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Spotlight - equipment views and reviews from the AK team

Hillwalking Kit List

By Hati Whiteley
19, Oct, 2017

With such beautiful hillwalking destinations nearby, there's no excuse not to get out on the hill! Don't forget these vital bits of kit...

We’re all drawn to the supposedly ‘big’ destinations, the Alps, Norway, or even further afield. But driving past by our own National Parks on the way to the ferry sometimes makes us feel disloyal.

In the UK, we have that kind of landscape that seems to take you by surprise. We know it’s just there, we know it’s beautiful, but with all the flurry and fuss of digging out our passports and heading overseas, it just seems to slip our minds.

If it’s the unfamiliarity and distance that gives those far-flung places their appeal, it’s the closeness that of the Lakes, the Peaks, and Wales that makes them exciting. When you can leave your house and be out in the hills within an hour, now that’s exciting.

Although our local hills seem familiar, they’re by no means tame. We approach them with the same respect that we accord to more exotic destinations by making sure we’ve ticked off  everything on our kit list:

Appropriate clothing


We may not have a tropical climate but UK weather can take you by surprise, especially in the winter. A good layering system is key to staying comfortable out on the hill.

  • A moisture wicking base layer like the Kepler merino will keep you warm and dry on a long day out.

  • Mid layers capture warmth and insulate the body, but need to be breathable and moisture wicking too. Micro-fleece like the Yakutian 2 or Akita boasts a high weight-to-warmth ratio, whereas the gridded-fleece Griffon is highly breathable for when your output is a bit higher.

  • A soft shell is a great additional layer for a bit of extra warmth on cold days or when you’re standing about a bit. Primaloft layers like the Katabatic retain their thermal properties when wet, making them ideal for UK conditions.

  • Waterproofs should be your UK autumn, winter and even summer staple, especially when out on the hill! The Argonaut is excellent for a day out in the UK hills, with a relaxed fit that makes I comfy over other layers. If you’re anticipating extended periods in adverse weather, the higher spec fabric of the Balance will offer a bit more protection.

  • Walking trousers, well you’d look a bit funny without them! A good pair of wind resistant and water resistant trousers like the Chilkoots will keep out those blasts of bitingly cold wind. If you’re expecting downpour, some waterproof trousers like the Parallax wouldn’t be amiss either.

  • Gaiters are invaluable allies against the mud and the bog, these will keep your feet dry and save you from getting muddy trousers.

  • Hat and gloves, you’ll be happy you have them when you need them!

Comfy footwear
  • Socks: the importance of a good pair of hiking socks should never be underestimated. Everyone has a different sock system, but most of us like to layer a thin sock under a thicker sock (like the Heavy Weight Trekkers) to avoid blisters.

  • Boots: wearing a good pair of walking boots is essential, and although testing out your brand-new boots on Helvellyn might seem like a good idea at first, you’ll regret it when you’re stuck at the summit with a load of painful blisters!

Food and drink

We tend to eat like hobbits when we’re out walking. After all, when else do you get to eat breakfast, second breakfast, and elevenses?

Make sure you pack yourself a good meal and take a few extra high energy snacks too. You may not think you’ll eat it all, but you never know what delays you may face when out and about and there’s nothing worse than being hungry on the hill! (If you don’t eat it, at least you’ve got tomorrow’s lunch sorted!)

Water: We all know the importance of staying hydrated, but it’s amazing how often we forget to take a flask of water with us when we head out for the day! Make sure that you’ve got enough water for your day out. A titanium flask helps you keep your load light.

Map and compass

We’re not saying that you can’t navigate by divination (we’re not saying you can either), but you should take a map and compass anyway and make sure that you know how to use them. Even on familiar trails, it’s amazing how the clearest of paths can suddenly befuddle us when the weather closes in.

Head torch

Those dark evenings and short days always seem to take us by surprise when the clocks go back. Throwing a head torch in your bag could make the difference between getting home safely and getting caught out in the dark. We often take out the Gamma III, with a green LED that makes map reading easier, a red LED that let’s photographer Matt take awesome night shots, and a red rear light for staying visible on those dark country roads. It’s also worth taking a watch, it’s amazing how time can get away from you when you’re out on an adventure!

Just in case

It seems odd to take things that you hope you’ll never use when you go out hillwalking, and especially so close to home, but carrying these items about all the time will be worth it if you ever need to use them:

  • Survival bag, for protection from the elements in emergency situations,
  • Emergency whistle,
  • A watch, or something else that you can use to tell the time,
  • First aid kit, fully stocked with a few blister plasters thrown in.

Something to put it all in

How else would you get everything up the hill? You want your rucksack to be comfortable, well-fitted, and built for purpose. Cragging and trekking packs like the Chamois and the Ibex give you ample room for all your bits and bobs and back supports to help you carry stuff comfortably.

You've got your kit, now all you need is a destination! Take a look at our UK Hot Hill Haunts for inspiration

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