Hi, in this blog post I am going to explain the kit that I use on expeditions in the UK that typically last up to 5 days. On most of these I will wild camp but may also use campsites, hostels and bothies depending on the route and expected weather conditions. I have included links to all the equipment that I use. All this kit I have bought myself and I do not earn anything from the links I have provided.
This is a women specific fit rucksack that I have been using for the last 3 years. At first I did struggle to fit all my kit into it but I have refined my choices and now everything fits. I really like that this pack is light to start with, weighing just 0.9Kg. It has a large main compartment in which I fit most of the kit that I carry. I line this with an Osprey 30l dry bag to ensure that all the kit inside stays dry in very wet weather. On the waist belt are two small pockets which are useful for storing small items that you want to access quickly and easily. On the side are two mesh pockets that take up to a 1 litre drink bottle or flask. On the front is also a large stretch, mesh pocket which is great for stowing waterproofs for easy access. The lid has two pockets, a mesh one inside with a key clip and an outside one which is great for food supplies. Additional loops on the outside are designed to take ice axes but I use them to stow my foldable walking poles.
When fully packed this bag easily takes over 12Kg of weight and I have had no problems with any of the zips or clips. It can also take a hydration pack but I have not used this feature.
Before packing the rucksack I place some of the kit into drybags. There is one for my sleeping bag to ensure that I am not getting into a damp bag at night. I place all clothing into dry bags including my warm jacket, spare clothing, hat and gloves. I also have a dry bag for my wash kit and micro towel. Some of the other kit will go into ziplock bags including my power bank and charging leads. There is also a spare dry bag for any wet and dirty kit that needs to be kept separate from the other stuff.
2. Sleeping bag and mat
Being warm and cosy at night is a definite must for camping expeditions. I have tested various bag and mat combinations and have now found one that works for most weathers.
My sleeping bag is the Alpkit Pipedream 400 which is hydrophobic down, weighs 865g and packs down reasonably small. You can get smaller and lighter but would end up paying a lot more. This bag cost just over £200 and was money well spent. It lofts really well once unpacked and I have had a good nights sleep in temperatures down to -5 deg C.
My mat is a 3/4 length self inflating OEX mat from Go Outdoors which weighs 700g. They no longer sell the one I have so the link is to the newer equivalent which is the Traverse self inflating mat.
This does take up a bit of space in the pack and I am tempted to try the Alpkit Airo 120 which is also self inflating, packs down smaller and weighs just 450g.
3. Synthetic Down Jacket
On arrival at my camp spot the first thing I usually do is put on my down jacket. I usually carry the Montane prism which is a men’s jacket but I did receive this for helping out on The Montane Spine Race – this is a synthetic down so it doesn’t mind getting a bit damp. It squashes into a dry bag and is there as an extra layer to put on if the weather gets cold. Montane also make a women’s equivalent which is the Montane prismatic.
A good set of waterproofs can make all the difference when the weather is consistently wet. No waterproof can ever keep you dry forever so you need a system that works for you. For most of my expeditions I take my Rab Mantra Jacket and my Berghaus Gortex overtrousers. Rab no longer make the Mantra but the current equivalent is the Kinetic Alpine Jacket. What you wear underneath is important – you need a layer or layers that will stay warm even if they do get wet. I currently use Paramo Cascada trousers and a Paramo Grid Technic baselayer with a Paramo Torres Medio Gilet as my underlayers.
5. Spare clothes
My spare clothes are also for sleeping in. I usually pack a baselayer and some thermal running tights along with some spare pants, socks etc. I put these into a drybag to make sure that they don’t get damp in my pack. I currently use Injinji liner socks and then thicker sock from Bridgedale or Darn Tough. I do tend to go for wool socks as I find these work best for me.
6. Stove, food and drink
I use a small primus stove which screws onto a 100g gas canister. I have two pans, the larger of which has a heat diffuser on the base and has capacity to boil 600ml of water. The smaller pan acts as a lid. I generally only use this for boiling water to make hot drinks and to rehydrate meals. I have a plastic base that the gas canister clips onto so that it doesn’t freeze to the ground and also makes a more stable base. The stove I have does not have it’s own lighter so I have a separate MSR Piezo lighter and also a firesteel so that even if the conditions are really wet I should still be able to light the gas. I also carry a knife to open food packets when my hands are cold and a folding spoon.
For food I use dehydrated meals from Activeat, Firepot and most recently RealTurmat which I bought from Basecamp Foods. Remember to pack a long handled spoon so that you can firstly stir the boiling water into the meal and then eat the meal from the pack without getting it all over your hands. I have a plastic one that I saved from a self-heating meal pack. I will also take bags of nuts, chocolate and cereal bars to eat as I go along.
