Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Essential summer hill walking kit guide

There is snow today in parts of Scotland. And in May, for goodness sakes! But this helps to underline the importance of being prepared for all the weather that this country can sometimes throw at walkers, even in the summer. Here we bring you an essential hill walking kit guide, as created by Nick Cole, of NSC Outdoor Adventures, based in Meigle, Perthshire.

You should carry at least the following equipment. And do not assume that someone else will have spares available for your use.

* Windproof/waterproof (preferably breathable) shell over-jacket

* Windproof/waterproof (preferably breathable) shell over-trousers that can be put on without removing footwear

* Waterproof hat

* Gloves

* Personal first aid kit & medication (as required)

* Snack

* Drinks, at least 1 litre of water or similar.

* Map

* Compass (and know how to use it)

* Mobile phone

All spare clothing should be contained in a sealed dry-bag, as no rucksack is totally waterproof.

Optional additional equipment: Guidebook, notebook and pen/pencil, camera, binoculars, trekking poles.

In addition:

For low level walks (up to 300m) and up to 2 to 3 hours in duration

Wear two/three season walking boots and carry a 25 litre rucksack containing the above equipment, plus:

* Gaiters

* Spare socks

* Packed lunch and hot drink

* Pen-knife

* Whistle

* Small head torch

* Solo bivvy-bag/shelter or space blanket

For high level walks (above 500m) or an extended day with inclement weather

Wear three season hill-walking boots, and carry a 25 litre rucksack containing the above equipment, plus:

* Spare gloves

* Spare fleece

* Spare hat

* Drinks, consider at least ½ litre per hour of water or similar

* Food for additional meals or snacks

* Small head torch and spare batteries

* Solo bivvy-bag/shelter and space blanket

Remember that the weight of a small stove and gas canister is similar to a flask and heats up far more water than can be carried in that flask).

As Nick points out: “The weather in Scotland can change markedly over the course of a day and being caught out in a chilly wind without a warm drink or food can be uncomfortable.

“Also remember that nothing is actually waterproof. Even the best materials will only withstand continuous wetting for 3 or 4 hours. Rucksacks will always let rain in so lining it with a dry bag or heavy duty bin bag helps keep things dry.

“If navigating you should use and be proficient with a map and compass. GPS systems are fine within their limits, but are not always reliable.

“Finally enjoy yourself, but don’t be overconfident and be prepared to alter your schedule or route if conditions dictate.”

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