Choosing what to buy and what to take when you head off on your adventures can be a complex and confusing time. Here we provide a few notes and thoughts that may help you in this process.

Guiding principles

  1. Think about where you are going and how the climate might be. This should be the best guide on what you need to pack.
  2. Synthetic materials such as polyester based are better than cotton (which absorbs and holds onto water). Always try to buy clothes that wick sweat away from the body.
  3. Lighter colours reflect sunlight better than darker shades, and are therefore cooler.
  4. Layers are good for controlling temperature.
  5. Comfort – if it isn’t comfortable, be it boots or rucksacks, don’t buy it. You won’t use what you don’t like. Try everything on in the shop before parting with cash.
  6. Nothing is waterproof: if it is, it won’t breathe. Either way – don’t expect to stay dry – and especially not in Britain’s warm and wet climate.

Waterproofs:
Gore-Tex (membrane technology) is good but only if there is a heat differential between you and the outside – otherwise it is not as breathable as you may think. If your body is a fast breather (i.e. you sweat lots and easily) maybe you should sacrifice your pursuit of waterproofness for breathability.

A very good alternative to using membranes is Paramo (see link below, or click here to visit the official website).

Seek advice based upon who you are, where you’re going and what you’re doing.

Boots:
Look after them. Membrane lined boots are lightweight and effective but beware – when a hole wears through the membrane at a pressure point they become an expensive pair of canvas boots. Keep leather boots clean and waxed.

Rucksacks:
ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS line with a strong plastic / waterproof sack.

  • Outside – top end kit for big mountaineering expeditions (at prices to suit)
  • Cotswold Outdoors – they have quite a varied and wide discount system. They offer many interest groups, clubs and companies a discount ranging from 15% to 25%. Google it.
  • Go Outdoors seem to be dominating the retail quarter of every town. Again, buy nothing at face value, the combination of their discount card and a price guarantee mean that a well researched trip to this store can bag you a bargain.
  • Alpkit.com – a lovely brand with a personal touch. In particular I’d look to them for their  sleeping bags, down jackets and waterproof bag liners.
  • TK Max offer some perfectly adequate waterproofs and fleece tops. Before you go anywhere maybe try here first.
recommended_kit

Guided walking weekend, Brecon Beacons

Hill Walking in the UK (Summer)

a. Main rules of thumb for the UK:

  • Expect rain
  • Expect it to be cold at night time.
  • Steer clear of all things cotton (no jeans on the hill!)
  • Whatever you use, make sure it’s comfortable.

If you are a fell runner with strong ankles, and the weather is good, you may wish to wear fell shoes: the advantage being their lightness. But beware – they are no good for keeping your feet dry and offer no ankle support.

b. You will need:

  • Day-sack (lined with a plastic bag)
  • Map and compass
  • Water bottle with about 1.5 litre of water
  • Water purification treatment
  • Food for the hill
  • Hat and gloves
  • Sun hat and sunscreen
  • Waterproofs
  • Comfortable boots to walk in
  • Torch and whistle (without exception)
  • Personal 1st Aid kit including blister kit
  • Survival bag / bivi shelter
  • Half a roll mat
  • Mobile phone (in a plastic wallet)
  • Camera
winter_hill_walking

Winter Walking, Scotland

Hill Walking in the UK (Winter)

You’ll need everything listed above (for Summer) plus the following:

  • Spare hat, gloves and fleece top
  • Axe and crampons
  • Gaiters
  • Down jacket and/or sleeping bag

Scafel Pike wild camping guided walk

Camping Trek (UK)

a. Main Rules of Thumb and Wet Weather Preparation:

Keep a close eye on the weather forecast close your trek: it has been known to rain occasionally in our hills – and it could be that this is the greatest challenge that you’ll be facing on the hill. Bad weather just needs the right mind-set combined with the best preparation – and it can be overcome!

Start with a guiding principle: NOTHING IS WATERPROOF, or at least, nothing will keep you dry – and this begins with your expensive coat and extends to the boots you’ll be standing in and to the sack you’ll be carrying. It’s worth at this stage being paranoid about this.

