An overview of what I’m carrying around Scotland

A number of people have looked at me as if I’m crazy when I’ve mentioned this trip. They then slowly back away when I mention that I’m going on my own, I’m taking a tarp rather than a tent, I have trail runners rather than big gore-tex boots and that I only have three changes of underwear. I suppose if I’m going to be spending three weeks in the wilderness with limited showering opportunities then I should get used to people slowly backing away from me.

My rucksack weighs 16 kg including two and a half litres of water plus food and fuel for 5-6 days. That’s a little over 21% of my bodyweight; it should be 22.5% of my bodyweight, but I’ve gotten fat. I’m probably carrying a few too many luxuries, but it’s a long trip so I’ll excuse myself. Now, don’t get me wrong, 3 pairs of merino wool underwear isn’t ideal, but any more than 2 is a luxury and besides if I was only going to be taking 3 pairs of underwear they would come in the merino wool variety. If you don’t own any, you’re missing out. The point is that I don’t want to carry much stuff. I enjoy walking, I enjoy camping, and I can even find enjoyment in getting rained upon. I don’t particularly enjoy the carrying of heavy things. This is even more true when carrying heavy things that I either won’t use or don’t need.

I’m walking out into the wilderness and, as much as I like reading and listening to music, it seems a tad perverse to then carry technology into the hills to allow me to do things that I could quite happily do equally well in a park in Cambridge. At any rate, I’d kill the battery on my iPod within a day and I’d quite possibly end up stationary for a couple of days while slowly being absorbed by my Kindle. There are weight considerations too of course; I’d rather have a dry pair of socks than an iPod.

Half of that 16 kg I’m carrying consists of food, fuel and water. I’m not going to starve. Even if I run out of food between resupply points, I have an adequate layer of fat* and the midges will probably provide some dense protein clouds. I seem to recall that not only are woodlice are edible, but they also taste a little bit like prawns. Stinging nettles are edible and seem to be the vegetarian equivalent of a mouthful of bees. Bees are probably edible, but they’re important to the environment so I shan’t go bee hunting and further decimate their dwindling population.

Anyway, here’s a rough breakdown of some of the things that can be found in my rucksack:

  • Food
  • Meths
  • Water
  • GoLite Tumalo waterproof jacket
  • Rab Off Limits waterproof trousers
  • Rab Aeon t-shirt
  • Rab Microfleece
  • RAB Microlite down-filled vest
  • Sea To Summit mosquito head net
  • Extremities Windy Dry gloves
  • Baseball cap
  • Rab Polartec beanie
  • Rab MeCo 120 base layer
  • 2 pairs of Smartwool hiking socks
  • 2 pairs of Bridgedale liner socks
  • 2 pairs of Merino wool boxers
  • Montane Featherlight smock
  • Sleeping bag
  • Bivi bag
  • Thermarest NeoAir sleeping mat
  • ID Silwing tarp & titanium pegs (and supported by two Fizan Compact trekking poles)
  • White Box alcohol stove
  • Gram Counter Firesteel
  • Generic blue lighter
  • Blue plastic bowl
  • Evernew titanium kettle-cup
  • LMF Spork
  • 2L Platypus bottle
  • Silva compass
  • Ortlieb waterproof map case
  • Buck Hartsook Ultralite knife
  • Travel Tap bottle with water filter
  • First Aid + Puritabs + Repair Kit
  • Care Plus Skin Saver SPF 30 suntan lotion
  • Petzl E-lite headtorch
  • Sea To Summit soap
  • Biodegradeable toilet roll
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • MSR Ultralight Packtowel
  • Rite in the Rain journal and pen
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT3 digital camera (with SD Card and spare battery)
  • iPhone 4 (Phone / GPS / Blog)
  • Mains to USB charger + charging leads
  • Power Monkey Explorer – Battery to recharge iPhone in an emergency.

That’s quite a list, and I couldn’t think of what else to leave behind, so it’s the list that I’m stuck with.


* A pound of fat supposedly equates to approximately 3,500 calories – so I’m carrying a good 30,000 to 40,000 calories with me, just in case.