I always relish the springtime weather, especially when like this year we have a dry spell and I’m no longer squelching through mud. It’s easy to get caught out clothing-wise though as there’s inevitably an unexpected deluge or a cold snap. So here’s a few pointers to keep you comfortable:
On your top half..
- Layer your clothing with breathable fabrics. This gives you maximum flexibility for all weather conditions. Breathable fabrics are ones that allow the sweat from your body to travel through the fabric and away from your body. This is important for Nordic walking as it's much more energetic than ordinary walking.
Different fabrics have different degrees of breathability, and the most difficult to get right (and usually the most expensive) is your waterproof outer layer – see below.
- Don’t wear cotton next to your skin. Your base layer needs to be made from a material that actively draws the moisture away from your body. Cotton doesn’t do this so you end up wet and often cold. Instead buy a performance T-shirt made from synthetic or natural fibres such as merino wool or bamboo. Lots of you love the BAM range.
- Short sleeve T's are the best base layer during spring and summer – you will inevitably get too hot wearing long sleeves.
- Don’t wear a gilet unless you have somewhere to store it (such as a back pack) when you get hot.
- Soft shell jackets are excellent for spring and summer. They act as wind breakers and many have a good degree of water-resistance, protecting you if you’re caught out in an unexpected shower. They are also highly breathable.
- Waterproofs are a necessity in the UK. Whilst soft shell jackets protect you against a shower, if you know it’s going to be a wet walk you’ll need a waterproof. These vary greatly in cost. The cheaper ones are excellent at keeping the rain out but they aren’t breathable so you will end up with a sweaty film on the inside. Expensive waterproofs have a Gore-Tex or similar lining which allows moisture out as well as stopping rain seeping in. But this barrier is fragile and can get damaged if you scrunch it up in a backpack or tie your waterproof round your waist which you may want to do on a spring/summer walk.
On your legs..
Lightweight walking trousers are perfect for our warmer months. Leggings and shorts are fine too but beware of ticks, especially when walking in longer grass and in areas where there are deer. You should always check for ticks after a walk, especially if you have any gap between your socks and trousers.
Lightweight waterproof over-trousers are useful in the wet. Again the cheaper makes won’t let moisture out. I wear Berghaus Gore-Tex Paclite Waterproof Trousers.
Shoes and socks..
I have now switched from wearing walking boots to walking shoes. There’s so much choice out there that it’s often overwhelming and of course a very individual thing. I will write in more detail on walking shoes another time but here’s a link to a previous post on what shoes to wear for Nordic walking.
All the outdoor shops in Bristol give advice on walking shoes but be careful – a number of our walkers have felt pressurised into buying the wrong shoe for them. Remember that however knowledgeable a salesperson may sound, they don’t know your feet as well as you do. Walk away if need be.
Socks can make a real difference to your walking experience so consider buying some new ones for the spring and summer. Lots of our walkers wear sock liners but this is a personal thing. You can also buy waterproof socks. Some people say they feel a little odd (sock liners are advisable here) but they are brilliant if your shoes aren’t waterproof.
Backpack/bumbag. You will probably need to carry a water bottle as the temperature rises, even on an hour-long walk. Most of our walkers use a small backpack or a bumbag. Backpacks allow you to stow discarded layers but they can leave you with a sweat patch. The best thing is to look around at what other walkers are using and ask them.
Cap/sun protection. Don’t forget to put sun cream on before walking. Many face creams come with an inbuilt SPF, but I’m out walking a lot and don’t know how long that protection lasts so I always top-up with sun cream before I walk. A cap protects your face from sun and rain but can leave you with a hot and sweaty head when the weather warms up. Lots of our walkers wear sunglasses.
Nutritional advice for allergy sufferers
There’s a great deal of tree pollen around at the moment and grass pollen will follow soon after. If you suffer from a pollen allergy then you might find this article written by nutritionist Rosie Letts useful. It explains what seasonal allergies are, the symptoms and how your nutrition might be able to help. Click here to read more.
Finally, the bluebells and wild garlic are now fully out and looking stunning. Ashton Court and Leigh Woods have some amazing bluebell/wild garlic areas and we have a couple of long walks coming up which have an abundance of these seasonal flowers:
Priors Wood bluebell walk; and
Bourton Combe bluebell and wild garlic walk
Both are very accessible walks and suitable for most fitness levels. I would highly recommend them.