I have enjoyed following on twitter and on blogs the planning of walkers heading out in a couple of days to walk across Scotland on the TGO Challenge. It looks to be hard going but great fun and I am more than a little envious of those stepping out.
In mid-May I will be setting out in a different direction on My (Hebridean) Way, a Munro free beachcombing walk following the west coast of the Outer Hebrides from Vatersay to the Butt of Lewis.
Because I am feeling left out, and by way of thanks to those tweeters and bloggers who have entertained, educated and tempted me through the winter with their gear lists and expedition reports I humbly offer up my own rambling gear list.
As I was writing this post I saw a new blog post from a blog I follow, Lady on a rock, an American walker aka, ‘Trail Amassador Christy “Rockin” Rosander‘ who is coming to Scotland to take part in the TGO Challenge.
I have to confess on reading her gear list I sensed I was well out of my depth.
“Rockin” has a rucksack that weighs an incredibly light 12 lbs 11 ounces with all gear except food, fuel and water. Her husband gets to carry the tent for both of them but he probably won’t notice as the tent only weighs 20.9 ounces – that’s 592 grams while Scotland is still in the EU.
I thought I would scan through her kit list to see what lessons I could learn.
The list has a heading “General Gear” but for me apart from a space age tea cosy and a swiss army knife there is little that to me is “general” in the list.
Rockin is bringing over some wonderfully named outdoor gear including:Sun gloves Nodoz Prana Monarch Convertible Golite crome dome Cuben fibre stuff sack Gossamer Gear Gorilla Polycryo ground cloth “Smartwool” toe socks “Smart” water bottle
If they get stopped by a Glaswegian customs officer when they arrive at the airport there will be an interesting meeting of two languages.
Any thoughts of learning a few tricks for reducing the weight of my rucksack were knocked back when I found that the first 3 items I looked up amounted to over $1,000 dollars.
It looks like I will have to manage another walk this year without a sack to stuff my cuben fibre into and with my not-so-smart socks and water bottle.
But I do have a couple of recommendations for Rockin from my own worn and worn out Scottish gear list.
Forget the “Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket” and take a 3 button Harris Tweed jacket. The wool may not be very smart but was good enough for a Hebridean sheep and it is perfect for the Scottish hills.
If you plan to go into any town centre in Scotland for supplies you will need the traditional British uniform of a saggy pair of white tracksuits bottoms and a football shirt.
Skip the gortex waterproofs and head down to a charity shop to track down the best British jacket bar none, the superb unlined Barbour Durham waxed jacket, the ones they made before they “improved” them by adding a daft tartan cotton lining that soaks up water like a sponge. The old Durham is the perfect British three season walking jacket. It has great holes in the pockets, well mine has at least, for the rain and the river to drain out of. Apart from the heavy brass fittings it is otherwise lightish and it dries out very quickly, this is fortunate because I have to confess it gets soaking wet pretty quickly too.
Should she take my advice to take some trout fishing tackle to help top up her food supplies then she will find the drab olive dirt colour of the Barbour ideal when you don’t want to advertise your presence to the owner of the fishing rights. I am particularly interested in seeing if I can avoid the same welcome that I got last time from the SWAT team of bailiffs at Grimersta who arrived in Landrovers out of the mist when I was merely thinking of chancing a wee cast on “their” river.
I do agree with Rockin’s choice of footwear, Brooks Cascadias, and I have run and walked in pairs for many years. But in Scotland there is really only one type of suitable footwear, waders, as seen in the gear list of a blogpackinglight, clearly a walker with experience of conditions underfoot in Scotland. If you really must travel light then you can take a chance and size down to the Argyll Full Knee Wellington boot.
Rockin will be surprised to find that the local women may be more lightly equipped even for winter walking.
And so here is my gear list. Unfortunately I have no bathroom scales and will only know if my rucksack is under 20 kg when Easyjet tells me at check-in.
- Trout Fly fishing tackle
- The Limpet (Trailstar & midge net), mat and sleeping bag and new shiny pan
- Spare sock (can be used as towel, glove, pillow, rod tube, bag for carrying concealed trout, or sock)
- Fly swatter
- Whisky flask
If previous walks are anything to go by then by the time I fight off the last tick and midge and I limp up to the lighthouse at the Butt of Lewis I will have gathered enough trash or treasure from our beaches to fill a skip.
I have warned cyclists about Lycra in Beware of all enterprises that require Lycra. But as I pack my super shiny new titanium pan (new shiny thing make everything all better) and my now very lightweight wallet into my rucksack I have yet to identify a single outdoor fashion item that is the equivalent tipping point for walkers that Lycra is for cyclists.
Perhaps it is the very act of making a gear list spreadsheet that best indicates we are finally lost on the long slippery scree slope of gear addiction.