Some tips that may be useful
Protecting your gear tips
There is one thing that I would recommend to anyone reading this site, register anything that can be lost or stolen which is of value to you with Immobilise.com and The Bike Register - such as all your devices, camera's, phones and watches and alike. Immobilise.com is a national property database, and The Bike Register is the national cycle register database, they are both free and very secure.
If you lose them, the finder or the police will be able to return them to you much easier and much quicker! and most of the reputable pawn shops and second hand dealers use these sites, so if someone tries to sell your beloved item, they will inform the police, I can speak from experience, they do work and inform the police very quickly.
Walking gear tips
Remember any fool can be uncomfortable. If your feet and hands are happy, then your body and mind will generally be happy, so keep them dry and keep them warm.
When selecting my gear, I follow 5 basic guides for selection:
- It needs to do the job and be fit for purpose.
- It needs to be comfortable and easy to wear (easy to clean is a bonus).
- I have to be able to afford it.
- It needs to be good value for money.
- I read the negative feedback comments on a seller's website and watch reviews on YouTube.
There is the saying that you pay for what you get, and another one that says buyer beware. They are both true, but just because it cost a fortune, that doesn't mean it is the best you could have bought! and just because it was cheap doesn't always mean you got a bargain! Look out for best buys, buy one get one free offers, and shop in the sales, or at the end of the season. By all means listen to what the store staff recommend - they usually know what they are talking about - but it is worth reading up on the Internet and watching YouTube to see what other buyers have to say about the product.
Boots - probably the most important item of clothing, they don't need to be the top of the range, or need to feature the latest technology. But they do need to be able to cope with the weather and the terrain they are going to be used on, fit comfortably, give good ankle and heel support, have a good tread and they need to be waterproof. It is well worth the effort to visit a boot fitter.
Gaiters - they are not essential, but highly recommended. When the weather turns unpleasant, or when walking through wet heather or over wet ground, you'll be pleased you invested in a pair. Plus they help keep the ticks away, help keep your feet dry and the bottom of your trousers mud free.
Waterproofs - a good waterproof jacket and trousers are essential, they should be easy to get into at short notice with little effort. They need to be able to fit over what ever tops and walking jacket is being worn - remember different manufacturer's sizes differ - one company's large is another company's extra large..
Gloves - generally not needed for summer walks, but they do come in handy if venturing out in spring or autumn.
Backpack - I have a couple of back packs, for summer I use a 15 litre capacity rucksack which holds all the gear outlined here and a spare top and still a bit of room left over. In winter I use a 35 litre capacity rucksack that allows me to carry extra gear - crampons, ice axe, cooker, brew kit, emergency shelter, head torch and a spare top and socks in case the worst happens - even on the shortest of walks.
If you get wet, cold, hungry or thristy then the chances are that you will not be enjoying yourself, and the last mile home can seem like an eternity - be comfortable and be happy.
First Aid Kit - A basic one should include plasters, bandages, tape and penknife, this should suffice for most minor injuries. It doesn't need to be elaborate, afterall I won't be conducting surgery. There are many on the market specific for hill walking at very little cost. I've carried one for years, though I have never needed it - but guaranteed the day I don't have it with me, will be the day I probably end up needing it! - remember to keep it in date, bandages and plasters do have a shelf life.
Water - even when leisurely walking, you burn up many calories, even more on hot days or on strenuous walks, it is very important to keep well hydrated - I have a 3 litre bladder that fits in my backpack, but two bottles of still drink will keep you refreshed on the shortest of walks.
Food - Even on the shortest walks I always carry a couple of chocolate bars, energy bars, a bag of boiled sweets/nuts and/or a bit of fruit. On longer trips over lunch, I carry a couple of sandwiches and extra fruit.
Map and Compass - I always plan my walk and walk my plan, a copy of which I leave on my car seat. It is easy to get lost. Whilst maps can be downloaded and printed off. I always carry a full size paper map of the area, and carry an old fashion compass. Even with very little map reading knowledge/skill these help me stay on track. That being said, it is a very useful skill to master, especially when undertaking any long walks over moorland or mountainous terrain or along rocky ridges.
There are many mobile phone app's and satellite navigation aids available - but they come with a but! I use a Suunto GPS watch (which is my everyday watch), and I have a hand held OS Aventura GPS unit. Whilst the latter is toy gadget, they both have many safety features and will give my real time position either as a grid reference or as longitude and latitude. They are also fun and great for comparing my walks and fitness against my previous walks. Whilst there are many mobile phone app's on the market offering a range of features. As I said they come with a BUT! at the end of the day, they are electronic and can fail. Some apps can drain the battery, and may result in you not being able to make that all important phone call!
At the end of the day an old fashioned map and compass won't drain the battery of your mobile phone, and won't let you down - unless the map gets soaking wet - though highly unlikely, as I always get the weatherproof version!
My GPS watch is my everyday watch anyway so I don't consider it a luxury item, as for my hand held OS Adventura, yes it was expensive, but like my watch it gives me my current location either as a grid reference or as longitude and latitude. Whilst the emergency services are becoming familiar with the what3words app, not much use if your phone runs out of battery life - hence my phone is for phone calls only when I'm out in the hills.
