Socks and Other Walking Gear

In addition to walking shoes, you should consider other gear to enhance your walking experience — socks, water bottle (and other) carriers, and reflective gear. Do you absolutely need a pair of socks designed for walking, or a pouch to hold your water bottle? No. Does having this extra equipment make you a better walker? Perhaps.

Searching for a good sock

Test out several different types of socks to see what type and brand you like best. You don’t have to buy socks specifically designed for walking, but you should look for a few basic traits:

  • Socks that are thick, but not too thick, are your best bet. Thin socks don’t prevent enough friction to be worn alone, although when worn under your main socks they can help keep your foot from rubbing against the inside of your shoe. Some socks have extra padding in the heel and forefoot. This extra padding is not essential, but some walkers like the extra cushiony feel.

  • Stick to synthetic fibers like acrylic and Dupont’s CoolMax. Though natural fibers like cotton and wool feel great at first, they lose their shape quickly and don’t do a very good job of “wicking away” moisture.

  • Choose a sock that doesn’t bunch around the toes or gather at the heels. This can cause blisters and hot spots.

  • When your socks wear out, lose shape, or have holes in them, it's time to chuck them and buy new ones.

Carriers

You probably have to carry something with you, even on short walks. Your keys, a water bottle, some money — by the time you gather together everything you need, your hands are full, and you have to start stuffing things in pockets. You may want to think about purchasing some sort of pouch or carryall to keep your various sundries in one easy-to-reach place. You can choose from a wide variety of options.

  • Fanny pack: These small oblong pouches clip on like a belt around your waist and are often called hipsters or fanny packs. These pouches are the perfect size for carrying your keys, money, and a few other accessories.

  • Water bottle holders: This is a variation on the fanny pack. The typical configuration snuggles around your waist and has a pocket or two to hold your keys and money, and a large padded opening for your water bottle. Some models hold two water bottles, which is perfect if you’re going to walk a long time in hot weather with little opportunity for a refill. If you’re sensitive to weight around your waist, there are handheld options and liquidpacs, water sacks that strap on to your back and have a long hoselike straw for you to sip through.

  • Key holders: You can buy nifty little pockets with a loop for your shoes. You thread the loop into your shoelaces to secure the pocket to your shoe. You can also find key holders built into the lining of some walking shorts. Key holders are usually just large enough to hold a key or two and perhaps some change.

Safety and reflective gear

Reflective gear is a must for anyone who walks when it’s dark. There is no shortage of reflective products. You can spend hundreds of dollars for a full outfit that has reflective accents strategically placed for maximum visibility, or you can spend just a few bucks for sew-on or stick-on reflective patches that you place on the clothing yourself. However much you decide to spend, it’s well worth it, especially if you walk anywhere near moving cars or bikes. A good place to buy inexpensive reflector products is in a hunting shop or sporting goods store that specializes in outdoor sports.

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