I’ve backpacked across Scotland twice now in the TGO Challenge and I’m getting pretty good at figuring out what gear to bring. Still there were a few standout items on my gear list and a few bombs that I should have left at home. Tweak, live, and learn. Routes and weather conditions change every year. Gear lists should too based on environmental needs and experience.
See my 2013 TGO Challenge Gear List to see what I brought on this trip and my 2013 Challenge trip report for details and photos about our journey. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below.
Waterproof and windproof layers: my Outdoor Research Versaliner Gloves, Outdoor Research Foray Jacket, and GoLite Tumalo Rain Pants did a fantastic job keeping me warm and dry. The Versaliner gloves preserved my dexterity far better than the rain mitts I wore during my 2010 Challenge hike, the torso length pit zips on the Foray Jacket let me vent heat when I was too hot, and the calf-length zippers in the legs of my rain pants made them very easy to put on and take off between rain showers. I wore all three of these garments EVERY day of the Challenge.
Rab Micro Pull-On Fleece – 100 Weight – I don’t usually wear a fleece sweater when hiking because they are so warm, but my English hiking partner was insistent that I bring a lightweight fleece jumper for extra insulation if I was cold or wet. He was absolutely right! and I wore this fleece under my waterproofs every day as an active mid-layer. Fleece is a pretty standard garment for UK hillwalkers and I now understand why.
Western Mountaineering Ultralite 20 sleeping bag – I was worried I’d be too warm with this bag, but we had very cold weather and it was perfect. I’ve owned it for over 5 years and still think it’s the perfect sleeping bag for cool spring weather.
Dashpoint 20 Lowepro Camera Pocket - I’ll be doing a review of this camera pouch next week, but it attaches very securely to a backpack shoulder strap and provides excellent weather protection and access for point-and-shoot cameras. This was the first trip I’d used it on and it’s a keeper.
1.o Liter MSR Reactor Stove System – Not the lightest isobutane canister stove system out there, but certainly the fastest. I cooked meals with it under my tarp every night and like the fact that it doesn’t have an open flame like other gas burners. I think this makes it safer for use when cooking inside a shelter in foul weather, as long as you have proper ventilation to vent the carbon monoxide it gives off.
Pacer Poles – These trekking poles are great for hiking in mountainous and hillly terrain because they help you stand up straight and align your posture for optimum energy utilization and biomechanical advantage. They’re very popular among Challengers and work well with most ultralight shelter systems that can use hiking poles instead of tent poles.
The Bombs – Leave at Home Next Time
Dirty Girl Gaiters – a last minute addition to my gear list. These gaiters attach to your trail runners with a metal hook that slips under the laces and velcro tape that you apply to the back of your trail runners to prevent scree from entering your shoes. I’d sprayed them with Permethrin and added them to my gear list to prevent tick bites. Unfrtunately, the velcro tape came off my shoes after one day and I ended up carrying the gaiters for the whole trip but not using them. Blat!
Rocky Gore-tex Socks – I brought these as an extra thermal layer around wet socks, not because I expected them to keep my feet dry. When I put them on after a very cold stream crossing the water from my socks sloshed around inside them and was annoying. I guess the pair I’d brought on my 2010 Challenge hike had holes in them! Next time, just double up on wool liner socks if my feet get cold.
Too many spare camera batteries – I ended up using one lithium camera battery to take 1,000 photos in three weeks without needing to recharge it once. Next time, bring 1 spare battery instead of 3.
Things I wish I’d Brought
The battery portion of my PowerMonkey Extreme Solar Charger and Battery pack because it would have made it possible to recharge my phone in the field and use cell phone based mapping tools and digital recording equipment. For instance, my hiking partner Martin Rye used an app on his phone called ViewRanger which proved very useful for finding the position of paths and land rover tracks and where they were relative to our position when traversing large peat bogs. I’m afraid that my resistance to using a cell phone as a GPS has crumbled because that app provided so useful on our trip….
A bathtub floor for my Mountain Laurel Designs Duomid tarp because it would have been more comfortable for sleeping on ground covered in tussocks and mole hills and less slippery than a polycro ground sheet and bivy sack which have the tendency to slide around at night.
Other than that – all my gear was perfect!