What do I need for hiking in cold and wet conditions

I don’t think hill walking and being outdoors should be saved for the warmer and drier months of the year. Scotland is beautiful all year round and the benefits of being outdoors seem to me to be even greater when the days are shorter and darker, and the conditions are colder and wetter.

Having said that, being wet and cold causes utter misery, so I’ve pulled together some advice on staying warm and dry whatever the conditions (as long as there is no snow and ice- that’s another ball game).

To stay warm and dry you need to make sure you have:

  1. Good waterproofs (jacket and over trousers)
  2. Waterproof boots
  3. Lots of warm layers (which fit under the waterproofs)

Waterproofs don’t need to be really expensive but look out for taped seams and a hood for the jacket.

In terms of staying warm, the key is layers, layers, layers. It’s easy to get too hot when walking uphill so you want to be able to take layers off (if you start sweating too much you clothes get wet and that can lead to feeling cold, so best avoid that). And PLEASE avoid cotton in any of your layers which keeps in moisture from rain or sweat and then means you get really cold and damp.

What I wear and/or have in my rucksack:

  • Thicker leggings or hiking trousers (I have some with fleeced lining) if it’s cold
  • A short sleeve baselayer (this can be polyester or wool like merino)
  • A long sleeve baselayer
  • A long sleeve fleece
  • A down padded jacket which fits under my rain coat (or another fleece woudl work)
  • Waterproof jacket (it doesn’t need to be super expensive but look out for taped seams and a hood)
  • Waterproof over trousers
  • Walking boots
  • 2 pairs of gloves in case one gets wet (my hands get cold really easily)
  • Woolly hat

What else:

  • A 30L rucksack so that all of this can fit in and plastic bags to keep spare layers dry
  • Food and drink (I often take a flask of hot tea on colder days)
  • A torch in case I’m out later than planned
  • First aid kit and survival blanket to keep me warm if I’m immobilised
  • A whistle to attract attention if I’m injured
  • Fully charged phone
  • Map and compass
  • Gaiters can be handy but I don’t think they’re essential
  • Walking poles, again not essential

Where to buy things?

I must say that when I started hill walking I simply didn’t have all of this kit and I have acquired it gradually over time.  Once you have it, kit should last a long time if you take care of it.

There now seems to be a lot more affordable options around, from charity shops, to social media platforms, and online second hand shops like Vinted, Ebay and Depop.  Check out this great video for more tips: https://youtu.be/K96QQlJDvYg?si=Dk7z9yWsw9ckpNE-

Decathlon also sells really good value kit. I haven’t tried and tested lots of it but what I do have is good quality and I’ve heard others recommend it too.

Ready to head out? Check out what activities I’m offering this Autumn here.

Other useful links:

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