What’s in my pack?

We often share among ourselves, fellow walkers and hill walkers, what we carry with us, in our coats, packs and why we have the various bits of kit we carry.

The kit you will need to carry will vary according to many factors, some of which are mentioned below;
·         Time of year
·         Weather
·         Terrain
·         Solo or group walking
·         Walk leader or equal
·         Past experiences
 
The last one may seem strange, but we’ve all been there, had that experience and thought, “I wish…..” or “I should have….”.
 
If you are group leading, ideally you should have proper training along with the qualification, from places like Plas-y-Brenin, Glenmore Lodge and many others, ensuring you have not only the knowledge and skills to lead people safely, but also adequate insurance cover.
 
At this point, I will make it quite clear, I do not have such qualifications and I am purely sharing with you, what I carry in my pack, through research, sharing time walking with fellow hill walkers and getting to know various Mountain Leaders (ML’s) over time.
Deuter 32ltr
Like many people. We all have to adhere to a strict budget, but it’s always worth remembering, sometimes, paying that extra will in time reap the rewards of better endurance.
 
Here, I’m describing what I carry, which is not necessarily a full recommendation what you should be carrying in your pack.
 
I will give the reasons why I carry the items I mention, where you can make your own judgement.
 
First and foremost, you will need a suitable rucksack to keep your kit in. Rucksacks, like boots, can be a very individual fit, so my advice is, go to a reputable outdoor retailer, try a few different ones before you finally make your purchase.


You will also need to consider how big a rucksack you will need. But, if you go too big, then you might end up carrying more kit than you actually need, on the other hand, too small, and you will not get the kit in that you require.

Deuter 45+ Guide
Rucksack sizes can vary from as little as 20 litres, right up to 120 litres and beyond!
 
But those above 55 litres are more suited to overnight and expedition activities.
 
For a day sack, then 20 – 35 litres should be adequate, certainly for summer use, possibly considering an extra 10 litres for winter use.
 
Why the extra 10 litres?
 
In winter, you most likely will need to carry some extra kit, thicker coats or fleeces, to ensure you keep warm when it’s colder.
 
I have two rucksacks, a 32 litre and a 45 litre.
 
I like to keep my kit organised, for quick and easy access, keeping the most needed items close to the top and the less needed items, but essential for safety and survival, towards the bottom.
 
To achieve this, I use different coloured dry sacks for two reasons. A dry sack will keep your kit dry, because rucksacks are not waterproof and the use of different colours, which enables quick and easy identification of what each dry sack, holds what items.

The dry sacks are;
 

Green; quick access items
Lunch, drink and general items,
Large Black, benighted items, relatively easy to access
Head torches
Small Black, benighted items, relatively easy to access
Spare mobile phone, solar charger and power pack and lighter
Orange, emergency survival item
Emergency shelter
Blue, survival and emergency
Spare items of clothing
Yellow (45ltr pack only), survival and emergency
First Aid kit and emergency repair items

 
Now the list of items I carry.
 
Using different colours makes finding desired items quicker and easier, coupled with quick organising your packing before you set out on your walk.
 
Here, I will list many of the items and under the dry sack colour.
 
Green dry sack (top);
Spare batteries for head torches (if needed, then quick easy access will be required)
Cup-a-soup sachets
Drinking chocolate sachets
Food for the day
Beanie hat
Peaked cap
Gloves
First Aid Kit


Contents of the green dry sack, which sits at the top for easy access
 
Large black dry sack (middle);
Head torches x2, 1- LED 1-Krypron bulb


Large black dry sack, which often holds three head torches, though sometimes, depending on what I'm doing and where I am, one will be kept in the green dry sack for quick access.
 
