Now, I’ve got to admit, I love walking. Yes, I’ve been enjoying this exercise for years. Whether this is something you’ve been doing too for a while or it’s a new thing for you, have you really thought about why it’s important to wear the right walking gear? Now, if you’re serious about walking and you have chosen this as your daily exercise during Lockdown 3, you’ll need to dress appropriately. If not, this is one new year’s resolution which won’t last long..! It’s pretty cold and damp out there right now isn’t it?! So, it makes sense to invest in the right walking gear. This way, you can enjoy long (and short) walks now and for many winters to come.
Do you find the idea of walking boring? One good way in which to liven up your walks could be by listening to a podcast? As many of us are having to walk the same route day in day out right now during Lockdown 3, I think you’ll really enjoy this. In fact, there are a whole host of interesting genres to choose from out there. I tend to use the podcast app on my phone and I’ve downloaded BBC Sounds too. With the latter, I can listen to the likes of Grounded with Louis Theroux and I’m rather partial to Fortunately…with Fi and Jane. The good news is you can easily find something to interest you!
Does walking mean you’ll have to sacrifice style?
The simple answer to this is no. If the idea of walking is putting you off because you want to look, well, more stylish, don’t let it. I’ve been looking into this and there are some fantastic walking clothes and walking shoes out there. Can you imagine TV presenter Fearne Cotton stepping out in anything but super stylish walking gear? Me neither! She’s said to love a good walk. And what about the singer Katy Perry? She loves walking too and I can’t imagine Katy wanting to sacrifice her style, can you?! The founder of one of the best-selling beauty brands, Liz Earle, loves Nordic walking I believe. And she would want to look good on a winter’s walk, too. In fact, I think that goes for the rest of us… especially now that we’re in the middle of Lockdown 3. For many of us, me included, that daily walk is our only chance to leave our homes. So, I don’t know about you, but I really want to feel and look good on these occasions, too.
The walking shoes
When it comes to walking shoes, it’s so important to look for comfortable footwear. After all, your feet are going to be doing all the hard work for you. So, you’ll want a shoe which is going to be comfy throughout, cushions your heel, supports your arches and, of course, looks super stylish, too. So I was asked to try this beautiful pair of NEW Haix Black Eagle Adventure 2.2 GTX to see if they were up to the job. Now, I tend to walk an hour a day when I’m working. Then I’ll walk for at least two hours each day on a weekend. So, I’d hardly describe myself as a ‘hiker’, but I know my footwear has got to be up to the job. After all, there’s nothing worse than getting a blister.
Top tip: If you do get a blister, I’d recommend Compeed Blister plaster (I always have a pack of these in my bag just in case!).
What to look for in the walking shoe
Now what I really like about these Black Eagle Adventure models is that they are multi-functional outdoor walking shoes. So, you can wear them just as easily to pop down to the shops (remember the days?) as you can on a serious walk. In winter, you should always consider non-slip models, and I think a waterproof and breathable inner lining should be high on your wish-list. If you can, look for ‘flexlaces’ as these will adjust to your actual foot for an excellent fit. Thankfully, the Haix collection comes with all this as standard.
Comfort is key
These shoes are seriously comfy, which is so important to me. If you’re walking as I do every day, I think investing in the right shoe has got to be high on your walking gear list. In fact, it’s been seriously muddy on some of my weekend walks and now there’s snow! But these shoes have an excellent grip (non-slip), even in the cold. So, I’ve remained upright on every walk! I’ve found they feel really spongy underfoot, which is ideal for every outdoors occasion, especially as most of my walks don’t involve pavements. The key is to invest in a pair which can keep you on your feet all day without the worry of any pain.
I do like feeling stylish, even when I’m out walking. In fact, these days the style of my walking gear more important to me than ever before. It’s the only time I’m leaving my home (I have online food shopping deliveries). So, I want to wear something which looks good, too. I chose grey shoes with a cute orange detail, which Haix describes as Cloud-Orange, but there are other colours available, too.
It’s a balancing act
In fact, some of my walks when not in Lockdown involve uneven terrain. I love nothing more than a meander through a wood or a walk on a pebbly beach. So, I was looking for walking shoes, which would fully support every eventuality. These Haix models come with a handy stabilisation zone, which basically means you’ll find optimal pressure distribution on uneven terrain.
Chances are you’ll be looking for something which is going to withstand the elements as you may be feeling decidedly chilly when you’re out and about at the moment! With temperatures struggling to reach anything beyond 5C in the daytime, this means one thing. You’ll need high quality walking gear, which will keep you feeling toasty. But I think it needs to look good, too.
