Essential Walking and Hiking Accessories for Summer 2021
Over the last year, with nothing much going on, people have got out of the house and taken themselves off for exercise by walking and hiking, and kept it local. In doing so, they’ve surprised themselves by finding out just what Yorkshire has to offer when they head out for a few miles around our pathways and over our hillsides.
With going for a walk being one of the only forms of exercise possible for many over the last 12 months, lots of people have found themselves a new hobby. And with that light being dangled at the end of the tunnel to normality now, it seems that people recognise how good walking and hiking is for their physical health – and their mind too.
So, getting the correct essentials to help you continue that new pastime as lockdown eases is important. Here are some of my favourite accessories that I’ve been using to clock up over 400 miles in the first quarter of 2021 whilst I enjoy the woods, the hills, the views and the fresh air of Yorkshire.
Tracking Your Route and Performance.
Huawei GT 2 Smartwatch
One of the best motivators to carry on with upping your mileage is keeping a record of everything. Your steps, your distance, your calories burned… and connecting yourself up via a smartwatch is a sure-fire way of tracking the lot.
And the Huawei GT2 watch is perfect. My 42mm sports edition is lightweight and subtle, it’s easy to use and is very precise when it comes to tracking your position. The watch has 15 workout modes, and measures stress, sleep, SPo2 and more, and the battery lasts for up to two weeks. It connects up to the Huawei Health app, which has quite quickly become my favourite fitness and health app.
I’ve had smartwatches in the past that I’ve found are a bit overkill. Too many nice-to-have options that you don’t need on a watch. This one is stripped back. You can’t reply to texts, or emails etc, so it simply does the job you essentially want it to.
The downside? Huawei products don’t connect directly to Strava which is a biggie for many people. But by downloading HealthSync that acts as a go-between, and fiddling around a bit, you eventually can write out your tracked walks and send out the calories, pace, bpms etc to Strava. And I’ve found it more accurate than using Strava as my main tracker too.
For the price, you’ve got a fantastic watch and a brilliant motivational tool to keep up your newfound hobby of getting out, about, exploring and doing wonders for your physical and mental health.
RRP: £119 from Huawei UK
Get on your feet
Choosing the right stuff for your feet before you head out on any terrain can make or break them. I’ve been covering over 100 miles a month since the start of 2021, and the condition of my feet has improved this year. I put that down to taking proper notice in what I put on them, and the benefits that come with choosing the right footwear products.
KEEN Ridge Flex Waterproof Hiking Shoes
Summertime means warm, sunny days. Hopefully. And on those kind of days, a pair of walking and hiking shoes, as opposed to boots, are the preference for me.
And when the steel grey and evening primrose Keen Ridge Flex shoes stepped towards me, I liked the look of them from the start. Despite me wanting to wear these in the dry months, there’s always streams and brooks to cross. So it’s good that these come with a waterproof, breathable membrane that lets vapor out without letting water in. And another feature is the built-in flex that bends where other boots can crack and weaken over time.
Like most shoes I guess, these did take one walk to wear in. My first few miles in them, I wasn’t so sure I’d picked the right shoes. But that quickly went out of my mind, as the comfort kicked in and the obvious sturdiness and quality was easily apparent. A really easy lace up layout means they’re on and off in no time, and the ridges on the sole are cut in such a way that you have more grip than your standard hiking shoe. You notice the grip on every hillside, and change in terrain.
Blisters? Not a single one since I started wearing these, and I’ve covered over 150 miles in them. I absolutely love these, and I can’t speak highly enough of the KEEN Ridge Flex shoe at all. I didn’t think they’d replace my previous shoe as my favourite, but they have by a country mile.
Kymira Sport Infrared Crew Socks
Kymira say that if you wear their Infrared crew socks for 30 minutes before your walk, and for at least an hour after, you will see improvements in thermal regulation, circulation and reduce the risk of injury.
I like these a lot. First up, in the black and red colour combo, I thought they looked great. I do try to take pride in my appearance (at least at the start of each hike, anybeffort is long gone by the end!) and when these are on show, they’re not out of place with that. They’re comfortable too. You get a cushioned heel and toe, and ribbed cuffs making them a nice, close fit.
I don’t know how many times I’ve worn these, but it’s a lot. They’ve been caked in mud, covered in dust, got drenched after I fell in a stream, had multiple washes, and yet they’re as good a pair of socks as they were when I first opened them. I’m a massive fan, and I feel the benefits of using them in the gym too. I’ve been advised on other compression socks, but I like these. And I’ve invested in another couple of pairs.
RRP £25.00 from Kymirasport.
Darn Tough Socks
The obvious thing you notice when you slip these on is the cushioning they give you. The sole is thick, and that extends round the sides of the foot too. Not uncomfortably either – they don’t restrict your foot when you’re walking and hiking at all.
My favourite out of the options are the Micro Crew Light. Probably due to a nicer, comtemporary design. Although, the stripe sock are a good pair for a cooler day, and I tend to leave them on a bit longer after I’ve finished a walk, because they have a bit of a slipper feel when you walk around the house.
