – over-estimating duration ensures a stress-free hike, especially if you’re walking with others who aren’t as fit as you. Other hike route features that will slow you down include inclines, boggy land and rocky terrain. Triple your expected time for those stretches of the route.” – Andrea
Don’t Forget About The Way Down
“If you’re walking up hilly terrain, remember that reaching a summit means you are only 50% through your walk. You still have another 50% to go and remember that walking downhill can be just as tiring on the legs and knees.” – Andrea
Think About Kit
“The most fundamental piece of kit, regardless of season, is your walking shoes or boots. Boots for rocky ground are essential. Both shoes and boots should be comfortable and non-restrictive, as any pressure points will only get worse as your feet swell. Appropriate footwear should be complemented with breathable, seam-free, stay-put hiking socks. A multi-pack of cheap sports socks will guarantee sweat, blisters and discomfort. In winter, breathable layers and gloves are a must, and in the summer, apply SPF (even when the wind is cooling), and wear a hat or high collar to protect the back of your neck. Waterproofs are also essential – the higher tech, the better.” – Andrea
Start With Hiking Trainers
“There’s no need to spend lots of money on fancy hiking boots when you’re just starting out. Lots of brands do hiking trainers, which work as a great hybrid that you can wear for low-level walks as well as on more mountainous terrain. If you’re going for a local, low-level walk on even ground in good, dry weather, regular sports trainers will often be okay, but if you are embarking on wilder hikes on rougher terrain or in more inclement weather, shoes with good grip are essential.” – Katy
“Nothing will ruin a hike more than getting cold and wet. Multiple, thin layers are better than fewer, puffy layers – you can add or remove layers as you need to throughout the hike. Wear wool or synthetic layers next to your skin to wick away moisture and sweat so you don’t get damp and cold when you stop walking.” – Katy
“Make sure you know where you're going, that you understand the route and terrain, how long it's going to take you and that it's within your limits. Let someone know where you're going and when you expect to be back. Take a map and know how to navigate with it. If you're using a map app on your phone, make sure you have sufficient battery, a battery pack, and a paper map as back-up.” – Katy
“Pack as lightly as possible when heading out for a hike. It’s important to be prepared but try and minimise taking unnecessary or heavy things – everything that goes in your day pack creates additional weight to carry. As you hike more, you’ll realise what kit you can’t be without, and if it becomes a proper passion, you can invest in higher spec (and often lighter) pieces of technical kit.” – Katy
The Gear To Know…
Sweaty Betty x Morrell Moab
The right technical apparel can make or break a hike, which is where Sweaty Betty’s latest collaboration comes in. The brand’s first made-for-the-trails collection – designed with the outdoors experts at Merrell – includes two different styles. The boot provides the perfect amount of ankle support for more challenging climbs, while the chunky trainers are ideal for flatter terrain.
Keen to head out but not sure where to start? All Trails is the outdoors app to know, providing more than 50,000 trail maps for hiking and outdoor activities. The clever tech will track your movement along a trail and will even let you know when you’re going off-route. There’s also the option to download maps so you can stay on track without phone signal and keep friends and family informed.
Whether you need a warm-weather-ready pair of leggings, shorts or a cosy layer to keep you warm on cooler days, Aire Active has you covered. One of the UK’s first sustainable activewear retailers, it brings together the very best sustainable brands from around the world.
North Face Vectiv Exploris
Come rain or shine, a great outdoorsy shoe with support and traction tops the list of essentials. If you’re looking to invest in your first pair, The North Face’s Vectiv is a good place to start. Comfortable and sturdy, waterproof and durable, as well as being protective and breathable, it ticks all the boxes.
With a water bottle and filter in one, keeping a steady supply of clean, fresh water couldn’t be more straightforward. The filter removes 99.99% of bacteria, parasites, microplastics and sediment. Just fill the bottle and you’re good to go. Plus, for every bottle you buy, Lifestraw provides filters to developing nations.
On the banks of the iconic Loch Ness, Foyers Lodge is the perfect base for keen walkers. Explore the Loch Ness 360 Trail – linking the Great Glen Way with South Loch Ness, it provides an 80-mile circuit. Refuel after a day outdoors with fine dining back at the hotel before settling into one of the eight beautifully restored bedrooms.
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX
The perfect companion for longer walks, Bang & Olufsen’s hot-off-the-press wireless headphones are fully waterproof for unpredictable weather and feature a new and improved fit for superior comfort – in fact, they’ve been designed to be worn for hours without readjustment. Plus, active noise cancellation brings deep sound, and they’ll last for eight hours on a single charge.
If you’re heading out for an all-day adventure, it’s important to keep yourself fuelled. With 24 organic whole foods, 21 vitamins and minerals and no added sugar, flavourings or synthetics, Human Food’s snack bars contain natural sugars to provide slow-release energy as well as functional foods for increased energy and faster recovery. With 13g of protein per serving, they’ll keep blood sugar levels stable, too.
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