On the Novice and intermediate courses we’ll supply everyone with any maps and compasses needed. The only items you’ll need to supply is your own personal walking gear.
Alfred Wainwright (author and rambler) said that “there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing”.
But what is appropriate clothing?
Most of the outdoor clothing brands (marketing departments) would have us believe that it would be crazy to step out of our front door without a full set of (their extremely expensive) gortex waterproofs, with multiple high-tec thermal layers underneath and of course you simply must have the (their) latest design of walking boots.
Oh and don’t forget to ensure your socks are made from (yes these are all real names) Indestructawool, ReliaWool, SmartWool, Woolfusion, etc, etc.
Do you really need all this “stuff”?
No, of course not.
But as Wainwright said, you do need “appropriate” clothing for your planned activity.
We run courses which take place outdoors in England where the weather is best described as changeable. So you are going to need some bits of gear to keep you warm and dry – just in case.
So here is a brief look at what you’ll need when participating on one of our courses.
There is a world of difference between participants on a Novice Course walking the gentle tracks and rolling hills of the Chilterns and Advance Course members doing night navigation training around the limestone crags in the Yorkshire Dales. However, the advice on footwear is the same.
You’ll need a pair of rugged walking boots.
This is not the place to discuss which boots you should buy or the technicalities of rand size, midsole stiffness, leather vs fabric, etc, etc. – there are zillions of web pages devoted to these topics.
If I were to give any advice it would be that your boots need to fit properly – yes I know this sounds obvious. By Fit I mean that your boots should be snug (but not tight) around the heel and the ankle and have plenty of room at the front so your toes can move without restriction.
Where to buy boots:
I always find it a little strange that in England which, let’s face it, doesn’t really get that much snow, there are more professional ski boots fitters than there are walking boot fitters.
Your best bet of finding a good place to buy your boots would be to ask your hill walking mates for personal recommendations for any boot fitters they know.
If you live in the North and want to get a pair of boots that are good quality, don’t cost a stupid price and fit properly then I suggest booking an appointment at Whalley Warm and Dry. (no I’m not on commission, it’s just where I get my boots from).
You’ll need a light pair of trousers, so not jeans. The thin canvass types are ideal. They should be loose fitting as you’ll be clambering over “stuff” during your course. Oh and most importantly wear some gear that you don’t mind if it gets muddy.
Under your jacket the basic theory is to wear layers.
A normal T shirt, a slightly thicker top and a fleece jacket are ideal. This way if it gets a little chilly or too warm you can put on or take a layer.
Unbelievably last year, except for one, it didn’t rain during our courses. How amazing was that. But we have to remember that our courses will run in almost any weather conditions – the only exception would be thunder storms, as walking on the high fells with lighting flashing around is really not a good idea.
The main thing to remember about a set of waterproofs is that they should be waterproof. Yes I know this may seem a little obvious but how many times have you seen jackets emblazoned with terms like Weatherproof, Rainproof or whatever the manufacture’s marketing department can come up with to disguise the fact that it just isn’t waterproof.
How will you know if your new set of waterproofs are actually Waterproof?
Don’t you just love marketing departments? They must sit around for hours coming up with different ways to say the jackets made by their company are NOT waterproof, for example shower-proof, snow-proof, spray-proof, weather-proof, etc the list is endless. The reason they do this is that there is a binding ISO Standard which material must have before they can call something “water-proof”, which is ISO 811-2018 (and BS EN 20811).
So remember that if it doesn’t say waterproof, it isn’t and, if you buy your gear in the UK, if it says it is, it will be – for a while.
Oh, your (waterproof) jacket should be loose fitting so you can wear a fleece jacket underneath.
Basically you can use any type of rucksack you want.
The only thing it really needs is two shoulder straps so that your hands are free – map in one and compass in the other.
The ideals size would be around 30ltrs, as this is big enough to carry your gear – extra layers, flask, sandwiches, etc. If you don’t have a 30ltr rucksack, don’t worry, just bring whatever you have.
Oh and if it’s not new, which most aren’t, we would suggest going to B&Q or a garden centre and getting a large Rubble Sack (as the plastic is much stronger than normal plastic bags) and put this in your rucksack first and all you gear goes in to this, so it will stay dry if it rains.
It’s always a good idea to carry a small first aid kit in case of scratches and bumps – note: all our instructors hold a current outdoor first aid certificate.
You’ll need a few snacks such as protein bars or sweets and a packed lunch, basically some sandwiches and a flask. Stanley Classic Legendary Flasks are the best – Amazon is “by far” the cheapest place to buy them.
They weigh virtually nowt, so a hat and a pair of gloves will prove to be a good idea when the normal English weather comes in.
Do you need a head torch? Yes on the intermediate (Silver level) and advanced (Gold level) courses you do, as we head out at night to practice our night navigation. Head torches are not required on novice (Bronze level) courses.
One last point – Socks.
I have been asked if the No-Blister-Guarantee type sock really work. Simple answer: yes they do.
Normally a pair of socks is made from a single layer of something e.g. cotton, wool, synthetic material, etc. If for some reason your foot moves around in your boot the friction heat this causes may mean you get a blister.
The No-Blister-Guarantee type socks are made with two layers of material, so the layer which is next to your skin doesn’t warm up, as it’s not in contact with the boot’s inner surface. QED, no heat = no blisters.
Oh some of them claim to have “padding” which will make them more comfortable. Note that in socks there is a difference between padding and reinforcement. Hmmmmm? not sure about “padding” as it may be compressed by your weight whilst walking, meaning there will be a space (where the padding was) which may allow your foot to move around inside the boot and we’re back to original problem (and blisters). So just get a pair of boots which fits properly and you won’t be tempted to get socks with padding.