EXTRA,  GEAR,  June 2024,  Product Reviews

What to pack for swim hiking

The best outdoor gear for adventurous swim hikes is versatile, weatherproof and easy to pack and carry. Think lightweight hiking shoes, quick drying trousers that easily fit into a tow float, and a robust flask filled with a hearty lunch.

KEEN Zionic Waterproof Hiking Shoe


They say: A contoured fit follows the contours of your foot for a comfortably snug fit, with two-finger webbing loop on the heel for easy pull-on. Achilles pad in the heel adds extra comfort, while a high-rebound foam cushioning enhances comfort and movement. Most importantly for swim hikes, the KEEN.DRY waterproof, breathable membrane seals out moisture from the inside. (Men’s 6-14, women’s 2.5-9).

We say: We wore these for a stomp up Mam Tor in very wet conditions. Despite heavy rain and thick mud our feet remained dry. Even with a weak and wobbly ankle we felt supported and comfortable all day. The foam cushioning gave a spring in our step and the Achilles pad meant reoccurring plantar fasciitis wasn’t aggravated. They were so good that the shoes we put on after felt heavy and cumbersome in comparison.

KEEN Women’s Elle Sport Backstrap Sandal


They say: Cushioning and arch support for all-day comfort, with a sneaker-inspired outsole for extra grip. Contoured fit follows the contours of your foot for a comfortably snug fit, with a women’s-specific fit to support your foot shape and biomechanics. A shock-absorbing foam insole with arch support offers all-day comfort, while a foam midsole gives lightweight cushioning. Contains recycled PET plastic. (Women’s 2.5-8.5).

We say: We were pleasantly surprised with the comfort and versatility of this shoe. Brilliant grip made for a super day larking about on the river, where the riverbank was muddy and slippery. The strapping is soft and comfortable. The two points of adjustment were welcome for our wide feet. We splashed about and the water rolled off, didn’t soak up and rub. As sport sandals go, it’s stylish too. We would be happy to stomp about in these on the hills in and out of waterfall pools.

FINISTERRE Men’s Walker Trouser


They say: Technical weatherproof trousers, as at home on the streets as they are on the hills. Building on our bestselling Walker adventure shorts, the Walker Trousers combine comfort with durability. Lightweight and fast drying, the super-soft stretch fabric moves how you move and features a DWR finish for water repellency. Live in them, explore in them, wear them practically anywhere. (Waist 28”-38”).

We say: For adventurous swim hikes the best kit is versatile, easy to pack and carry, and weatherproof. The Walker trousers tick all the boxes, while being stylish to boot. The lightweight stretch fabric feels robust and flexible while still being smart for everyday wear. The water-repellent material doesn’t rustle like waterproof trousers, and dries quickly. We also love that they pack down into the back pocket, easy to pop in a tow float or backpack.

PASSENGER Mantra Recycled Leggings


They say: A super soft and comfortable legging, perfect for road trips and mountain hikes. Featuring useful pockets; flatlocked seams for comfort; a deep, cross front waistband and our all over seaweed print. Treated with quick dry, wicking treatment and a Polygiene StayFresh anti-odour finish applied. Full length leg. (Women’s size 8-18).

We say: These super soft leggings are remarkably comfortable, warm and opaque with a fairly high-waisted style and deep cross-front waistband that hugs your tummy. Full length, they protect ankles from scratchy plants, ticks and midge bites while scrambling down to your swim spot. We were especially impressed by the quick drying, high wicking fabric, which draws moisture away from your skin so it can evaporate, meaning you can hike, sweat and even pull them on over slightly damp post-swim skin without feeling clammy.

NAUTRA Whale Shark
Sherpa Fleece


They say: Proudly made in the UK from 100% recycled plastic bottles. The whale shark fleece features this gentle giant’s characteristic white spots and gorgeous smokey grey stripes on a background of deep navy blue. The half-zip closure and high neckline add a touch of sophistication, while the plush pockets offer a cosy retreat for your hands on colder days. (Women’s size 6-18).

