Back in medieval days the correct garb for a pilgrim was a long sackcloth type of robe and a sturdy stick. The sackcloth was a representation of the pilgrims’ penance and the walking stick was as much to guard against wild animals than to give support. Obviously, things have progressed since then, and there are several pieces of equipment that every well-equipped walker should have before attempting a long hike or a difficult walk.
Footwear is the one most important thing for any budding walker, if you are out for a short hike then waterproof sports or training shoes are ideal. However, for most serious walkers the investment in a good pair of sturdy hiking boots is essential. The modern-day hiking boots should be light and agile for scrambling and trails, waterproof and sturdy enough to provide support for the ankles. If you are to make a monetary investment on one item, it is your boots.
Do not wear cotton, and always dress in layers, that way when temperatures changes it is easy to adjust. Prepare for the worst, have suitable layers available to combat cold, rain and wind. The following list is fairly common for most hikers: long sleeved top, long underwear bottoms, two pairs of socks, UPF rated shirt, quick drying waterproof trousers, sun / rain hat, headband, insulated waterproof jacket, heavy rain jacket, rain pants. These items of clothing will be suitable for almost any type of weather and are easy to pack in your rucksack should you not need them.
Map & Compass
This all depends really on how much a technophobe you are, a map and compass can tell you exactly where you are and the direction you should be heading towards. Modern day technology has now given us affordable GPS devices which are small and light enough to carry. It should be stressed that even if you have such a device that you also carry a map and compass for backup, modern technology is not infallible.
Food & Water
On longer walks always provide a way for you to get hydration, carry water and also means of purifying water should you run out. Being dehydrated, your body and organs simply cannot perform at the levels you would normally expect, it can also lead to altitude sickness and hypothermia. Problems can often occur in a long hiking trip, so extra nourishment is essential. You may be out in the open for longer than you expected and extra food will keep your energy levels high, and also it will help to boost morale.
Think ahead of problems that might pop up, take enough safety equipment to overcome any hindrance that might come your way, it is a good idea to carry the following items. Always carry some method of lighting a fire, matches or a lighter may save your life as a fire can be used for heat and a signal. Have some form of whistle to attract attention, it is louder than your voice and uses less energy than shouting. Finally, you will need some sort of flashlight or torch for obvious reasons.
If you follow these basic instructions of how to kit yourself out properly, then your walking will not only be safer, but you will be far more comfortable too, and get the most enjoyment out of your pastime.