Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Kit for a Two Day Hike.

Tomorrow, a friend and I are going for a two day hike in the Brecon Beacons. Yes, in January. Yes, it's going to be cold. But we have both been wanting to do something like this for a while, blow the cobwebs off out kit and get outdoors. So I have been collecting all my kit together, and thought I'd let you know what I'm taking. This isn't an exhaustive list, as Tom and I have shared a lot of the stuff between us, but I'll try and note down as much of that as possible. The picture below shows most of my stuff.

1.       Pitta Bread. This is for lunch on Day 2, along with some cheese. Simple and easy, but it'll keep us going.

2.       Boil-in-the-bag Chocolate Cake. Desert for our evening meal. Sugary, hot and tasty, a great way to end the day.

3.       Tent. although we are planning to stay in a Bothy (a basic mountain hut), it's better to be safe than sorry. This is my three-man hike tent.

4.       Hiking Pole. I usually don't use this, but sometimes if the going is tough it helps. It's also useful as a walking stick if you go over on your ankle, or as a depth gauge if you need to cross a stream.

5.       Mess tins. I have two mess tins, and inside is a pouch of rice, my hexi-stove and hexi-fuel, and a folding knife/fork/spoon set. There I will do all of my cooking. 

6.       Towel and wash kit. Because every good traveller knows where his towel is.

7.       Fire Kit. In the Altoids tin is a cheap lighter, a box of strike anywhere matches and a flint and steel. Triple-redundant fire system, because getting warm is essential to happiness, and survival (hopefully it won't come to that). In the pouch is a small bag of hay for tinder. In the blue mint tin are about 20 cotton balls covered in Vaseline. These catch a spark very easily, burn for 5 minutes and help get a fire going. This kit will be on my left hip for the hike.

8.       Kindling. Just so small sticks in a waterproof bag. This will make lighting a fire easier if it rains and wood is wet.

9.       Snacks . I have some cheap Mars Bars, Cereal Bars and Kendal Mint Cake. A lot of sugar for that all important burst of energy. I've also unwrapped them all; two reasons for this, if it is freezing and my fingers are numb I can still get to them easily, and it means less rubbish to carry out.

10.   Trowel. This folding trowel is for when... nature calls... or if Tom really annoys me and I need to bury the body (hopefully this won't happen.)

11.   Wallet. though there won't be any shops, I hate being without some cash. It also has my ID in. It'll be wrapped in a plastic bag to keep water out.

12.   Tissues. Cleanliness is next to Godliness. And they burn well.

13.   Survival Kara. This karabiner has a whistle, led light and 7 foot of paracord. This will be on my belt in case I ever need it. I'll expand this over time. The idea of the stuff I'll have on me (rather than in my bag) is that if, God forbid, I get separated from my bag, I'll have a few essentials to even the odds in the fight with nature and help get found. 

14.   Compass. A Given. Tom is bringing the 1:25000 OS Map. Never go on a long hike without these, even if you have a GPS device. It's just common sense. 

15.   Torch. And spare batteries.

16.   Mobile. With a full battery. I'm not really expecting to have much signal, but it if I do, I'll know that Mountain Rescue are only a phone call away. 

17.   Alcoholic Hand Wash.  Illness is bad. It Also can help in fire lighting.

18.   Bits and Bobs. In this box I have a few bits. A wire saw (for cutting wood), tealight, safety pins, cotton wool and a button compass. Again this stuff is to give some things should I need them.

19.   Bivvy bag. A large plastic bag to help keep warm if you get trapped outside. Also the bright orange is good for getting attention.

20.   Multi-tool. Like a Swiss-army knife, but with pliers. This will be on my right hip.

21.   Jelly. Again, just there for the sugar. 

22.   Water Bottle. The Bothy is very unlikely to be plumbed, so we are carrying all the water we'll need for drinking and cooking. We'll be carrying3 litres each. If necessary we can gather some fast running stream water to boil and purify. (Obviously, if you go in warmer weather, expect to need more water.)

23.   Buff. A tubular scarf type thing. Great for keeping the face and neck warm in the possibly sub-zero temperatures.

24.   Gloves. To keep my hands warm, I will also have me hat for my head.

So other than plenty of layers of clothes, and a nice study pair of boots, that is all my kit. Notable in its absence are the things that Tom is carrying, which include the Map and route cards, small butane stove, first aid kit and tea making kit. But between the two of us, we should have all the kit we need. It may seem a lot, but it is always better to be safe than sorry. Be Prepared for the worst. If you decide to go hiking, make sure you are well equipped. But all the kit is useless if you don't know how to use it. There are plenty of books about bush craft and survival skills, and then practice. You never know when the ability to start a fire with just some hay and a flint and steel could save your life. Be sensible.

So there we go, tomorrow we will head off into the cold. In a few days I'll blog about our adventures. Pray for good weather! And I'd better go and pack all this now.

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