This planning post is going to cover my kit for the fast-approaching Southern Upland Way. I’m due to set out in 8 weeks and for the last month I’ve walked about 10 miles, due to a foot injury that I must allow to heal or else I won’t be walking across Scotland at all.
I’m carrying all my own gear for this trip, but as I’m not camping, I don’t need to worry about tent, sleeping bag, cooking equipment etc. just the bare essentials to keep me comfortable in a series of B&Bs and hotels.
I’ve broken the kit down into the various dry-bags they are stored in, within my rucksack and a separate list for the clothes I wear during the day…. you’ll get the idea I’m sure.
Clothes Worn During the Day
This is pretty much what I would wear for any Saturday walk and it’s all tried and tested gear. I used it all on the Skye Trail last year too, so there should be no surprises.
I’m still undecided on the footwear choice – I’ve added the Salomon Comets into the list, but I may decide to go with my Inov Roclite 315s in the end. I need to do some training walks with the full kit load to see how the feet cope with a heavy pack in Roclites.
The SUB underpants are the only new item. I’ve been wearing these since Christmas and they are great in wet weather, they don’t seem to hold any moisture, so that should also keep me dry on hot days, plus they prevent inner thigh chafe as they are boxer short length.
This holds all my chargers, cables, spare batteries and a small speaker for use in the evening. I’ve gone for USB charging throughout (except for the TZ6 camera).
All these USB cables plug into a 4-way USB wall charger which helps reduce the weight significantly. It also means I only need one wall socket in the B&B for charging all my equipment.
Evening & Spare Clothes Bag
I need some clean clothes in the evening – but I’m not going overboard. So one pair of everything and if I need to, I’ll have it washed at some point along the way, but this sort of depends on availability of facilities.
I don’t mind wearing the same clothes every evening for two weeks, but towards the end it could be unpleasant for other guests in the same accommodation.
Next year I’m hoping to walk Lands End to John O’Groats and this kit is a test for that walk as much as anything. I won’t be re-supplied very often on that walk, certainly not every two weeks, so I need to see how long stuff can last before it needs washing and cleaning.
The Smartwool Merino vest is a spare, in case the day is warm and I feel the long sleeve Merino will be too much.
The Sealskins socks are packed in lieu of a pair of evening shoes. They weigh a lot less than a pair of shoes, or even flipflops and if my boots are wet at the end of the day and I need to walk to the pub, I will use the Sealskins to keep my feet dry inside the boots.
Again, my usual waterproof garments. The Paramo coat goes into the dry-bag, compressed right down to reduce space in the pack and the Rab troos have their own tiny stuff sack.
I’m still considering the role of the troos. I may not take them at all – but that does take some courage, especially in Scotland in the spring. On the other hand, I may take these instead of my Craghopper walking trousers and wear them all the time, even when it’s dry. I used them like this on the Coast to Coast in 2011 and they worked surprisingly well. As they are zipped I can vent them if its too warm and they are very comfortable. However, they have no pockets and no fly – so they aren’t all that practical for all day walking.
I don’t think their weight penalty is too much – I’ll probably take them as waterproofs.
As I’m using B&Bs and hotels, rather than hostels, I don’t need to carry a towel, but everything else is pretty much standard here. I’ve been using a tiny bottle of shaving oil I bought from backpackinglight.co.uk about 5 years ago and it works really well. Not as nice as shaving foam, but tiny and very light.
I recycle the tiny hotel shampoo bottles I pick up when I’m working away and fill these with my medicated shampoo, I need about 2 bottles for the 2 week trip. I will have my hair cut short before I go, so that reduces how much I need to carry.
The soap is a “just in case” item. Most B&B provides a small soap bar, but I’ve come across one or two that don’t.
The food bag will normally have lunch items and snacks for the evening, hopefully collected just before I arrive at the B&B. But I’m also carrying an Adventure meal, as there is one night where the nearest pub is a 3 mile round trip and after walking 15 miles during the day, I don’t really fancy the extra distance.
I also have a stretch of 5 days in the middle of the walk where I don’t pass a shop, so that will add considerably to the daily burden as I carry lunch items for all those days.
The salt is for those occasions where I manage to scrounge some hard-boiled eggs from the B&B in the morning, to supplement my lunch – you can’t eat hard-boiled eggs without salt!
First Aid Kit
This is a fairly basic kit, but covers me for minor cuts and abrasions. I’ve only ever needed my FAK once, and that was on the Pennine Way in 2010, when I slid down a slimy tunnel and cut my hands.
As I’m walking in Scotland, the Tick Remover is coming along – in fact I’ve started carrying this more often, even when walking in the Lakes and Dales. I have an irrational distaste of ticks even though I’ve never had one.
For a deeper investigation into FAKs, have a look at Alan Sloman’s blog here.
Quick Access Bag
This is a bag full of useful stuff that I will probably need at some point during the day. It lives in the big back pocket (front pocket?) on my pack and although I need to take the pack off to reach it, it’s easily accessible.
It has my cold weather gear, my GPS data logger, headphones, iPod and my wallet.
Still not sure about this. I love the iPad, it’s the perfect platform for evening blogging, watching films, Twitter, Internet browsing and so on. It does add over a kilogram to the pack weight though and I’m still working out if this is an acceptable burden.
I can do all of the above functions on my phone, but the screen is much smaller and the keyboard more fiddly and error prone.
The iPad has a protective case to keep it safe from knocks and bumps and I’ll add an Aquapac waterproof case to keep it dry inside my pack too.
Other item, mostly loose in the pack
These are the items that hang off my pack, live in the pockets, or are loose inside the main compartment. These items don’t need to live in a dry-bag as they are either waterproof in their own right, or they have their own waterproof cover, like the phone.
The camera is still TBD as I’m considering upgrading to the latest Panasonic Lumix, the TZ30. The TZ6 that I have now is over 3 years old and it’s feeling its age a bit. There’s a mark on the lens too, which is annoyingly obvious on some shots. It has a better video recording function, so I won’t need to carry my Flip HD recorder to capture HD video anymore. Also the new TZ30 uses a USB cable to charge, rather than a bespoke wall plug attachment, so will save a little weight.
The maps weigh an astonishing 150 grams. That’s 220 miles of 1:25k scale mapping – a strip admittedly, but even so an impressive amount of detailed coverage for little more than the equivalent weight of a mouthful of water. I’ve printed these from Memory Map, onto A5 sheets that are placed back to back in the map case. I can discard them at the end of each day.
Oh, yes, I forgot to add, here’s the total weight:
So quite a detailed list of kit – hope you’re still awake!
Let me know if I’ve forgotten anything please 🙂