If you’ve been walking regularly and you’re ready to take your workout to the next level, it may be wise to invest in quality gear – after all, comfort goes a long way toward maintaining safety and motivation. Here’s how to choose your walking gear carefully.

Shoes. Look for…

  • Proper fit – Shoes should be snug, with about a finger’s width between toes and tip of shoes, and heels shouldn’t slip out. Try them on with the socks and any orthotic inserts you’ll wear when walking. Shop at the end of the day, when your feet are larger.
  • Closures – Elastic laces or Velcro closures don’t require tying.
  • Toe box – It should have plenty of wiggle room for toes.

Socks. Look for…

  • Proper fit – Socks should fit snugly and have few seams.
  • Material – Choose fabric labeled “wicking,” which draws moisture away from the skin.
  • Length – Choose socks that stretch above your ankles to prevent the shoe collars from rubbing the skin.

Clothing. Look for…

  • Proper fit – Clothes should allow free movement and not restrict or pull.
  • Material – Wear  wicking fabrics.
  • Color – Wear bright or reflective clothing – even in daylight – to make you more visible to drivers.
  • Layer – In cooler weather, wear layers you can remove as you warm up.

Additional Gear. Look for…

  • Walking stick – Gear stores such as REI will assess your height, stride length and hand grip, and instruct you on proper use.
  • Gloves – Lightweight, well-fitting gloves with silicone palms allow you to grip better.
  • Hat – In warm weather, a hat made of wicking, breathable material with a brim to block the sun will keep you cooler. In cold weather, try a knit or fleece cap with a wind-blocking membrane or a hooded jacket and earmuffs.