Small black dry sack (middle);
Solar charger
Power pack
Mobile phone, very basic

Small black dry sack,keeps my lighter, solar charger, power pack and mbile phone
 
Blue dry sack (middle);
Merino wool base tee
Mid layer (often when cold weather is forecast or winter walks)
Socks
Beanie hat (spare)
Choob (spare)
Spare gloves
Primaloft Insulated Smock

Looking in to the blue dry sack

Some of the contents of the blue dry sack, spare beanie hat, spare merino base tee and spare socks.
Often I keep a spare choob in there along with a mid layer during the winter and colder times.
 
Yellow dry sack (bottom);
Whistle inside top lid
Large First Aid Kit
Cable ties
Gaffer tape
Glow Sticks
 
Orange dry sack (bottom);
Storm Shelter, suitable for up to five people

The Storm Shelter comes with its own bag.
While its primary use is an emergency shelter,
it can be used to shelter from the weather for a normal lunch or rest stop.
 
The Storm Shelter set up
 
I'm six foot tall, and there's plenty of room inside this 4 - 5 man Storm Shelter
for me and at least three others.




 
Rucksack main compartment
Flask, 70cl, stainless steel
Maps
Sit mat
Hydration Pack

Rucksack main compartment, showing the location of the flask, storm shelter,
sit mat and hydration pack, which sits in a purpose designed pounch.
 
Attached to rucksack strap
Water bottle
Compass
Kestrel Wind Anemometer
Pacing beads
GPS
Trekking Poles


Pacing beads, to keep a count of any pacing I have to do.
With these, I can keep track comfortably up to 1 km


Silva Expedition 4 compass, a nice size with a clear roma scale




500 ml water bottle, strapped to my rucksack, a reserve should my hydration pack become empty.
 
Rucksack lid
Waterproof over trousers rucksack top lid
Pencil and small note book top lid

My waterproof over trousers, are kept in the rucksack lid, accessed via the outer zip.




A spork is also kept in the rucksack lid inner pocket.
Ideal to stir a cup-a-soup or hot choccy with
 
Additional items you may want to consider
Cable ties
Gaffer tape
Snow goggles
Binoculars
 
Storm Shelter
This is one item that can easily be overlooked. A storm shelter provides a multi-purpose role. Apart from the primary purpose, to provide emergency waterproof shelter, it can be used to shelter in for a rest or lunch break on wet, windy or cold days where you cannot shield yourself from the weather.
 
Spare clothing
Merino wool base tee, mid layer, socks, beanie hat (spare), spare gloves, peaked cap, are items you may need to change in to if you become soaked due to inclement weather or should you find yourself in a predicament, then ideal for fresh dry clothing to change in to if you’ve been sweating.
 
Another item of clothing I carry is a choob, which is basically a tubular neck scarf that has many purposes. They can also keep your ears warm when you’re wearing a beanie, similar to a balaclava.
 
Though I don’t carry a balaclava, they are great for helping to keep your head, ears and face nice and warm. For me, the only drawback is when you breathe out through the balaclava, it becomes damp and uncomfortable due to the moisture in the exhaled breath. But that is personal choice; other people find balaclava’s extremely beneficial.
 
Whistle
This could be your means of calling for help in areas of no phone coverage, of which there are still plenty when out in the hills.
 
Ideally, the whistle shouldn’t be a pea whistle, the sort a referee would use, because if the pea was to fall out, then the whistle would be useless.
 
Remember, six blasts in rapid succession, repeated every minute. Listen for a reply, which would most likely be three blasts in rapid succession every minute.


Whistle and a penknife, kept in the inner pocket of the rucksack lid
 
Head torches x3, and spare batteries
1-LED and 2-Krypron bulb
 
Why three?
 
That is a very good question. Should the batteries fail on one torch, then to save you messing about trying to find and change batteries in the dark, you simply use your spare head torch to locate the batteries and then change the batteries.
 
Also, the main beam on both head torches provides a very different light. The LED will provide almost a brilliant white light while the krypton bulb will provide a less intense, pale yellow light and is less likely to reflect back at you in fog or low cloud.
 
