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Home arrow Equipment

Equipment for people relatively new to hillwalking

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Written by Administrator   
Friday, 26 August 2005
Kit list for people relatively new to hillwalking.
NB. This list does not cover rock-climbing equipment.

The essentials: With the following you will be OK for day-walks in spring, summer and autumn on the mountaintops of North Wales and the Lake District and all year except very severe winter weather in the rest of England and Wales.

Boots. The most important item. For year round, leather is best. These days good boots need little breaking in. When trying on boots, consider the amount of ankle support and cushioning they give and the rigidity of the soles. Summer walkers may prefer softer lightweight fabric boots. Go for established brands such as Scarpa or Meindl and buy at a specialist outdoor clothing shop such as Cotswold Outdoors, Field and Trek, YHA Adventure Shop, Blacks or Snow and Rock where knowledgeable staff will be able to advise you on what best suit your needs. Buy a couple of pairs of good quality socks. You are more likely to get blisters if you wear cheap socks.
After the meet you should dry the boots slowly, then treat them with a waterproofing agent in accordance with manufacturer's recommendations.

Daypack. 25 to 30 litres volume should be adequate. For high-level winter walking you will need something slightly larger and more specialised.

Waterproof. You need something to keep out rain and wind. Gore-Tex or Triple-Point-Ceramic fabric is good but not essential, there are plenty of cheaper waterproofs available. However do go for a breathable fabric otherwise you could get very uncomfortable as perspiration will build up on the inside of the jacket.

Warm clothes. Pullovers are OK. Most people have fleeces these days. In winter, always carry a spare in your daypack. Some sort of hat and gloves should be carried.

Food and Drink. Lunch, plus some spare food. You will need some water too. A litre will be sufficient for much of the year. Double it in summer.

Torch. In winter the risk of getting back after dark makes a torch a basic requirement. A domestic hand held torch will do. A lightweight head-torch (Petzl or similar) is preferable. Can also be useful for finding you way to the loo at night!

Maps. Map(s) of the area being visited are needed (these can often be borrowed from public library). Otherwise they can be purchased from outdoor gear shops or good bookshops. Go for Ordnance Survey Outdoor Leisure and Explorer maps (1:25,000 scale) or Ordnance Survey Landranger maps (1:50,000). Some people use Harveys Superwalker maps.

Compass. Buy one (by Silva or similar). You should know how to use it too.

Other essentials. Simple first aid kit; survival bag; spare boot laces; whistle; in hot weather, sunhat and sun protection.

Essentials off the hill:
Bring a sleeping bag, personal items, and food. In the huts, everything else is normally provided. With a very few exceptions, huts have basic cooking arrangements (usually gas rings) and utensils. On camping meets you also need a tent, sleeping mat and probably, basic cooking gear. Usually we go to a pub for an evening meal, but you will always need to bring stuff for breakfast and lunch.

Additional items:
With increasing experience you will probably acquire further items; including the following:
Thermal underwear: highly desirable in winter; a vest keeps dampness away from the skin; thermal long-johns can convert fairly light trousers to winter use
Gaiters: help to keep boots (and feet) dry.
Waterproof over-trousers.
Ski Pole(s): many people find these useful on rough ground and especially on long days.
Thermos flask: often worth the extra weight for a hot drink on winter days.

Winter Snow and Ice Conditions:
For North Wales or the Lake District when snow and ice conditions are prevailing in the mountains (most commonly January to early March) you will need an ice axe and crampons, and some serious mountaineering boots if you are venturing over steeper and more exposed terrain. But in warm winters these areas do not always see much snow. If you want to go to North Wales or Lake District in winter without ice axe and crampons, the best advice is probably to enquire about the hilltop conditions before setting out, and be prepared to stay low if necessary. In other areas of England and Wales this equipment is rarely needed. However, don't even think about going to Scotland in winter until you have ice axe and crampons and know how to use them. Also remember that winter conditions can persist later in Scotland. If you are serious about getting into winter hillwalking and mountaineering a winter skills course is strongly recommended.

Final points:
(1) If in doubt relative to a specific meet, ask the Meet Secretary.
(2) You can get a 10% discount in many outdoor shops with your STMC membership card (notably Costwold when you quote the special contract number) but check before you buy.
Specialist outdoor shops will provide advice about hillwalking gear.
Last Updated ( Sunday, 12 May 2013 )
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