15 Types of Gear Every Walker Needs

Two walkers stretching near track in fitness apparel with water bottles and towel

Verywell / Ryan Kelly

Walking provides significant health benefits, from managing weight and combating cardiovascular disease to reducing impact on your joints when compared to other physical activities. As an added bonus, you can perform the exercise from almost anywhere—even while traveling.

Walking allows people to explore their neighborhoods and new cities on foot while getting fresh air and burning calories—a win-win for the body and soul. To begin a walking fitness regimen, you should ensure you use the appropriate gear. The right equipment keeps you safe, reduces chances of injury, and gives you necessary support. Here are 15 types of gear every walker can use.

Walking Shoes

The most important piece of gear when walking is a proper pair of walking shoes. They can help you avoid injury and keep your feet free from painful blisters.

According to a systematic search and narrative synthesis from the Journal of Foot and Ankle Research on footwear literature, researchers discovered that flexible, well-fitted, and lightweight shoes with soft midsoles are perceived as the most comfortable. Shoes with curved rocker-soles are also thought to be very comfortable.

You can also visit specialty shoe stores and ask a specialist to help you find the best fitted shoes for your gait, size, and fitness goals.

Comfortable Socks

Because your feet sweat when walking, purchasing socks made with a dry-fit material will help keep your feet from getting blisters because the material will wick away wetness from the skin. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends clipping your toenails short and changing your socks at least once a day for good foot hygiene.

Water Bottle

You want to keep a water bottle handy for hydration purposes, especially if you plan to walk longer than 30 minutes or if you are exercising in high temperatures. Hydrating keeps your body temperature regulated and joints lubricated. If you prefer cold water when walking in high heat, you can freeze the bottles ahead of your walk.

Temperature-Appropriate Clothing or Layers

Clothing should feel comfortable and not fit too tight, allowing your legs and arms to move without restrictions. Stick with sweat-wicking material in any climate. Wearing a cotton T-shirt will add weight when you sweat and not dry as fast. In changing weather conditions, layering with a jacket and a long-sleeved athletic shirt can keep your body temperature regulated.

Sunscreen

Before heading outdoors, slather on sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and reapply every 2 hours or more, depending on how much you sweat. The American Cancer Society recommends looking for the words “broad-spectrum” on the label, which means the sunscreen protects against UVA and UVB rays.

Sun Protective Gear

When outdoors, wearing sun-protective clothing can limit your exposure to UVA and UVB rays.
Valuable sun-protective gear includes a hat that limits direct sunlight on your face and wrap-around sunglasses that block UV light. You might also want to schedule your outdoor walks before 10 a.m. and after 3 p.m. when the sun isn't the strongest.

Fitness Tracker

Wearable fitness trackers are popular among walkers because of their ability to allow users to self-monitor their steps, calories burned, distance, heart rate, and activity time. Evidence suggests that fitness trackers may increase physical activity participation.

Snacks

As your walking mileage increases or you decide to start hiking, packing a few snacks can provide necessary calories for energy. Foods for physical activity include trail mix, granola bars, nuts, and fruit. Foods that contain salt, carbs, and natural sugars will limit gastrointestinal issues and help give you strength to continue. Note that you will likely not need a snack unless you are walking for longer than 60 to 90 minutes at one time.

Rain Jacket

For walking and hiking in inclement weather, the CDC recommends a waterproof jacket with a hood in the event you get caught in rain. You can fold up the jacket and carry it in a backpack or fanny pack (if you can fold it up small enough), which can limit what you carry in your hands.

Earbuds or Headphones

Listening to music can help you walk faster and keep your endurance level high. However, you need to take caution when using a smartphone. Harvard Health warns that texting while walking decreases speed and stride, and it can potentially affect your balance and ability to hear
distractions (such as cars, animals, and people).

If you choose to use earbuds, keep the volume low and use only one earbud.

Flashlight and Reflective Clothing

For safety purposes, wear reflective gear at dusk or later to stay visible to drivers. You may want to consider carrying a reflective vest, bracelet, or backpack.

If you are walking and do not have reflective clothing with you, using the flashlight on your smartphone can help you stay visible to drivers.

Bug Repellant

Depending on where you are walking, you might encounter bites and stings. Using a bug repellant with DEET can help protect you from bugs. The CDC says that if you are walking with kids, they should use a repellent with less than 10% DEET.

Identification

In case of an emergency, carrying a driver’s license in a zip-lock bag can help emergency personnel identify you. You can also include a list of any medical conditions and helpful information in the same bag.

Map or Route Plan

To stay safe, choose paths where you will find other walkers. You might want to walk on trails or areas with a sidewalk as well. To help you find appropriate walking locations, apps such as Strava and Map My Walk contain suggested routes used by other walkers and runners. You click a button and follow the directions on the screen.

Trekking Poles

When your mileage increases, you might want to invest in trekking or walking poles. They can help those who have sore knees by reducing the weight on your legs and hips. Also, according to recent research, trekking poles can increase your stability and balance, especially when you walk on uneven terrain.

A Word from Verywell

Walking is a physical activity good for beginners. You do not need a sports background to start. You simply need the right gear to help you stay injury free and safe. Before you begin any fitness regimen, be sure to speak with a healthcare provider. They will evaluate your fitness level and medical history to determine what is right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the best way to get started walking?


    To begin a walking program, start walking at a pace of 3 to 3.5 miles per hour, 10 minutes per day for three weeks. You can then increase the time by 5 minutes per week, six days per week at a pace of 3.5 to 4.5 mile per hour.

    As you walk, keep your head up in a neutral position. Do not look down at your phone.

  • How far should you walk for optimal health?

    The CDC recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity, like walking, per week. That breaks down to about 21 minutes per day if you walk every day or 30 minutes per day five times per week.

  • What is the best way to stay safe on a walk?

    To stay as safe as possible on a walk, make sure you use sidewalks and do not walk on the road. Walk with someone else. Choose well-lit streets and reflective gear if you must walk after dark, and let someone know where you will be walking. You also should pay attention to your posture, keep your head up, and refrain from looking down at your phone.

12 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Menz HB, Bonanno DR. Footwear comfort: a systematic search and narrative synthesis of the literatureJ Foot Ankle Res. 2021;14(1):63. doi:10.1186/s13047-021-00500-9

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Foot hygiene.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Water and healthier drinks.

  4. Harvard Health. Walking for exercise.

  5. American Cancer Society. Spend time outside and stay sun-safe.

  6. Brickwood KJ, Watson G, O’Brien J, Williams AD. Consumer-based wearable activity trackers increase physical activity participation: systematic review and meta-analysisJMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2019;7(4):e11819. doi:10.2196/11819

  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hiking activity card.

  8. Trail Hiking Australia. Carry personal identification.

  9. Harvard Health. Walking for Exercise.

  10. Hawke AL, Jensen RL. Are trekking poles helping or hindering your hiking experience? A reviewWilderness Environ Med. 2020;31(4):482-488. doi:10.1016/j.wem.2020.06.009

  11. UC Berkley University Health Services. Exercise: Starting a walking program.

  12. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How much exercise do adults need?

By Jennifer Purdie, M.Ed
Jennifer Purdie, M.Ed, is a certified personal trainer, freelance writer, and author of "Growth Mindset for Athletes, Coaches and Trainers."