THE EDIT • May 2021
There’s no such thing as rubbish weather, only rubbish kit. But don’t worry about getting it all at once – the joy of a great hiking gear is that it builds over time. With an overwhelming amount of info out there to digest, Black Girls Hike founder and walking super-fan Rhiane Fatinikun celebrates National Hiking Month (#WalkThisMay) with her five beginner essentials…
Hiking boots with decent ankle support that are breathable, waterproof and lightweight are essential to deal with our lovely British weather variants and varied terrains. I recommend the Vivobarefoot Trackers. They’re hard wearing and a lot more flexible than typical boots that have more padding. Your feet don’t feel so enclosed, so it’s a more natural feel and their width gives you increased stability.
Let’s go: My first sunrise hike is still my favourite: waking up with nature on the Devil’s Staircase in Glencoe, in the Scottish Highlands (pictured). Scotland is so stunningly beautiful. You’ll be in awe.
Even if it’s forecast to be sunny all day, a decent waterproof jacket should still always be in your rucksack. I like to look out for jackets with a peaked hood that’s helmet compatible so I can fit different hairstyles and hats under it. Make sure it’s waterproof and not just water resistant. If you can, go for Gore-Tex, which is the gold standard of waterproofing and allows jackets to be breathable whilst regulating your temperature. My go-to is the Berghaus Paclite 2.0.
Let’s go: I love the hike to Winnats Pass from Edale in the Peak District (pictured). You’re rewarded with amazing views of the gorge, panoramic views of Edale from Hollins Cross on the Great Ridge and several caves to explore along the way.
Getting lost can be an adventure, but not being able to find your way back won’t be. A map of the area you’re hiking is ideal, as long as you know how to read it. If your map-reading skills are a bit rusty or non-existent, mapping apps such as Komoot are great for beginners, showing local walks and allowing you to plan routes. The voice navigation will also tell you if you’re off track. Think satnav on the hills.
Let’s go: For a great evening hike by headtorch, it has to be the Witton Weavers Way (pictured). There was something special about rediscovering an area I once toiled in as a youth and didn’t appreciate as an adult – reframing miserable winter evenings into ones filled with adventure.
A small rucksack, I’d say up to 35 litres, will do you for a day hike. That’s enough room to pack in some essentials, such as a first aid kit, snacks and water. Things to look out for: ideally it will be in a water-resistant material or come with a rain cover. Then you want multiple easy access compartments and a padded hip belt (important to take some strain off your back) and adjustable straps for comfort. The Berghaus Remote 28 is perfect for a day trip.
Let’s go: In Wales, my favourite hike has to be Snowdon, our first major summit as a group (pictured). It’s popular and accessible, and the camaraderie and atmosphere alone will propel you to the summit.
Digital mapping apps can be very battery intensive and, if you’re using your phone for navigation, pictures and videos, your battery can quickly drain. These days, though, heading into the outdoors no longer means going completely off grid. And as much as the intent is to reconnect with nature, having a functional phone is (literally) a lifesaver in an emergency. There are tonnes of chargers on the market, but the Anker PowerCore 20100 has brilliant high-speed charging and capacity.
Let’s go: Outside of the UK, my most cherished moment was relaxing in the natural rock pools of the Serrano falls in Lençóis, Brazil (pictured), after a long day of hiking and chasing waterfalls with a friend I made in my hostel.
Rhiane Fatinikun is the founder of Black Girls Hike UK, a non-profit organisation that provides a safe space for black women to explore the outdoors. It hosts nationwide group hikes, outdoor activity days and training events. To find out more, click here