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.


For warm weather, I take a polyester shirt - this doesn't wick much, so the perspiration evaporating off my skin cools me well. Other nice features include a buttoned front, so I can fine tune ventilation while remaining decent, and roll-up sleeves. For colder weather, I'm using a RAB Vapour-rise top. This wicks very well, and is not quite windproof, so is an ideal garment for exertion in cold weather. It also sheds rain unless prolonged, so there is no need to stop in showery weather.

My third top is a light Primaloft jacket with highly breathable outer shell. This can be thrown on top of a wet shirt for example and will dry it out, and supplements the warmth of a thin sleeping bag. If I'm wandering around camp on a cold and windy day, a windproof can be added on top to keep me warmer.

I use lightweight zip off trousers - just one pair, wearing a skirt made from the material used for a bag cover as an option on warm days or in warm rain or when washing my trousers. I may use a pair of Primaloft trousers on very cold windy days - though so far I've managed with my waterproof trousers so long as I don't stop.