We say: This incredibly cosy fleece is a dream for throwing on after a cold dip. Deep, fleece-lined pockets warmed our numbed fingers after a swim in a Scottish river; we also loved the high neckline and how there was plenty of room for layering beneath. A chunky sherpa fleece, it doesn’t pack down small, but it worked well for us on colder days and for travelling on chilly public transport. We loved the half-zip, smock style and boxy, relaxed fit, but those wanting a more regular fit might like to size down.

PASSENGER Moonlight Recycled Insulated Smock


They say: With and easy going fit and a polar fleece lining, the Moonlight Smock is one of those pieces you will grab for every adventure. An insulated smock made using recycled polyester, featuring a light-weight style and fully lined in polar fleece with rib cuffs for warmth and comfort and shaped hem for ease of wear. (Women’s 8-18).

We say: The warmth and comfort of a changing robe but with a lightweight, easy to pack and carry style. Although slightly cropped, details like the ribbed cuffs, adjustable hood and wind-proof fabric make it feel remarkably cosy. It packs away easily into a fleecy pillow for camping or the journey home. While only weather proof, rather than waterproof, it’s good enough for unexpected showers and dries quickly. There’s a men’s equivalent in the Dusk Recycled Insulated Jacket. (Chest 36”-46”).

THERMOS Stainless King Food Flask 470ML


They say: The iconic Stainless King range incorporates sleek, industrial styling, blending technology with heritage. Available in a variety of classic colours to suit all tastes, our 470ml food flask is ideal for daily food prep for people on the go. Created with the Thermos quality and performance you can rely on and with a 5-year guarantee, this flask is a timeless classic.

We say: One of the best ways to gently warm up after a wild swim is to sip a warm drink or tuck into something hearty. This compact flask keeps food warm for over nine hours (or cool for 14 hours). We filled ours with a lentil and sweet potato soup, and even after a few hours of hiking the outside of the flask felt cool to touch and without any leakage. A wide insulated lid doubles up as a bowl, while there’s a substantial collapsible stainless steal spoon tucked inside the lid.



They say: Drink directly from lakes, rivers and streams or fill a container to use your straw water filter on the go with protection against bacteria, parasites, microplastics, silt, sand and cloudiness. Enhanced microfilter performance helps to reduce clogging from sand and silt for better flow rate. The long-lasting membrane microfilter will last up to 4,000 L (1,000 gallons) of water, that’s enough drinking water for one for over five years.

We say: This is such a super idea. Light and simple, it was easy to throw into the bag knowing that if we ran out of water in our bottle, we had the straw. It isn’t magic, so there is still a risk that some bacteria will get through the filter – we won’t be using it in the River Thames! But, on a walk in the hills where the water is clear and not far from the source, it was pretty cool to use. It is a bit odd laying down, crouching to drink from a river! Good back-up bit of kit.

SHORE2SEA Waterproof Dry Bag 20L


They say: Bright yellow roll top waterproof dry bag with funky blue lobster design. Ideal for keeping clothing and kit dry in the elements. Comes with two adjustable straps, which are detachable so that it can be worn across the body or as a rucksack. Also available in funky puffin, seagull and crab prints.

We say: Really simple and yet useful dry bag. Used as a backpack to the water and then we strapped it to a paddleboard while we swam and played about in the water. Everything stayed dry. This is just a super, no-frills piece of kit, that’s good to use on rainy days to ensure your kit is dry when you get out. It’s equally great for putting sopping wet stuff into and knowing everything else won’t get wet. So at the end of the day all the wet kit went in this bag for the trip home.

Last updated May 2024. All products were chosen independently by our editorial team. This review contains affiliate links and we may receive a commission for purchases made. Click here to subscribe to the magazine. Read more Outdoor Swimmer gear reviews. Main image: Passenger.

Jo is the Gear Editor for Outdoor Swimmer and also writes news and features for the website. A keen open water swimmer and long-distance walker, she loves seeking out lakes and lidos close to her home in the Mendip Hills, Somerset. She is the author of The Slow Traveller, editor and founder of independent magazine, Ernest, and has previously tested outdoor clothing and kit for BBC Countryfile Magazine, BBC Focus and Ernest Journal.