Everybody’s understandably been feeling a little cooped-up recently, but there’s still ways to get fresh air and exercise while staying safe and socially-distanced. With that in mind, we’ve listed everything you need to enjoy safe walks, hikes and trails across the countryside, whether with friends or family.
- Best walking boots
- Best hiking trail route books
- Best hiking headphones/earbuds
- Best hiking backpack
Best walking boots
The most important thing on this list by a long way! Going traipsing out across the countryside in a pair of converses can only go disastrously for both your footwear and your feet, so you’ll want to have a solid set of boots to take you where you need to go.
This means you’ll want boots that fit comfortably, don’t wear out, and ideally would be more than a little waterproof. And while walking boots can get pretty pricey, it’s possible to get a great set without breaking into absurd numbers.
With that in mind, we suggest the Merrell Men Moab 2 Mid GTX boots for men, and the Brasher Country Roamer for women (and boy do those two names say so much about how products are marketed differently). Both are solid, sturdy boots that emphasise comfort for long-distance walking. Neither is totally waterproof – you’ll want a set of wellies for that – but you can march through the vast majority of landscape without issue.
- Buy Merrell Men Moab 2 Mid GTX High Rise Hiking Boots for £87.49 – £230.75
- Buy Brasher Women’s Country Roamer walking shoes for £97.75 – £110.50
Hiking trail route books
Even once you’ve got all the gear, you still need to find all the best places to go a-wandering. Beautiful vistas of rolling hills, secret paths through dappled woods, windswept coastal clifftops and lakeside where all of nature seems to congregate.
And there’s no shortage of books out there that can tell you everything you need to know on where to find the best paths and routes to go a-wandering. We found two that stood out from the crowd – the 100 Outstanding British Walks book from Ordnance Survey, and the Epic Hikes of the World book from Lonely Planet. True, that latter one isn’t quite so relevant at the moment, but until we can go to fields further afield, it’s a gorgeous coffee table book and a perfect living room centerpiece.
- Buy 100 Outstanding British Walks (Ordnance Survey) for £15.16
- Buy Epic Hikes of the World (Lonely Planet) for £21.20
Best hiking headphones/earbuds
There’s a world of difference between the kind of headphones you put on for your morning commute, in the gym, and take with you on a trek through nature. Whether you’re listening to music or catching up on all your favourite music and audiobooks, you should have a set of headphones with a good battery, a decent quality of sound, and designed for maximum comfort. That being said, noise-cancelling headphones aren’t necessarily recommended, depending on where you’re going, purely for safety reasons – you probably shouldn’t be walking along busy roads or in higher-risk locales. Nobody should be taken out by an avalanche or passing truck, no matter how good the podcast they’re listening to is. Of course, everybody has their own preference for how they listen, so we’ve laid out your best options for earbuds and on-ear headphones alike.
For earbuds, there’s a pretty clear winner – the Jabra Elite Active 75t. These have some of the best battery lives out there, fit comfortably in your ear, and actually have an app tied to them that allows you to turn noise cancellation on and off again, so you can always tune them to what you’re looking for. This is a true explorer’s earbud.
For over-ear headphones, we actually recommend the AfterShokz OpenMove headphones. You’ll see a lot of love for these and it’s not hard to see why – they have a good battery life, they’re water resistant, hold to your head well, and use a special tech that uses the wearer’s own cheekbones to conduct the sound and make it feel more impactful and surrounding.
Best hiking backpack
If you’re planning on taking snacks, drinks, cameras or anything else, you shouldn’t have some schoolkid’s satchel or businessman’s briefcase. You’ll need an ergonomically-designed bag that provides the maximum amount of carrying capacity without compromising your ability to walk and maneuver around. With that taken into consideration, you should grab the VBIGER Hydration Backpack, which fits comfortably and comes with a built-in water pack and straw, so you can drink without having to constantly fiddle with water bottles. Alternatively, if space is more of a priority, grab the Berghaus TwentyFourSeven Plus, a stockier, sturdier backpack that works as a superb all-rounder.
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