I thought I’d share my kit list that I took for the Cape Wrath trail earlier this year, and also some notes on what items of gear worked and what didn’t.
The walk took 15 days. My pack came to 28lbs when fully packed and would vary depending on how much food we had eaten. I found this comfortable and manageable for a heavy pack. My pack itself is great. I used to have a lightweight one by Golite that I took on a coast-to-coast backpack across Scotland a couple of years ago, but the trade-off between lightweight vs comfort did not suit me – I was in a lot of pain and ended up with bad weals on my hips and shoulders where it dug in. The Osprey one is a little heavier because of more padding but so much more comfortable and I really don’t notice any difference in weight.
The silk sleeping bag liner is great too. I used to get quite cold in just the sleeping bag but this has made a big difference.
I also love my Patagonia base layer. This is super light, made from a mix of merino and polyester. It wicks, doesn’t smell after continued use, is warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot (although I also wore a merino t shirt on top most days – I get cold easily and we didn’t get the warmest weather on the trip).
The Hi-tec Zuuk trainers were brilliant for river crossings, lighter than my crocs and not as bulky, and also acceptable to wear down the pub (unlike crocs 😉 )
The many pairs of gloves explanation – I have Raynaud’s syndrome which means my hands get cold and blue from a lack of circulation, and I need to have a layer system of gloves because there really is no one pair that helps stop an attack. I have found though that the Pearl Izumi claw mitts are brilliant. I bought them initially for cycling in cold weather and found my hands never got cold with them on, so they have now found their way into my walking kit. They have just enough dexterity for me to be able to function zips and clasps etc due to the ‘claw’ design. Since then I bought a cheap pair of thick fleece wrist warmers in one of those Himalayan clothing sales that pop up in village halls now and again. These have been a bit of a revelation in keeping my circulation going and I now find I often don’t need gloves.
For food we had bought a new Jetboil and committed to only eating dehydrated food that required only boiling water. This worked fine because we ate our tea in pubs or hotels where we could, to give us a break from the dehydrated stuff. It meant water boiled in 2 minutes and we didn’t have to take extra pans or cooking gear.
Most of the gear I took was tried and tested beforehand and I knew worked great for me so there was very little that didn’t, but I’ve never been happy with my Asolo boots. I stupidly got carried away reading the brilliant reviews and ordered a pair over the web. I’ve had them for 3 years, and still got blisters and hot spots after continued use years later. They also started leaking after a year. They were quite grippy and good on rock but pretty useless in bog and muck, which makes up the bulk of Cape Wrath routes ground. Maybe they just weren’t right for my feet. I’ve since bought a pair of Meindl Burmas which have been absolutely brilliant and comfortable from the start – but this time I had a foot fitting at an outdoor shop and tried on lots and lots of different pairs before I bought them. It has shown me the value of going to a shop and getting this done because all feet are different and what works for someone else doesn’t necessarily work for me.
I recommend boots on the Cape Wrath Trail, despite recent views otherwise. It is rough and generally pathless ground whatever route you take – where there is a path it is often the boggiest ground you will ever encounter. Trail shoes would be no fun, especially in the conditions we had; trenchfoot less so, plus I like the ankle support of boots on rough ground.
Also my Rab base layer was OK but a bit whiffy after more than one day and not as cool on hot days.
We ate Mountain Trails dehydrated meals. These we found generally much nicer than Mountain House, plus made by a UK family company who are also mountaineers. ( http://www.mountaintrails.org.uk/About_Meals.htm )
I did not take any item of gear I did not use, save for the midgie net – but that would have been a necessity if there had been midgies, and it is tiny and weighs nothing.
Pack & Sleeping
Osprey Ariel 55 rucksack
Mountain Hardwear Lamina 20 Sleeping bag
Silk sleeping bag liner
Rucksack liner dry-bag
Osprey rucksack clip-on pouch
Food & Water
Small hip flask (filled with whisky)
2 x pairs Smartwool hiking socks
Asolo Atlantis GTX boots
Underwear (2 x pants, 2 x bras)
– Patagonia long-sleeved base layer
– Rab base layer
– Smartwool merino vest
– 2 x Icebreaker merino t-shirts (I always wore one over a Patagonia long-sleeved one, I’m a cold fish, hence 4 x baselayers)
– Haglofs Lizard Q softshell top
– Mountain Equipment windproof top
– Mountain Equipment walking trousers
– Mammut walking trousers
Sleeping – I sleep cold so….:
(oh the glamour…)
– 1 x pair cashmere socks (sleeping)
– Merino leggings
– Merino long sleeved top
– 1 x merino beanie
For the cold:
– Woolly/fleecy hat
– 2 x silk liner gloves
– 3 x regular Black Diamond gloves
– Pearl Izumi ‘lobster claw’ mitts
– Mountain Hardwear down jacket
– Hi-tec Zuuk lightweight trainers (also good for river crossings)
Quick dry micro towel
All purpose shower gel
Toothbrush & mini paste
Sun cream/midge spray (combined)
Tiny tube of moisturiser
Book (purposely chosen for weight)
Phone + charger
Head torch & spare batteries
Pen & waterproof notepad
Itinery (maps, plans, etc)
Tape for chafing
Berghaus GTX trousers
Goretex shell over-mitts
Mountain Equipment Lhotse GTX jacket
Mountain Equipment GTX gaitors
Lowe Alpine waterproof hat (I bought this during the trip, otherwise would have left my woolly hat behind)
Jetboil Sol titanium stove
2 x 230g gas for Jetboil
Food pouch cosy
Mountain Trails x 3 dehydrated food day packs (www.mountaintrails.org.uk ) (we took 3 days’ worth at a time and sent parcels at various stops to pick up along the way). Day packs included 1 x breakfast, 1 x dinner & 1 x pudding)
Teabags, instant coffee sachets (the kind with with sugar and dehydrated milk)
A bunch of Clif bars
Packet of oatcakes & tube of Primula cheese
Occasional apple, bag of sweets, bar of chocolate etc
We shared the weight so Ally also took:
Golite Eden 2 tent
2 Alpkit titanium mugs
2L water bladder