Below is a list of all the hiking equipment that I use dduring the Coast walk.
- 2 * Leki Malaku Classic Walking poles. Walking poles are strange creatures, you either love them or loathe them. Me, I love them. Not only can they be used to help you up hills at the end of a long day, but (hopefully) they will prove invaluable for me if my ankle ever 'goes' when in the middle of nowhere. For more details on walking poles and their usage, click here.
- Tent. My tent is a North Face Westwind. This is slightly heavier for backpacking purposes than I would normally choose, but is large enough to fit my large frame and still fit another person in whilst still being very, very rugged.
- Sleeping bags:
- One Vango Nitestar 450 4-season sleeping bag. Quite nice and very, very warm. It does have a rather large packsize, though.
- One nameless 1-season sleeping bag.
- Stove. I use a Trangia stove by choice, although I do have a standard gas-bottle cooker as a back up which rarely gets taken anywhere. I have also purchased a mini-trangia which I will use for the first time on my trip from Fort William to Cape Wrath. The min-trangia is much smaller than my full-size trangia and weighs much less, which is very useful on such a long trip where I am having to carry 10 day's food. It measures 150mm by 65mm, and weights only 320 grams for a 0.8-litre pan.
- A 'Craghoppers' WP-70 70-litre rucksack with two active balance pockets. I purchased this after my old 'Outbound' rucksack disintegrated during my Pennine Way walk after many year's service. It is an excellent rucksack, and has given much sterling service. In my opinion it is the best rucksack that I have ever seen for solo backpackers.
- A 30-litre Karrimor Hotrock 30 rucksack, which is ideal for day walks. If I have an expidition coming up then I tend to use my Craghoppers rucksack filled with gear on day walks to get me used to carrying the weight.
- Compass. I use a bog-standard Silva compass.
- GPS. Being a gadget-freak, I just had to get a GPS to take with me on my walks. After much deliberation, I eventually picked a Magellan GPS Blazer 12, with which I have had many hours of fun. As many people claim, they are not 100% necessary for anyone with good compass navigation skills, but they are handy for quick position fixes and as a backup to a compass. Most of all, they do not do any harm, and IMHO do not deserve the slating that some hikers give them. On the very first day of my walk around the coastline of Britain this went wrong after many years sterling service, and when I got to Newcastle I bought myself a bog-standard Garmin Etrex. I am still getting used to this unit, and although it has some nice features I am still used to the way that the Magellan unit displayed information.
- Boots. I have several pairs of boots:
- Several pairs of Scarpa Trek 2, size Euro 46. The first pair of these were bought on the 24th August 2002, and they gave sterling service on the Coastal walk, lasting for about 1,600 miles before I had to replace them with another pair. I have also had only a few small blisters whilst wearing them, which is a minor miracle for me.
- A pair of Salomon X-Adventure 7 boots which are being broken in so that I can eventually retire my old pair, which suffered slightly on the Pennine Way.
- A pair of Salomon Hiking boots. So far they have proved to be very good, although I have not done much snow walking in them.
- Trainers. Again, I have serval pairs:
- A pair of Saloman Niwot (colour Combat), size Euro 46. These were bought on the 24th August 2002, so I have not had much time to try them out.
- I have a pair of Merrell hiking trainers that are very comfortable, although strangely enough I discovered that they required more breaking in than my hiking boots! These have now been retired and are only
used for pottering about in the garden or the gym.
- A pair of Salomon cross-trainers, which I cannot remember the exact make of but have given several years sterling service.
- Boot accessories. I use Sorbothane Shock Stopper Double Strike inserts in my boots which seem to help prevent blisters from forming and my feet from hurtin slightly.
- Trousers. I use some 'Craghoppers' trousers as my preferred walking wear. Or, of course, shorts in summer ;-)
- Upperware. I use various fleeces above t-shirts as my preferred under-coat layers. I sometimes use one of my Acorn sweatshirts instead of a fleece, but these don't wick very well. The main reason for using them is that I have about 8 of the things and they did not cost me anything.
- Jackets. I have various jackets, of which my favourite for walking is a Lowe Alpine 'Foraker' jacket. Although it is only TriplePoint Ceramic and not Goretex, I find it an acceptable alternative. I also have a thicker jacket from Scanda which I use for walking in winter. It is fairly breathable, has plenty of pockets and most importantly of all was under 100 quid.
- Socks. I use 1000-mile socks as my socks, and I find that they are so good that I do not need to use oversocks. Ensure you get the walkers version of these socks rather than the thinner runners version. I usually wear my socks for an hour or so before I go on a walk as it appears to help reduce blisters as the seams move to sit on the right place on my feet.
- Hat. I have a balaclava that helps keep the cold out whilst camping, but for general walking use I use an excellent Tilley hat. I can honestly say that this hat was a boon during the whole of my Pennine Way walk, except for the section over Laddow rocks where the wind kept on trying to blow it off. Which would have been reasonable except for the fact that it was trying to blow my head off as well due to the fact that the chinstrap on the hat was well and truly tight around my head.
- Food. What can I say? Kendal Mint Cake!
- Water bottles. I have three main water bottles - two-1 litre and one-2 litre Platypus water bottle with a couple of drinking tubes, and one-1 litre bike bottle. The Platypus bottles really are godsends - the drinking tube system is nearly flawless and the bottles fold up to nearly nothing when empty.
- Medical kit. I carry a standard backpackers medical kit, out of which I have removed all the syringes and replaced them with more plasters and Compeeds.
- Inflatable mat. I use an inflatable mat to make myself more comfortable in the tent. I also have a standard rolmat, but I generally do not take that with me on a backpacking trip and only use it for extra padding when car camping.
- Waterproof trousers. My current waterproof trousers are Lowe Alpine Adrenaline Side Zip Pant, made of inlined Triplepoint fabric with taped seams. The big thing about these are the full length zips, which allow me to get them on over my large boots (meaning that I do not need to take my boots off, which is always a nasty affair in the rain). My girlfriend got me these for my 29th birthday.
- Cameras. My main camera is an digital Olympus Camedia C5050Z, a 5 Megapixels camera which has seen much use. Myother camera is a 35mm Olympus weatherproof camera, which I use as an emergency spare or when the weatehr is too bad for me to risk my digital camera.
- Assorted electricals:
- Psion 5. I use this to store information and notes on walks when I am away from my main computer. This has proven to be very useful over the years and is an essential part of my camping equipment.
- An Olympus Pearlcorder J300 Dictaphone. I use this to make notes as I walk which can then be typed up once the walk has finished. A nice piece of kit which is remarkably drop-proof.