The combination of aviation technology and the internet has made the world a smaller place than ever before, but in spite of this there are still parts of the world which are reachable only on foot. No amount of hours spent exploring the world on Google Street View can compete with the sounds, smells and stillness of a high altitude mountain pass, or an empty desert. There are times in life, therefore, where if you want to know what is truly out there, you have to lace up your boots and walk.
Getting away from it all is not without its risks, so you need to be fully equipped for the journey, whatever the weather and terrain might throw at you…
Start at the bottom. If your feet aren’t warm, dry and comfortable, your trek will be miserable. Invest in a sturdy pair of boots that give plenty of support to your ankle, whilst still having sufficient flex, and wear them in at home beforehand. Your boots are your single most important piece of kit for your trek.
Women: Berghaus Women’s Fellmaster GTX (www.berghaus.com; RRP £140)
Men: Arc’teryx Bora 2 Mid GTX (www.arcteryx.com; RRP £275)
Even the best boots will rub if you don’t wear them with proper socks. Choose a pair that is predominantly made from natural fibres, and ideally from merino wool, as these will allow your feet to breathe. Specialist trekking socks are padded around the heel and across the arch of your foot for maximum comfort.
Women: Keela Series 100 (www.keela.co.uk; RRP £9.95)
Men: Baffin Merino (www.baffin.com; RRP £18)
Trekking trousers should be light weight but made from a strong, rip-proof fabric that breathes. If they are also water resistant, that’s even better, as you never know when you’ll get caught out in the rain. Opt for a style that fits you well around both the waist and hips, and that has plenty of pockets.
Women: Rohan Women’s Striders (www.rohan.co.uk; RRP £79)
Men: Jack Wolfskin Parana Pants (www.jack-wolfskin.co.uk; RRP £110)
The knack with keeping warm whilst trekking is to have several layers that you can add or remove as need be. Your base layer should be soft, close-fitting and breathable. Natural fibres are preferable. These versions look good enough that they can double as t-shirts if the sun comes out and you’re hot.
Women: Icebreaker Oasis LS Scoop and Leggings (www.icebreaker.com; RRP £60 and £55)
Men: SmartWool NTS Micro 150 Crew (www.smartwool.com; RRP £50)
The best jackets for trekking are lightweight and pack down to almost nothing, but are still warm and water-resistant too. Down or synthetic filling is very much a personal preference, though the former tends to be slightly warmer. Check that there are enough pockets, and that the zips are sturdy. A hood is a good idea too.
Women: Icepeak Ellie (www.icepeak.fi; RRP £96)
Men: RAB Nebula Jacket (www.rab.equipment/uk; RRP £160)
I’ve recently discovered the benefit of trekking with poles, and would recommend them for mountain treks in particular. They make the descents far easier, and assist during river crossings too.
Women: Leki Micro Vario Carbon Poles (www.leki.com; RRP £150)
Men: MSR Talus TR-3 Trekking Poles (www.cascadedesigns.com; RRP £105)