Kit lists. They seem to be everywhere. And especially at this time of year (April/May) when the TGO Challenge is imminent. But why have a kit list at all?
To answer that question you’d need to ask the individual who wrote their kit list as reasons vary. However, the most common reasons seem to be :
- Inventory – to keep a stock list of all hiking gear
- Weight – to itemize each individual piece of hiking gear’s weight.
- Trip Planning – to easily select items suitable for individual hikes.
Now, as many of you will know, I’ve never had a kit list, a kit checklist or any list involving my 38 years of hiking and backpacking. I’ve simply never needed one, nor desired to write one – lists have always been linked to logistics and planning in my mind, neither of which I’m comfortable with when escaping to the great outdoors.
However, after 38 years, I’ve decided to create my very first list of all my hiking gear and also a specific ‘trip list’ for my upcoming Cape Wrath Trail adventure. And I don’t really know why.
Maybe it’s because I hike a lot with Stuart Greig, aka @LonewalkerUK, who is a list advocate and spreadsheet junkie. Or perhaps it’s because I felt it might be a good idea to itemize my gear so I know, at a glance, what I have acquired over the years. It could be because, as I get older, I’m looking at ways to reduce my pack weight. Or simply as an exercise to see if I COULD write a list. More likely it’s a combination of all these reasons; and others I can’t easily communicate.
However, whatever the reason(s), I have completed a kit list and I enjoyed the process – thanks, in part, to Stuart for creating a spreadsheet template that not only made the process easy, but also visually interesting, (another reason I dislike lists is they look so boring).
The charts above show the weight and percentages of the different types of kit I’ll be taking on my Cape Wrath Trail this year. The information is pulled directly from my kit trip list for this backpacking trip and I like the visual representation of these stats.
It has been interesting to see exactly what my pack weight consists of and, for the first time in my hiking life, to see how much my pack actually weighs – I’ve never weighed my pack before. Weighing each item in my kit list has highlighted a few areas where I could probably save some weight too. However, weight has never been my priority when packing for a long distance trek, or even an overnighter. Overall comfort has always been my priority. (See Backpacking: Does It Weigh Heavily On Your Mind As Well As Your Back?)
So.. here’s my kit list for my upcoming Cape Wrath Trail followed by a few reasons for taking some of the kit I’ve included.
As you’ve probably deduced, even after a cursory glance, I’m not a UL advocate so we can leave that particular subject well alone. I hike for enjoyment not as an exercise in pack weight reduction. That being said, I do choose the lightest option (if possible) for my kit as that is simple common sense. However, as you can see – most notably in the ‘Tech’ category – I’m more than willing to add extra grammes to my pack if it helps me hike the way I like to hike.
As we’re on the subject of Tech let’s open with that category as I offer some insights into why I chose the gear I’ve chosen for this particular backpack…
I’m a social hiker and enjoy sharing my trips via social media. To do this I need power. I’ve long been a fan of solar – even in Britain! – and I’ve used @Powertraveller products for over 8 years now, with varying degrees of success. I’m taking the Powertraveller Falcon 21 Solar Panel to test it’s capabilities in Scotland’s notoriously changeable weather conditions and this unit was provided free of charge by Powertraveller for this purpose. I’ll write a full review of this solar panel later in the year. Hopefully it will help keep my powerbank charged throughout my hike.
Talking of powerbanks – I’m also taking the RavPower 26800mAh Fast Charge and Fast Recharge battery. As I only expect to stop once for resupplies on my 16+ day trip I will require power for my Smartphone and the RavPower should contain all the juice I’ll need. Its incredible fast to recharge – approximately 4-5 hours from empty – which means a pub lunch should be more than enough time to top this battery up. And it charges my smartphone quickly too with enough juice to fully recharge my Galaxy S8+ 7 times.
My Smartphone is the Samsung Galaxy S8+ and this is my tech multi-tool. I’ll be using it as my navigation aid (with @ViewRanger installed as well as all OS maps required for the trip), my camera, my video recorder, my social media tool, my note taking tool and other things as well as a phone 😉. However, this comes at a price. Power. Hence my inclusion of a solar panel and powerbank.
Onto my shelter and sleeping equipment now. My tent is the Sil Hexpeak V4 and I absolutely love this shelter. It’s a solo tent yet it’s porch is huge – easily able to accommodate two people (for chatting out of the elements) – and I can easily store my gear in there as well as cook my meals whilst sitting upright (something I really appreciate as I advance in years!) – even with the door closed. It has a net inner (with bathsheet) that keeps the bugs at bay as I sleep and condensation is rarely an issue thanks to its vents and ground or raised pitching options. Utilizing my Leki Thermolite Trekking Poles as it’s support I don’t need to carry additional pole weight either. If I can find a similar design that weighs under 1kg I’ll buy it, but I’m more than happy with the V4’s weight considering all it’s advantages.
My sleeping ‘bag’ is my newly purchased Sestrals Apex 200 Quilt in acai purple outer and scarlet red inner from @astucas. (the colour scheme suits my desire for the whimsy). This will be the first time I’ve used a quilt instead of the more traditional sleeping bag and I’m looking forward to trying it out. My decision for purchasing the quilt is it fills a gap in my kit that became apparent when writing out my kit list – namely that I didn’t have a sleeping ‘bag’ for the particular temperature conditions I’m expecting on the CWT. My other bags are either 1-2 season bags or 4-5 season bags – I needed sometime in between and the Sestrals Quilt should be ideal.
I’ve always used Closed Cell Foam (CCF) sleeping mats ever since I started hiking and I’ve included the ever faithful Therm-A-Rest Z-Lite SOL in my kit. It’s light, dependable and, because I’m used to CCF mattresses, comfortable enough for me. However, I’ve included a Multimat Superlite Air inflatable mat for this trip too. I always have issues with air mattresses failing me on backpacking trips, but do like the extra comfort they provide so I’ve decided to include one for this trip. Should it fail there’s always my trusty CCF mat to fall back on – and it won’t burst if I do 🙂.
And finally my footwear. I’ve been using Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX hiking boots for years and love them. However, my current pair are a little worse for wear and, after reading an excellent review by Mark Rickaby (aka @thepeaklander on Twitter), I decided to try out the latest inov-8 Roclite 345 GTX Trekking boots for my Cape Wrath Trail. I can’t say much about them at the moment because I’ve only worn them for short periods of time, but what I can say is they are instantly comfortable and very light indeed! Read Mark’s review of the Roclites and see what you think.
Well that’s it for my kit list. It’s been an interesting experiment for me to ‘formally’ list all my hiking gear and making a special trip list. Weighing each item, whilst not bringing surprises has certainly helped me see exactly how my kit weight is distributed – maybe a few tweeks here and there could shave a few grammes, but overall I’m happy with my personal compromise between weight and comfort. Whilst I doubt I’ll ever become a kit list junkie I’ve enjoyed the process and will, as always, continue to hike my own hike – just as I’m sure you do too!
Thanks for reading and any comments welcome.
More information on the Cape Wrath Trail here…. Cape Wrath Trail Guide