Originally, I had two Petzyl krypton head torches, so I would have two, before the purchase of the nice and lightweight LED head torch.
 
A point to consider, both the krypton head torches are waterproof, but the LED head torch did not say on the packaging that it was waterproof. However, the Alpkit Gamma head torches are now waterproof.
 
You can use your torch or head torch to call for help by following the same criteria for a whistle, six flashes in rapid succession, repeated every minute. Look for the reply, which would most likely be three flashes in rapid succession every minute.
 
Mobile phone, very basic
I always carry an old basic mobile phone in addition to the current mobile, mainly because the battery life is far longer than my all singing all dancing smart phone.
 
Cup-a-soup and drinking chocolate sachets
These are ideal size and shape, fitting nice and snuggly in your pack to provide emergency rations should you become benighted.
 
I usually carry two cup-a-soup flavours, cream of tomato and golden vegetable.
 
Food for the day
Usually I take a sandwich or batch. I also have with me, though usually in a pocket for quick and easy access, wine gums. These provide a nice juicy nibble and make the saliva glands work, keeping your mouth moist and providing a nice release of sugar.
 
I also take with me two Snickers or Mars bars.
 
One I will eat at lunchtime, the other, is kept as part of my emergency rations, but often gets eaten ONLY at the end of the days walk when I’m back and finished walking,
 
The wine gums are also great for sharing if you’re in a group.

Great for that sugar top up, keeps the mouth moist and a great way to make friends....
 
 
Hydration pack and water bottle
I’ve put these two together because they actually work hand in hand.
 
The hydration pack, often referred to as a bladder pack, is an easy source of hydration while you’re out and about, without the need to remove your pack to take a drink. Instead, you drink via a tube from the reservoir stored inside your pack.
 
There is one BIG DRAWBACK with the hydration pack you cannot see how quick you are consuming whatever you have stored in there.
 
This is where the water bottle comes in; it gives you a visual reserve of how much you have left to drink without being caught too short.I personally only ever use water in my hydration pack and water bottle, because it makes it easier to clean and you don’t have the odour left from the last drink you enjoyed, but might not enjoy later.
 
Standard non-emergency items
Waterproof over trousers, well, it’s Britain, we expect rain, whatever. But it doesn’t stop there, waterproof over trousers do have other uses.
 
I mention waterproof over trousers against waterproof trousers. Mine, Berghaus Deluge over trousers, have press studs and zips down the outer side of both legs. That enables me to put on or take off my over trousers, without the need to remove my boots.
 
They can provide a thermal layer, reducing the effect of wind making your legs cold.

Trekking poles might seem a little unusual, but to me, apart from a walking aid, they’re part of my First Aid Kit.

Should I stumble and have a minor injury to a leg, ankle or foot, they would provide some support to enable me to walk to safety, hopefully without the need to call for assistance.

That actually was the case, once, when I was descending Moel Siabod in Snowdonia, which I described in my blog; Moel Siabod and my old Navigation Training Ground, where on my descent I had a minor slip, getting my foot caught in a small hole causing me to bend my knee the wrong way!.

My trekking poles
 

Sit mat, non-essential but great to avoid sitting on wet, cold or muddy ground while enjoying lunch or just resting.

Sit mat opened out.
 
If I’ve muddy or very dirty trousers, my sit mat is often placed on my car seat when driving home,

I've not yet mentioned gloves, a very valuable part of my kit.

I use various different ones, depending on what I'm doing along with where and when I am walking.

Various types of gloves I use.
Top left are waterproof and ideal for light scrambling
bottom left, great windproof and water resistant gloves, but not waterproof!
on the right, proper winter gloves, very warm, waterproof and comfy
 

Pencil and small note book, great for making trip notes, or, if something happens to a group member, or should you find yourself assisting someone whose had an accident or fallen ill while out, you can write the details down ready for making the emergency call.

Pencils are better than pens, careful use on wet paper and they will write when pens give up.




