It is essential that you are properly equipped for joining one of our walks.
If you are not new to walking you will not need any advice, but if you are just taking it up, you might find the following helpful.
Although walking boots with good ankle support and Vibram-type soles are always to be preferred, and indeed are essential on the more challenging walks, trainers or walking shoes are often adequate on summer evening walks. But don't forget that it can be muddy at any time of the year! Socks are also important they add significantly to comfort; so if you are buying boots and socks, try them and buy them together.
You can buy inexpensive leg gaiters which can make a real difference in wet and muddy conditions. If you set out on your first walk in unsuitable footwear you probably won't enjoy the experience and it may put you off walking for ever!
In winter it is essential to have a full waterproof outer layer available and to wear sufficient warm under layers. But it is not essential initially to buy expensive breathable outer garments (Goretex or similar), although if you are confident that you will be walking regularly you will not regret buying a good breathable jacket or under layers that both insulate and wick away moisture. Unfortunately British weather can be so fickle, and in the mountains so changeable, that you are advised to carry such clothing throughout the year, whatever the weather forecast!
You have to carry your extra clothing, food and drink in something and a supermarket bag is not recommended! If you don't have a rucksack, borrow one at first if you can, and buy one later. Few rucksacks are really waterproof, so put everything in a bin-liner in the rucksack. When you do decide to buy, take with you to the shop everything you would normally carry so that you can check that it will all fit in and that the rucksack is comfortable with your usual contents.
Although not essential, many members find walking poles offer them great benefits in terms of increased stability and support. They can help reduce the stress on your legs, knees, feet and back, as they help to share the load of your weight more evenly across the whole body. They particularly help reduce the pressure on your knees, especially walking downhill, and give you added balance and stability on uneven paths. However some members find them a nuisance as its an extra item to carry and your hands are not free for other things.
Maps and GPS devices
Walk leaders are expected to carry maps for their planned walk, but it is not necessary for members joining the walk. In addition, there are many GPS devices on the market now and some great map apps for your phone. The OS maps app is great value for money at about £20 per year. They are extremely useful, as they have a GPS built in, they have the added benefit of showing you where you are on the map! GPS signals are very reliable in most parts of the country (not like your phone signal!) but always make sure your device or phone is fully charged as they can use a lot of battery power, depending on how much you use it out on the walk.
First Aid kit
Walk leaders are expected to have a first aid kit with them, but it is always best for you to have your own basic first aid kit in your backpack, in particular plasters, as there is nothing worse than sore feet on a walk.
Where to buy
First and foremost, buy at a reputable outdoor equipment shop, for example, Milletts in Golden Square. At these you will get good advice and 10% discount when you join the Club and show your membership card. At all shops there are substantial savings to be made on sale items.