The Ultimate Guide
The countdown to summer begins! With warmer weather expected, it’s time to start exploring the great British outdoors and the best way to do that is with a lovely countryside walk. Whether you’re a steady stroller or a high-octane hiker, walking is a great activity for most people. It’s low-cost (when you get the basics first), great for your overall health, and the fresh air will do you the world of good too!
Summer walking might seem like a quick idea, such as simply grabbing your shoes and heading out. This is fine for shorter walks or running errands. However, if you’re going to be a serious walker or hiker, you’ll need to do a little more preparation, such as packing the right essentials and creating the perfect wardrobe for walking.
We’ve rounded up both our must-have items to wear when walking in summer as well as what you need to pack for a longer walk. Especially in summer, with the heat, you need to make sure you’re prepared for that, as well as the inevitable rain that will probably occur, even on the sunniest of days!
TOP TIP: Always check the weather before any walk! Even in the summer, the temperature can drop so you might need to wear an extra layer of clothing or at least take one with you. Better to be over prepared than underprepared!
What to wear walking in summer: our top 5 essentials
A lightweight waterproof jacket
If there’s two properties that a jacket for walking must have, it’s that it should be lightweight and waterproof. During the summer, you probably won’t need a jacket to keep you warm, merely to keep off some drizzle in the air. However, if you’re not wearing it, you’ll probably want to fold it up in your rucksack so it needs to be thin enough to not take up too much room. You could always keep a heavier jacket or coat in your car, just in case there’s a serious downpour!
Our collection of waterproof jackets for both men and women is extensive. We know that a decent jacket is essential when leaving the house 365 days a year living in the UK! You’ll want to purchase a classic style in a favourite colour of yours so you’ll want to wear it for as many years as possible.
A jacket with breathable properties is a must too, meaning you’ll stay dry inside whilst the outside catches any rainwater. There’s nothing worse than your jacket sticking to you in damp and hot weather when you’re exercising.
Think about the style of jacket too. We love half-zip styles but they can be a pain if you’ll need to take your jacket on and off multiple times during a summer hike. However, a full-zip style seems much more practical. You can wear it as a rain jacket or just to take the chill off your back and shoulders and leave the zip open.
You’ll also need to consider features such as pockets, a packaway hood, elasticated waist or hems, Velcro adjustable stormproof cuffs as well as the length of the jacket. We recommend purchasing your lightweight waterproof jacket slightly oversized. Not only will you have plenty of wiggle room underneath it anyway, you’ll also be able to wear multiple layers underneath it too. You’ll be able to wear it during spring and autumn before you need to dig out your winter coat.
Ladies - The perfect option for a lightweight, waterproof jacket is a jacket in a packet (alternatively known as a cag in a bag or a pack and go jacket). This style is breathable and comes with a packaway hood, two front pockets, a drawstring hem, and elasticated cuffs, every property you need for a walking jacket! In this style, we have six different colours to choose from: navy, light grey, dark grey, khaki, denim blue, and bright red.
Men - Just like the ladies, a jacket in a packet is perfect for slipping into your rucksack before travelling out for a walk or a hike. Similar colours are available, in particular neutral shades to go with any outfit. It will soon be your go-to jacket during the entirety of summer, whether you leave it in your car boot or take it along in your backpack.
A cotton top or a base layer
In order to stay cool, you have to consider the materials of your clothes, especially the ones in direct contact with your skin. Cotton is the perfect example of a material designed to wick sweat but still keep you cool. If you do choose cotton, make sure it’s a thinner material because the thicker it is, the longer it takes to dry out.
A base layer has been designed with lots of sweat-wicking properties in mind because it’s the first item you’ll put on. You can always try workout or running tops for a cheaper alternative too.
One item we’d recommend not wearing is a vest or tank top. You might think it’ll be great to get some sun on your shoulders but they also need protection from the sun. if your shoulders burn, your rucksack will start to rub against your skin, which can be very painful! Protect yourself by choosing cap sleeves in the summer heat.
Choosing lighter colours, such as white or pastels, will also keep you cool. Darker colours attract the heat so wearing black in the summer always makes you feel even warmer! However, a base layer in a darker colour should still keep you cool.
Ladies - Choosing a top that is fitted but not tight is the best way to go. You want an option that isn’t too baggy but not too tight so that you feel uncomfortable. Short sleeves are great for summer walks (just don’t forget the sunscreen). However, we know that many prefer to stick with long sleeves. Our sports and riding tops are perfect as a first layer when walking. The super stretchy material is perfect for any activity!
