I was unsure whether I’d do a kit posting for this year’s walk, but I looked back at the one I did for the 2013 walk and some of the other kit postings I’ve done for previous walks and I found them quite interesting. It’s been a good memory jogger for the way my kit has changed over time and so i decided I would do one this year – so perhaps I can look back in a couple of years and compare it.
I’m not going to go into loads of detail though and this isn’t a backpacking list, so it may be of little value to most readers. I’m using B&Bs and Hotels for the 14 nights I’m on the trail, so I only need to carry the bare essentials. I have one set of walking clothes and one set of evening clothes. I have a couple of spare pairs of socks and a choice of base-layer vests (one for cold starts and one for warm starts), but other than that I’m not carrying loads of options. The flexibility of my walking gear has been proven to me and I’m quite happy to live in one pair of clean clothes for two weeks, even if other people who sit near me may not be!
Clockwise from the top left corner:
- My reading glasses – a new addition in the last couple of years since I got old and bits of me stopped working properly. I have a soft cloth case for them into which I put some stiff cardboard to stop them getting broken inside my pack. Next to them are my shades – just the cheap disposable wrap-around variety in their own cloth bag. I don’t mind if I lose these or they get broken – so few days, even in summer, really need sun shades.
- Top of the picture is my walking pole
- Next to my glasses is my wash kit – all held in a ziplock baggie from Ikea – much stronger than your usual run-of-the-mill freezer bags, these are strong and have a double zip closure, I like these a lot. I use shaving oil on these trips and a cheap BIC disposable razor. The oil works OK, but the best preparation before a shave is a hot shower and plenty of soap, which seems to soften my stubble nicely. The only reason I shave at all is so that I don’t return home with a tanned upper face and white lower face where the beard has protected me.
The little toothpaste tube is from Superdrug – more expensive than a regular tube, but much lighter
- My filter bottle helps reduce the amount of water I have to carry in my pack and prevents the incident I had on the Coast to Coast a few years ago when I ran out of water on a particularly hot day and didn’t want to risk drinking straight from streams. An upset stomach the next day after a day walk isn’t a huge problem, but on a long distance walk could be very inconvenient
- The green bag Exped drybag has my Paramo Velez Ultralight Smock in it – I’d like a lighter summer waterproof, but haven’t found anything to beat the Paramo for warmth and waterproofness.
- The black stuff sack next to it holds my Rab Bergen waterproof overtrousers. If, at the start of the day, the weather looks marginal or it’s actually raining I will wear these over no trousers. I find them surprisingly comfortable, much more so than wearing them over trousers. They have zips for venting if it’s too warm. They just lack pockets unfortunately.
- The sandy coloured Exped drybag is my First Aid Kit, along with toilet paper and wet wipes. I have a fairly basic kit and I’ve used it a couple of times on long distance walks, so I wouldn’t go out without it. I keep Immodium and Blister plasters in there along with the usual stuff.
- My Tilley provides shade against the sun as I won’t use sunblock on my face.
- The bottom right corner has my wooly hat and gloves for cold mornings and I have some waterproof overmits if it’s particularly cold and wet, but these rarely get used. The buff is another last-resort piece of equipment for cold mornings.
- The socks are Sealskins, the mid length, thin variety and I often use these with a thin liner sock inside my boots, especially if I’m expecting a wet slog. I don’t carry gaiters on long distance walks so these are an extra barrier against wet feet inside my boots which aren’t especially waterproof.
- I have a sit mat (the red thing) which weighs almost nothing and folds out to provide excellent comfort during breaks.
In the bottom centre of the picture above is a bunch of tech gear; going mostly in clockwise direction from the top left:
- BluMax GPS data logger – this records my GPX track and lives in my pack – not used for navigation, just for track recording for later analysis. It has a spare battery (below left), but I’ve never needed it yet.
- A pair of ear-plugs – for those times when I’m in a hotel, with live music in the bar below me!
- Beneath them are two camera attachments, the top one is a holder for my phone, which screws into the flexible three-legged stand beneath it. The stand also screws into my digital camera. These allow me to take photos of myself using the self-timer.
- The little red case holds my Petzl e-Lite, a tiny head torch which serves well enough for summer walks
- The digital camera is obvious enough and it has a spare battery.
