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We all know that spending time outdoors is good for both our physical and mental wellbeing and the UK has amazing hikes and walks perfect for all levels as well as a variety of outdoor pursuits. Having the right clothing to do the job is important not only for practicality but to help keep you comfortable and safe. Finding the right gear and apparel can be a challenge and you're going to find a lot of brands make heavy assumptions about who is buying their products and why. The important thing is to do as much research as possible and don't be pressed to go for the most expensive option, while quality is really important you can often pick up excellent outdoor clothing one sale or at discount as a variety of outdoor shops or opt for second hand from places like ebay. I believe that getting outdoors is accessible for all and you shouldn't be put off through lack of budget and often we can make do with what we already have, so I thought I would put together a little guide of the essentials you need.
What are the basic essentials?
If you're heading out on a family hike, ticking off a local mountain summit or a spot of geocaching in the woods there are certain essentials everyone needs just to ensure you stay comfortable, practical and safe.
1. Waterproof Jacket - Living in the UK where the weather changes on the hour it's essential to invest in a decent waterproof and it doesn't have to cost loads, places like Go Outdoors and Mountain Warehouse regularly have sales or discounted jackets. I tend to go for lightweight ones all year round and use fleece layers during the colder months.
2. Lightweight Trainers and Boots - I tend to wear lightweight trainers or running shoes on most hikes from spring to autumn. I've read a load of debates about Boots vs Running shoes and lots of longterm hikers recommend lighter running shoes over boots during warm weather. They tend to be more breathable, lighter and can cause fewer blisters. Hiking Boots, however, are very handy during the colder wetter months when you will be navigating mud and need something more waterproof.
3. Good pair of socks - it's incredible what a difference a good pair of socks can have as they help to keep your feet protected, dry and free from blisters. Cotton socks are not great for hiking and outdoor pursuits as cotton absorb so much moisture and can become heavy when soaked with sweat and lose their ability to keep your feet warm, instead close-fitting synthetic or merino socks are a far better option.
4. Lightweight Backpack - when heading out on a hike or family adventure you're going to need to take some essentials with you such as refillable water bottles, possibly a small umbrella, some snacks etc so having a strong but lightweight backpack is really important. I personally like classic Swedish Kanken which is durable and well designed.
5. Accessories - depending on the time of the year it's really important to stay warm and dry. So during the winter months don't forget a warm hat and gloves. During summer suncream and sunglasses can come in handy and with all outdoor adventures staying hydrated is very important so get yourself a decent water bottle.
Of course, if your planning to do other activities beyond just hiking and exploring by foot then you need to look into what equipment you may need. With many things, you can hire what you need, such as climbing shoes if you fancy a spot of bouldering or a SUP board if you want to give Stand-up paddleboarding a go. Although things like mountain biking and even motorcycling on and off road has seen a big resurgence especially for women and you will need appropriate motorcycle casual apparel on hand as well as a good helmet and riding gloves for safety.
While I constantly encourage both my children and myself to spend as much time outdoors, learn new skills and try new things, do adhere to common sense and countryside code. Also if your keen to take part in a new activity always go with someone who knows what they are doing and try a taster day or have a formal lesson so you get the basics down before venturing out on your own.
This past year I have really got into stand-up paddleboarding but I have always gone as apart of a group, as well as trying my hand at canoeing, bouldering and getting back into surfing. After attending a Girls skateboarding day at the House Of Vans, there was also an exhibition of VC London which is a collective of like-minded women interested mainly in motorcycling but also other outdoor pursuits. Seeing bikes that had been put together by women has inspired me to learn how to ride a motorbike within the next year and I have already been looking at all the cool motorcycle clothing on sales online! I think I may be treating myself this Christmas. #WaterproofJacket #Motorcycling #Surfing #Running #GetOutdoors