Heading off into the hills for a day of walking? Don't really know what to pack? Don't worry, I shall try and help you with my own experience.
I see too many people out in the hills completely over prepared carrying the whole house on their backs, or not prepared enough. It doesn't matter what time of year it is, there are a few basic items I pack that I regard as essentials. Below is a rough guide of what you need to have. This will ensure you have an enjoyable and safe time in the hills.
In no particular order these are:
- Day Pack - You need one of these to carry your stuff. Simple! Don't go too big or you will fill it with things you don't really need. No more than 30 Litres. Make sure it's got good support. A rain cover is always nice to have but the kit inside should be individually waterproofed. It will rain at some point!
- Waterproofs - These are essential. If you get wet you will have a miserable time, also it's dangerous. You can get hypothermia very quickly which is really not cool. Lots of makes out there. Summer time you can afford to get something lightweight. GoreTex is brilliant and works but it's not the only thing out there. Many companies are doing their own thing which works a treat. Read reviews.
- Warm Clothing - I always take a warm layer with me, even if the sun is out in the middle of summer and I'm in shorts and t-shirt. When in the hills, the weather can rapidly change. I've encountered all four seasons in one day. Don't get caught out. You can also pack things like gloves and a wooly hat which will definitely make cold days more enjoyable.
- Water and Food - Apparently the body needs this stuff to survive. Take it! I like to eat little and often when out walking. You can always take a small cooker to warm up food and make hot tea, not essential though unless it's really cold then this could be a good idea. Try and stay away from fizzy drinks, these do not hydrate you properly.
- Head Torch - Always take one. I have been caught out with timings and not got back before sun down. But also, it's a great experience walking at night time. Give it a try.
- Mobile Phone - This is not for tweeting every five minutes on how your day is going. It is for safety reasons. You can get phone signal pretty much anywhere in the UK which is great should the worst happen. By all means take photos and then tell everyone later when you get home.
- Map and Compass - You need to know where you're going right? You can spend a lot of money on electronic aids. Learn the basics of a map and compass first. It's great fun getting off the tracks, less people and a good feeling of adventure if you have not got a sign post telling you where to go.
- Good Solid Boots - Do not go out wearing your Nike Air Max or whatever the fashion is these days. Good boots will make your day go well. Good ankle support is essential, it will lower your chances greatly of rolling your ankle and causing an injury. Waterproof! I hate having wet feet, always have done. Not comfortable at all.
- First Aid Kit - Just in case. Have this at the bottom of your day pack and almost forget about it. But do take one and know how to do basic stuff like making a splint, putting on a sling and calling the emergency services.
So this is in my mind an essential packing list for a day in the hills. If you're doing an expedition and staying out over night then obviously more kit will be needed. Have fun, enjoy yourself and take care.
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