Choosing what equipment to take with you on an outdoor adventure is very important and can make or break any trip. My wild camping and hill walking “armoury” is pretty extensive in my opinion. I think it’s important to select the right gear for the types of activities you’ll be undertaking so I tend to spend far too long trolling through outdoor websites and walking around shops to research different types of kit before I buy. Nonetheless, here’s an insight into some of the things I use that will hopefully give you some inspiration or ideas when purchasing your own kit to use on your own adventures.
I currently use 3 tents. I have a Terra Nova Laser Competition 1, a Force Ten Nitro Lite 200 and a Vango Banshee 200.
I have had the Banshee for a number of years now and since purchasing my Laser and my Nitro, it doesn’t get used too often. It’s been a great tent and I’d recommend it to anyone who is starting out in the world of camping. It is, however, pretty small so if you plan on adventuring with someone else I’d recommend getting a larger tent – possibly the Banshee 300 – but for camping on your own or using your own tent within a group it’s a pretty good place to start. It’s relatively well priced, sturdy and feature packed.
I mainly use the Terra Nova Laser Competition 1 nowadays. It’s the best lightweight tent on the market without totally breaking the bank in my opinion. Of course, there are tents on the market that weigh half as much as the Laser Comp, but for over twice the money I don’t think that’s a worthwhile purchase unless you’re seriously into weight saving and ultralight adventure racing. The laser comp comes in at under 1kg (mine is a couple of years old now – the new model comes in at just over 1kg) and it packs up very small. It’s a nice size for a 1 man tent and it seems to have stayed up in pretty windy conditions so far, so overall I’m extremely happy with it. The build quality is fantastic and although minimalist, the design has definitely been refined and perfected over the years as the Laser Comp was one of the first lightweight tents on the market. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who plans on taking camping pretty seriously and anyone who wants a reliable, lightweight shelter for multi day trips, summit camps or just wild camping in your local area.
I also purchased a Force Ten Nitro Lite 200 in 2016 for winter trips or trips in harsher conditions. It’s a 2-man tunnel tent and despite being pretty roomy and definitely big enough for 2 people, it only weighs 1.4kg. However, that’s with a set of ridiculously thin pegs, but even after swapping these out for sturdier V-pegs the whole thing still weighs 1.5kg. It packs down pretty small, is pretty well built and seems to perform very well in high winds, so I’m very happy with this purchase. It’s definitely going to remain my firm choice when the weather gets too much for my Laser Comp 1 or there is any sign of snow, as I’d rather not risk damaging my Laser just to save another 500g in these sorts of conditions. I still think having a sub-1kg tent is worthwhile despite the Nitro being pretty light too, so I’ll definitely keep both of them as each tent’s purpose is quite different.
I have 4 rucksacks/daypacks that I currently use for different purposes.
For regular hill walking and hiking I use a Lowe Alpine Airzone 25. It’s a great pack that’s very comfortable and durable. It’s not too expensive either and the Airzone back system works a treat provided you don’t have too many layers on. If it’s stormy and you have a decent waterproof jacket on then you won’t notice a thing, but walking along a ridge on a slightly windy day with just a tshirt on lets quite a refreshing cool breeze pass along your back and keep you comfortable. It’s certainly not big enough for some people though and if you plan on taking lots of kit I’d recommend the Airzone 35. For me, however, it’s the perfect size for day hikes and hill walks. It takes a couple of litres of water, snacks and emergency equipment and waterproofs (it’s Scotland – you can’t go anywhere without waterproofs!) with ease. It has a convenient map pocket on the front too, meaning you can easily reach your navigation tools without delving into the main compartment. All in all, a great day pack.
For winter walking, I use the Gelert Mantis 30. It may be a Gelert pack, but it’s fantastically comfortable, very durable and surprisingly well built. The external attachments for ice axes or walking poles are well placed and the large pocket on the lid is great for storing snacks and necessities such as gloves, a hat and ski goggles. It’s quite narrow too, which means it’s not at all restrictive and allows a full range of motion when using axes or trying to find hand holds on rocky terrain. I’ve had this pack for years and it still looks nearly new, so overall I’m really happy with it.
For lightweight 1-2 night wild camping trips I use an Osprey Exos 48. Rucksacks with a frame don’t come too much lighter than this and although it’s expensive, it’s worth the money if you want to keep the weight down and have a comfortable pack with plenty of features. Like the Airzone, it has a mesh panel that keeps the pack off your back and allows just enough of a breeze to pass through to keep you comfortable on long day hikes or ascents/descents. It has a removable lid to cut down even more weight, but in my opinion it’s worth keeping it on to store your small necessities. Be advised, the pack comes in different back lengths rather than being adjustable, so make sure you pick the correct size of pack for your back shape and length. The pack also doesn’t come with a rain cover, which is obviously to save weight, but in Scotland a rain cover is pretty essential to avoid having your gear absolutely soaked.
For longer expeditions and single night trips in colder conditions, I use an Osprey Kestrel 68. This pack is brilliant. It has durable padded shoulder and waist straps and a very comfortable back system to ensure the load is spread across your entire back, meaning the pack is very comfortable and supportive for long trips and multi day expeditions. It’s fairly well priced too. It’s by no means the cheapest, but there are also some far more expensive models out there so for a mid-range pack I’d highly recommend it.
