Summer might feel like just yesterday, but the nights are already drawing in. The UK Met Office predicts cooler temperatures and plenty of rain for the first half of October, which means it’s time to ditch your sun cream and grab your umbrella.
If you’re planning on heading outdoors this autumn, there are quite a few handy gadgets and other useful items that’ll help you keep dry, comfortable and safe.
Find out which five must-have products we think are worth investing in, whether you’re commuting to work or enjoying the beautiful autumn scenery.
1) A reliable head torch
The dog will still need walking, even if the sun sets before you finish work.
Visibility is key when you’re walking around your neighbourhood after dark – especially if you’re in the countryside, where street lamps are scarce and there’s lanes where cars or bikes can zoom down at night.
Some of the head torches we’ve tested cost less than £20, and all produce more than 200 lumens of light, which is more than enough for taking Fido round the block for his evening sniffs.
Just be careful not to leave your head torch on full beam if there’s a chance you might dazzle oncoming traffic.
Most head torches have different brightness settings and even a red light setting, which is best for still being able to see and be seen without dazzling others or disturbing wildlife.
Check out our head torch reviews to see which ones will brighten up your evening walks this autumn.
2) A well-insulated vacuum flask
Chillier autumn days make the urge for a cosy hot drink all the more compelling, and a high-quality vacuum flask will give you that option wherever you might be when you need warming up.
This year we tested 11 vacuum flasks from big brands such as Thermos and Jack Wolfskin, alongside cheaper own-brand options from retailers such as Asda and Wilko.
Along with our durability and ease of use tests, we answered the key question of which vacuum flask keeps your drink hottest for longest.
One of the top vacuum flasks we tested was still keeping its coffee at a toasty 62.6°C even after 24 hours.
Compare our vacuum flask reviews to see which one you should be taking on your next hike, camping trip or commute to work.
3) Rechargeable bike lights
Cyclists are required by law to fit a red rear light and a front white light on their bikes if they plan to ride after dark. This makes bike lights essential for commuters who like to pedal their way home.
As there’s always the risk that lights could fall off or be subjected to a heavy downpour, durability is key when buying the best bike lights.
That’s why as well as brightness, weight and battery life, we put all the bike lights we test through a string of tough durability tests. This includes being blasted with a shower and dropped from handlebar height onto a concrete surface 10 times.
4) A good pair of walking boots
Walking boots are handy year-round for those who like to enjoy the wilder parts of the UK, especially among Which? members, who told us that almost half of them wear their walking boots once a week or more.
In the autumn and winter months, muddy conditions, puddles, slippery leaves and hidden roots make choosing a good pair of walking boots all the more important.
The best walking boots strike a good balance between comfort and durability.
Firm grip, resistance against water and shock absorption are all key factors, but you’ll still want boots that are flexible enough that your feet feel at home in them for several hours at a time.
5) A truly waterproof jacket
Some may argue a waterproof jacket is essential all year in the UK, and they’re probably right, but in the autumn months the need for rain protection becomes paramount.
A common pitfall many of us fall into when buying ‘waterproof’ jackets is buying a ‘water-resistant’ jacket instead.
Sub-par waterproofing is also much more common than you’d expect. When we asked Which? members to rate different waterproof jacket brands, only one in five of the brands we surveyed received five stars for waterproofing.
To avoid disappointment, make sure to check out our guide to the best waterproof jackets and we’d also encourage you to scrutinise the waterproof credentials of the jacket before you part with your cash.