Packing for a walking holiday is no different than any other trip.
You need to account for the destination’s climate, possible weather changes and planned activities, as well as how long you will be there and whether you will have access to resupply or cleaning facilities.
Having the right clothing and equipment will take some of the stress out of your trek and allow you to focus on the good stuff.
We’ve listed 10 things we wouldn’t set off without.
Wherever and whenever you’re going, worn-in walking boots are the absolute foundation of an enjoyable walking holiday.
They are the one thing that you cannot easily pick up on arrival at the destination or borrow off team mates.
Regardless of the distance you will cover, your feet take the strain and having the right boots (that you’ve broken in ahead of time) will reduce the chance of sore feet, hot spots and blisters.
Socks, Socks and More Socks
Having a comfortable pair of boots will be a wasted effort if you have ill-fitting socks that slide down, bunch up or simply don’t breathe.
Look for hiking-specific socks that are breathable, fast drying and have a cushioned bottom.
Even with the help of a weatherman and endless phone apps, sometimes you just can’t avoid rain when you’re out on the trails.
Pack a jacket that can be rolled up small enough to fit in your bag but is substantial enough to actually keep you dry if the shower turns to a downpour.
Added bonuses are a breathable membrane, zips for under-arm ventilation and plenty of pockets.
If the route you’re heading to is almost guaranteed of rain, consider also packing waterproof trousers and a cover for your backpack.
A Hat or Bandana
On the flip side, you also need to keep protected from the sun – for both comfort and dehydration purposes, especially in the mountains where you burn more easily at high altitude.
For shorter walks an alternative is a cotton bandana to keep sweat and hair off your face, and protect your neck and forehead from sunburn.
On the same note, sunscreen, lip balm and sunglasses will all vastly improve your experience out on the trail.
“Wear layers” is the mantra of experienced hikers around the world. A breathable, thermal t-shirt as a base layer with a long sleeve and fleece over the top will set you up for success.
T-shirts made from technical fabric or merino wool are designed for walking and sports, wicking away sweat and keeping you cool.
Without being dramatic, staying hydrated when you’re out walking can be the difference between life and death.
If you are walking in rural areas you will need to keep a good supply of water with you or map out water sources and pack plenty of purification tablets.
Throwing in a handful of energy bars or nuts is a good idea too to give your body the fuel it needs.
A First Aid Kit
Alongside your toiletries and any personal medication, at least one member of your group should always carry a small medical kit containing generic items for minor health issues.
Plasters for blisters are the most obvious example, but painkillers, diarrhoea treatment and antibacterial wipes or gel are all commonly used items.
A Detailed Walking Map
If you’re heading to a National Trail or any of the more popular European routes you may think you can forego this one, particularly if you’ve got GPS or a phone at hand.
However it is small, light and may save you precious hours once you realise you’ve veered off-route at any point.
If you’re heading off the beaten track then a map and compass are likely to be your lifeline.
There’s no point going out of your way to avoid blisters on your feet to then carry a bag that cuts in, slides off or rubs your shoulders raw. A practical daypack is important for walking trips of any length.
Ideally you need it to have zippable compartments, be lightweight and comfortable over long periods of time and at least water resistant.
If your route is flat and solid underfoot then these may not be required, but for anything more arduous or involving steep ascents/descents, a good pair of walking poles will be a God-send.
On mountainous walks, poles take the strain off your knees and legs and also offer support on uneven or slippery paths. Telescopic or folding poles are good for tucking away when not in use.
Although it didn’t make it into our top 10 items, as you could technically survive without it, be sure to pack your camera or smartphone.
You never know what you’ll see whilst out exploring and you know what they say – a picture is worth a thousand words.