I’ve been looking everywhere for the right jacket in a colour which makes me feel feminine but it has got to be highly practical, too. This is when I came across TOG24 – this is a brand based in Yorkshire and as soon as I heard this, I thought they’ll know their stuff! The husband is a northerner you see (I’ve got a soft spot for northerners and he’s from Preston) so I know just how cold it can get in that neck of the woods…Anyway, they asked me to trial the Beverley women’s waterproof 3-in-1 jacket.
Walking gear with style
Now, I chose the raspberry shade as I really feel a pop of colour makes me feel more feminine on my walks and it will brighten up the greyest day. Let’s face it, there are a lot of these at this time of year! I picked a size 10 and, when the jacket arrived, it fitted like a glove. It still fits now despite all the Christmas excesses which I’m still working off with my walking and Pilates! Phew!
Fully waterproof coat
What I really like about this coat is that it’s a two-piece set. Thank goodness, the outer layer is fully waterproof (watch out for jackets which are water-resistant as you could end up getting drenched). So, I’ve deliberately tried it out in driving wind and rain – yes, down south, it does happen here too! And I’ll never let bad weather stop me from having a decent walk. The results? I was completely dry – not a drop came through – thanks to the water repellent coating and taped seams. It’s completely windproof too! The hood is easy to adjust around your face and the high neck feels comfortable, not restrictive.
Versatility is key for walking gear
It’s the versatility in this design, which makes it worth every penny in my opinion. It comes with a detachable quilted jacket in a gorgeous matching colour way, which you can use to fasten the jacket or zip it into the waterproof. The two stay together securely with press studs on the neck and cuffs. However, when the weather gets warmer, you can simply pick and choose the waterproof coat for a shower or the quilted jacket for a spring or autumn day. Shape-wise you won’t need to worry as this coat is uber-flattering too. I can’t wait to wear either or both pieces all year round now.
The neck warmer
These elements can be just as important if you’re looking for walking gear with warmth and style on your winter walks. So I’ve been on the hunt for the best walking socks and neck warmers. Then I came across a sustainable family-run brand called Giesswein. I love their back story too – they have a huge Green Strategy company policy. They also 100% support a no mulesing process and animal ethicacy standard for happy, safe sheep. They offered me the chance to try out their neck warmer, which was an absolute delight. It’s very lightweight and comes in a variety of colours . I chose black as I was looking for something I can wear with a variety of inner layers. It’s made from natural Merino wool fibres which regulate your body temperature. This neck warmer is certainly keeping me warm and toasty on my walks. The logo even reflects in the dark, which is a lovely touch.
Their Merino hiking socks are also super cosy with the same attributes as they regulate your body temperature, which makes them versatile for warm and cold weather walking. I also suffer from Raynaud’s, which affects my blood circulation so picking a cosy pair of socks is vital. I picked the colour grey (there are other colours) to tie in with my walking shoes. But what makes the socks a brilliant buy for me are that they have been knit without any seams. So you won’t have to worry about rubbing on your toes and heel.
When I mention waterproof trousers, I’ll forgive you if the very thought of these makes you want to recoil. But I was finding on a wet, windy walk that my jeans just wouldn’t cut it. I would literally have to peel them off after a walk in the rain. So I decided to see what’s out there which may look in the slightest bit stylish and would keep every bit of wind and rain out.
Now here’s a piece of advice: don’t choose any which are listed as water repellent as they’re likely to let the rain in. I hunted high and low and eventually found some which I love. The Outdoorsport women’s hiking pants from Lightinthebox.com look stylish and they come with a leg zip too. The waistband is elasticated for extra comfort – it’s ok no-one will know, only you! They also have an ultra soft fleece lining and they’re fully waterproof and windproof, too. These ladies hiking trousers are similar and you can get them in the sale. One word of warning – their trousers come up very small so, for example, I chose XL. I’m size 10 with slim legs and these fit me perfectly.
Top tip: Once you’ve invested in waterproof thermal trousers, don’t forget to pick up some thermal tops to wear for your first layer. Uniqlo has a whole host of budget-friendly options called Heattech you can choose from, which I find provide the perfect inner layer.
As you’ll already know, I have Raynauds. In fact, once the blood stops circulating to my fingers and toes, then it starts coming back, it can be quite painful, So, I know I need to keep my fingers warm which is why I decided to look into ski gloves. My thoughts were if the gloves are suitable for the slopes then surely they’ll work on an early morning walk in -2C! I then found the Picture Organic Clothing Kakiska women’s snow gloves on a website called surfdome.com. And these are brilliant! They are fully waterproof and thermally insulated. So, for the first time for years, I haven’t had any problems with my Raynauds’ fingers feeling numb and tingling. There’s even a zipped pocket for a heat pouch, which I haven’t tried yet. I must admit I cut off the loop straps (for skiiers) as I’m not planning on skiing any time soon!
So I hope these have helped you on your quest for suitable walking gear. My selection will not only look good but will stand up to every winter weather condition, even snow!