Whistle - never yet needed to use it, but I always carry it - if I get in trouble, my whistle blasts can be heard at exceptional distances, a lot further than just shouting for help. Remember - 6 blasts, wait 1 minute and repeat until help arrives. Don't stop if you get a reply, the repeated blast will act to direct the help to your location.
Camera - not a life saving gadget, but essential for capturing those magical moments and views. Mobile phones are developing with increasing technologically advanced photographic features, it is not uncommon to get click happy and before you know it, all those snaps and videos can drain your battery. Hence I carry a separate camera, I have two an Olympus Tough TG-6 and an OM Systems (formerly Olympus) OM-1 which is a bit bulky so I don't always carry it, particularly if I am doing a long trip where weight is an issue. The TG-6 GPS inbuilt, so I can plot my photo's on mapping systems for future reference. The TG-6 is an all weather camera, pocket size, easy to use and compact, so it stows away without taking up too much room - plus it's waterproof, freeze proof, shock proof - just about anything proof. My OM-1 has more complex features and allows difference lenses - wide angle and zoom. Whilst my photography rarely does the beauty of the walk justice, I'm sure it will develop with practice.
Spare power sources
I have a Venture30 portable rechargeable power bank, it has a built in emergency light which is very bright, it will recharge my phone 2 ½ times or I can use it to recharge my watch, GPS device, camera, etc. if I am camping out overnight.
I also carry a Goalzero Nomad7 solar panel kit, which fixes to the back of my back pack and keeps my Ventue30 topped up. Whilst it will still work on cloudy or rainy days, it is less efficient than on good sunny days.
I have had them for a number of years and they continue to served me well.
If you develop a taste for hiking, and start venturing out in more inclimate weather, then you may want to start to build up your gear with more technically designed equipment that suits your style of walking. If you venture out on more challenging routes, then you may want to consider investing in ultra-light technical equipment - it is more expensive, but it can make a big difference to your enjoyment!
It is always worth doing a bit of research before you buy, there is a wealth of advice on YouTube and the Internet. My advice is buy for your type of walking, not because it is the latest technology!
Money saving tips
Being a Yorkshire lad born and bred and having a wee bit of Scottish heritage in me, it means that being a skin-flint is not in my dna. As such saving doesn't come easy, and I can sometimes be a bit reckless on what I spend my money on. Whilst I may not buy shoes I don't need, I have been guilty on buying techie gadgets I don't need, and I definitely don't treat my body like a temple - life is for living and enjoying! Whilst I can't do much about my unskilled salary, and it's highly unlikely I will be grazing among the rich and famous. But there are ways of making the most out of what money I have available. Here are my tips on saving for those luxury holidays and items without getting in to debt.
- Drink 2 pints less than I would normally do (saves me £10 down south or £5-£7 up north)
- Taking a packed lunch to work, instead of buying lunch locally (saves me £2-£5 daily)
- I buy a car always second hand with low engine capacity, good mileage to the galleon, low 3rd party insurance and low road tax. It may not be eye catching, but its front wheel drive gets me up the mountains in bad weather, leaving many big posh cars stuck at the roadside.
- If you can't stop smoking (saving you £7.00 a packet) cut down by using nicotine substitutes, i.e. lozenges, gum, etc. you'd be surprised how easy it is to do.
- After getting over the cost shock from buying a tent and accessories (a one time buy - at around the cost of a summer holiday abroad and what you'd spend over the week on the holiday). Summer night accommodation becomes much cheaper at £7-£20 per night, compared to B & B at £30-£70 per night. Whilst I do enjoy my comforts, they don't have to be sacrificed too much when camping, and it's good fun - and for having a party with a difference, go wild camping with a bunch of mates, you can have a ball without disturbing the neighbours - if you haven't tried it, you'd be surprised how much fun can be had.
- Plus it is said that camping without electrics and modern distractions helps resolve sleeping problems, as it aligns our melatonin hormones with sunrise and sunset. - who am I to argue with that. When camping and walking remember to leave only footprints and take only photographs and memories - what ever you bring to the area, take it away with you!
- Grow your own herbs - lovage, mint, parsley, sage and thyme - grow them in pots, tubs or borders, as well as saving money, they bring benefits on the cheap, for example
- they are easy to grow, you don't need green fingers.
- no maintenance required other than a bit of water now and then!
- inter-planting the amongst your flowers gives you better blooms and added fragrance.
- attracts bees, butterflies, ladybirds.
- saves buying expensive growing products and pesticides as many herbs have inbuilt pest deterrents.
- easy to pick as an when you want them to spruce up the most cheapest and boring of dishes - you don't need to be a master chef!
- can boost your immune system without trying - meaning less visits to the doctor and less money spent on buying medicines.
The above helps me pay for things I wouldn't otherwise be able to afford. With my camping trips I get to have several holidays a year, and get to see some hidden gems our green and pleasant land has to offer.