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.


As my rucksack need never carry more than 24lbs (winter equipment, inc. food and water), it needn't be heavily built. I'm quite careful with rucksacks and feel that many are overbuilt, over complex and over heavy. I do need comfortable shoulder straps, compression straps, load lifter straps, a properly padded hip belt (quite bony there) and some means of transferring the pack weight to my hips.

The body of the pack needs to be self-supporting so that I can slacken the shoulder straps and air my back when climbing hard. Zipped pockets or hydration sleeves are unnecessary, but belt pockets are handy, as are large mesh side pockets for a map and food. A Floating top pocket (ideally detachable to use as a bum bag) is nice too.

The closest I have found to this is a Gossamer Gear Mariposa, that uses a sleeping pad as back padding, and weighs less than a pound (plus sleeping pad).