I’m not really a serious hiker, so I don’t have a lot of stuff. I only take a day-bag rucksack and a few things that in my experience I’ve found useful. Some of what I do have which I would recommend to others, is shown below. Click on the pic to find more details and where to buy one.
Battery backup device
My iPhone battery only lasts a few hours when the GPS is on. On my first two walks it ran out before I reached the end, and I almost lost my car, so I bought one of these. There are loads of different models with different capacities. Mine is 26,000mAh and cost about £30.
You really need a sun hat. I started with one like this (top), but I wouldn’t recommend it. The brim is so wide it blows off with just a low breeze.
I ended up getting this Fresian one off Amazon. I reckon it’ll camouflage me enough to sneak through fields of potentially troublesome cows?
Useful for when there’s no public transport to get to the start of the walk. The problem is I really don’t like cycling, and by the time I get to the start of the walk I’m knackered!
This one cost about £300, is quite good, and very light, but you can get better…
Electric fold-up bike
This is perfect for people like me who don’t like cycling.
I liked the look of the Fiido D2S at £533, but you couldn’t buy it in the UK at the time because of Brexit, I don’t know if they’ve decided to ship to the UK now.
I ended up going for this Ancheer 20″ city bike instead. It was about £720 which is quite expensive, but it’s got 7 gears, and is more rugged than the Fiido. Range is realistically only about 8 miles, which is a bit short, but longer range bikes cost a lot more.
A camera with a good zoom lens is essential to illustrate this blog. I started off using my iPhone 6 camera, but anything a little far away, like birds, just became tiny black dots.
So if you want to take nice pictures on your walks, you need something with a good zoom lens. This one (Panasonic DMC-FZ72) has a huge 60× zoom, but you don’t really need that much. There are thousands of good second-hand cameras on eBay – this one cost me £100.
Get a lens cap too because otherwise salt spray will make your pictures all fuzzy by the end of your walk. And a lens cleaner cloth too ‘cos spit and tissue ain’t that great!
I also wanted a camera that didn’t mind getting wet for those really rainy days, and river crossings. The Olympus TG6 has very good reviews, but is stupidly expensive at £389, so I bought this one, a Praktica PRA099.
It’s not as tough as the Olympus and I guess not as good quality (although it has 20 Megapixels compared with the Olympus’ 12Mp) but it’s much more sensibly priced at around £90. It’s got 4× optical zoom, which isn’t really enough, but no worse than the Olympus.
I never bothered with proper walking socks to begin with, and my socks would roll up inside my boots, and the hems would rub and irritate, so I bought these for about £16 off Amazon. I really like them. You can pay a lot more, but I’m not sure if they get much better.
I bought a pair of these walking shoes from Decathlon the morning of my first walk for about £50, and I’m very happy with them. I don’t know much about walking boots so I don’t know if more expensive pairs are really much better, or if boots are better than shoes. These are waterproof (to an extent) and very comfortable.
You can pay hundreds of pounds for a coat. So could I, but I didn’t. This was £35 from Decathlon, and it’s lovely and warm.
It’s good for non-invisible people too.
In the summer the black coat is way too thick and heavy, so I bought this blue Regatta one, which can be rolled up and put in my rucksack. I think it was about £35.
You can spend hundreds of pounds on thin summer coats too. Glad I didn’t, this one’s fine.
I already had a penknife, but bent it badly out of shape when trying to free the chain on my folding bike when it got stuck down behind the gear cassette. It seemed like a good idea at the time! So I’ve just bought a posh Victorinox one, at around £33.
I cut down a big bush with it between Bootle and Ravenglass to make a staff for wading through the Esk, the only time it’s been used so far!
I don’t normally listen to music or the radio when I’m walking, but occasionally a bit of musical relief is very welcome. Like once when I had to walk 5 miles along the side of a dual-carriageway.
Wires and strings round my neck really get on my nerves though, I get tangled up in them, so I bought Bluetooth ones.
Not in many hiker’s equipment lists, but I really like my yellow umbrella. It’s really light and sits in one of the side pockets of my rucksack for instant access. I’ve passed several other hikers in the rain and smiled at them while they grimaced through the raindrops!
I wear a scarf in winter too. This one was only £525, and they threw in 19 free football matches.
Available from Manchester City Football Club.
That’s not all I take of course. I also normally have a first aid kit, towels, spare camera battery, spare SD card for the camera, bank card, bobble hat, gloves (I’ve found cheap Thinsulate ones are fine, it’s only Britain after all), pen, sunscreen, tiny towels (actually microfibre cleaning cloths, which are very useful… defo get some), a whistle, a small compass, spare glasses, a facemask (Coronavirus), and loads of snack bars, but you can get that sort of stuff anywhere.
In addition, I have a few good apps on my iPhone…
I use this on my laptop to plan the route, then on my phone to guide me when I’m walking, and for showing the maps on my blog afterwards as well. It’s free for a basic version, or £60 a year for premium (which I don’t bother with). The default posh guy’s voice on it got on my nerves, but I found how to change it to a soft Irish female voice.
This app is pretty cool, and free. It shows radar images of the clouds above where you are and predictions for the next hour. Useful for deciding whether to continue or stay in the cafe for another cuppa.
This app gives the tide times for the official location nearest to wherever you are that has records. The tide can change over just a few hundred metres due to local conditions, but generally this will tell you the best time to go. It’s free.
Tides can also be seen in much more detail on this website here. It even shows the shape of the flow and ebb, which surprisingly (to me at least) isn’t always sinusoidal.
Luckily I’ve never had to use this app, but it’s definitely worth having it on your phone. It tells you what to do in a variety of circumstances.
This app generates three words for whatever location you are in, to a resolution of 3m x 3m squares, anywhere on Earth. It’s used by the emergency services, and is a much easier way of telling them your location than grid references. It’s free as well.
I actually use the compass app quite a lot, so I can point at some landmark in the distance, find out what direction it is in, then refer to Google Maps to see what it is.
Things I’d like to have
Up in the highlands of Scotland it gets pretty remote, and some of my planned routes are over moorland with no paths, no people, and no mobile phone coverage. There are even stories of people who have died. You need some serious equipment up there. Like this Garmin Montana 700i.
This rather expensive beastie combines a GPS trekking tool, and satellite communicator. You can send and receive text messages from anywhere on earth (probably not underground though), and contact the emergency services with the SOS button. It’s £640 from garmin (although you can get it much cheaper elsewhere), plus £15 a month for when you want to use the satellite comms. Quite a lot of money but better than dying out there.