What to take on a day out in the hills
In all fairness the answer to this is largely personal preference. For some every bit of equipment that has ever been mentioned by someone at some point is tightly cramed into the back pack. For others you could probably fit it into a couple of bulky pockets on a smock.

It all really does depend on what you have planned and whilst it is basic common to sense to always be prepared for the worst case scenario carrying far to much kit soon becomes a burden and makes the outing nothing but a sore pain in the bum.
As always think of systems when packing your back pack.
As a human being in order to survive a bad situation you need to consider
  • Shelter
  • Heat
  • Food
  • Water
  • Medical
  • Staying Dry

In addition to this you may need some essentials for the day out such as binoculars, camera, and of course map and compass or GPS.

When we go backpacking the equipment we take will be greatly different in that we are obviously intending spending a few nights out but for a day out we strip down the kit really to just absolute essentials.

These essentials cover the very basics and pack in easly but should anything go wrong provide you with the equipment to survive. Where possible we equipment which can double up as various items.

Shelter

Whilst we don’t intend staying out over night or hopefully not having the provision to quickly make a shelter in the eventuality of an accident or should the weather change to extreme conditions is important. My preferred choice for a shelter is a light weight poncho, these can be purchased at most government surplus stores. The great thing about these are they do work in several ways. You can use them as a tarp, an actual waterproof that not only covers you but also your kit, a groundsheet and a stretcher if required. They are cheap and most come with a hydrostatic head of at least 2000 which is enough to make a difference. They are very lightweight and pack into a small pack just a little bigger than a clenched fist. If you do go to purchase one of these make sure it has metal ring eyelets at least in each corner and preferably two in the along the longest run of the material. Also make sure it does have a hood with a draw string. Rip stop material is the best option. These little items make excellent shelters or as we used to refer to them bashers. Basically it’s a good sized rectangle of watr proof material which is stretched out in a suitable location at an angle to deflect rain and wind. Its held in place by string tied through the eyelets to pegs in the ground. Additional support can be used such as walking poles to help erect it. The central hood is tied shut with the draw string. They are very versatile and many different variations can be erected to serve specific purposes. If you purchase one then get at least six metal tent pegs and these will slip into the pouch the poncho comes in, also a length of strong cord which can also be stuffed into the pouch. You now have a great little shelter which can be used for many different jobs. I have spent many a night wild camping in such things and to be honest I found it beats some of the expensive bivvies hands down especially if you have a gortex bivvy bag.

Heat

When we talk about heat we refer to both keeping warm and cool. When out walking always use the layer system. Don’t forget with any sort of altitude will come a drop in temperature and not just that but many places become exposed which even on the sunniest of days can lead to wind chill. In the UK we have no mountains that are high enough to cause any altitude problems but even so you will find that on the top of Snowdon in the middle of summer you may need to don hat and gloves.

Get yourself sorted out with some decent base layer clothing. The idea of a base layer is to take sweat away from your body stopping you from getting damp. Good quality walking t-shirts are ideal but you may need to consider long sleeve options to prevent sun burn. When looking for these garments look for UV protected ones. A pair of light weight UV protected walking trousers are also required. Depending on the time of the year and where abouts your heading for will make all the difference as to what you carry next. Firstly we hope you will be carrying a waterproof breathable windproof jacket with you even if rain has not been forecast. Also the same in leggings. This will form a top layer if conditions change and trust me they can and will. In the summer months I tend also to carry a very lightweight fleece shirt, this is not a bulky fleece style jacket but a light weight pullover your head fleece. They are ideal and pack in really small. In the winter I am probably going to be wearing this and carry a more heavy duty fleece instead. A good hat is essential and only a fool leaves home without one. It needs to be windproof, and UV protected ideally waterproof and breathable. You not only want the hat to keep you warm in the wind and cold but also to protect you from the sun. A set of gloves is also important, lightweight windproof and breathable are ideal. It is also a good idea to carry a spare set of walking socks.

Food

Well we are not aiming to be out over night so we don’t need to be carrying dehydrated rations or tins but we may wish to take a few sandwiched or ideally one of my favourites is some buttered malt loaf, yummy and full of great energy. However be prepared, carry with you some emergency rations in terms of a bag nuts and raisins, a snickers or mars bar and a pack of dextrose tablets. Now this is personal preference and some will say its over the top but I myself also carry a small fold away hexamine stove with fuel and take with me some sachets of cup a soups and a few oxo cubes. Maybe I tend to explore a little too much at times and find myself having to wild camp when I had no real intentions of doing that in the first place but that’s me and I knowing I do this I am prepared for this.

Water

At least two water bottles or a water bottle and an aqua bladder. Never under estimate how much water you may need. Yes I know water is heavy but as you walk you will drink it and it will get lighter. Keep well hydrated at all times and whenever you stop have a quick sip. As part of my kit I also carry a blister pack of water purification tablets, however I also carry a small stove so I can boil water if required.

For both water and food I also carry with me a metal mug which is used for cooking / boiling water in and a spoon.

Medical

In reference to medical I also cover the heading of hygiene. Accidents happen but not only accidents things like blisters happen as well.  Always carr a good first aid kit with you. These kits do need to be tailored a bit to be truly functional. A well though out kit will comprise of the following

  • Survival Blanket
  • X 2 Triangular bandages
  • Assorted safety pins
  • Crepe bandage
  • Roll of gauze
  • Antiseptic wipes / I prefer a small bottle of iodine
  • Roll of plaster
  • Surgical Tape
  • A few cotton buds
  • Small Scissors
  • Blister plasters
  • Small set of tweezers
  • X2 surgical gloves

Medicines

Please note that any medicine should only be administered by the causality and not the responder.

  • Imodium
  • Paracetamol or preferred pain killer
  • Antihistamine cream (for bites and stings)
  • Dyoralight (used to replace lost fluids)
  • Lip Balm or small tub of Vaseline
  • Any medication you may be on.

Hygiene

  • Antibacterial wipes or small bottle of detol (detol preferred as easier to wash hands in and can be used as a general hand wash especially before and after treatment)
  • Wet wipes (for toilet use)

This may sound a lot but all can easily be placed into a small pouch about the size of an open hand.

Also don’t forget if you are on any medications then it is a wise idea to carry a medical pendant around your neck with details of the condition and medicines in.

Staying dry

Although mentioned earlier always take a good quality set of water proofs with you, they need to be breathable, windproof and high quality water proof. Gortex is always a trade mark to go for but technology has advanced and so has materials. These may cost a little more but they are well worth paying out for. Gaiters are also a great item to have especially in longer grass and boggy areas.
 

Ok so there are some essentials that I would recommend you carry at all times. The weather in the UK can be very changeable and at very short notice. Anyone who walks places light Dartmoor will certainly back that statement up. So going prepared is a key to having a good time.

There are of course other bits of kit you can carry in the interest of safety such as a survival tin, flares, radios, GPS,  etc but for benefit the person carry them needs to know how to use them.

If you think you may get into situations where you need such equipment then it is no longer a day out but much more of a challenge.

 

All of the items Mentioned above can be carried in a small to medium sized back pack something in the region of 15- 20L size. I place all the items in water proof compression sacks to squeeze them right down. I have plenty of room left in my back pack and the weight for me is made up mainly by water. With a well fitting and adjusted back pack you should not really feel the weight or any bulk at all and this makes for an enjoyable day out.

As with everything though practice various skills. A poncho is great as a shelter but the chances are you will only need to use it unfortunately in an emergency. In an emergency the last thing you want to be doing is worrying about how the devil you erect this thing, so the moral to this story is practice first.

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