Essential Endurance Walking Skills: How to Carry Gear?

As the container for your ‘life support system’ you need to pack your rucksack so that gear  is easily accessible. Jackets are folded, rolled up and stored vertically like the other items in the main compartment to aid removal. Hopefully, you won’t need the waterproof overtrousers so these can be placed horizontally at the bottom of the pack. The image below shows my packing method for endurance walks using a 26 litre rucksack.

how-to-carry-gear-clothing

The link here to PDF:

How to carry gear & clothing

Chris

Essential Endurance Walking Skills: What to Carry?

Essential Endurance Walking Skills: What to Carry?

Here are some of my personal views when deciding on what to carry on an endurance walk like the 75 mile National Forest Way. This is a trip which I am currently organising and planning to do the walk in three days. On each day I will be walking an average of 25 miles. In this type of activity it is necessary to keep weight down to a minimum to aid enjoyment. Selecting equipment needs thought as when conditions dictate it maybe that you are carrying and not wearing items of clothing. Here you need to be aware that the clothing you use is not only light in weight but is compact and can be easily compressed to reduce volume when packed. Please note that the following observations are based on an endurance walk undertaken in late spring in a low level environment close to human habitation over terrain that consists of public rights of way, paths and tracks.

Equipment for endurance walks

Rucksack

The rucksack is the container for your ‘life support system’ during the trek and this is the starting point to keep weight down. There is no need to have a pack that has all the extras like ice-ax fittings, attachment points for crampons and automatic cup holders! All these add unnecessary weight. For endurance walking in low level terrain I use a pack that has an uncomplicated design, is comfortable to carry, light weight and is around 26 litres capacity. The latter feature is to limit the volume and weight I carry. My current pick of the bunch for endurance walks, and indeed short rambles, is the Black Diamond RPM.  Access to the main body is via a zipped lid and inside is a bladder pouch holder and a front compartment. The lid has a zipped outside pocket and a zipped inside one which includes a clip to hold your keys etc… On the exterior are two mesh pockets each capable of holding a 600ml drinks bottle plus a lunch bar. The volume of the pack can be adjusted by an external draw cord on it’s front face which ensures everything loaded is held tight and close to your back.

Inside the Pack

Waterproof Jacket & Trousers

My most recent addition in outdoor clothing is a Marmot Artemis NanoPro lightweight water proof jacket. I bought this to replace my aging (and leaking) Marmot Preclip jacket. I wanted a lightweight waterproof jacket that had a chest pocket to hold my glasses when it rained hard! And this jacket has said pocket. I have now used it on several occasions including a full day of rain when on the 2014 Seagrave Wolds 16 mile Challenge Walk. It performed perfectly and I remained dry throughout the event. In contrast the oldest item of clothing I am still using is a pair of Rohan overtrousers. I bought these maybe 20 years ago and Rohan’s Waterlight H2P fabric still does the business. Although they are lined they are lightweight and fold up compactly.

Spare Warm Jacket

Again I am going back in time because my Marmot Driclime Jacket from over a decade ago is still the most effective and efficient garment to carry (and wear when needed) providing warmth and an element of wind resistance in a lightweight and compact package. I selected the jacket version with the full length zip to aid getting the garment on and off easily as the need and conditions required. The outer is wind resistant nylon and the inner is a lightweight polyester fleece.

Hat & Gloves

In weather that is forecast to be changeable, which is most of the time in England, I take a warm hat and gloves. These don’t need to be full on mountaineering styles but lightweight and effective ones. My warm hat dates from the last century and is made by Patagonia from their stretch Syncilla fabric whilst my fleece gloves are a similar vintage displaying the Icefall label. A baseball cap is useful just it case the sun decides to come out.

First Aid Kit

The usual stuff: assorted plasters, antiseptic wipes, pain killers and Compeed blister plasters are contained in a fold out pouch. Included in this pouch is a SwissCard due to having a pair of tweezers and a neat pair of scissors along with a tooth pick and nail file! As it is late spring and the sun may be out then it is essential to take sun cream. On recommendation from my daughter, who is a snowboarder, I am taking Piz Buin Mountain Suncream with a 50+ SPF! This provides protection not only from the sun but also cold, wind and high altitudes!

Torch

A trusted Maglite 2 AA cell torch is included in my pack. I will make sure it has a spare bulb in it’s tail and it contains fresh batteries. These essentials, the first aid kit and torch, are kept together in a Lowe Alpine U-shaped mesh bag and then placed in a waterproof bag.

Sit mat

A small piece of closed-cell foam is carried to ensure that when I need to sit down to eat or enjoy the view I can in relative comfort.

Nutrition 

I will carry two 600ml plastic bottles of diluted orange drink for liquid whilst food will consist of a variety of snack bars and dried fruit. This will be supplemented along the way as the route passes through many villages that have shops and some have a pub!

Spares

On a low level walk like this carry spares is not really necessary. Also it is light until late and the essence is to keep moving at a reasonable pace hence not taking the kitchen sink! However, space will be found for a length of paracord which has a multitude of uses including make-do laces.

Keeping it all Dry

Plastic bags will ensure everything is kept dry.

Navigation Aids

Route Plans

I have downloaded the route guides from: http://www.nationalforestway.co.uk/downloads/and have laminated them to protect them from the elements.

Maps

The relevant Ordnance Survey maps will be carried and used: 233, 245 & 246.

Compass

A Silva Type 4 will be taken along as a ‘just in case’.

GPS Receiver

I have one but still debating whether it is worth carrying in this kind of environment. OK it doesn’t weigh much but every kg counts in this game.

I hope you have found this helpful and I welcome comments.

A personal challenge

Dimminsdale - The National Forest Way

It is all well and good responding to Tweets but there are times when there is a tangible and physical need to venture outdoors. To this end tomorrow, Thursday 28th May 2015, sees me starting a personal challenge to complete the 75 mile National Forest Way in three days. Also I am using this activity to raise money for a Helipad to be built at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham which is the major trauma unit in the East Midlands. If you would like to make a donation I have set up an account on Just Giving:

https://www.justgiving.com/Chris-Sweetman1

Planning for an adventure like this is important. Gear and equipment needs to be sorted but the main area to consider is the route planning. Luckily the National Forest has provided leaflets covering the whole trail which can be downloaded here:

http://www.nationalforestway.co.uk/downloads/

Thoughtfully, these information leaflets are available for both eastbound and westbound routes. They use Ordnance Survey maps with the route overlaid on them and include directions. I have walked along the route in Dimminsdale Wood recently and noted the way is well sign posted. So with all this in order yesterday I went to my favourite secondhand bookshop and managed to find a couple of very interesting books. The first is “Upon That Mountain” by Eric Shipton published in 1943 and the other is “International Mountain Rescue Handbook” by Hamish MacInnes 2nd edition published in 1984. In this blog I will focus on the former as there is a chapter that relates well to my venture. In chapter VIII “Large Expeditions” Eric Shipton writes about the fallacy of tackling Himalayan Peaks with huge numbers and draws on his experience with the British 1933 Everest Expedition. He goes on to say that opinions vary regarding the optimum size of expeditions. Then he relates to a conversation he had with his friend Dr. Humphreys who in answering this question firmly replied “Three constitutes a large expedition, a party of one may be considered a small expedition.” As my venture to complete the National Forest Way is a solo one it may be considered, in Dr. Humphreys view, a small expedition.