A combination of COVID-19 restrictions and decent summer weather has seen loads of new visitors to the fells this year. And despite what the papers say, I like to think they aren’t all defecating, litter-throwing, inconsiderate-parking, fire-lighting yobs.
Some, at least, are genuinely there to enjoy the beauty of places like the Lake District for the very first time. Perhaps being cooped up during lockdown has made them realise how much we all need time in the great outdoors.
And if you’ve never been up a mountain before then you might not have heard about things like the Countryside Code. Or know that the weather can change in an instant. Or, if what I found near the summit of The Old Man of Coniston is anything to go by, that flip flops aren’t appropriate footwear on a mountain.
It’s easy to criticise when we read stories of people getting caught out in the hills. Particularly when it’s so often avoidable if they’d have just done some homework. But no-one really intends to get into difficulty. And while a little common sense always helps, ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’.
So it’s up to those of us who do know a little more to share our knowledge. To help people enjoy the hills safely and considerately.
That’s why today’s post is all about kit. Hillwalkers love kit. But the confusing thing for those new to it all is that everyone has a different opinion about what to take, how much to take and when to take it. There’s no one-size-fits-all kit list that we can all agree on.
So instead, I thought I’d share what you’ll typically* find in my pack when I’m off to the mountains.
- Rab Group Shelter
- Lifesystems Explorer First Aid Kit – I’ve added a few bits to this
- Survival bag
- Petzl Actik Core 450 head torch plus spare batteries
- Swiss Army Knife
- Gaffer tape – small roll
- Mobile phone
- Power bank / charging cable
- Suncream, sunglasses and sun hat (if it’s sunny)
- Hand sanitiser (don’t leave home without this in 2020)!
- Rab Bergen Jacket
- Montane Atomic Pants
- Montane Icarus insulated jacket
- Montane Isotope fleece (if I’m not already wearing it)
- Rab beanie hat
- Rab liner gloves
- Montane Prism gloves
- Neck tube
- Map(s) – I tend to carry an OS 1:25,000 scale Explorer map and a Harvey 1:40,000 scale mountain map for the area I’m visiting
- Silva Expedition 4 compass
- 1m length of paracord and toggles, attached to my rucksack. Loads of uses but mainly for pacing and as a spare shoelace…
- Trekmates map case
- Lunch (sandwich and crisps)
- Snacks – I like to make a graze bag of homemade flapjack, nuts and broken pieces of chocolate, which I’ll keep in my pocket and munch throughout the day. Then I’ll often have a banana or some malt loaf. Or a pork pie from the local butcher for the ultimate treat.
- Emergency food – Kendal mint cake is good for this. You want something that’ll give you some energy without being too tempting to eat!
- 2x 1 litre Sigg water bottles. If it’s a hot day and I can’t top up water, I’ll take a 3 litre Osprey Hydration system
- Osprey Kestrel 38 rucksack
- Exped dry bags – various sizes
- Plastic bag for litter on the trail
- Robens Ambleside C66 walking poles – I’m new to these but they are a game changer…
- Panasonic TZ40 camera
*This list is very much my ‘base’ level of kit. Each walk is different and I’ll adjust what’s in my pack accordingly. Always make sure you are well-equipped when heading to the mountains.