Equipment choices

The gear one takes makes a big difference to comfort and safety and general happiness, and striking a balance between utility and weight is tricky. Earlier walks in the Pyrenees and Corsica have been really helpful in finding out what works well and how much to bring along. I'm no gear nut, but I do like stuff that's simple, light and effective.

This won't be a wilderness walk, though the weather will be very variable, from -10 to +35C, and I'm choosing things based on my strengths and weaknesses. For example, I'm pretty good at keeping going, and quite quick, but also not very strong and rather frail. I keep warm while moving, but get cold afterwards. I'm comfortable with technology but likely to play it safe with key items.

As this is a walk in aid of a charity, and with sponsors, information has to get back to the UK regularly. Also I need to collect notes and photos for handbooks after the walk.


There is a bewildering choice of camera gear out there - so much choice: film/digital, SLR/compact, interchangeable/fixed lenses, prime/zoom lenses etc.

The choice simply comes down to how wide angle you want to go. If 28mm (35mm equivalent) is enough, then you can choose a compact, or an SLR with a single zoom lens. Not having to remove a lens is a 'good thing' with digital cameras as there is less chance of dust settling on the sensor and affecting all your subsequent pictures.

However, I really miss a 24mm lens, and my ideal camera would be a compact digital with 24-140mm zoom (in 35mm terms), but this isn't made - it's only possible with two lenses. The lightest robust solution seems to be a Canon A620 with a 24mm wide converter and extension tube. Going to 24mm adds an extra 300g - but worthwhile, I think. An SLR based solution would weigh 900+g though. Fortunately the A620 is a fine little camera that does most things well.