August 9th, 2011
What To Pack In Your RuckSack
Most lists of gear for walkers’ rucksacks emphasise safety aspects but walking is about having fun in the outdoors so comfort and enjoyment are key elements in planning. Whatever you decide to take, the first step is to have a rucksack that is big enough to swallow all you want to take whilst accessing it easily and carrying it all comfortably for several hours. Happily, there’s no shortage of options to suit all shapes, sizes and pockets so makeyour own list of essentials from the suggestions below.
Waterproofs – if not worn, keep them handy and pack a warm hat and gloves as well. As fleece tops are so light, it does no harm to pack a spare. In winter, packing extra warm clothing is a true essential.
Map and compass – hardly a rucksack item, of course as they should be kept ready to hand and in use; they can add so much to the pleasure gained from a walk quite apart from route finding. As well as knowing how to use a compass and read a map, you’ll need to keep the map dry in a waterproof case if it’s not proofed or laminated. Your GPS device should be charged up, route loaded and ready to go.
Whistle – useful to summon help (six short blasts in a minute) and letting other needing help that you’ve heard them (three blasts back).
Torch – You may not expect you’ll still be walking as it gets dark but it pays to be prepared. A head torch leaves your hands free; signal for help as per the whistle.
Plastic survival bag – you may carry one for years and years and only ever use it as a picnic mat but that’s what insurance is all about. Safety, that is, not sandwiches!
First aid kit – adapt the contents to suit your experience and needs; check it every now and then to make sure everything is in order; keep it handy and clearly labelled. It’s also a good place to keep details such as your name, address and who to contact in case of an accident.
Food and drink – as well as lunch or whatever, pack a little extra in case you’re out longer than anticipated and keep ‘trail snacks’ handy to nibble as you go. Pack enough water to see you comfortably through the day and drink from it regularly; hydration systems aren’t just for outdoor athletes. A flask of hot drink is usually welcome whatever the weather.
Walking poles – a pair will take a lot of the strain off your knees but even a single pole helps with balance.
Mobile phone – useful for summoning help in a true emergency; dial 999.
Camera – whatever you take, keep it handy and protect it from knocks.
Binoculars – often described as useful for route finding and spotting birds or wildlife, they’re also just fun to use.
Notebook and pencil – you never know when a stunning philosophical insight should be recorded!
Sun cream and insect repellent – it’s easy to burn on the move and biting insects can ruin a walk.
Bootlaces – a spare pair takes up little space and weighs next to nothing.