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Gear Matters: 10 Outdoor Essentials to Bring on Your Walking Holiday

walking guide gives tips on outdoor gear essentialsIn the remote places you visit on a walking holiday, there may be little shops available. In order to be prepared for unexpected situations, guide John this month brings you 10 outdoor essentials to pack on your cycling or walking holiday.


No one ever wants anything to go wrong on a walking holiday, but in remote areas there is always the possibility of losing a trail and getting disorientated. Perhaps because it is getting dark or misty, maybe the weather is on the turn, or you had to slow down for other reasons. Especially in Western Europe this is likely to be a temporary affair. But fear and worry are enemies as much as the environment and a clear head is what is needed to adapt to the situation. This is always helped by carrying some outdoor gear essentials, so let me give you 10 tips for items to bring on an active holiday to the outdoors.


1. Firstly, always have a compass, and if you have a local map from the tour it is highly unlikely that you have walked off the page! You may be able to interpret features that you can see and estimate where you are. Back track along the trail until you find the next sign, waymark, or habitation and your compass will prove to be a very helpful outdoor gear to have on you.


2. GPS devices are also useful, and a lot of phones now have GPS and mapping apps. With this in mind, you should invest in a Lithium battery recharger such as a 'Powermonkey' and charge it up at every opportunity. Depending on the capacity of this outdoor item, they can charge a phone, GPS or camera 3 or 4 times to keep you going longer in the wild. It is worth knowing that mobile phones will usually pick up the emergency services such as 112 or 999, even if there is no network reception.


3. Other important items to take are water purification tablets, you can use a buff or kerchief to filter the worst elements of water before applying tablets.


4. As well as a normal litre water bottle, you can get silica type water bottles that pack and compress to nothing, they are used by ultra-runners and can act as an emergency extra reserve if you have to wander far from a water source on your outdoor adventure.


5. Take a pocket knife, preferably one which includes at least a serrated blade for easier cutting of small branches, sticks etc. 'Victorinox' do some good ones and in my opinion should definitely on your outdoor gear essentials packing list.


Essential outdoor gear for walking holidays


Walking gear essentials - pack a pocket knife


Walking gear outdoor essentials - water


6. Being able to light a fire is a useful thing for signalling or keeping warm, you can shave sticks with a knife for kindling (called fire sticks) and it is worth carrying a flint sparkler or a lighter.


7. Lightweight head torches are almost an essential thing to pack, if only to find your way back from the pub from some village. Makes like 'Petzl', 'Black Diamond' and 'Silva' have a good beam and long running times. They are useful for signalling and some have red LEDs for maintaining your night vision.


8. The next outdoor essential to have is an emergency bivvy bag, these don’t have to be heavy plastic sheets, there are new types developed for runners with much better insulation such as 'Blizzard Bags.' These are feather light and vacuum packed, so once you get them out, they can't be recompressed to their original dimensions!


9. Take a basic first aid kit, both 'lifesystems' and 'Ortileb' do compact kits in waterproof casing which are a great addition to your gear list. 

10. Finally, take high energy bars and rehydration powders and carry them in a waterproof bag.


All these outdoor gear essentials you may never need to use, but may make all the difference when you do need to. It is always reassuring to have the right ensemble of kit and, as the old scouting motto exclaimed, 'Be Prepared!' 


Like John's Gear Matters blog articles? There are more! If you're interested in navigating, cycling gear, walking poles, or walking boots & sandals, check out all outdoor gear blog posts here

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