I currently have 2 sleeping bags, both synthetic.
My summer sleeping bag is a Mountain Hardwear Hyperlamina Spark. This has a limit of 0 degrees so should be perfect for 2 season use and possibly 3 season with plenty of clothes on. The bag seems to be really comfy and the half length front zip is convenient for getting in and out. It weighs around 800 grams and packs down quite small so I don’t feel like I’m sacrificing vital weight or space in my pack by taking a synthetic bag compared to a down bag.
After having a down sleeping bag (Vango Venom 400) and spending a couple of trips being slightly damp and hence slighly cold, I decided to sell this sleeping bag and purchase a Snugpak Chrysalis 4 for winter trips and trips at the tail end of Autumn or the beginning of spring. It has a comfort of -10 and a limit of -15 degrees celsius, so it should be warm enough for anything other than the coldest of winter nights on a snowy Munro summit. It’s quite bulky and weighs more than any other individual piece of my outdoor gear (1.9kg), but at the time of year I’ll be using the sleeping bag, I’d much rather have something I can rely on than something that’s lightweight. It’s a different story in the summer when I can make my pack as light as possible, but risk of hypothermia and putting myself or others in danger due to the extreme cold means I’ll sacrifice a lightweight down bag for something I know will perform even in wet conditions, something that we seem to face rather often in this country.
I currently use 2 different mats for different things. For summer and lightweight use, I have a Robens Vapour airbed. It’s absolutely brilliant. It packs up really small and inflates in around 9-10 breaths, which is a real time saver when setting up camp in the evenings compared to other mats. It weighs just 390g so it’s perfect for single night or lightweight trips in slightly warmer weather. The design of the mat also makes it particularly comfortable as it’s very similar to the design of a sprung mattress, with baffles and pockets of air rather than long vertical or horizontal tubes, which sometimes make it easy for the mat to slip away from underneath you at night if you roll over.
For colder climates or when weight isn’t an issue, I have a Therm-a-rest Neo Air. It’s one of the warmest mats on the market and weighs around 600g, which even for a 4 season mat is pretty lightweight. It takes a while to inflate, but therm-a-rest also make an airbed pump. This is definitely a worthwhile purchase if weight isn’t an issue. It’s also slightly wider than most mats, meaning those of us that aren’t ultra fit adventure racers can have a comfortable night’s sleep without falling off the mat.
For cooking, I use a JetBoil Zip stove. It’s pretty heavy compared to some of the other options out there, but I like the fact that the whole system packs into one neat little package for easy transportation or storage. It’s great in windy weather and boils 500ml of water in what feels like no time at all. It also comes with a neoprene sleeve over the pot, meaning on cold days your food or water is insulated and stays warmer for longer. JetBoil also sell various accessories for their stoves, such as adapters for using any pot on the stove rather than the supplied JetBoil pot with a built in heat exchanger. This sort of thing is pretty unnecessary unless you plan on taking multiple pots/pans and only add extra weight, but the fact that you can get items like the adapter mean that you at least have the option to use different items with the system, making it really practical.
My main pair of boots are Meindl Bhutans. These are very reliable and well made leather boots with a GoreTex lining, making them perfect for just about any type of terrain and weather. They are fairly expensive, but very comfortable and supportive and if you are serious about any kind of walking, from Munro bagging to hiking on the flat, I’d highly recommend these. They are very versatile and, if looked after, should last a very long time.
I also use a pair of Haglofs Roc Lite GTX boots for shorter walks or where I don’t need as much support or ankle protection. The boots are still waterproof though so still suit a variety of uses.
For winter, I use Meindl Air Revolutions. These were purchased on eBay a few years ago and were pretty old even then, so I’m not really sure of the age of the boots or even the exact model, but they have proven to be very durable and comfortable and have performed well in Scottish winter Munro conditions as well as summer conditions in the Swiss Alps.
When it comes to waterproofs I have a clear favourite – Berghaus GoreTex Paclite. I have Paclite trousers and a Paclite jacket and they have yet to let me down. They have been tried and tested in all sorts of weather and have never leaked. They are always comfortable and rarely get stuffy unless really exerting yourself, but for regular hill walking and hiking they have been near perfect every trip.
For more serious winter and mountain use, I use a North Face Triclimate HyVent jacket. It’s also really durable, waterproof and warm enough for more demanding conditions. It has a large hood that stays up in all sorts of wind and rain and large pockets for storing your gloves and hat if the weather improves. It’s not rated as waterproof as GoreTex, but it certainly hasn’t leaked yet or shown any signs of falling apart.
Of course, there’s much more to camping and hill walking than what is listed above. I use a number of different types of base layer, mid layer and insulation, not to mention all kinds of trousers and socks. I think this is a far more personal matter and every individual will find that different clothing works best for them. Then there are loads of smaller items that come with me on wild camping trips, such as a torch and multi tool, as well as different types of wet and dried food. There is certainly lots to think about when wild camping and hiking, but hopefully the information above gives you an insight into the sorts of things you might wish to take on your adventures. If you would like to know more about any of the items listed, please don’t hesitate to contact me!