Also a note pad and pencil are kept in the inner pocket of the rucksack lid
I keep a pencil in preference to a pen,
because pencils will write on wet paper better than a pen.

As I said earlier, these are items I personally carry. But sometimes, I will carry more items, depending on where I’m walking, who I’m walking with, what the weather and time of year is and also where I’m walking.

An example, when winter hill walking, I will have extra winter gloves, usually four pairs in total, also and ice axe and crampons, an extra choob and helmet.

Hydration pack
Sometimes called a bladder pack, among many names I've heard, some not repeatable here.

I use a three litre hydration pack, which carries sufficent water for most hot days, and I reduce the capacity when winter walking.

I only ever put water in my hydration pack. Water doesn't leave any odours, so long as you keep it clean, unlike some of the various soft drinks when kept in the hydration pack.
 
Flask, 70cl, stainless steel
I personally only ever keep hot water in my flask, for the same reasons why I only use water in my hydration pack. Coffee, tea and most other hot drinks will leave and odour in your flask after use.

While these odours can often be cleansed, for me, its the hassle of additional cleaning after a days walking.

Not only that, I prefer freshly made hot drinks rather than one, stewing in a flask for hours....

The flask is primarily kept for emergency purposes, providing hot water to make a cup-a-soup or drinking chocolate.
 
First Aid Kit
I think this speaks for itself. However, there are many to choose from, different sizes and different contents.
 
This is again one thing you can only personally decide how big your first aid kit should be or what to carry.
 
Consider your first aid ability, where and who you’ll be walking with along with how much space you have in your pack and how much weight you want to carry.
 
Miscellaneous emergency items
Cable ties ideal as temporary boot laces or to strap things together
 
Gaffer tape, great for patching ripped or town clothing and can also wrap around boots where the soles may have decided to separate from your boots.

However, chances are you wouldn’t let your boots get that bad before replacing them, but if something did happen, you could take a tumble and ruin your boots, the tape could become handy.

Glow sticks, great for providing a few hours illumination. They may not be brilliantly bright, but they will provide sufficient illumination if you are benighted and also aid and rescue teams to see you.

Glow sticks, cable ties, large elastic bands and gaffa tape.


They will also spare your torch batteries for when you need brighter illumination later on.

Navigational items
Map, compass, pacing beads, GPS

Map and compass really speak for themselves, though I carry two of each. Maps are at risk of getting blown away on windy days and though rare, compasses do give up. Also, paper maps can tear very easily, especially if the get wet.

If I’m using a paper map, then I will ensure it is kept dry in a proper map case.

GPS, I use to log my route and download it to my computer when I get home. But if required, it will provide navigation back up, so long as the batteries do not give up on me.

I do carry spare batteries for the GPS, but personally I prefer to use map and compass, because it means I have to take note of my surroundings.

Pacing beads are used to help me keep track of distances walked when I need to utilise advanced navigating skills due to the conditions around me at the time, bad weather, poor or night time visibility, or featureless terrain, even on a good day.

Miscellaneous non-emergency items
Kestrel Wind Anemometer, great for monitoring the temperature, chill factor and wind speed, not just on cold days, but hot days too.


My Kestrel 2000 anemometer which not only records wind speed,
but also the temperture and wind chill.


Those of you, who have read many of my blogs, will see it featured quite often, highlighting the weather conditions at the time of my walk.

Binoculars, a luxury item, but useful on clear days for advanced route planning to check out distant features. For most applications, 8x25 is adequate. You do not need large cumbersome binoculars.

Make sure the binoculas are waterproof;
you just never know when they might be required when its pouring with rain!.

Nikon Travelite EX 8x25 binoculas, which are waterproof.
Check the specs before buying though....

I can't forget my camera, that takes all the photos when I'm out on a walk.





Snow goggles, a bit extreme I know, but if you’re out and that rain is beating hard against your face, you need to make progress because of the time and fast fading light, snow goggle will enable you to retain some vision and allow to continue your walk to safety.

