Christmas List 2019

Every year there’s a rash of outdoorsy blog posts about the best 10 christmas gifts for people who like to get outdoors. So here’s mine

We all know what it’s like to be wet and cold, we’re hikers, climbers and adventurers, we see weather as part of the challenge but we choose to be out there. So here’s our first and only item.

  1. Help someone get INSIDE for Christmas by donating to Crisis

Crisis provide hot food and a bed, medical and wellbeing checks, CLEAN CLOTHES, counselling and companionship over the christmas period as well as on-going support throughout the year.

We’ve donated all the money made through affiliate links on this site, and while it’s not a lot we have managed to reserve a place in a crisis centre for someone who needs it.

So you could buy a new fleece or jacket. Splash out on a new pair of boots or a backpack. OR you could get someone warm and dry and fed.

Merry Christmas.

What’s in your Pack #4. Backpacking

After going out on a few longer 2 day hikes we felt confident enough to have a proper backpacking trip. Packing for that first trip on the West Highland Way was difficult and we carried way too much stuff which kind of hampered the enjoyment of the first couple of days. By the 5th day on trail we had whittled down some of the excess and ate a lot of the food we had been carrying so things became easier. We went from what we might need to what we had actually used. We also had a better idea of how much food we needed to carry for each day so when we resupplied in Crianlarich we weren’t overburdened.

Since that first long hike we’ve refined what we take and how much food we carry and while our packs are much lighter these days, hiking 100 miles with 3 kids under 10 is never going to be “ultra-light”.

As in the previous posts in this series, this a list of things we take on a backpacking trip, not exhaustive but it works for us. The basis of it is the previous post on Wild Camping so you probably want to check that out first and once again if you have any ideas on how we can further reduce our load please give us a shout in the comments below.

Tent or Tarp, Sleep Mats, Sleeping Bags, Sleeping Clothes, Extra Warm Layers
Stove, Bowls Mugs, Cutlery, Water Filter
, Map and Compass, Trowel and Toilet Roll,Hand Sanitiser, First Aid Kit, Mobile/Smart Phone, Waterproofs, Suncream,GPS Device, Travel Towel, Camera, Walking Poles, Head Torch & Whistle, Extra Luxuries – Kindle, Notebook Teddy

The things above are on the wildcamping post but there’s a few extra things we take with us and a couple of things needing further comment.

snow

Food and Water.

As we like to be as self sufficient on the trail as possible we need to carry more water than we would on an overnight hike. We use a 3 litre and a 2 litre water bladder as well as carrying a bottle each. We try and keep the 2 litre bladder for cooking with and the bigger one for drinking and we have our trusty water filter to top up from natural sources.

In the planning stages of the trip I try to note the resupply options for stocking up on food and try to carry as little as possible while maintaining a semblance of responsibility. We have found that 5 days food is the most we can carry (remember there’s 5 of us). We can hike up to 15 miles a day but we average 10 so a 30 mile stretch requires food for 3 days. Plus I also carry an emergency meal and a few snacks should things go awry and we don’t get to a shop when planned.

When we started our first backpacking trip I had these grand ideals of spurning cafes and tea shops (mainly due to budget restrictions) but as things have progressed we have realised that these are a welcome relief when they come and we try to factor in a bought meal so we don’t have to carry one.

Hygiene and Cleanliness

When we headed out on the West Highland Way our youngest was just 5 years old and as you know from having kids, sometimes accidents happen. The worst case scenario is an overnight “accident” resulting in a wet sleeping bag. On that first trip we carried some pull up pants but as the kids have got older we can’t take that easy option. We carry a small amount of liquid handwash which gets the worst out and we can usually dry the bag out or find a campsite with a washing machine.

We also have some liquid soap for washing ourselves when showers are available but when they’re not we still wash the kids with a soapy flannel and water every couple of days, just to get the worst off. 

Another handy tool is the packet of moist toilet tissue, for obvious reasons and we have plenty of hand sanitiser. Both my wife and me carry a bottle, there’s a third one kept with the trowel/toilet paper and another smaller one in the first aid kit for that purpose only. It may sound like overkill but there’s nothing worse than gut rot on the trail.

