Blairgowrie and District Next Steps
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Recommended Personal Kit List
Basic Low Level High Level Winter Equipment Notes Camping Equipment
For your own safety if you are inadequately equipped the walk leaders may not allow you to participate on the walk. It is unsafe and unreasonable to expect that someone else in the group will have a spare item for your use. Any group equipment needed for the activities being undertaken will be distributed around the group. Click on this link for a downloadable version of this list. All of our Thursday and Tuesday walks are supervised by accredited Summer and/or Winter Mountain Leaders as appropriate.
It is good practice to always carry equipment to the high level standard of the Blairgowrie and District Next Steps list, but the basic list is sufficient for a short low level walk. Wild camping trips will require additional equipment to supplement the High Level list, more details at this link, with a downloadable version here. While what you wear is subject to your own personal metabolism you are strongly advised to carry additional warm clothing in case of being delayed in inclement weather. Woollen gloves are not suitable.
∑ Windproof/waterproof shell over-jacket
∑ Windproof/waterproof shell over-trousers that can be put on without removing footwear
∑ Waterproof hat
∑ Personal first aid kit & Medication (as required)
Optional additional equipment: Map, Guide book, Notebook and pen/pencil, Mobile phone (switched off or on silent), Camera, Binoculars, Trekking poles (two should be used).
All clothing should be sufficient to suit the anticipated conditions, fleece pullover or similar should be carried or worn. Drinking materials should also suit the expected weather, remembering that even in the warmer seasons it is possible to suffer from hypothermia, or even dehydration in cold weather. All spare clothing should be contained in a sealed dry-bag, as no rucksack is totally waterproof.
Low Level (up to 300m asl) up to 2 to 3 hours walk duration
Two/three season walking boots, wearing appropriate fleece, pullover etc,
Rucksack up to 25 litres containing the above equipment and also:
∑ Spare gloves (reasonably water resistant)
∑ Spare socks (if your feet get wet)
∑ Additional fleece or belay jacket
∑ Packed lunch and warm drink or the means to make a drink during meal stops
Trowel and tissues
∑ Optional: Small head torch
∑ Optional: solo bivvy-bag/shelter and space blanket
High Level (above 500m asl) or an extended day (over 3 hours). (Tuesdays all year round unless in winter when that list needs to be added)
At least three season standard hill-walking boots, carrying or wearing fleece, gloves, waterproof hat, and gaiters. Rucksack of app 30 - 35litres containing the above equipment and also:
∑ Spare gloves (at least 2 spare pairs of a similar standard is recommended)
∑ Spare fleece or belay jacket
∑ Spare warm hat
∑ Drinks, consider at least Ĺ litre per hour of water or similar
∑ Food for additional meals or snacks
∑ Small head torch and spare batteries
∑ Solo bivvy-bag/shelter and space blanket
Winter conditions will require the high level list, but supplemented with additional pairs (3 or 4) of gloves, and a belay jacket to put on over your existing jacket when stopped (or at least another fleece). Gloves should be wind and waterproof, something similar to ski-gloves are appropriate, and a lighter pair or two for dry and calm conditions are also useful. In a blizzard or high wind a balaclava and goggles are advised, and essential if navigating. A pair of 4 season boots will also be required as 3 season or summer boots are not sufficient at these times of year. Such boots are absolutely essential if there is a likelihood of using crampons. If the weather is snowy and or icy then crampons and ice axe will be required on all high level walks. On low level walks spiked walking aids will usually be an adequate substitute. If you bring this additional winter equipment then a 40l rucksack will probably be necessary. It is strongly advised to seek our advice if you are new to this before committing yourself to such walks and purchasing any equipment. Crampons and ice-axes may be available for a small hire charge.
The recommendations are average and based on dealing with most contingencies.
Pragmatic reality may suggest not taking all the equipment listed, especially if
the weather is benign. But remember that the weather can change markedly over the course of a day
and being caught out in a chilly wind without a warm drink or food can be rather
Ice axes and crampons can be made available
for a small charge, and personalised training can also be made available on a
commercial basis. 'Top tips' and training or instruction is usually
provided on a walk, but don't be afraid to ask! It is much better that any
fears or concerns are addressed before reaching problem ground.
Ice axes and crampons can be made available for a small charge, and personalised training can also be made available on a commercial basis. 'Top tips' and training or instruction is usually provided on a walk, but don't be afraid to ask! It is much better that any fears or concerns are addressed before reaching problem ground.
Equipment and Good Practice Notes
Nothing is actually waterproof. Even the best materials will only withstand continuous wetting for 3 or 4 hours. Rucksacks will always let rain in so lining it with a dry bag or heavy duty bin bag helps keep things dry. The covers provided with many rucksacks are not very effective especially if you carry poles or other things on the outside. They are usually very loose and in windy weather will flap around and can often be blown off.
Gaiters are a matter of choice. If trekking through heather or long grass with the occasional burn immersion then they are really a very good idea. If nothing else they stop ticks climbing up inside your trousers and keep twigs and other things out of your socks. If these problems are not something you worry about, with a few spare pairs of socks even if you do get wet feet then you have something dry and warm to put on. Once you have emptied the water out of a boot, and put on fresh socks you will be surprised how quickly they dry out and warm up.
