Embrace the shorter days - self care on the trails this autumn
As we transition into autumn, we get to witness nature at its best - the countryside transforms into a spectacular display of reds, oranges and yellows in magical, seasonal splendour. When it comes to kit, walking this time of year requires a little extra thought and care, so here’s what you need.
Do not underestimate the importance of all those little zipped off compartments and stretchy pockets on a good hiking backpack, particularly those found on the waistband. As well as vital for storing easy-to-reach snacks, they’re ideal for fitting in smaller items you want to grab quickly and easily, such as a hat or neck gaiter.
This time of year can expose us to big temperature variations in just one day, so be prepared with multiple use layers. Start with a lighter skin fit base layer, like a Neema lightweight tank, followed by mid-weight long sleeve natural wool top and a windproof jacket - depending on the weather forecast. The Neema collection has been designed to maximise weight-for-warmth ratios, takes up hardly any space when rolled and does not need to be washed as regularly as synthetic alternatives, so they’re great for multi-day trips as well.
We all know the key to a comfortable day out walking is the right footwear. Thankfully gone are the hard, creaky leather boots of old, and now we can enjoy lightweight, durable, cushioned options. To prepare for wet paths and slippery slopes, choose a sole with good traction and a waterproof membrane.
There’s nothing like seizing the day with an early start. Setting off ahead of other walkers means you get the trail to yourself and maybe even catch the sunrise - what better way to embark on a day’s hike? But early starts mean chilly starts so pack a lightweight, non-bulky, hat that is warm but can wick sweat away so you stay comfortable and dry.
Prepare for all eventualities - from a head torch for dimly lit mornings or dark afternoons to a tube of SPF for those breaks in the clouds when the sunshine is unexpectedly strong, be ready for weather changes. The secret is to pack small - value comes from a few well chosen items.