In addition steer clear of all things cotton and whatever you use make sure it’s comfortable.

b. Kit list:

Per Tent Group

  • tent
  • matches and lighter
  • map and compass
  • stove and fuel
  • food

Individual Camping

In addition to hill walking kit list you should pack the following:

  • rucksack with 2 waterproof liners – one for the whole sack plus one for your sleeping bag/dry kit – also make sure that your hat and gloves live in their own wp bag – and the same for your wallet/mobile phone.
  • sleeping mat
  • sleeping bag
  • spare thermal top and bottoms
  • spare socks
  • spoon, mug & plastic tupperware box – good for holding your sandwiches and to eat dinner out of
  • wash kit should only incorporate toothpaste, brush and talc/foot powder (do not underestimate the importance of talc)
  • 2 x flannels – one is for yourself and one is for drying the inside of your tent
  • personal 1st Aid kit
  • toilet paper with plastic bags to carry waste paper off the hill
  • 1 pair of walking poles – recommended!
trekking_in_nepal

Annapurna Base Camp Trek, Nepal

Individual kit list for trekking in Nepal

Trekking in Nepal is generally hot by day (it is in the Indian sub-continent after all) and cold at night – especially when at altitude. We’ve included this since this is a good generic example of trekking in many parts of the world – from South America to Mongolia.

Base layer
1 x long sleeve shirt with collar
2 x wicking shirts
3 pairs walking socks
3 pairs underwear (sports bras for women)
1 x thermal leggings

Warmth layer / Trek-wear
1 x fleece jacket
1 x down / ski jacket (or extra fleece)
1 x gloves or mitts
1 x thin inner gloves
1 x fleece or wool hat
1 x comfortable, strong, quick drying trousers
1 pair comfortable cotton shorts or equivalent

Protective layer
1 x wide brimmed hat
1 x waterproof jacket
1 x waterproof trousers (light-weight)

Equipment
1 pair walking boots
1 pair sandals with ankle straps
1 x large rucksack or expedition sack with wp liner
1 x day-sack
1 x 3 / 4 season sleeping bag
1 x sleeping bag liner
1 x torch with new batteries
2 x 1 litre water bottle
1 pair sun glasses (good quality – UV a and b reflective)

Health and Hygiene
1 x small bottle of shampoo (for body, hair and clothes)
1 roll toilet paper
1 x antibacterial hand wash
1 x insect repellent
1 x sun block / high factor sun cream
1 x tube lip sun block, (no sharing!)
1 x towel
1 x bottle of foot powder
1 x personal first aid kit
Sufficient sanitary products (females)

Ancillaries
1 x small penknife
1 x camera
1 x money belt
1 x cheap waterproof watch
1 x set of waterproof bags for waterproofing
1 x spare laces for boots
1 x book

Documentation

1 x passport
4 x spare passport pictures
1 x flight tickets

Optional Items
1 x neckerchief / bandana
1 x playing cards
1 pair walking poles

A note on B1 crampon compatible boots

If you are joining us for our Morocco treks or a winter skills course or any event that requires use of crampons you will need crampon compatible boots.

How are boots graded?
Walking / mountaineering boots are graded from B0 to B3. B0 boots are flexible and are what most people own. (They’re still far stiffer than a pair of trainers – but this does not mean that they will do the job of crampon compatible boots). B1 boots are stiffer and are able to take a crampon. B2 boots will allow clip-on crampons and can be used to climb low grade winter routes, whilst B3 boots are totally inflexible – almost like ski boots – and are excellent for winter use in all conditions – though they can be heavy and uncomfortable!

Why do I need B1 boots?
There are so many reasons why you need the right boots for the winter environment … Winter-rated boots offer a more solid and stable platform on which to stand. They are designed to help you kick steps. Their soles have a more aggressive lug to grip the snow. They won’t flex out of a pair of properly fitted crampons and on a hard neve of snow angled at 20 degrees or more they will offer your ankles the support that they will crucially need to give you stability and a decent footing. Further they will be made from thicker leather providing greater warmth and protection from the elements.

These notes haven’t even begun on aspects such as the soles of boots or cuff height or how you may need to kick steps. There is a wealth of information out there – one place to look is at this excellent BMC article.

Learn more about winter mountaineering on one of our skills courses.
Learn more with Will4Adventure on one of our Hill Skills courses 
Join us on a free guided walking weekend in the Peak District
Join us on a Guided Walking Weekend in the Peaks, Lakes or Snowdonia