However, what I LOVE to read about is the type of practical kit other people buy and use for outdoor activities such as festivals, camping and walking. Last year I wrote a post about what to take to a festival. You can read it here. I doesn't include the latest fashion trends but it does tell you what I wee in at night to avoid going to the stinky portaloos in the dark.
So, I thought I would share the things I pack into my day sack for a walk in the Yorkshire Wolds. I'll tell you now, I'm not a big spender and not so fussed about sporting the coolest outdoor brands. I tend to choose things that are low cost but will do their job well. I'm not particularly gadgety either (I leave that to my geeky partner, Dave) but I do get super excited about practical things that will make my walk comfortable.
Without further ado, here's what's in my walking rucksack:
Day rucksackMy day rucksack was bought in the Trespass shop about 4 years ago. It was in the sale and cost about £20. It's lasted very well and it's still in good condition. I love the wide, padded waste band to take some of the pressure off my back and onto my hips and it has enough space to fit everything in the list below. The only downside is the look of it. It makes the wearer look like a tortoise.
OS MapIt goes without saying really but an OS map is important on any walk if you aren't familiar with. I love OS maps; the feel of them, the look of them, the purpose of them. So much detail about every nook and cranny around you.
Waterproof jacketWhatever the weather looks like when I set off, I will still always pack my waterproof. I recently got this super lightweight jacket from Sportsshoes.com. It scrunches up into a spall space and easily fits over my fleece top.
Fleece jacketI normally have my fleece jacket on rather than in my bag but I it's important I can strip some layers when I get too warm and fit them into my bag. My favourite fleece is from Trespass and cost around £20. Personally, I don't see the point in spending lots of money on a fleece. As long as it is thick and warm then it will do the job.
Head torchHave you been on a walk that's taken just a bit longer than expected causing you to pretty much run in order to find your car before it gets so dark you can't see the footpath signs? Well, I did it just the once. Now I take my head torch on every long walk.
Toilet rollWhen nature calls, you gotta go! I love peeing outside (yeah, I'm weird) because you get a great view and a few moments alone to appreciate nature from the eye level of a badger. I love natural stuff but using a doc leaf to wipe my lala isn't my idea of 'being at one with nature'. I stuff toilet roll sheets into one of my bag's pockets and keep a small sandwich bag to house the used tissue. The sandwich bag also comes in handy for any curiosities I find for my nature shelves, such as skulls.
SnoodeSnoodes are THE BEST THING when caught out in the icy wind on top of a hill. I have two- a purple one with two layers- thin material and fleece- that matches all my purple gear. The other one is a super-cool (my only cool walking item) Buff from Kitshack.com. It has a really soft hood built in and is so cosy. Dave has a Buff too. He has a neck like a giraffe so it's important he covers it up to retain warmth. Here's a photo of us on Snowden earlier this year.
PenknifeA knife, tweezers, toothpick and saw all in one. Perfect for getting out splinters on the go and for carving oneself a walking stick to feel like Ray Mears. A penknife is super practical in emergencies and, well, you're not a real outdoorsman/outdoorswoman if you don't have a penknife!(spell check says 'outdoorswoman' isn't a word- get into the equal world Mac!)
GlovesA godsend when that icy wind hits while you are studying a map. I searched for ages to find a pair I was happy with. I wanted gloves that are waterproof and windproof but don't have the bulk of ski gloves. Finally, I discovered these SealSkinz gloves while browsing an outdoors shop in Northumberland. I've written a review of them here.
Waterproof hatLike gloves, I searched for a while to find the perfect hat. One that is windproof, waterproof, covers my ears and is warm. This style is perfect. Well, not perfect if you want to look remotely attractive while walking, but otherwise it's ideal. Several brands offer hats in this style but they all cost around £30 unless you get a bargain in the sale. I got mine half price so was very happy. Here's a pic of me in the hat with Dave up on Cadair Idris in Snowdonia looking like models in a walking catalogue (not).
GaitersWant to look like a real hiker? Get ya gaiters on! These bad boys will keep your ankles and shins dry while you wade through mud and bog. We all took a direct route (got lost) on Kinder Scout while on the Outdoor Bloggers weekend earlier this year and ended up tackling the huge bog on top of the plateau. My gaiters worked wonders. Mine are just cheap ones so unfortunately my legs get clammy really quickly. Spending a bit more on breathable ones would be a wise investment.
Water proof trousersCan you tell I have a fear of getting wet? Lot's of waterproof items in my bag. I used to have a pair of those cheap £10 over trousers that come in a little bag but they are horrid on long wet walks. They just make your legs sweat and overheat. I got these fab ones from Mountain Warehouse. They cost around £50, are breathable, and have poppers all the way up to the waistband making them easily to get on mid-walk as soon as the rains starts to fall. However, I still choose to take the rubbish pair on really short walks that are just a couple of hours long as they are lighter to carry and take up less space.
Flask and cupSquatting behind a rock to shelter from the wind on top of a hill is made enjoyable by a hot cup of tea. We always take a flask of tea or hot chocolate for half way.
Pack upIf we are out for the day, or just over lunch, we take a pack up. Our typical pack up consists of sandwiches, salt and vinegar crisps, a chocolate bar and a pack of tangy sweets.
First aid kitBoring but necessary. I normally get Dave to carry it. I keep blister plasters in the kit, too.
LipglossNo, it's not make up, honestly! Lipgloss or vaseline gives great relief to lips made sore by the cold and wind. Annoying when my hair then stick to my face though.
BinocularsI love birdwatching so binoculars are an essential but they also come in handy for scouting out footpath signs from a distance. Have you ever entered a field and cant see where the footpath goes? Straight on, parallel with the fence or diagonal? Binoculars allow you to see that bit further and can prevent marching in the wrong direction.
MoneyThe temptation of a country pub is usually high for the typical hiker. Carry some pennies so you can treat yourself to a pint. We have a rule in our relationship- Dave will take me for a walk along as there is a pub at the end. Deal.
Those are my essentials for every walk. I hope you find the list helpful if you are a novice or look to take up walking and if you are a walker, I hope my list is comparable to yours.
Is there something in your bag that isn't on my list? I would love to know what. Leave me a comment as I would love to talk geeky walking stuff with you.