Preparing for a Thru Hike

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On the 15th of August I will be hitting the trail again, this time heading up to Loch Lomond in Scotland and hiking the Loch Lomond and Cowal Way. Following this I will be heading straight into the Kintyre Way before heading back via public transport to my car at Inveruglas.

I thought in this blog I would share what prep I have done if any for the trail and thought I’d share what kit I carry, clothes I wear and anything additional I’ll be taking for the trip.

Prep

Since returning from the Eskdale way a few weeks back I haven’t really done any exercise as I have been moving home unfortunately. Ideally, I would have been out at least a few times a week crushing some 20 milers to keep my fitness up a little as well as doing some running for the overall stamina. This time as I said, I have done little in way of fitness so when I set out ill be covering 15 or so miles a day for the first few days to get my body used to it again before upping the mileage.

Kit wise I have already been titivating and have added in a peaked baseball cap, a midge net and some gloves as well as carrying some trousers and a long sleeve shirt. My reason for carrying these is simply the Scottish Midge can be a killer and if you’re unprepared for them they can end your trip.

Food Prep

I’ve been dehydrating some veg to supplement my meals which I usually do, to do this you can buy a dehydrator or do it the old-fashioned way and put the oven on about 80-90 degrees Celsius leaving the door slightly ajar and add thinly chopped veg onto the tray. Depending on what you want to dehydrate will depend on the length of time needed for the moisture to disappear. For this trip I will be dehydrating plum tomatoes, sweet peppers, aubergine, onion, and some spiced tofu which should all supplement my meals nicely. Meal wise I only usually carry around 2 days on trails like these. It’s obviously worth doing some research on how secluded it is and what towns, villages and shops are about as well as pubs for food and to charge electrical items.

For my 2 days’ worth of food, I pack simple and boring to keep the weight down. I carry sachets of porridge for breakfast, cup a soups and mugshots for lunch and the bachelors dehydrated pasta packets for tea. Those with my dehydrated veg and tofu work well and keep my food light. I do usually carry some hot sauce too for a little kick and I carry some skinny lattes for hot drinks.

Kit

I try and keep my base weight below 10kg with food and water adding another 2kg. Kit wise I carry few luxuries and stick with only essentials. I would class the 3-5 pairs of socks I carry as a real luxury; I love putting a fresh pair on and feel like it revitalises my feet (sad I know). One thing I do always carry is a set of headphones for when I’m slaying the miles, a bit of upbeat music can really help you when your tired and feeling a little down. I’ll write a breakdown of the kit I carry. Additionally, I’ll keep the clothes I wear separately and write a little about them after.

Kit List

  1. Osprey Exos 48 (I remove the lid as I don’t use it)
  2. Thermarest Corus down Quilt
  3. Sea to Summit Pillow
  4. Sea to summit etherlight xt (large, as I roll around when asleep)
  5. Sea to summit cool max fitted sheet (nothing worse than sticking to your mat when it’s hot)
  6. Ear plugs (honestly a lifesaver when its windy)
  7. Lanshan 1 tent with y shaped aluminium pegs
  8. A telescopic hiking pole (both for use with my lanshan and to help with uphill and downhill, well worth investing if you haven’t already)
  9. 750 ml Titanium cup (my cooker fits inside nicely)
  10. Generic gas stove
  11. Sea to summit collapsible pan
  12. Spork
  13. Wind break for my cooker (I made it out of a turkey tray, its lightweight and works a treat)
  14. A gas canister (I take varying sizes depending on the length of the trip, for this one I’m taking a big one)
  15. 3-5 pairs of merino wool socks
  16. 3 pairs of merino wool boxers
  17. A pair of trousers (I usually only hike in shorts for the summer, but with the midges potentially been bad I have decided to add in a pair)
  18. Long sleeve top (for the same reason as above)
  19. Craghoppers microlite synthetic jacket (it packs tiny and has some awesome heat retention)
  20. Mountain Equipment Lhotse Jacket (I only recently saved the money for this mega investment but its an awesome jacket and will keep me dry in any weather)
  21. Head torch and batteries
  22. A mora diving knife
  23. Lighter
  24. First aid kit (fitted with tick tweezers, compeed and Vaseline)
  25. Microfibre towel, toothbrush and toothpaste
  26. Sawyer mini water filter
  27. Anker power bank
  28. Osprey rucksack cover
  29. Food and water which we have covered above (I usually carry 1.5-2l of water depending on heat and ability to resupply)
  30. Peaked baseball cap
  31. Midge net and Jungle formula repellent (as much as I worry about the environmental impacts of deet and the potential consequence of long-term use on our skin making sure the midge repellent contains it is a must)
  32. Gloves
  33. Maps and compass (this time I will be taking the paper versions of the Hiiker trail maps)
  34. Phone

I haven’t listed drybags on here, but I generally individually waterproof most of the things listed with drybags. I find it helps with packing as well as making sure my kit stays dry.

Clothing

Day to day I wear a pair of mid length shorts with a t-shirt and my trusty bandana and for my footwear I wear a pair of Hoka One One Speedgoat 4’s. I generally don’t wear boots in the summer at all and save my Scarpa Terras for the winter. I have trialled all sorts of different shoe styles and boots and have found these two to be perfect for me. I would recommend anyone to get correctly fitted for shoes and remember that each person’s feet are most likely completely different to your own. See my previous blog which can be found here for some tips on looking after your feet.

Navigation

Carrying a paper map and a compass with the ability to use them in my eyes is a must, just as security. It’s rare I use them these days, but you never know so it is best to carry them. I use the Hiiker app to navigate my thru hikes as it contains the trail routes I need as well as showing all the amenities along the way (campsites, water, pubs, shops, towns, restaurants, you need it the hiker app has it).

Finishing Touches

As the days get closer, I will probably repack my kit 3 times or so just to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything (which I probably have on the list above :D:D:D) and just because as it gets closer to trail day, I get super stoked to be back on the trail.

Some of the kit I have listed is a little pricey and if you are just starting out, you don’t have to spend top dollar for gear and there is plenty of kit for good prices too. It’s taken me a couple of years of saving and scouring sites and second-hand pages for some of this stuff at the right prices. It’s a slow process and one that does take time.

I hope this blog has given an insight into my trail prep and the kit I take along on my journeys. I look forward to writing my next blog which will hopefully cover my adventures on the trail.

Thank you and happy trails.

@pack_backer

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