Clothes

Obviously a 10 day hike doesn’t need 10 different outfits but you may need more changes than on an overnight wildcamp. While I personally only carry a spare baselayer and some trousers (I hike in shorts) as extra clothing we usually take 2 full changes for the kids plus a fleece “Onesie” for each of them. Sometimes they sleep in them, usually its just an extra layer for at camp or when they get out of their sleeping bags. (I think I’ll do a longer post on clothing if you think that will be helpful)

Dry Bags

While our backpacks have raincovers we double down and pack everything into dry bags. It’s a great way to organise the gear too so each child’s spare clothes are in a labelled bag, the sleeping bags are kept dry and even the trowel and toilet paper have their own drybag which gets stowed on the outside of a pack.

These bags keep everything together and when you need that one bit of kit from the bottom of the bag in a rainstorm, everything else stays dry.

So if you combine this post with the previous one you should have a good idea on what to pack for a backpacking trip. There’s a handy checklist you can download below and I’d love to hear your thoughts about packing for a long hike whether your a veteran long distance hiker or just venturing out with the kids for the first time.

Backpacking

What’s in your Pack #2. Mountains

As often as possible we head for the mountains. Our location on the South Coast means that we generally head for Snowdonia or the Brecon Beacons. Usually the journey takes us 4 or 5 hours including a ferry crossing so heading further North is usually reserved for longer holidays.

The first post in this series detailed what we carry when in hike in lowland areas and to be honest that list is a good basis for hiking in mountainous areas with 3 kids. However there are a few extra bits we like to carry with us in the mountains. Some are for additional safety, some to make the trail a bit easier and I’m sure there’s some things we don’t carry that maybe we should and some that may seem excessive, let me know your thoughts on the comments below. There’s also a handy checklist you can download below if you find that sort thing useful.

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Basic Gear – See previous post on lowland hiking for full details

Food and Water, Map and Compass, Trowel and Toilet Roll, Hand Sanitiser,

First Aid Kit, Smartphone, Extra Warm Layers, Waterproofs, Suncream,Whistle,

GPS Device, Geocaching Kit, Travel Towel, Camera

On top of this we also carry;

More Food/Water

Climbing mountains is hard work, especially for kids so plan in more snack breaks than when hiking in lowland areas. More breaks means carrying more food. Also a hot drink is nice when it gets chilly. We started off carrying a thermos of hot water and some little sachets of coffee or hot chocolate but now we carry a little stove instead and just brew without having to ration hot water. If you go down the thermos route, just carry hot water and sachets because if it gets cold then you can still use it. Cold coffee is the worst!

Warm Layers

Probably more essential than when hiking lower down. On average the temperature drops by 1 degree celsius for each 100 metres of elevation so T-shirt weather on the beach can still be quite chilly on the summit. The higher points of the mountains are generally more exposed so the wind can prove to be a factor.

Waterproofs.

Always carry waterproofs on the mountains. They can produce their own microclimates so rain can be expected anytime. We noticed this on Snowdon when a beautiful morning turned quickly into dampness as we climbed into the clouds. The weather forecast for Beddgelert, at the foot of the hill, was set fair but by 5pm on the mountain it was torrential rain. When we got back to the village, the roads were dry.

Walking Poles

Great for powering up hill, brilliant for helping to keep your balance on the way down. To be honest, when we go with the kids I usually only use them coming down. I suffer a bit with knee pain after twisting it nastily on Cadar Idris, and I’ve noticed a significant improvement when using poles, especially on the descent.

Emergency Shelter/Tarp

Most emergency shelters are suited for two people and while we could squeeze in at a pinch, I’ve taken to carrying a 3x3m lightweight tarp. I can make a shelter with it using the walking poles and a few pegs. If the weather is truly awful I can make a fully enclosed shelter to protect all 5 of us from the elements.

Head Torch

On our first trip up Snowdon we started hiking at 8am and even though the route guide said 3 hours up and 2 back we were still hiking at 6pm. The clocks had changed the previous weekend so it was dark before we got back to the car. And while I didn’t “need” the head torch on that well marked and surfaced track (The Miners Track) I was certainly glad to have when searching for car keys in my backpack. As an additional note, you can also signal for help with a torch should you get caught out.

The next post in this “What’s in your pack” series is packing for overnight wildcamping trips with the kids. As usual there’s a checklist for you to download below and I’d really like to hear your thoughts on this subject through the comments section.

Hiking Mountains

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