Equipment

Some hikers like to show all the cool equipment they have, and that’s just fine and dandy. I’m not really a hiker though, so I don’t have a lot of equipment. I only take a day-bag rucksack and I’m paranoid about it weighing any more tan it has to.

What I do have, and what I think is good and would recommend to other people walking around the coast of Britain, is shown here. There are other things like ruck-sacks that I’ve got, but they were only cheap and not particularly special so I’ll not bother mentioning them. This is my best-of list! Click on the pic to find more details and where to buy one.


A Battery backup device. My iPhone battery only lasts a few hours when the GPS is on. The first two walks it ran out before the end and I almost lost my car! I bought one of these sharpish. Mine’s an older model than this, but is pretty cool.

Mostly I keep my phone permanently plugged into it during the walks, but the wire does get on my nerves a bit.


A sun hat. You really need a sun hat. I bought this one, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The brim is so wide it blows off with just a low breeze, and I got a sunburnt head on one walk even though I had it on all day! Pretty shit really.

I want one of those bucket hats, which should be easy to get in Manchester but they were expensive last year. I ended up getting this fresian one off Amazon. Maybe this’ll reduce any potential trouble with cows?

This one’s rubbish
…so I got this one

Fold-up bike. Now I bought this last year, when public transport was banned due to the pandemic so I could get from my car at the end of the walk to the start of the walk. I thought it’d be useful in sections where there isn’t any public transport too. And it was. The problem is I really don’t like cycling, and by the time I’d got to the start of the walk I was knackered.

This one cost me about £270 I think, and is quite good, but you can get better…


…so I bought one of these electric foldable bikes. Now this is the business! Perfect for people like me who don’t like cycling. I did quite a bit of research, and came up with the Fiido D2S, but they don’t ship to the UK anymore because of Brexit. That was annoying.

So I ended up going for an Ancheer 20″ city bike instead. It was £720 which is quite expensive, but it’s got 7 gears which is good if the battery runs out, and a carrier. Most cheaper e-bikes don’t have gears.


A camera with a good zoom lens really helps. I don’t know the first thing about cameras or photography, and on my first few walks I just used my iPhone 6 camera. It was OK, but anything more than 20 metres away, like birds, just becomes little black dots in the centre of the picture.

So if you want to take nice pictures on your walks, you need something with a good zoom. This one, a Panasonic DMC-FZ72, has a 60x zoom which is very good. I do like this camera, but don’t know how to use half the features on it! It cost me about £100 second hand on eBay.

Get a lens cap too because otherwise salt spray will make your pictures all fuzzy by the end of your walk. And get a lens cleaner cloth too cos spit and tissue ain’t that great.


I wanted a camera that I didn’t have to be worried about when it’s raining. I found the Olympus TG6 online which has very good reviews, but it’s stupidly expensive at £350.

So I bought this one, the Praktica PRA099. Not as tough as the Olympus maybe and I guess not as good quality (although it has 20 Megapixels compared with the Olympus’ 12) but it’s much more sensibly priced at around £60. It’s got 4X optical zoom, which isn’t really enough, but so has the Olympus.


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. These are waterproof (to an extent) and very comfortable.

They no longer stink of slurry after being washed twice.


I never bothered with proper walking socks to begin with, and the socks I wore would roll up inside, and the hems would rub and irritate me, so I bought these for about £16 off Amazon. I really like them.

I’d definitely recommend walking socks.


Walking trousers. Some people like them, but I don’t. I bought a cheap pair but I really didn’t like the way they went swish-swish-swish as I walked. I then bought these Craghoppers for £35, they’re tighter and softer so hopefully quieter. Don’t pay £70 for them though!

Mostly I walk in my jeans, which I know winds a lot of people up, but I’m happy 🙂


You can pay hundreds of pounds for a coat. So could I, but I didn’t. I paid £35 for this from Decathlon, and it’s lovely and warm.

It’s good for non-invisible people too.


In the summer that black coat modelled by the invisible man 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.


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! I already have a wire charging my phone, the strap for my camera, and the string from my sun-hat (although I got rid of that bloody hat now thankfully). So I bought completely wireless ones.


I could have done with a torch on the section from Warton to Blackpool. The last couple of hours was along the beach in complete darkness, and I had to use the light on my phone.

This torch has an LED bulb, is very bright, doesn’t weigh much, and has a rechargeable battery.


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.


OK, perhaps this one’s a bit strange… I also take one of these little bags, and hang it from my rucksack from a carabina, to put shells and bits of driftwood and things in. It’s my collecting bag.

My girlfriend collects shells, which she arranges all over the bathroom (which is very nice), and a friend asked me to collect bits of driftwood that she makes into beautiful artworks. Having the bag hanging from the rucksack makes it much easier to collect things.


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, gloves, 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.


Phone apps

In addition, I have a few good apps on my iPhone…

Komoot

I use this on my laptop to plan the route, then on my phone to guide me when I’m walking it, 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)

It is pretty good… but the guy’s voice on it gets on my nerves a little I have to admit, maybe a soft Irish female voice would be nicer….. Hmmm.

I can now report I’ve found out how to change the voice! 😊


Outdoors GPS

I’d been using this for a few months because it has OS maps on it, and occasionally I’d refer to them. Then I found out the other day it’d been charging me for using them so I turned it off. Bugger. You can get OS maps for free on Bing Maps, but not on the Mobile version. Bugger.


My Tide Times

On a coastal walk it’s often useful to know the state of the tide. Several sections are only accessible at low tide. 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.


British Red Cross First Aid

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.

It’s free.


What3Words

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.


Compass

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.

There must be a better way of doing this though…


RainToday

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.


Things I’d like to have

When I get up to 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 GPSMAP 66s GPS.

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. The GPS trekking feature isn’t great on it, apparently. It’s £400, plus £15 a month for when you want to use it. Quite a lot of money but better than dying out there.


Ahh, them wee beasties. In the summer the midges can be infuriating, so I’m told. If the insect repellent doesn’t work, then hopefully the net’ll keep them out, and if the net doesn’t keep them out, there’s the bite spray. Scotland, eh. Rains in the autumn, winter, and spring, then when it finally comes out nice those little buggers appear!


In case I get caught out, and have to bed down for the night in the middle of nowhere. For the sake of £20 and 99g of weight, why wouldn’t you take this?