What to Bring on a Hike - the Essentials for UK Weather

The UK winter can be brutal at the best of times, but it seems to be particularly nasty at the moment. However, as the old adage goes – there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing.

As a general rule, you should never let the weather dissuade you from taking a trip into the great outdoors, and we know there’ll be plenty of you braving the elements rain or shine.

With that in mind, we’ve created a guide to some of the walking and hiking gear essentials you’re going to need if you want to brave the somewhat inclement UK weather. From the correct clothing to handy equipment, we’ve covered everything.

Read on discover the essential kit you need to fully enjoy and be safe on your next hike…

Waterproof Jacket

It’s not rocket science to work out that there’s a good chance you could get wet when out walking, hiking or climbing in the UK. So, some suitable waterproof clothing is essential. A waterproof jacket will help keep you warm and dry, especially if combined with the right underclothing.

You can buy jackets that either has a waterproof coating or waterproof membrane, the latter of which is more breathable but often more expensive, too. You should also look out for features, such as storm flaps, to prevent water seeping in.

Your waterproof jacket should also be breathable, allowing sweat and vapour to escape so you stay dry from the inside. Waterproofs should also help you to regulate your temperature and stay comfortable.

Read more: Waterproof Jacket Buying Guide

Waterproof Trousers

Having a waterproof coat is one thing, but it’s not much good if your bottom half is getting soaked through. That’s why waterproof trousers are also advisable if you’re anticipating a deluge of rain.

You can wear waterproof trousers on their own, without the need for overtrousers, with many including soft-touch linings to add a simple level of comfort combined with unbeatable wet weather protection.

Waterproof trousers use performance fabrics which offer amazing rain protection and will also keep you warm with excellent windproofing. The fabric is treated with a waterproof coating which repels water to keep you comfortable and dry.

Read more: Walking & Waterproof Trousers Buying Guide


Cold and wet hands are also pretty miserable so invest in a decent pair of gloves. You’ll no doubt know that if your hands are really cold then even the most basic of tasks becomes difficult, so if you need to pitch a tent or something similar then you’ll need full dexterity.

When out in the cold or the weather takes a turn for the worse, ensure you’re hands are nice and warm. Furthermore, you can find waterproof gloves and touchscreen gloves, so you can still use your phone and stay up-to-date on weather changes, without removing your gloves.


Cold, wet feet is one of the worst things you can have when outdoors. I pair of waterproof hiking boots is recommended, but some decent socks are an absolute must. Or rather than A pair of socks, a few pairs is advisable so that if one pair does get wet, you can change them for a new pair. Their features can include:

  • Seamless toe box: stops any rubbing across the top of your toes.
  • Cushioning: thicker areas offer more protection.
  • Elastic: the elastic helps to secure the sock around the foot and maintain its shape to prevent friction and blisters.
  • Mesh Venting: allows for heat to escape and more breathability.

You can even get waterproof socks if you want to really keep the water out. Ensure you get them long enough to go higher than your footwear to stop your boots from rubbing on your ankles or legs. Always carry a spare pair of socks in case you get your feet wet.

Read more: Waterproof & Walking Socks Guide

Mid-Layer Clothing

Mid-layers are worn underneath a coat or jacket and on top of a shirt or base layer. They are often either a fleece or softshell jacket and act as insulation, trapping warm air in and keeping cold air out.

A good mid-layer should be breathable to allow moisture to wick from the body and forms part of the layering system. This is the process by which you should layer your clothing in order to successfully regulate your body temperature depending on the conditions.

Fleeces and softshell jackets have different qualities, so it’s always best to consider the activity you’ll be doing while buying a mid-layer.

Read more: The Layering System – How To Layer Clothing

Base Layers & Thermals

Layers are the key to staying warm, so thermals and base layers are advisable to try and keep the cold at bay. The layers are only thin, so they won’t get in the way of the rest of your clothing but they really will help keep you warm. Base layers are supposed to be a pretty snug fit, so don’t worry if they feel a little tight, and they can be tops or bottoms.

Base layers and thermals are absolute essentials. Good quality base layers, or thermal underwear, aid with muscle compression, moisture-wicking and also help regulate temperature, so you can keep going and operate at an optimal performance level.

Thermal clothing is versatile clothing and comes in different fabrics and styles that will benefit various climates, conditions and activities. In most cases, they will be made from a synthetic material and can be called base layers, thermals or compressions.

Read more: What are Base Layers? A Guide to Thermal Wear

Dry Bag

It’s no good packing all the essentials with you if it throws it down and your rucksack and all its contents get absolutely soaked. A dry bag will solve this, keeping everything in your rucksack nice and dry for when you need it. Many dry bags can also be used inside your bag to keep wet clothes separate from the rest of your kit.


One thing you don’t want to be without if you’re out and about is water. You need to keep hydrated when you’re hiking anyway, but should you become stranded because of bad weather, then it becomes even more essential.

Hydration is incredibly important even in cold weather, so make sure you have something in which you can carry water – this can be a simple flask or hydration pack or bladder that sits in your rucksack.


If you’re going hiking this winter then you’ll obviously need to bear in mind that it gets dark pretty early. You need to be extra careful in the dark so it’s essential you have a torch to help you see where you’re going. Even in the summer, it’s worth having a torch with you just in case your hike goes on longer than you anticipate.

You can use a normal handheld torch but it might also be worth investing in a head torch. This means that the light is always pointing where your head is facing and you have both your hands free for other things.

Extra Equipment

Here a few other things you could consider taking with you on a hike to keep you sheltered and safe:

Have we missed anything out? What do you always make sure you have with you on a hike? Check out our full range of walking & hiking gear to find everything you need.

Click on the options below for more outdoors gear so you enjoy your next hike and adventure to the full.

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