Happy Wednesday fellow Ferals (or Thursday, depending on where you are in the world)!
So let me cut to the chase – a few days ago my human and I went for a brief trot up into the Welsh mountains. As predicted, the weather turned nasty and then it turned even nastier. Luckily, we knew that was going to be the case so we were rather well prepared – we popped under our emergency shelter, ate some cake and then (once the worst of the weather had passed) we carried on with our glorious walk. Upon returning to the car we saw a group of young hikers who looked like they’d just crawled out of a shipwreck. Aside from being in the wrong footwear (I’ll save that for another rant) and wearing jeans (Again.. Another rant altogether) they also had one tiny backpack between the 5 of them which I think only contained everyone’s phones and a bottle of water. Yes. One. The rain had stopped now but the 5 were still soaked and very cold. Luckily, their walk was over, they were uninjured and they could all pile into their tiny Cleo, pump up the heating and drive home.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Mountain Rescue receives numerous callouts to people who simply aren’t prepared. So I composed a list of everything that Jamie and I make sure we have with us before we head out into the mountains for a day.
- Navigation (Map and Compass) – I also have a GPS watch but I try not to rely on it too much – I use it as an aid to my Map and Compass rather than just on its own. It’s vital that you learn how to navigate properly – it’s very easy to lose your bearings in the mountains – especially in bad weather. I was lucky enough to be able to pick it up from friends, but there are plenty of navigation courses around. It just takes a little bit of googling to see whats local to you.
- Insulation (extra clothing) – When you’re moving and the weather is fine then you will probably be in as little layers as possible; extra insulation is usually only required when you stop (cake breaks, lunch breaks, coffee breaks, all very important). This is where lightweight down jackets come into their element. Most usually come with their own stuff sack so you can pack them right down, chuck them in your bag and take them out when you need them. The nature of down means that is very lightweight, takes up very little room and has a fab warmth to weight ratio. All of the good things! Plus, If you opt for a micro-baffle jacket like the Continuum (review coming later this week) then they layer up underneath waterproofs really well.
- Emergency Shelter (and whistle) – My pack comes with a whistle attached to the chest strap, but you can pick them up for not very much money at all. A whistle will help attract attention to search parties if you ever get caught in an emergency situation. Longtown Mountain Rescue say on their website“Emergency signals 6 long blasts on a whistle or six long flashes on a torch, stop for one minute repeat.” A survival shelter is predominantly used for emergency situations but is also really handy if you want to duck out of the rain for meal breaks or route planning. The weather in Wales is unpredictable at best so I never go hiking without one.
- Sun Protection – a good hat, sunglasses and suncream go a long way. It’s really important to remember that you can still get burnt on a cloudy day. Don’t forget to cover the tops of your ears in suncream too – I forgot once and they were red for days!
- Head torch – It’s pretty self explanatory. As well as helping you get back down to the car in the dark (near impossible without a torch. In the mountains, the stronger the better! Have a look at Petzl’s Myo) they also double up as an emergency signal!
- First Aid Supplies – I always take a small first aid kit – nothing too major. Just enough to tackle the minor stuff – small cuts and abrasions, light sprains, blisters and personal bits – I make sure I take my knee brace with me just in case that flares up.
- Food – So I eat a lot. Like, a lot a lot. I will have a big breakfast before I head out, then I will snack a couple of time before stopping for lunch at about 1pm, which in the winter is usually a flask of soup and some fresh bread from the local baker (this is my favourite soup recipe). Then I’ll snack all afternoon, get back in the car and beeline for the closest pub/café/kitchen. Food is the most important thing, I cannot emphasise this enough. It is your fuel – it gives your body energy to generate heat, walk, speak, think, breathe… Basically all of the good things. I take plenty of fats and carbohydrates with me when I walk (nuts, cake and fruit. Jamie’s Mum makes a mean banana and sultana cake which tends to be my go-to).
- Hydration – Drink water like your life depends on it (because it does). Your body depends on water to survive. Every cell, tissue, and organ in your body needs water to work properly. Between us we carry around 4-5 litres of water. If it’s a really hot day then I pop some electrolyte tablets into my hydration pouch for a bit more of a boost (I have a bit of a sweet tooth so I love the berry flavour!).
- Waterproofs – At the very least I will stuff my Odyssey Jacket into the bottom of my pack depending on the weather forecast, but usually in Wales in the Winter the waterproof trousers are vital too. My favourites are Mountain Equipments Odyssey Pants because they have a full zip (from the hip to the bottom of the pants) on both sides meaning you can whip them off easily and with very little mess (bonus!).
- Fire – Waterproof matches, a lighter, a fire steel or a Piezo Igniter – also super helpful for burning toilet paper so you leave no waste behind (obviously be careful lighting toilet paper fires all over the shop! Make sure they have finished burning before you leave them).
I hope that’s been of use to you! Do you have any essentials that you take with you that aren’t on the list? Leave me a comment below!
Thank you guys!