Men - A basic cotton T-shirt is a cheaper version of a fitness base layer top. Make sure the cotton is thin or it will get uncomfortable when you start to sweat. It must be stretchy too so you don’t feel restricted during your walk.
Walking trousers or leggings
You might find that dressing your bottom half for a walk is trickier. You never know whether to opt for shorts but risk sunburn and less protection from insects and greenery. Opting for walking/shooting trousers or sports leggings means that you’ll stay comfortable and just like base layers, they’ve been designed for movement.
For the most part, they have extra stretch in them throughout so you don’t feel restricted when walking or hiking. With walking trousers, they often have extra pockets and belt loops to feel like traditional trousers. However, they’re a little more fitted, which makes them super flattering. They also have waterproofing properties so you needn’t worry about your legs getting wet and uncomfortable.
Sports leggings are the ultimate item of activewear, having been designed for the highest of movement. That means wearing them for walks and hikes makes them ideal. Some features to consider are a wider waistband, concealed pockets, and making sure they‘re squatproof! Of course, you want them to feel lightweight but not transparent! Some sports leggings are stretchier than others so you might need to consider sizing up.
If there is a forecasted rainstorm when you’re out and about, you might want to consider some waterproof overtrousers to put in your rucksack. The plan is to hope you don’t need them but you’ll be incredibly grateful for packing them if you do! With a drawstring waist, they’ll take you ten seconds to slide on!
Ladies - Walking trousers should be fitted but not tight. Baggy trousers when walking are a bit of a nuisance but equally, too tight trousers are so uncomfortable that you’ll probably end up cutting your walk short. If you prefer to wear activewear, sports leggings would be your best option. Whether you go for a block colour or a patterned style, you know that they’ll be as comfortable as possible! Don‘t forget your waterproof overtrousers too!
Men - If you’re walking or hiking in jeans, you need to invest in some walking trousers instead. However, there are two types: lightweight and heavyweight. Obviously, walking in the summer means you’ll want to find a lightweight option that often zip off at the knees so you get two-for-one with a pair of trousers and shorts! Grabbing yourself a pair of waterproof overtrousers is a must too.
The right socks
This may seem like a small essential but trust us, the right socks are definitely a necessity. Regular ankle socks are not going to cut it when walking long-distance. Hiking and boot socks have been made with that particular use in mind, making sure they have breathable properties, as well as cushioned spots around the ankle and toes.
Which socks to choose will depend on your shoes and your feet. Hiking or boot socks are better with walking boots whereas walking trainers suit sports trainer socks instead. Some people don’t like wool socks, which means hiking socks can make their feet feel irritated.
Men - Comfort is key when it comes to your feet, especially on a walk. Our hiking socks are always popular all-year round as well as our boot socks. Whilst they’re both durable and robust, they’re also very lightweight and also breathable.
If you prioritise one essential of summer walking must-haves, it’s a decent pair of walking shoes or boots. Trust us when we say, regular trainers are not going to cut it on a hike. In fact, they can actually be bad for your foot health if you do wear them regularly when hiking.
The main property you need to look for is a grippy sole. Even if you’ll only be going on flat, countryside walks, you might visit woodland or uneven terrain on the roadside with no distinctive paths. That’s why you need to make sure the tread is strong.
Walking boots have a reputation for being uncomfortable when it could just be that you’ve not broken them in enough. After a few wears, the upper boot’s leather will start to loosen up and start to conform to your feet. The extra cushioned insoles, ankle section and tongue should also help to make them as comfortable as possible on long walks.
You might find that walking boots take a while to get used to so try to build up to longer walks. Break them in indoors to begin with, start going on shorter walks in the area first before trying something longer (a couple of hours). Trust us, there’s no need to blast them with a hairdryer to loosen up the leather. Just wear them in the house for a couple of weeks to get used to them and gradually, they will start to fit to your feet.
Ladies - Whether you prefer khaki, navy or traditional brown leather, any of this trio will go with most outfits you choose to wear on your walk. Walking boots can be quite narrow-fitting so you might want to try a size up.
Men - Again, we know how popular our traditional brown leather walking boots are but we’ve also introduced a waterproof khaki pair for this summer! Whichever pair you choose, we’re sure they’ll last for years.
If you are planning on walking this summer, make sure to get your outfit right with our top five essentials. You want to be comfortable, cool and be protected from the sun! Don’t forget your hat, sunglasses, suncream, and water bottle!