Autumn in the UK is a beautiful season. With the foliage changing from green to vibrant reds, oranges and yellows and clear, blue-sky days, it is also the perfect time to head off for a walk or walking holiday. Although we often get those crisp blue-skies, temperatures can be a bit chillier, it can rain and the days are shorter so it’s important that you wear and pack the right walking kit in your rucksack.
Guide to autumn walking clothes and kit
Boots with a grip (Prosecco optional!)
Boots with grip: More robust summer walking boots will be fine for lower-level trails and balmy autumn days. Make sure they have ankle support for places where the ground is wet, muddy or slippery. When it’s very wet or you are walking in the hills and mountains, choose good quality winter walking boots that have aggressive grip and a waterproof lining such as Gore-Tex. You might also choose to wear stiffer three/four season walking boots. Ask for advice in a reputable outdoors clothing store. Boots choice does depend on the terrain and conditions so it’s always best to err on the side of caution.
Layer it on: Lots of thin layers on your torso rather than one or two thicker layers offers a more effective way of staying warm. Start with a short or long-sleeved baselayer and then add a mid-layer, such as a light fleece, and then an outer layer, either a windproof softshell or a waterproof jacket, to suit the conditions.
Smell-free baselayers: We recommend baselayers made from Merino wool because they keep you warm but also allow the sweat to evaporate. Merino wool doesn’t end up smelling whiffy like many synthetic baselayers.
Mid-layers: This could be a thicker baseleyer, a fleece or a softshell jacket. Soft shells are being increasingly popular because they keep the warmth in by repelling the wind. Most are very breathable, too, so you stay warm and dry while walking.
Outerlayers: If it’s dry, a softshell jacket makes a great outerlayer. If it’s wet choose a highly waterproof jacket, such as one made from Gore-Tex of eVent. You should look for a jacket that is 100% waterproof and also breathable. Waterproof jackets come in a wide price range and in lighter weight and heavier weight fabrics. Generally, the wetter and colder the conditions the more robust your jacket should be.
Warm jacket: For times when you stop for a break and need to stay warm or for when temperatures drop, a lightweight down or synthetic insulated jacket stuffed into your day pack can seem like a lifesaver.
Legwear: A pair of comfortable walking trousers or leggings suit autumn walks. Always pack a pair of waterproof over trousers for times when the rain comes on. Waterproof over trousers are also a great way to keep the wind from your legs on blustery days.
Socks: Pack a few pairs of socks. Look for qualities such as walking boot specific-fit, cushioning, breathable fabrics and make sure they ankle cuffs come above your boots. Again, we like Merino wool for the breathable and non-whiffy factors. Other socks to try include HJ Hall’s walking socks.
Accessories: Wear or pack hats, gloves and buffs (these are great for your head or neck) to keep your extremities warm. The autumn season brings cooler weather so you need to make sure your hands and head stay warm.
Walking poles: When the terrain is wet and slippery, walking poles can be a great advantage for going up and down trails. Telescopic poles are a great idea because you can carry them on your rucksack when not in use.
Rucksack or daypack: Choose a larger rucksack (30 to 40litres) for this time of year. You’ll need to carry more clothing and kit.
Other tips for autumnal walking
- Never walk in brand new boots or walking socks. Always ensure you have worn them in a little before setting out for longer day of walking or a walking holiday.
- Pack more in your rucksack than you think you might need. The weather can be fickle in the UK so you could be grateful for the extra layers.
- Food and water are especially important. When it’s chilly you might believe that you do not need to drink as much water but you will still be sweating when you’re walking and this fluid needs to be replaced. Keep energy levels up on chillier days with healthy and nutritious snacks.
- Down jackets or synthetic insulated jackets are a great bonus when you stop for a breather or lunch. Just put them over your other clothes and relax in the cosy warmth. When you start walking again, you can stuff the jacket back into your daypack.
- Map and compass are vital for autumn walking. Rain, mist and darker days may require navigation by map and compass.
Definitive list for autumn walking holidays
This list of clothing and kit offers the ideal guide for an autumn walking tour or holiday in the UK.
Daypack: This is the pack you’ll carry while walking each day. Choose a 30 to 40-litre size. Your daypack contents should include 2-4l of water, lunch, snacks, spare clothes required during the day, passport if you’ve travelled from overseas) money and a camera. We recommend either a waterproof inner lining or bag, or a waterproof cover or both.
Overnight gear bag: This is the bag that will be moved during luggage transfer on a walking holiday. This is for evening and overnight kit and also the next day’s walking clothes. The maximum weight is 15kg.
- Boots Socks (a pair per day or per two days)
- Several baselayers
- Two midlayers
- Softshell jacket or similar as an outer layer for dry days
- Waterproof jacket and over trousers
- Two pairs of walking trousers/leggings
- Sunglasses (autumn brings low sun in the sky)
- Hats, gloves and buff
- Lightweight down or synthetic insulated jacket for your daypack
- Walking poles if you use them.
Essential items to pack:
- Water Bottle and/or Camelback (4 Litres)
- Head torch and spare batteries (Including spare bulb and batteries)
- Books/Guides/Maps as preferred.
- Pocket Knife/Leatherman/Swiss Army Knife.
- Waterproof liner for both bags.
- Energy bars and snacks – 2 per day
Toiletries, health and medical Kit:
- First Aid Kit – It is always a good idea to carry a small personal first aid kit for your own needs.
- Blister plaster
- Sun block & Lip balm – 30+ SPF
- Medication – Take sufficient quantities of any prescription medication you need for the duration of your trip.
- Toiletries – Pack toothbrush & paste, floss, hand and face cleansers. Baby wipes are excellent for a quick freshen up.
This post has been updated from an original post by Fiona Outdoors posted in 2013.