I am often asked by friends and, also, strangers about the kit I choose to wear for a range of outdoors activities. As well as being fit-for-purpose and good quality, I do like clothing and equipment that is versatile so I can own fewer items but each with a versatile purpose.
Spring weather in Scotland
What to wear for running and walking in spring in Scotland requires a bit of planning and thought. Our country is vey beautiful and offers great accessibility and options for many outdoor pursuits but the weather is notoriously fickle.
We can easily experience four seasons in one day and even if we do enjoy mostly warm and sunny weather one day, the next can be wet, cold and windy.
So the key, if you want to spend as much time outdoors as I do, is to be prepared for a range of conditions.
My outdoors clothing and rucksack will vary depending on what I am going to be doing and where. I usually live by the mantra of choosing clothing and kit to suit the weather, rather than being put off from spending time outdoors because of the weather.
The great outdoors is my favourite place to be and it keeps me mentally and physically happy.
Mountain walking in spring
For example, a walk to a mountain summit in April will require equipment that will allow me to stay safe and warm. Most of what I pack in spring, if we still have snow on the mountains, is written about in How to Winterise your Winter Walking Pack.
I was still packing crampons and an ice axe for a Corbett hike near Strathcarron last week because we had a sudden dump of spring snow.
I always take walking poles as well because they help to ease the load on my legs when walking on hills and mountains.
Other safety kit includes an emergency bivvy bag, spare gloves and hat, a map and compass, a head torch and my mobile phone. I like to track my route with a GPS watch.
The footwear I choose will depend on the conditions but in spring it will wear waterproof and robust boots. I usually wear gaiters to keep my feet dry and warm on boggy, wet or snowy terrain, which Scotland has a lot of!
Clothing is a layering affair for me. If you wear layers, you can add or take off clothing to maintain a comfortable body temperature.
I’ll usually be wearing winter running tights in spring, as well as a couple of baselayers – short sleeved and long sleeved – and a lightweight insulated jacket. I wear gloves and head buff as standard almost all year round.
I’ll carry a good quality waterproof jacket and waterproof trousers as well. Waterproof layers keep out the wet and also the wind.
Extra clothing will include another insulated jacket, winter warm gloves, spare headwear and spare socks. I tend to wear waterproof socks if I will be walking in wet or snowy conditions.
Other extras will include sunglasses, food and water and a flask of tea.
Hill or trail walking in spring
Walking at lower level and on shorter outings means I can shed some of the mountain walking kit. I won’t take walking crampons and an ice axe although I might still take micro-spikes in case the terrain is icy.
However, I’ll still pack plenty of layers so that I can maintain the right core body temperature.
I prefer to wear lighter weight boots for these sorts of walks and my latest favourite pair are adidas Terrex Free Hiker GTX boots. They are very comfortable with some great features, including Gore-Tex waterproofing, foot hugging Primeknit uppers and Continental rubber outsoles for good grip.
Trail running in spring
A trail run will also call for some kit planning. On a shorter run, I might carry only a spare waterproof or windproof running jacket and extra gloves. I always have an emergency foil blanket in a pocket just in case, too.
If it’s a longer run of more than about 1.5 hours, I’ll pack more kit. When running further, you never know how the conditions will change. If I stop for a breather or something to eat, I will want an insulated jacket to keep me warm.
So, for a longer trail run, especially if I’m heading to higher altitude, I’ll wear a running skort, a comfortable and sweat wicking t-shirt and long-sleeved top, gloves and a head buff. I choose running shoes to suit the terrain but pretty much always trail footwear.
In a running pack, I take a lightweight insulated jacket, a waterproof jacket, an emergency bivvy bag, mobile phone (usually with a route already downloaded on an OS map), spare gloves, snacks and water. I track my running on a GPS watch.
The value of versatile outdoors kit
As well as walking and running, I also cycle, swim, ski and kayak. With so many sports and a lot of kit for each, I try to choose outdoors kit that will serve me well for a number of different activities.
Core items that I can use across a number of sports helps me to save money and also I know what works well because I have tried them in different locations and conditions.
I like a sports watch that can keep track of me whatever sport I am doing. The Garmin Instinct Solar GPS watch is ideal. It’s not as expensive as some other GPS watches yet it still has many great features, including a long battery life thanks to solar charging; activity profiles for a long list of activities; body monitoring such as heart rate, stress, sleep and Pulse Ox; smart notifications; rugged casing; waterproofing; 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter and so much more. I chose a blue watch but there are four other colours.
I look for baselayers that I can wear for walking, running, cycling and skiing. I wish I liked merino wool against my skin but I can’t tolerate it so I do prefer a synthetic. If possibile, I’ll buy recycled materials.
A favourite long-sleeved baselayer just now is the adidas
Terrex Multi Half-zip Tee, which feels really nice against my skin. I have a size small and it fits well – not too tight or too loose – and it is made with 100% recycled polyester jersey. It has some nice detials, including moisture-wicking,
offset shoulder seams for comfort under a backpack, underarm gussets and a longer back hem. It is also a lovely blue colour with a useful half zip at the neck.
A skort or running tights can be worn for walking and running and I choose which one I wear depending on the weather. Having a pair of lightweight waterproof over trousers with me means I can ensure I’ll be warm and dry even if conditions suddenly change from warm to wet.
A lightweight insulated jacket is an essential item of kit for many of my sports. I get cold very quickly when I stop or when temperatures drop. I look for a jacket that can be packed into a small space but that also offers good warmth to weight ratio. A new jacket, the The North Face Thermoball Eco 2.0 Hoodie, from Very.co.uk’s sport and leisure range is proving to be really useful.
Among many nice features, the jacket is made with 100% recycled materials for the insulation and outer shell and has a baffle design for great warmth, even when it gets damp. It has a hood, high zip-up front and zipped hand pockets, plus it packs into the chest pocket.
I also like the fact that the jacket is smart enough for general wear, such as going to the supermarket or the pub, and also for outdoor activities. It is a great jacket to add to a rucksack for running, walking and skiing.
Waterproof jackets need to be fit for purpose. I own several different types, including a winter walking jacket that’s made of a heavier and thicker Gore-tex fabric. I also use this jacket for ski touring.
In spring and summer, when it tends to be warmer in Scotland, I’ll use a good quality Gore-tex running jacket, such as the Montane Spine, for both running and walking. It’s lighter to carry but also breathable and waterproof.
I also choose footwear to suit different activities but it’s a bonus if the footwear can be worn for a couple of sports. For example, trail running shoes that can be worn for summer hiking and also summer walking boots that are useful for dog walks on tarmac and on woodland trails, but can also keep my feet dry on hill hikes.
As you can see I’m choosey about what I buy and wear and I like to ensure that items can serve me across a number of different activities.