Buy now – for walking the West Highland Way
One of the most popular walking trails in the UK is the West Highland Way. It recently featured in this blog as the Walk of the Week. If you are planning to take on this 96-mile walk over multiple days, from Milngavie to Fort William, it might be worth thinking ahead and buying some of the essential kit in the January sales. While most walkers will already own some of the gear required for walking this fabulous Scottish route it could be time to update older equipment. For others, who might be new to walking, the January sales at outdoor stores are the perfect time for buying lots of new kit.
West Highland Way clothing listThink of clothing as a three-layer type of affair. There’s a base-layer, then a mid-layer and then an outer layer. Baselayers: These can be created from man-made or, better still, natural materials, such as merino or yak wool. Wools have lots of great advantages, such keeping you naturally warm; natural breathability so they allow sweat to evaporate; and no-whiff appeal. Wools rarely smell as pongy as man-made products when dealing with day after day of sweat. Choose short-sleeve or long-sleeve or wear both depending on the time of the year and the weather. Mid-layers: These can take the form of a heavier weight baselayer or a jacket. Fleece mid-layers are popular but increasingly you’ll see lightweight synthetic insulation jackets on sale as mid-layers. These might be over-the-head jackets or front zipped. Choose a mid-layer jacket with a windproof outer layer if you want to use it as an outer jacket on dry days in spring and summer. Outer layers: These are waterproof jackets. These act as a windproof and waterproof shell when the weather turns wet or windy. In summer, a lighter-weight waterproof is a good choice although it should still be robust enough to deal with heavy rain. Remember this is Scotland. While summer can be warm it can also be very wet, too. Waterproof trousers: Another essential item. These should hopefully live in a corner of your rucksack because you will only need them when it is raining a lot. Choose a pair of over-trousers and make sure they have side zips so you can pull them on over your walking trousers or leggings and boots. Walking trousers: The choice is wide ranging. You might prefer stretchy running-style leggings/tights or walking-specific trousers or trousers that zip off to become shorts or three-quarter length trousers. The best advice is to make sure they are very comfortable and do not rub while walking for many miles. Underwear: Many people forget to wear comfortable pant/knickers (and sports bras). There is no point in buying lots of warm and comfy outdoor clothing if you then wear underwear that makes you sweat and causes rubs and rashes. There are lots of sports brands that sell purpose-made pants and bras. Look for fabrics that allow for good breathability and have few seams. Walking socks: The array of walking socks is sometimes bewildering. Choose a well-fitting sock and look for merino wool. Some people swear by the blister-proofing of double layer socks while others prefer to choose padded single-layer socks. As with all clothing make sure it is tried and tested before you set off for your West Highland Way holiday. Other clothing: A warm hat and a sun hat; gloves; spare socks and a buff.
Kit list for the West Highland WayRucksack: If you have chosen to walk the WHW with Macs Adventure you will not be carrying all your other luggage with you as you walk. This will be transported between your acommodations for you. But a smaller rucksack, around 20 to 30l, is useful as a day pack. Look for a rucksack with good quality shoulder straps and hip-belt. You will be carrying the rucksack for many hours each day so you do not want it to rub or annoy you. Make sure there is a back ventilation system, too, and if it has a place for adding a water bladder then all the better. It’s easier to take regular sips from the tube of a bladder than to have to stop every time you need a drink from a stowed bottle. Walking boots: This is a vital item of West Highland Way kit and you should make sure the boots have more than a few miles in them before setting off on the multi-day walking tour. Look for good quality boots with ankle support and waterproofing. Whether you choose leather or fabric is personal preference but they should fit well and be robust. Two season, summer style walking boots will be a good choice for most people walking the WHW in the warmer months. Ask your local outdoor store for advice and make sure you have an expert fitting. Other essential items: A midge net is a good idea in the height of summer. This is worn over the head to keep away the worst of the biting beasties. Midge repellent such as Smidge or Avon’s Skin So Soft work well when on bare skin to stop the midges biting. You might also add sunglasses and an extra water bottle or a flask for a hot drink. Toilet kit: It’s not the best topic to talk about but you do need a way to get rid of your own toilet waste. Number twos must be buried thoroughly or, better still, taken with you in a sealed plastic bag and disposed of properly. Carry a small spade and a quantity of robust and easy-tie bags. First Aid Kit: A small first aid kit, preferably in a waterproof container or bag, is a good idea. Suggested items include painkillers, plasters for minor cuts, antiseptic cream or wipes, bites and stings cream, blister plasters, a triangular bandage, an elastic knee support, sterile dressings for wounds. A map and compass: Macs Adventure provide lots of information and maps on walking the West Highland Way. It is a good idea to also have the relevant OS maps and a compass. The WHW is waymarked but you may become lost if the weather deteriorates. Other suggested WHW items: GPS walking gadget, walking poles (see benefits of walking poles), camera, mobile phone, binoculars, pen-knife or multitool, emergency energy snacks, an emergency bivi-bag or survival blanket.
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