Until late, hiking was far from a stylish pastime. Oversized cagoules, baggy track pants and chunky tech boots were items loathed and dreaded by style conscious day trippers in years gone by. And, if you’ve got a late winter hike planned, your B&B sorted and the route there organised, but feel like you’re without the right gear, don’t worry – for in past seasons, the biggest trends have taken their design cues from the great outdoors and the utilitarian gear that adventurous types wear to conquer it.
So, if you’re in need of some inspiration on what to cop, look no further. From chunky leather walking boots to a statement shearling jacket, these are the essentials that’ll keep you looking sharp and stylish while bracing Blighty’s harsh breeze this year.
First brought onto the fashion scene by signor Gianni Agnelli in the 70s, the hiking boot has recently transitioned from a mountain must-have to a streetwear staple. Of course, we aren’t talking about the ultra-technical, hyper-padded pair your geography school teacher would wear on day trip to Llandudno – rather, we’re referring to the luxury leather options offered by traditional bootmakers.
When selecting the right boot, consider three things. First, the material. You’ll want something made of durable leather, as opposed to canvas – after all, you’ll be battling the elements and anything but the most luxurious and sturdy of materials will not do. Second, the fit. With around five hours of walking to be done, you should make it a priority to find something that fits snugly around your feet and is comforting to wear while walking. Finally, the sole. This should be welted properly and well-constructed in order to keep you protected from the rocky and wet terrain you’ll be plodding along.
These O’Keeffe boots, with their superior vegetable tanned leather, butter-soft padded suede collar and Goodyear construction, fits the bill perfectly – not to mention the fact they looked both rugged and timeless in style.
Austin hiking boot by O’Keeffe
An opulent leather tote may look good in the streets, but in the countryside or mountains, it won’t carry many essentials and it’ll constantly fall of your shoulder – something you don’t want happening for hours on end. Likewise, a holdall is perfect for storing away your weekend ensembles, but will you really want to be carting it in-hand through the fields? Unless you’re a sadist, the answer it most likely ‘no’.
So, what’s a man to bring? A backpack, of course. The duo-straps will ensure weight is evenly distributed across both your shoulders, and the fact it sits snugly against your spine will ensure it won’t sway or swing in your way.
If you’re hiking in the UK, the chances are that you’ll be trudging around in the mud, sleet or rain, so why not consider the MSN bag by Danish outwear specialists Rains? It’s inspired by the traditional school backpack and made from a water-resistant fabric with a matte finish, meaning your essentials will be protected. Better still, once out of the countryside, it can also double up as the perfect bag when biking to work.
MSN bag by Rains
Few items are as rugged, masculine and synonymous with the great outdoors as a plaid flannel shirt.
Flannel is renowned for being a soft woven fabric that’s thick and insulated (ideal for fending off the freeze) and is also one of those rare pieces that will get better (not to mention softer) over time.
Its appeal in terms of aesthetics is also obvious: from two-colour checks to multi-coloureds plaids, it can add some colour into your outfit without drawing too much attention or committing any faux pas.
Indeed, a jumper would be considered a go-to for breezy weather, but when you’ve been strolling for a prolonged amount of time, things can start to heat up – while wearing a flannel shirt, you’ll be kept warm, but when your body temperature starts to rise you can simply undo some buttons to allow for ventilation.
We recommend this classic button down by heritage label Gitman Bros. It has a slim and tailored fit, which will wear well on your body, while the navy and cranberry colourway will let you wear a plaid pattern without going full on Lumberjack.
Wear it open over a plain T-shirt on milder days, or, when the breeze kicks in, button it up.
Vintage red and navy shirt for Gitman
The weather in the UK is mercurial, so choosing the right jacket is a tricky thing to master. One day you’ll be drenched in sun, the next you’ll be soaked in rain. So, to avoid the latter issue, stow away a thin and lightweight raincoat into your MSN bag – this way you can slip it on and off easily whenever the situation arises.
Now, if you want a statement piece that’ll keep you both warm and looking good, we’d suggest this heritage- and country-style jacket by Italian luxury brand Loro Piana. It’s expertly crafted in Italy from virgin wool and cashmere blend (materials which will undoubtedly keep your core covered) and designed in a traditional blue colour – this muted colourway won’t make you stand out too much when amongst the green and brown hues of hills and hay. Also, it’s made from a regular cut to allow easy layering.
Faux shearling jacket by Loro Piana
As with all other items when hiking, comfort and practicality come first when picking trousers.
Although long johns are known for their insulating qualities, they would look too out-of-place on the trail, so it’s best to leave them in the chalet. Moreover, it’s most likely the case that you wear either chinos or denim on a daily basis – so, given that you’re somewhere far removed from your home metropolis, why not mix things up and try something different? Tweed – although synonymous with substitute history teachers – has recently come back into the fashion furore in recent years, and if done properly will help elevate whatever you’re wearing thanks to its more formal aesthetic. Additionally, because it’s a closely woven fabric, tweed is known for being able to withstand harsh climate.
This pair by Gant is made with a tweed and wool blend mix, comes in a regular fit (great for easy manoeuvrability) and will pair well when sat on top of the O’Keeffe boots.
Regular fit tweed trousers by Gant
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