Walking boots are one of the most important items you can buy for hill walking. You should choose them carefully, ensure they fit you correctly, look after them properly and they will serve you well. The boots you choose must be:
- Comfortable, supportive and suited to your chosen activity. Make sure you have enough room to wiggle and curl your toes.
- The right kind of boots for your type of walking.
Lightweight for walks lasting a day. They are designed for comfort, have a waterproof membrane and ideal for mainly terrain like tracks, paths and easier hills.
Midweight, more durable and supportive boots. These are better when you are carrying a heavier load or are going onto steeper, more rugged and demanding hillsides.
Mountaineering when you are going to tackle scrambling, mountaineering or climbing.
- Made of the appropiate materials.
Lightweight boots are generally made from Fabric or a Fabric/Leather combination and should have a breatheable waterproof memberane like Goretex or Sympatex.
Midweight and mountaineering boots will generally be made of one of the types of leather available for boots and so will be heavier and more durable
- Worn with the right kind of socks. These can greatly affect the fit and comfort of your boots. There is a great variety available using the latest advances in fabric technology. Your local outdoor stockist will be able to advise on the most suitable type for your boots and chosen activity.
Once you are using your boots, the care you give them will affect how well they work and how long they last. They need to be cleaned and dried in a suitable way after use and regularly treated with a waterproofing compound to maintain their waterproof properties.
- Waterproof jacket
There are two types of jacket that you will find useful in walking:
- Mountain Waterproof
These are generally made from tough, waterproof fabric with many features in the way that the hood is designed, how the pockets are made to keep the water out and how the jacket is vented. They should be constructed from breathable fabric and will be more expensive because of their specification.
- Lightweight Waterproof
These are lightweight and small and easy to pack, but without any of the more advanced features of the mountain waterproof jackets. They are ideal as an emergency jacket for good weather use and general day walking.
In addition, you might find use for:
an insulated jacket or gilet
a windproof jacket which is light, very breathable but not waterproof
a fleece, available in a range of weights and usually wind resistant or windproof and, of course, breathable.
Whatever combination of garments you choose, a good technique is that of layering. Three layers are ideal:
- a thin base layer, made from a m,odern fabric that wicks moisture to the mid layer above it
- a mid layer, like a fleece, that continues to wick moisture outwards and provides whatever level of insulation that you feel you need
- a breathable waterproof jacket as an outer layer. Which type you choose, will depend on the conditions and the type of walking you are undertaking.
- Mountain Waterproof
- Waterproof Trousers
The same considerations apply to the choices of fabric for trousers as those for jackets.
For wet weather wear and for walking on mudday terrain, many people like to use gaiters. These fit over your boots and can be tightened round the trouser legs to keep out the rain and mud.