Designed with breathability and temperature control in mind, these socks are well worth the investment if you’re upping your walking game. After over 15 walks of varying length wearing these, they’re in the same condition as they were when I first opened the packet. That’s a good reflection on Darn Tough’s promise that they’re ‘Guaranteed For Life: No strings. No conditions. For life.’
Replenishment for all
However near or far your travels may take you, we all know that you need to keep your energy and hydration levels up. Planning the right amount of food and water to take with you is important.
Klean Kanteen TKWide Insulated bottle
This vacuum-insulated bottle gives you a 16oz capacity and a size that’s portable and compact, without being too small. It comes with the leakproof Twist Cap, that even has a built-in reusable steel straw.
When you’re heading out a bit further afield, or a night away and you’re wanting to keep your drink extra cold, this bottle keeps its contents ice cold for up to 46 hours. I’ve not needed it for that long, but on a recent walk on a stunningly sunny morning through Norwood Green and Coley, it gave me just enough cold refreshment to keep me going for a few miles.
As a bonus, and although they don’t market this as a hot-drink container, I’ve used this bottle for tea. No cup, but I had a perfect, piping hot brew three hours into a walk towards Golcar. I love my water on a walk, but you can’t beat sitting down for a break and having a nice cuppa.
RRP £27.95 from Klean Kanteen
Klean Kanteen Classic Brushed Stainless bottle
Another fantastic accessory from Klean Kanteen, this larger bottle stands tall and lets you take a whopping 27oz of water with you.
A good bottle – it’s simple, and easy-to-use with a sports cap and its powder coat finish makes it a durable product. It’s definitely one for the rucksack though, as if you want to carry this in your hand or clip it to your belt, it’s a bit big.
What I like is that as you fill it up from the tap, you can feel the stainless steel container get cold. It almost tricks you into thinking that it gives you a more pure drink when you reach for it. And, of course, being so big it gives you ample refreshment for a hike in the good weather.
Available from Klean Kanteen for £19.95.
ChicoBag Snack Time Reusable Bags
I absolutely love these. What a fantastic idea, and why haven’t I thought of these before? For under £15 you get three good quality washable, reusable snack bags you can use 1825x more than a single-use plastic equivalent.
A light green, dark green, and avacado design, the fold over/velcro seal is strong and means you can take with you a standard sized sandwich, a medium baguette, or smaller snacks. We’ve enjoyed the lot – fruit, ham butties, nuts…and chocolate! And they fold away nicely in your pocket afterwards. Something that a sandwich box can’t do.
Once you try these you wont use a plastic bag again. Each bag is 6.5” x 9.5”, or 8.5” x 4.5” folded.
Available from Whitby & Co for £13.95.
Vapur EZ Lick Portable Dog Water Bottle
Our four-legged friends love a good long walk as we all know. And when they come out with us for the day, we need to think of them too.
If we get another glorious summer, they’re going to need a drink or two. And not just replenishing their fluids from a stream or a waterfall. Well, Vapur have brought the EZ Lick portable dog water bottle to our attention. And as soon as it arrived, we were intrigued to find out what Tasha, the five-year-old Springer Spaniel would think of it.
The bottle is foldable, and easily stored away. But when you need it, it holds 700ml of water, and has a patented PupCap, which is activated by your dog licking it. And after a look and a sniff, Tasha lapped up her water, excitedly so – like she was having a little treat. The bonus was that we were purely entertained by this too!
When she’d finished we folded it up, and popped it into our pocket. Easy. Or…EZ, as it says on the tin. A brilliant accessory, and one for anybody whose dog loves walking and hiking too!
RRP £22.95 from Whitby & Co.
Getting the gear
When you’re out and about in the stunning Yorkshire Dales, those gorgeous green hills and that lovely fresh air puts a smile on your face. And often, looking the part adds another element of feel-good-factor to your jaunt too. But as well as that, you need everything to be comfortable, practical, breathable and offer protection.
Regatta Highton 45L Rucksack
Now, this one is for the long hike. An essential backpack for the morning-till-night kind of trek and houses everything you’ll need.
I wore this on a semi-chilly morning that turned in to a lovely warm lunchtime. I needed food, I needed water, and I needed additional layers from time to time. And the 45L capacity of this backpack let me keep all that tidily stored away, with room for more. Although not heavy, it’s not lightweight. And it’s large, so I’d make this one my go-to rucksack when I’m out for a full day or longer, rather than an afternoon or so. But its robustness, comfort and capacity can’t be faltered at all. And the way it sits on your back with its adjustable straps and hip-belt makes this a decent accessory for your longer walks.
It comes with compartments galore. Your every storage bag need is catered for with this one, and it looks good too. It’s suitable for all weathers (detachable raincover!), and this is the new rucksack you’re looking for.
