Hiking Kit

Hiking kit. What to take. What to leave. Questions....morphology? Longevity? Incept dates?

I like kit. I like selecting it, going through countless reviews and then analysing and over analysing, then berating myself for being anal. Then doing it all over again. Such fun!

Okay, to give you an idea of where I’m coming from, I’d consider myself an overlayering, softshell, lightweight hiker who counts the grams but only up to a point. I guess I like to keep it as simple as possible - fewer options = less to go wrong.

Here’s a whole load of stuff I own and really like - it doesn’t always make it to every outdoor activity but every item here has been tried, tested and proven to be great.

Vango Halo 200 Tent - www.vango.co.uk

This is my latest tent. Before this I used a Vango Force 10 FW one man tent. Great tent and ahead of its time but cramped for two and uncomfortable for cooking in, hence the upgrade. The Halo 200 is much heavier but has so much room it’s well worth it by the time you reach your camping zone.

GoLite Jam2 Rucksack www.golite.com

GoLite make some clever, tough, light packs. I picked up the Jam 2 at a great price just after it came out. I very much rate it, even if it does get a bit sweaty. I’ve made some adjustments to it but to be honest, it’s ready out of the box.

Khyam Sleeping Bags

I’m pretty sure that Khyam have gone bust but you can still find their products for sale if you look around. I bought a Khyam 600 and an 800 sleeping bags for about 50 quid all in. Stupidly cheap bags with some nice features normally reserved for more expensive bags. People have told me that Khyam are crap on quality and you get what you pay for (a maxim I normally agree with) but in this case, I’m glad that the low price got me interested. I use the 600 for warm weather and the 800 when it’s cooler. I have an ageing Firebird sleeping bag for well below zero temperatures but it doesn’t get used much. These may not be as tough as more expensive bags but they’re well worth it if (like me) your budget is rather modest.

UCO Mini Candle Lantern - http://candlelantern.com

I really rate the humble UCO Candle Lanterns. I’ve got two of them - the standard one and the mini. For hiking, I employ the Micro candle lantern which is light, uses standard tealight candles, gives off plenty of light in a tent and a reasonable amount of warmth.

Hi Gear Blaze Titanium Stove

What can I say about this beast? It’s tough, stupidly light, well made and it cooks my food a treat. I usually take C100 gas cartridges, an unbranded aluminium kettle and a homemade windshield.

I tend to only boil water (drinks, dehydrated meals like Beanfeast, and so on). I used to have a homemade sideburner meths stove (you can see it here) but it’s just enough of a faff to make coffee breaks a pest to set up. No problems with the Hi Gear Blaze and all in, it’s not much heavier than my former meths setup.

Sigg Water-bottles - www.sigg-online.com

People can get surprisingly passionate about water-bottles. I find that the aluminium type are tougher than plastic, last longer and have far less taste impact on the contents than the plastic variety. I have also found that Sigg offer the highest quality aluminium bottles so in turn,  that’s what I use. I’ve got about 10 of the buggers in all sizes - the latest being a monstrous 1.5l wide mouthed bottle with a nylon insulating sleeve. Very nice, cleverly made - enough said.

Petzl E+Lite Head Torch - www.petzl.com

What an awesome piece of kit! It’s so well thought out and well designed. I have a more powerful head torch but for hiking, this is more than enough (I’ve used it for running over rough terrain and it was plenty bright). When I hike, I tend to put this around my neck and never remove it just so that it’s always ready for use. Brilliant.

Delta Insulated Mug - www.seatosummit.com.au

When I was cooking with meths, my mug was my cookpot (saving weight and bulk). However, since I mostly hike with a mate, employing a kettle is safer, more economical, quicker and easier than anything else. Consequently, a light, insulated, lidded mug like this one makes more sense. The Delta mug is great and does exactly what it’s supposed to - once again, enough said.

The Travel Tap Water Filter - www.drinksafe-systems.co.uk

Like a lot of hikers, I had been looking for that Holy Grail of water treatments systems - something that was light, cheap, effective, dependable and most importantly, a system that could be used a couple of times a year then put away until the next trip. That system finally became available in the form of the Travel Tap water filter.

I’ve been using my TT bottle for a couple of years now (I only get to go hiking a handful of times a year - sob) and the TT hasn’t failed yet. The river water on Dartmoor can have a serious peaty taste and orange hue to boot but the TT strips out all of the keck and you get water that is clearer and tastes better than the stuff I get out of my taps at home. Highly recommended!

Thermarest Trekker Chair - http://cascadedesigns.com

I know what you’re thinking - “calls himself a lightweight hiker then takes a bloomin’ chair!”. A year ago I would have agreed with you but truth be known, I like to show off. A little. I believe that everyone who goes hiking owes it to themselves to take at least one piece of kit that (preferably) no one else owns, or better yet, has ever seen. A flashy piece of luxury to taunt over your less fortunate comrades and with hiking, the most mundane item can become very desirable. For me, it’s currently this chair. Looks odd, weighs very little, works very well. The stuff of envy after a long hike : )

Travel Supalite Water Filter Bag - www.drinksafe-systems.co.uk

I needed / wanted a filter solution that worked better for small groups than the Travel Tap filter (by better I mean “fill and forget”). The Supalite water bag is fantastic! It’s well made, works brilliantly, is light and robust and inexpensive to boot. Very much recommended.

DD Poncho - http://www.ddhammocks.com/

It took me quite of bit of time to decide to risk trying out a poncho and then even longer choosing one. Yes, the DD Poncho is twice as heavy as a standard poncho BUT it’s well made, very tough, well designed and properly waterproof. I like going as light as possible but when dependability comes into question, I’ll choose tough kit over the light stuff any time.

Why a poncho? Because no matter how good my Buffalo kit is, it’s still a pest when you’re soaking wet, trying to dry out inside a tent. A poncho stops all of that nonsense and it also makes for a completely viable shelter. After one very wet day in the hills, this became one of my favourite pieces of kit full-stop capital letter. Recommended to people who have the guts to try out new ways of doing things.