Snow goggles, a bit extreme?
They will do what it says on the lable......


I can't forget the waterproof protection for my smart phone.....

These are many of the items that I carry in my rucksack when they're not in use.

Something to remember, Mountain Rescue Teams (MRT) along with Lowland Search and Rescue (LRT), are ALL VOLUNTEERS, many of whom have daytime jobs to pay the mortgage and keep food on the table.

From here, I'll combine Mountain Rescue Teams (MRT) and Lowland Search and Rescue (LRT) as "SEARCH AND RESCUE TEAMS"

That will mean from the moment you make the 999 or 112 call, they are not at a base on standby, like the main emergency services are

, but either at work earning a living or enjoying time with family and friends.

Therefore, once you've made the call for help, the call is passed on the appropriate search and rescue teams before they are even starting to prepare. From there, the search and rescue teams will receive the alert, then the team will start to muster together.

That can take a while as the volunteers make their way from work or wherever to their base. They then have to check the information received and work out a suitable plan, possibly sort out items of equipment unique to the call out scenario, weather and location permitting, then proceed to a suitable deployment location, or even locations to deploy the search and rescue party, or parties!

That initial process
could easily take in excess of an hour!

I mentioned that search and rescue teams may use multiple deployment points when executing a search and rescue. There are many places in the UK where searching for casualties require a very labour intensive search before the rescue and recovery can take place, which means approaching from the area from many different points, especially when the  casualty/casualties are not certain or confident on their location, or even giving the wrong coordinates, often innocently!

From there, you can expect in many locations it could easily be hours, or even twenty-four hours plus, depending on the weather and location, before a search and rescue team reach you.

Remember, if it takes hours to reach you, it could just as easily be hours before they get you back to civilisation!

It could easily be hours getting you to civilisation if air support, i.e. any one of the many rescue helicopter support services that operate around the UK, are not available!

As I mentioned earlier, "I’m describing what I carry, which is not necessarily a full recommendation what you should be carrying in your pack."

Some items you may feel a little unnessary, others might prompt an idea. The list isn't exhaustive, it really does depend on where you are, when you're out walking and for how long.

Another thing to consider, each extra item is additional weight, but can you afford to be without it?

Only you can answer that question.

I'm comfortable with what I carry, probably because of the training I've done, liaising and learning from others and from my Scouting background, having to complete a risk assessment prior to undertaking any activities, makes me double check I've reasonably covered my self.

Finally, happy rambling and thank you for reading,
Peak Rambler




4 comments:

  1. Thanks for the overview PR, its always good to see what everyone else carry's. I have to agree with the use of the Silva Expedition 4 Compass for a value price, you get a great compass full of features and its pretty durable too.

    I also carry snickers with me, because they have nuts in I just tell people its full of protein. though I've never had the duo packs, this could be something for the future.

    I have to say though, skiing goggles may be a bit extreme even for me. Though I do have a couple of pairs that I use for my ski trips so perhaps I am missing out?

    Anyway, keep up the good work. Alan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome and thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

      It was while on Bleaklow back in April 2012, when I decided that snow goggles would have been a good idea.

      The weather was generally good, however, when it did snow, because of the wind gusting up to 27 mph, the snow flakes were beating hard in to our faces, making progress a little slow at times.

      It was that day, I decided snow goggles would have been advantageous. But up until that day, I would have laughed at the suggestion.

      I quote from the blog Bleaklow, The B29 Superfortress and I got Bleaklowed!;
      ".... walking, across the moor, heading for our desired destination, still being battered by the wind and snow, that was almost like hail!"

      http://peak-rambler.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/bleaklow-b29-superfortress-and-i-got.html

      Delete
  2. Nice one Mike, it's always very interesting to find out what other people carry and then exchange ideas and as well for newcomers to have a good idea of the logistics. Great stuff

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Alvin. Now you know why my pack is always so full!

      Feel free to share this with others.

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