WALKING/HIKING BOOTS. For quality boots at the best prices we recommend Javari – click here. Javari offers Free next day delivery, free 365 day returns and 100% price match guarantee.
ALWAYS CARRY A TORCH. Maglite seem to last forever, they fit it your pocket, have a spare lamp and they’re water resistant.
WALKING BOOT COVERS. We cannot go walking into pubs wearing muddy boots, we must either remove the boots or cover them in some way. Boot covers look the business but they represent something else to clean. The best thing is to get some disposable ones such as these, or to carry with you a couple of plastic shopping bags. So simple, inexpensive, and a recycling of the bag before it is finally disposed of. We make no charge for this advice. For a mere £2 per pair TESCO are selling slippers with a strong rubber sole. Get them big enough and you may prefer to remove your boots at the pub and wear your slippers which don’t weigh much at all.
GAITERS. Very useful for keeping mud away from trousers but for Rambling the gaiters stocked by most walking shops are useless; a plethora of zips and hooks, and elasticated cuffs, and the very devil to get on and off. Some old folk are going to pass away during the fearful struggle. If you want gaiters, get ones with a velcro strap like these.
ROUND BOOT LACES. Oh dear, who invented these? Throw them away and buy flat laces which will stay fastened for the duration of the walk.
THINSULATE GLOVES. Well we don’t think so, not to keep hands warm on a cold day.
BLACK TOENAIL SYNDROME. Many walkers lose their big toenails following a punishing walk involving gradients and they can take as long as a year to regrow. It is worth making a protective poke from lint and plaster tape but more important consider your boot/shoe lacing. If the front holes are not laced fairly tightly this will allow your toes to bash against the toe of the shoe which will result in bruising, particularly when coming down steep slopes. It is worth getting a short lace for the first few holes so that the remaining holes can be laced less tightly so as not to impede circulation.
MERRELL WALKING SHOES.These are pretty good and offer good grip over most terrain. Certainly worth including in your sampling. > Click here to see Merrell Walking Shoes
SOCKS. Speaking of socks many walkers are finding that all they need are Bridgedale liners. They are cool and comfortable and long lasting. The days of thick woolly socks are long gone. If you want to see them and perhaps buy them online, choose your type below:
VELCRO. Has its uses (previous paragraph) but how we would like to find a map case which was waterproof but did not use Velcro, which sets the teeth on edge and can be the very devil to pull apart in cold weather, and if you succeed in getting one end open it immediately clamps tight shut as you move your attention to the other end. One has to ask if designers of walking gear have ever been walking?
TROUSERS. Rohan were one of the first into lightweight quick-drying trousers but they cater mainly for the long and languid these days with one length trousers. If you are short in the leg the knee reinforcement will be around your ankles after shortening. The latest catalogue makes a feature of some strengthening at the leg bottom but this is the very area which many of us have to remove. Many of us also have the knee strengthening over the shin bone?? Also, trousers do drag over the knees when wet which makes getting over stiles more difficult. Try athletic leggings such as the Ron Hill Trackster Treks. They are warm, quick drying, and don’t drag. They were getting increasingly difficult to find but now you can get them here.
TRAINERS. Once you know your size and make then these are best bought mail order, again from the many suppliers advertising in Runners World. Saucony Grid and Asics Gel might suit. Check out all prices as there can be wide variances between suppliers. Neither a boot nor a trainer is the very rugged walking shoe made by Merrill. These are very much off-road shoes giving great support and grip but if your event includes a fair bit of road walking then you may find them not too comfortable on tarmac. You can find them at Javari.
WATERPROOF SOCKS, beloved by long distance walkers and worn mainly with trainers. Trainers pick up less mud, are generally lighter, and the better shoes are designed with higher shock absorbency than the average boot. A new waterproof sock has appeared in some shops and care needs to be taken. It is described as Gore-tex and is a thin membrane designed to be worn over ordinary socks. The problem is that the ankle is narrow and with no give so that it is extremely difficult to get on. Once on it can be quite a job to get it off. Be warned and insist on trying the sock before you buy. There seems to be a shortage of all types of waterproof socks with one shop telling us “We just can’t get them”
OUTDOOR GEAR. Blacks, Outdoor, and Millets, are now under the same ownership which is a blow to all who welcome competition. Quality walking gear can be very expensive and maybe it is time that TESCO took a hand. Do we really need to pay £28 for a pair of Gore-tex gloves? Another low-price retail outlet sells walking gear from time to time but the quality is poor. Poor compasses, poor fleeces, poor map cases, are really not worth owning at all. Let us know promptly if you spot a bargain. Recently The Times did a special offer on a well-regarded boot but these offers are OK only if it is a product you know and you are certain of your size. Otherwise, there is no substitute for actually trying on a boot.
WALKING POLES/STICKS. The muddy weather has brought out the walking poles, especially amongst the Ramblers. The third or 4th leg can be very comforting. However, before you splash out on some exotic walking poles try an ordinary walking stick with a proper handle. You may well find it is all you need and the charity shops often have them for a couple of pounds. Add a new ferrule (tobacconists) and you’ll soon be strutting your stuff. Be careful how you use your stick when in a group, don’t waive it around and cause injury to fellow walkers and be particularly careful over stiles when a jammed stick might pitch you to the ground.
PEDOMETERS. We are amazed at the accuracy of some pedometers but do bear in mind that careful calibration and adjustment over a period is necessary, they will not immediately be accurate. It is necessary to input the stride length but this will vary with the terrain and the underfoot conditions. At the end of the day you will have to settle for a compromise. A useful piece of advice is to carefully measure the distance covered by ten paces and divide this by ten to arrive at the average pace length. Don’t go striding off like a soldier on parade or you will over stride. The pedometer counts the number of strides you take and multiplies by the stride length you have input. If any member of your party is carrying a GPS device it will be useful to compare distances. Note also that some pedometers have a sensitivity setting which can be quite critical. The sensitivity setting is set so that when the walker walks 100 paces the pedometer registers 100 paces and not something else. It is pointless taking care to get the step distance accurate if the number of steps registered is not just as accurate. It adds interest to your walking to keep a log of your distances. The more fanatical are looking at 2000+ miles a year. Something approaching 1000 miles is achieved by many ramblers.
LEATHER BOOTS require plenty of TLC (tender loving care). Scrape off the mud (Essex clay is worst of all) then wash off all remaining traces. Stand the boots on newspaper to dry out. Do not dry out in front of direct heat. Then polish with a good nutrient such as Brasher cream. Dubbin is a bit out of favour just now as some believe it rots stitches and leads to cracked boots. It probably does not but your experiences will be useful to readers. Finally spray with a waterproofing agent – yes, over the polish.
DISPOSABLE WELLIES. Do these really exist? Let us know if you find some. For now, we can point you to these as a possible alternative to disposable wellies.
NOKIAN WALKING WELLINGTONS Excellent for winter walking, lightweight, hardwearing, easy-clean and not even £50 (Nokian Trimmi). The Nokian ‘Trek’ style is for more demanding walkers. Oh, and they also cater for the ladies!