Currently on sale for £45.00 at Regatta.com
Kymira Infrared Core 3.0 Training Leggings
As well as the comfort factor, when choosing what gear you’re going walking and hiking in you have to consider the prevention of injury too. Kymira’s Infrared Core 3.0 Training Leggings are made from unique technology that increases blood circulation, tissue oxygenation and cellular metabolism. This means your body has more energy available to help you train harder, for longer.
I don’t usually wear compression garments. But, I slid these on and there’s a comfortable feel of protection from the off. Especially around the calf. And I worked these leggings hard over three walks totaling 17 miles. And then I left them on for around an hour after I’d completed each jaunt, as recommended. I have to say, they felt great and my limbs had no tiredness in them afterwards. They’ve stayed in fab shape after four washes, and although I prefer my legs to be out in the open when I head out, the benefits of Kymira training leggings are obvious, and they’ll cover many miles with me.
RRP: £80.00 from Kymirasport.
Marley Positive Vibration XL Headphones
I’ve mentioned walking with my partner in various parts of this write-up. But when I’m not lucky enough to be blessed to have her by my side, a bit of music always helps with the mileage. Don’t get me wrong, I love the quiet, and the sound of nature, but sometimes you need that motivator to push you along.
I’ve had these Marley headphones for about a year now, and I wouldn’t want to swap them for any other pair. They’re a very comfortable pair of cans, and you get a lot of beat for your bucks when you connect them via Bluetooth to your phone and put on your walking and hiking play list.
The sound quality is up there on all levels, with sharp mids and a signature Marley bass. They foldaway for ease of transport too, you can take calls thorugh them, and you can use them for up to 24 hours on a single charge.
Brilliant headphones – £79.99 from thehouseofmarley.co.uk
ACAI Outdoorwear Ladies Max Stretch Skinny Outdoor Trousers
My other half covers the miles with me. In fact, she has far more drive and energy for a long wander than anyone I know.
She tried out a charcoal pair of ACAI’s outdoor trousers for women, and she was instantly a fan. Presented in a mesh bag, and made from 89% nylon, they are snag-proof and easy to wipe clean. A tight fit as you’d expect, but she loved the comfort that the trousers came with.
The quality of the material is excellent. And during a trek along the Rochdale Canal between Sowerby Bridge and Hebden Bridge, she commented how light they felt, but how strong they were too. She was impressed with the quality, but her biggest delight was the pockets! She’d tried and failed to find a decent pair of walking pants with a good amount of pockets in them. But with these, her search is over. These are going to last her a long time, and she doesn’t just wear them on our walks now. They look really good, and work just as nicely as everyday pants.
RRP: 69.00 from ACAI Outdoorwear
Karrimor Aspen Technical T Shirt
My preffered sort of walking and hiking gear is something as light as possible, and something that works in all the conditions. Aren’t we all like that?
That’s why the Karrimor range of layers and t-shirts are my favourite. Breathable and airy for warmer days, and comfortable and light when you need to pop a jacket over them. The Karrimor Aspen Technical T-Shirt is a great option that’s suitable for all weathers. With raglan arm seams for a relaxed, more manoeuvrable fit and a crew collar neckline, it also has a nice closed mesh construction. Great for keeping you warm, or for when you need to cool down.
Available in a variety of colours (I like the subtly vibrant blue – makes you feel dressed for summer) and comes nowhere near breaking the bank, at £9 from Karrimor.com
Taking Good Care of Yourself
Injuries, aches, and pains…the parts of walking and hiking that you don’t set out of the house for. But they happen, and when they do a bit of preparation goes a long way.
Below The Belt Grooming Fresh & Dry – Sports
One for the men here – and this stuff might raise a smile when you see it, but when you try it you’ll appreciate it exists.
Below The Belt manufactures a number of health products, but the Sports cream that you apply to your nether regions after showering, or before you head out for a walk is superb. I first tried this about six months ago, and since then I’ve always used it.
Apply it, and I guarantee it’ll stop the chafing, and keep you feeling fresh down there for the entirety of your trek. It’ll reduce your need for a re-arrangement while you’re walking and hiking, as you’ll just be comfortable, whatever choice of legwear you decide to go for.
Available on Amazon, from around £8.45
Technicals Compact First Aid Kit
So, in my 400+ miles this year, I’ve fallen in streams, slipped down banking and tripped over tree roots. Thankfully, I’ve only hurt my pride has been and I’ve not needed to worry about first aid. But on another day, things might be different.
This compact first aid kit is pretty portable and tucks nicely in to a rucksack with out taking up valuable space. It’s a good bit of security to have, so that if you do have a tumble and you end up with a cut, a burn or something in your eye you can try and take some immediate care of it.
Presented nicely, you get a number of dressings, wipes, sachets and plasters – plus more – with a first aid leaflet inside to show you how to do what, should something happen. For peace of mind, grab one. It might just help you carry on walking and hiking, rather than get stopped in your tracks.
Available from GoOutdoors at £8 to cardholders, £16 general retail.