Gloves can be a problem area. These also will wet out particularly if you are handling things like maps, gates, fences, trekking poles and so on. Fleece gloves even though not waterproof work just like a wet suit. Any water they soak up creates a warm layer next to the skin. If you are not holding things and donít need your fingers then over mittens are a very good alternative, with fleece gloves on the inside. Navigating in mittens is not recommended! Most gloves that are advertised as waterproof are not after a few hours! It all depends on the soak through or wet out times the manufacturers specify for their testing. Only rubber gloves are truly waterproof.
Boots are also a matter of choice. Ideally they should be stiff and provide support for the feet. Unless walking on firm tracks then ankle boots are strongly recommended. Provided what you wear is comfortable and fits properly then you will be able to make do with whatever you like (except in winter). Boots are probably the most important item of clothing so are not something to be skimped over. Save money on anything else except boots, you will only regret it otherwise. The best boots and most reliably waterproof are full grain leather, unfortunately they also tend to be heavy. Fabric or nubuck are considered light duty and are quite comfortable and easy to wear - but not particularly supportive or suitable for wet or cold weather.
Trekking poles are a useful aid and help to reduce knee impact. However they should be used in pairs to avoid unbalanced support. Nordic walking is a way of using the poles to help propel yourself forward faster, though a similar effect can be gained by swinging your arms. In conventional hill walking they are used mainly to provide a hand hold and prop when ascending and to help lower yourself down steep and varying steps. They are also useful for probing the ground in boggy conditions, and in high winds for keeping upright! They really come into their own when crossing rivers and burns as they are less prone to slip on wet rocks. Vary your hand grip position to reach out in front or provide support. It is not essential to hold them in your fist. Wrist loops can be a problem especially if you do slip so only use them if there is a risk of losing the pole, such as on an icy slope. Be prepared to let go if you do fall, as the pole can cause an injury. Protocol dictates that if in a group and you are carrying poles in your hand that the points are forward where you can see them. Poles get in the way when navigating and can also puncture car upholstery! Humans have developed their bigger brains because of not having to co-ordinate 4 legs, so don't be surprised if you need more concentration when using poles than without.
If navigating you should use and be proficient with a map and compass. GPS systems are fine within their limits, particularly battery life, but are not reliable. They are complex devices in their own right and you need to be proficient with them as well. As a fall back they can (if in line with enough satellites) provide you with an accurate position fix, which will locate you on your map which you can then use to navigate to safety. A GPS should be used in conjunction with a paper map and not as an alternative. Never rely solely on an electronic map, this is extremely foolhardy as if it fails or loses lock you will lose track of where you are. Using a GPS for geocaching is fun and a good way of getting outdoors. This is a form of orienteering with the illusion of much greater accuracy. Most GPS systems will give a 10 figure reference nominally to within 1 metre. This is far more accurate than can be measured on conventional maps but in practice the accuracy can vary anywhere from 7m to over 100m, and you won't necessarily be aware of it! Because of this varying accuracy an awareness of what is around you and comparing it with a proper map is essential. GPS systems with built in maps can be useful but invariably the screens are far too small to show anything other than a few km around you so you miss the bigger picture that is available with a map. However, if you have pre-plotted a route and the GPS stays locked to the satellites then they come into their own. Geocaching as a growing sport is similar to conventional orienteering also relying on a description (or riddle) to identify a precise location and is a good way of practising navigation. A better alternative is to take a professional navigation training course. Details of these and the National Navigation Awards can be found on www.nscoutdooradventures.com. While it is nice to teach yourself, practice, top-tips, and more practice is better done under the guidance of a tutor.
Safety devices such as bothy bag or shelter are another item of personal choice and do make the difference if you end up having to sit out the night. In this unlikely scenario a head torch and snacks also help to keep up morale. If you do end up benighted then unless you are comfortable with getting yourself back to a road or civilisation the safest thing to do is stay where you are. If you have left your route plan with someone then rescuers will have a good start point. If you have wandered off your route then you are much harder and possibly impossible to find. Donít leave a route card visible in your car Ė itís a good advert telling people how long you will be away!
Weather forecasts show predicted temperatures and wind speed/direction based at sea level. Temperature drops off generally between Ĺ and 1ļC per 100m height gain, and wind can be 2 or 3 times as powerful on the tops of high hills than on the bottom. Winds of over 60mph especially gusting will blow you off your feet, and this is rather hazardous near a steep drop! Wind is also affected by the shape of the surrounding hills so may come from an unexpected direction. If you are navigating in windy and wet conditions goggles will be required in order to read your map (or GPS if you insist on using one), and this is applicable at any time of the year.
Water crossings have a lot of potential for disaster. Rapidly flowing water deeper than knee height should NOT be crossed unless in a competent and trained group. Take your socks off, put your boots back on so that your feet donít get cut or injured and cross using walking poles to help steady yourself. Only move one leg or pole at a time. If it is necessary to cross, you should ideally divert to a known safe crossing point even if it does mean going out of your way. Going upstream will be better as the width to be crossed will (eventually) reduce. Remember that wet stones are very slippery. If you are crossing water loosen rucksack straps so that you can let it go if you do fall in, otherwise it will tend to drag you down. If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being swept downstream try and stay on your back with your feet first and side paddle to get to a bank.
If you have an accident, your whistle is the main means of attracting attention and can more easily be heard above the wind than a shout. 6 blasts over a minute, with a minute gap before blowing again. The pause allows you to listen for any answering whistles. If at night flashing the torch in a similar pattern also works, though obviously it has to be in the direction of any rescuers.
Finally enjoy yourself, but donít be overconfident and be prepared to alter your schedule or route if conditions dictate.
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