I’m one of those people that would prefer to walk the dog than do the chores that I’ve been left with. To this end I spend a lot of time deciding what to wear, from what outerwear to base layers to footwear. The following explores the varied options available and hopefully will help you make the right decisions. After all, being comfortable whilst walking the dog keeps you happy.
Let’s start with your top half
Jacket technology changes all the time with the next best waterproof, breathable, wicking, weaves vying to help you spend your hard-earned cash. The question is; Do I really need the latest and greatest product to take ‘lassie’ around the park for an hour at a time?
I’ve owned pretty much all the well-known types of jacket, down filled, primaloft, multi-layer, goretex and the like. What I’ve found is that most of these are just overkill for a couple of hours out in the woods or park. I’m a big fan of having the right tool for the job. If its cold outside I turn to my primaloft filled jacket. It’s warm and cosy and even the hood has a lining. I prefer it to ‘down feather’, not because it performs any better but because no birds were used in the making of it. Talking of performance, I’d say primaloft is on a par with down feathers. Here’s the jacket that I use for the cold months.
In terms of wet weather, which is pretty much all the time in the UK, I currently use two different products. My ‘cold weather’ jacket which doubles as a light rain jacket and a ‘packaway’ light jacket which offers no insulation but does have a 5000mm hydrostatic head. Good enough for all but a complete deluge. To be honest I wouldn’t be out walking the dog if the rain was bouncing 3 feet off the ground! Nor would the dog want to be out walking in that type of weather. With the ‘packaway’ rain jacket I wear layers underneath. A decent, wicking, base-layer and maybe a light fleece as a mid-layer.
If you’re out walking the dog, layers can be used to regulate your temperature. More layers trap air between them keeping you warm, but can also be taken off one at a time to cool you down.
My favourite outer, mid and base layers (for your top half) for being comfortable whilst walking the dog are below;
Trousers or shorts?
I wear both. This is not to do with temperature for me, but more to do with where I’m walking the dog. If I’m walking a new trail for instance, I will almost always wear trousers like the Craghoppers Kiwi range. You never know when you’re likely to come across brambles or sharp broken branches and the like blocking your way. In trousers you are less likely to cut your legs!
I do wear light trousers in most instances, but I also have a pair of lined trousers. These are kept for the ‘really cold’ mornings or days. Lined trousers aren’t really suited to walking as you can’t regulate your temperature by taking them off and walking around in your underwear! They are great if you’re a wildlife photographer that spends hours waiting for that perfect shot on a hillside or mountain.
Another top tip
If you do find yourself walking in the rain, or if there’s a chance of rain, I would apply the same logic as the jacket above. That is, wear a pair of shorts or trousers as your mid-layer, but then invest in a pair of lightweight waterproof over-trousers that can be packed away if the sun pays you a visit.
And now, arguably, the most important part of what you wear
Being comfortable whilst walking the dog for me is all about your connection to the earth. What I wear on my feet is where the biggest part of my budget goes. Having the right shoes and socks is very important to me but can also depend on the type of walking I’ve planned. I spend most of my walks in the local woods on well worn trails that don’t require any more than a decent pair of low-cut walking shoes like the ones below;
A decent sole grip pattern, like a ‘Vibram‘ sole, is essential to stop you losing your footing but also aids in clearing dirt and mud from the treads. A sole with tightly spaced treads is ideal for rocky mountain sides, but not so good for grassy, muddy forests as they’ll get clogged with whatever is underfoot quickly, turning your shoe into a skate!
Another consideration for soles is the flexibility of them. I don’t like them to be as flexible as gym shoes but I also don’t want them as stiff as a pair of mountaineering boots. So something in-between is ideal for my type of woodland walking.
When I go out for a longer walk, I make sure my socks are good quality too. Usually I find merino wool socks a good starting point. They are good at keeping your feet fresh in summer with natural wicking properties and are also good at keeping your feet warm in winter. Many brands also have padding in the toes and heel sections making long walks even more comfortable especially on those tricky climbs and decents.
So that’s it for pointing you in the right direction. Check out the links throughout this post and why not take a look at my other posts on dog walking here.