- The large case is my Aquapac waterproof case for my phone, it has a clear rear panel to allow me to use the camera in the phone. When it rains the digital camera goes into a plastic bag and I rely on the phone to take pictures.
- I carry a spare battery for the phone, but again never really needed it for day walks.
- The little gadget beneath the phone battery is an adapter for my phone. It allows the phone to read full size USB sticks and SD Cards. This means I can plug my digital camera’s memory card into the phone to include those photos in my blog. It also means that I can carry additional memory cards and load them with movies or TV shows to watch in the evening.
- The phone is a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 with a 128Gb microSd card inside it and a removable battery. This acts as my GPS navigation device, my evening entertainment, my mobile blogging platform, access to Twitter and email and of course it’s a phone!
- The device above the phone is a folding stand for it, so I can prop it up to watch movies and such.
The bottom left corner of the picture has some more tech.
- I have my printed maps, all done from memory Map with my route and various points of interest laid over the top. The maps for the day are in a waterproof Ortleib case and this lives in my thigh pocket. The remaining maps are in another Ikea freezer bag and live in my pack. I discard the maps I’ve used at the end of the day.
- The small orange thing is a bluetooth speaker. A tiny little thing with a deceptively impressive output. It’s an X-mini WE and is one of the only things I’ve bough specially for this trip. It means I can listen to music, audio books or movies in my room without having to fiddle with cables and connectors.
- The headphones are for when I need to resort to music or audio books on the trail – normally when there’s a long stretch of road walking to be done.
- The little device beneath the speaker is my iPod Nano – which I use for audio books – this saves the battery on my phone.
- The various cables are the charging cables for my phone, my camera, the GPS datalogger, the speaker and the iPod. They are all USB and all plug into the big plug socket on the left – this charges multiple devices at the same time, from a single plug socket.
- I also carry a spare charger for my phone, without which I would be completely lost, so I feel the need for a backup charging solution.
This is the kit I’m either wearing during the day, or carrying to be worn in the evening.
In no particular order:
- Top left is my trusty GoLite Jam – this is my default pack of choice for almost any circumstance. I recently purchased a Gossamer Gear Mariposa which is bottomless and is my new backpacking pack, but it really is too big for this job and I love the comfort and fit of the GoLite, so a no-brainer really.
- The blue thing on top of the pack is one of my knee supports. These are elasticated neoprene straps that help my knee problems. I wouldn’t do any walk beyond a couple of miles without them
My walking gear includes:
- Thin Bridgedale liner socks – like silk, but more hard-wearing, which are worn beneath either a generic black trainer sock, the ones with the fleecy padded bottoms, or beneath the Sealskinz waterproof socks – depending on the sort of day I’m expecting.
- I’ve been using Sub underwear for a couple of years now when I walk – these are long legged lycra underpants that prevent chafing, dry really quickly if they get wet and seem to repel smells even better than Merino.
- I wear Craghopper NosiLife cargo trousers, which offer some UV protection and some sort of anti-insect protection, so hopefully will keep any pesky ticks at bay. They’ve seemed to work for the past couple of years. I don’t wear shorts when walking any more, my legs burn too easily and they offer no protection at all from ticks.
- I have a choice of base layer vests (both red), one short-sleeved and one long-sleeved. The short-sleeve one is a Smartwool Microweight Tee, perfect for warm days and the long-sleeve is a Rab MeCo mid weight (165g) which I wear if the day looks like its going to be cold.
- Above the base layer vest I wear a Regatta Nitrous Softshell Smock (not shown) – I find I need two layers on the top, in order to prevent sweat rashes on my back. I guess it’s the same principle as a double layer of socks – the two layers rub together and prevent the material from rubbing against flesh.
- My boots are the ever comfortable Salomon Comet 3D GTX – they leak like a government department, which I hate, but have learned to live with.
My evening clothes are basically a pair of underpants, another pair of trainer socks, a pair of Craghopper Basecamp trousers, a generic long-sleeve t-shirt and a lightweight Trespass fleece. Nothing special, but enough to keep me warm and something clean to change into. I don’t plan on carrying any spare shoes or trainers. I will use my boots. If they are wet I will use a couple more freezer bags as liners to keep my clean socks dry.