There’s no time like the present for enjoying the great outdoors. Even novices like me can get into it without needing loads of kit, extensive experience, or being a fitness freak. It’s still worth knowing the basics though so you don’t get caught out *cough* me up Moel Famau *cough*, so I’ve come up with some easy tips on walking for beginners like me. A few common sense pointers and the absolute essentials for getting outdoors.
Don’t overdo it
It’s easy to get carried away when you suddenly feel the urge to seek out picturesque waterfalls or bounce up Snowdon in search of Instagrammable selfies at the top. But it’s essential that you match your enthusiasm for getting out there to your fitness levels, the route, and your common sense.
Make your plans achievable, and consider building up your stamina and strength first. If your health or stamina isn’t all that at the moment, then this might even mean starting off at a base level of five or ten minutes per day. It’s better to go for a shorter walk and look forward to getting back out there, than to struggle getting out of bed the next morning!
Choose your route suitable for walking for beginners
Decide what best suits your needs – do you fancy a bracing coastal walk, a fairly level meander through country parks, the challenge steep hills or the scramble rocky moors?
Ask yourself if you’ve allowed enough time, checked the weather, made sure the car park won’t be locked when you get back to the car, and have got everything you need for your chosen walk.
It goes without saying that if you’re going on any journey on your own that you need to make sure you’ve got a charged phone, an idea of where you are at any given time, and supplies to keep you going if you take an unexpected detour (get lost) or have to wait for help.
The same applies even if there’s more than one of you. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security just because you’ve got someone else with you. Remember that you won’t always have phone signal off the beaten track, and to take care at local hazards like level crossings or incoming tides.
What you’ll need
The harder the walk the more preparation you’ll need to do. But even an easy to moderate walk will require more kit the longer or higher or more rugged it is. If you’re just planning to do some laps of your local park then happy days, any old pair of trainers will do the job and a coat in cold or wet weather.
But if you’re going further afield then there’s some basic gear that’s perfect for walking for beginners.
I tend to wear gym clothes like leggings and a half zip top because it does the job, then layer up with outerwear. If you’re going somewhere rugged you might need trousers that are tougher, plus base layers.
There’s loads on the market and if you’re going a long distance and need to take loads of supplies then I can see the merit in a design with comfortable shoulder pads, chest straps and handy pockets for various bits and bobs. Otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with any old lightweight backpack in good weather – you’ll need it as you start to strip off your layers. You can buy separate hi-vis rain covers which fit most designs too, which I think are a great idea for walking or cycling.
Weatherproof and breathable outwear
I love the TOG24 Beverley 3-in-1 jacket which has a lightweight but snuggly inner layer and a waterproof outer layer too for wet and windy weather. If you’re going to be outdoors for hours in the rain, you’ll need features like covered zip, adjustable hood, and Velcro at the cuffs to stop the rain getting up your sleeves.
Don’t skimp on outerwear if you’re going up something high or walking a long distance in changeable weather.
For anything with an uneven terrain or a rocky incline I like a bit of ankle support. The idea of being stuck halfway up or down a hill with a twisted ankle haunts me, especially after finding myself completely unable to apply the brakes going downhill on Moel Famau in a pair of Air Max.
For flatter terrain I love the super comfy and lightweight Wool Cross X made by Austrian firm Giesswein. These women’s walking shoes are so breathable and comfy you can even wear them without socks, made from pure Merino wool, and even machine washable.
If you really want to get your boots muddy, then be sure to check out this handy guide to looking after your hiking boots from the guys at Mountains & Macros.
Walking socks don’t all have to be the hefty woollen efforts you imagine explorers and scout leaders wearing back in the day. And while wool is still a great material for regulating temperature, the technology around how it’s used has come on leaps and bounds these days.
For journeys that don’t need such vigorous hosiery or for walking for beginners, there’s loads of thinner and lighter options on the market too.
I love these designs from Stance Socks.