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.


All my walking so far has been in Scarpa SL M3s - 4 season boots (2300g/pr) that I fondly describe as nuclear explosion proof. They protect my feet really well, but there has to be a lighter choice. In the USA, trail shoes are widely used that weigh 500-800g/pr, which is really tempting, given the saying that a pound saved on your feet is like 5 pounds saved from your back. However, I have no real experience of these, and am fairly clumsy with my feet. Moreover there are certainly some foot injuries that could be avoided with more protective footwear.

From running days, my instinct is to be conservative with footwear - it would be silly to go too light and risk the whole project by needlessly injuring a foot.

I've chosen some Aku boots, which I'm thrilled with. They have good tread, a semi-stiff sole, good toe protection, and some ankle support. I'm using Montrail thermo-moulding insoles and all told they weigh 1370g. Looks like three pairs will be needed. I'll have a go at trail shoes for another trip - or perhaps later on this trip if it feels right.