Do you have any family or friends who are keen hikers or who have just taken it up? If you do, then this post might provide some inspiration for Christmas Shopping hiking gear ideas. It is a breakdown of the clothing and equipment I carried when Hiking Scotland’s Great Glen Way in August this year. It is not a review of the equipment used, and there aren’t any brand endorsements.
My partner and I arrived at Inverness by overnight sleeper train and departed Fort William by train. We carried all of our clothing and equipment, with us each day. The clothing had to protect me from both the Scottish weather and the infamous midges as the hike was carried out in the ‘midge season’. As we stayed at B&B’s, hostels and Guest houses, no camping or bivouac equipment was needed.
Our clothing had to be light, breathable and warm. We required numerous layers to enable us to add or remove layers in accordance with the ambient temperatures. I carried three base layers in a thermal fleece material and two in polyester. On top of these, I could wear either a zip up fleece jacket or a pullover in a manmade material, or both. Two pairs of hiking trousers were fast dry polyester / cotton and a third in nylon. One lightweight belt was worn. I believe the feet are important when hiking so wore good quality hiking socks on the trail. I wore either hiking boots or hiking sandals depending upon the weather and underfoot conditions. Sandals aren’t comfortable in wet or when the path is muddy.
Waterproofs / Midge protection
There is a saying “There is no such thing as bad weather. Only inappropriate clothing”. In Scotland, the weather can change quickly, and it is possible to experience weather from all four seasons in a single day. We went prepared and equipped. I had a lightweight waterproof jacket and waterproof over trousers that could be stowed away when not required. A wide brim hat protected me from both sunshine and prevented rain dripping down my neck.
A mosquito net was wrapped around my hat that could be dropped at a moment’s notice. I also carried Midge Repellent purchased for a previous Scottish trip. It contained DEET, there are natural repellents on the market, but I learnt on the hike that Avon SkinSoSoft is effective as a midge repellent. Good for wrinkles too!
I carried a 65 litre rucksack and protected it from the rain with a rucksack cover as necessary.
We both carried hiking poles, but on the Great Glen Way we found they were unnecessary as I find them more use on steep sections of trail. The Great Glen Way has very few steep sections. It meant that the poles were tied on to the back of my rucksack most of the time.
To save weight, I carried a large travel towel which was needed in the hostels we stayed in. A toilet bag with an electric toothbrush and charger was not strictly necessary, but I always carry it on my travels.
I carried a compact camera with a charger and spare battery.
Android Smartphone with prepaid SIM for calls and a generous data allowance to upload some Instagram photos. A phone is essential for calling Emergency Services in the event of an incident. Carried with spare battery, charger and headphones for MP3 music.
The foldaway umbrella also saw some use. It would have probably been useless in high wind though.
Maps. We carried the Cicerone Guide to the Great Glen Way which provided maps, distances, elevations and information.
A Swiss Army knife
Some First Aid equipment for treating blisters and small cuts.
A space blanket.
Paper tissues for use as designed, toilet paper or cleaning towels.
Water in a 1 litre water bottle and a 1 litre hydration pack.
Food for the day’s hiking. Purchased at village stores along the way.
Waterproof sacks for protecting clothing, books, papers in the rucksack.
A plastic bag for dirty linen.
Virtually all of the hiking gear we carried was used and performed as expected, protecting us both from the Scottish weather.
The specialist hiking clothing not only protected us from the weather but was light and took up little space in our rucksacks.
We did not feel we had left out anything from our packs and apart from the hiking poles didn’t regret carrying any of our hiking gear as it all got used effectively. Is there anything we should have carried but were not aware of?
John Williams can often be found undertaking sustainable travel or snowboarding; usually while toting a compact camera. You can follow him at @Eurapart and find out more at about.me/JohnWilliams. See more articles by John on the VisitBritain Super Blog. (All of the images in this article were taken by John Williams using the compact camera mentioned earlier.)