For drinks I take coffee bags and hot chocolate sachets for making hot drinks and also just drink plain water. I carry at least one 1 litre water bottle, in the summer I will carry 2. To fill these up I will use a tap or ask for them to be filled at a coffee shop or tearooms. If out on the fell I will top up from high up, fast flowing streams without any treatment. If I am unsure I have an MSR trailshot which is lightweight and does a great job of filtering the water from lower streams, tarns or even a puddle if that is all that is available. For very cold conditions where the water is likely to be frozen it would be worth carrying some water purification tablets and also bringing the water to the boil. (Freezing temperatures can irreparably damage the filter in some water filters)
7. Hat and gloves
In a dry bag I have a beany hat and some gloves. Depending on the weather I might take a set of liner gloves, some warm, insulating gloves such as the Montane prism gloves and a set of waterproof mitts to go over the top. From experience I have found that when my hands are very cold and wet I am unable to put the gloves on and this is where a set of insulated mittens comes in really useful.
8. Emergency kit, head torch
This includes a poop kit – a folding trowel, some tissues and a roll of dog poo bags. If you need to do a poo in the wild then it is best to first dig a small hole with the trowel before doing your business and then fill the hole after. I always bag the tissue and take away to dispose of later in a bin. If you are in place where you cannot dig a suitable hole then it may be necessary to bag the lot and take with you.
I also carry an emergency foil bivi bag such as the ones made by Lifesystems or Sol. This is small and light to carry and would enable me to keep warm in an emergency situation where I was unable to put up my tent.
I have an LED Lenser MH10 headtorch which is light and comfortable to wear and puts out 600 lumen on its brightest setting. I generally use it on the middle setting when walking and the low setting in the tent. It easily lasts for a whole night (over 10 hours) and takes a rechargeable battery. I carry two spare batteries for longer trips.
If the wind and weather is really bad I use a set of Bolle safety goggles to protect my eyes. I have just a basic set but the important thing with goggles is to ensure that they seal around your eyes to stop the wind from getting in and also have an elastic strap to go around the back of your head. In the UK the clear ones work best and then you can also use them in the dark if necessary. If you are walking on snow in bright sunshine then a set of sports sunglasses would also be useful. Weather conditions can really affect your eyes and before you know it you have incapacitated yourself and caused a dangerous situation. If you cannot see properly you could end up tripping, falling or worse.
This is not in the picture but I also carry a SPOT Gen2 tracker. This enables my partner to see where I am and I can also send out a pre-written message to let him know that I have no phone signal but have stopped to camp. If things have gone badly wrong and I am unable to make a phone call I can also use this device to call the emergency services.
On my phone ( a Samsung Galaxy S9 ) I have downloaded the App OS Locate so that I can always pull up a grid reference for my location.
9. Wash kit, first aid, charging pack
I carry a basic wash kit and a micro fibre towel. What I actually pack in this will depend on how long I am out for and also if I plan on using any campsites which provide the opportunity to shower. At the very least I take a small pack of wet wipes, a mini deodorant and my toothbrush and a mini toothpaste. I also take a mini pot of vaseline which is useful for feet.
My first aid kit includes some antiseptic wipes, saline wash, adhesive dressings, cohesive bandage and scissors. I also have my blister kit in here which includes a sterile needle and pre-cut strips of physio tape.
For charging I have a 20000mAh PowerAdd charging block. I use this to charge my phone, my watch and occasionally my Kindle.
This year I bought myself an MSR Hubba NX lightweight tent to replace my faithful Vango Nevis 200. I have only used the MSR tent on one expedition so far and still working out all the benefits and limitations. So far the benefits have been that it is light and easy to carry tucked under the lid of my rucksack. It has plenty of room inside and in the porch area. On my last expedition I had all my wet stuff in the porch and still had room to cook. Because the inner of the tent is mesh on the top half it has great ventilation and I had no problem with condensation. The downside was the fact that it pitches inner first and it was pouring with rain. This meant that the inside of the tent got quite wet by the time I had the outer flysheet in place. Luckily my micro fibre towel proved to be just the thing to dry the tent out with!
I am in the process of writing a full review of this tent so will post it here once complete.
So that is everything that I carry and it all fits into my 30l rucksack. In addition there are also the clothes that I wear which will include: walking trousers, baselayer, gilet, walking boots and socks. hat and a neck gaiter/buff.
Sometimes I go really lightweight and use a bivvy instead of a tent, this is usually when I am running rather than walking. For this I use a 20l Ultimate Direction Fastpack.
Click to read my blog post about a bivvy camp.
I hope you enjoyed reading this blog and found it useful, leave a comment below to let me know or to tell me about your plans for camping expeditions.
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