Equipment

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. What I do have, and what I would recommend to others, is shown below. 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 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. And it looks a bit girly.

I ended up getting this fresian one off Amazon (bottom). Maybe this’ll reduce any potential trouble with cows?

This one’s rubbish
…so I got this one

Fold-up bike. 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’d get to the start of the walk I was knackered.

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

…like an electric foldable bike! This is perfect for people like me who don’t like cycling.

I liked the Fiido D2S but you can’t buy that in the UK any more because of Brexit.

I ended up going for this 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. Most cheaper e-bikes don’t have gears. Or carriers. Or even mudguards!

A camera with a good zoom lens is essential if you’re going to write a blog like this. 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 became 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 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 is 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 no worse than 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.

I had to wash them after inadvertently wading through slurry, and they’re not quite as waterproof after washing, but still OK.

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. You can pay a lot more, but I’m not sure if they get much better.

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 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 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 wireless 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.


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, 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 😊

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, and others a whole lot easier.

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 isn’t always sinusoidal.

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.

I do have a little £3.99 mechanical compass as well, just in case.

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 the satellite comms. Quite a lot of money but better than dying out there.