The mountains that I work in are rugged and beautiful; that's why I love them so much. But they are also remote and it would be foolhardy to head out into the mountains without being prepared for any eventuality.
This kit list contains the basics that I recommend you carry with you when joining us on our mountain adventures.
When in the mountains, clothing must follow two key rules:
Layer your clothing: air trapped between the layers is the best insulator available!
Never ever wear cotton! Choose wool (merino is best) or nylon/polyester.
With that in mind, you will need the following basic mountain wear:
Waterproof walking boots and walking socks
Thin baselayer top (long or short sleeved)
Long-sleeved midlayer (e.g., fleece or hoodie)
Waterproof coat (with minimum taped seams)
Waterproof overtrousers (with taped seams)
The weather in the mountains can change in minutes, so even if you start out in the sunshine, carry this with you in your backpack. In particularly bad conditions, it's sometimes worth carrying extra mid layers and gloves - for me, cold hands are the worst thing!
Food & Hydration
Make sure that you pack enough food for your day. Bear in mind that walking up mountains burns calories like nobody's business, so it's ok to add extra high-calorie treats like crisps, chocolate bars or flapjacks.
For hydration, carry two litres of water or equivalent fluid in soft drinks, tea or coffee. If it's an especially hot day, bring a third. If it's cold, pack a flask. Make sure that you drink regularly during the day.
Other Weather Protection
Even though most people associate Wales with rain, it can occasionally be beatifully hot and sunny! If the weather forecast is for sun then don't forget:
High-factor sun cream (I prefer factor 50)
Pick a backpack that is big enough to carry everything. I find that a 30L pack is usually enough on a summer day, with a 45 litre pack being more useful for climbing or winter days.
I pack all my kit into separate waterproof dry-bags (rather than a single pack liner) so that I can organise hat/gloves separately from e.g., food, emergency kit, head torch, etc.
Map of the Area
When we're out in the mountains, I like to share navigation hints and tips, to help improve your general mountain skillset. I find this works best when you have your own map of the area we're walking in that day.
All of Snowdonia is covered by the following 3 maps:
Ordnance Survey Explorer OL17 Snowdon & Conwy Valley - the one I use most!
Ordnance Survey Explorer OL18 Harlech, Porthmadog & Bala - less frequently used.
Ordnance Survey Explorer OL23 Cadair Idris & Llyn Tegid - rarer occasions when visiting Southern Snowdonia.
Personally, I prefer OS's Active maps, which are slightly more expensive but are laminated against the weather. Alternatively, map pockets big enough to contain a folded map can be used, but the map will be difficult to re-fold if the weather is wet and windy.
I prefer the Silva Expedition 4 compass, which comes with a large baseplate and other features, but there are other models and other brands (e.g., Suunto, Ordnance Survey, Brunston) available from your local outdoor shop, which will perform the basic function of giving you a bearing well enough.
First Aid Kit
Always carry a basic first aid kit. For me, that kit will include:
Paracetamol, Ibuprofen, Aspirin, Antihistamine
waterproof adhesive plaster dressings
Blister plasters or zinc oxide tape
Pack as much as you can carry - you never know when you (or a colleague) will need it.
In the worst case, you will need to contact the outside world for help, be it friends or Mountain Rescue. Having a fully-charged mobile phone will mean that this help can get to you sooner. Don't forget that, even if there's poor phone signal, you can send a text, but you will need to have your mobile phone registered with the 999 service beforehand.
There are small emergency shelters that weigh only a hundred grammes or so. It's worthwhile packing one, for that "just in case" moment.
So there you go, the basic kit list to enjoy your day in the mountains. And don't forget to bring your pragmatic glasses, so that when the weather is still sub-optimal, you can still look on the bright side: at least you're out of the office and getting some healthy fresh air!