Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Sort it out!

I returned from my latest walk (around Broad Falls and Heap O'Sinners) and lay my bag down.  I reached down deep in the rucksack to pluck out some the rubbish I'd gathered off the Moor during my day (#2minutelitterpick). I suddenly paused to consider what I'd been carrying all day that hadn't been used, or indeed touched.  It was then that I decided to have a proper sort out of my walking gear.

I carry a Macpac 20 litre rucksack.  It celebrates it's 9th birthday this year, but continues to serve me very well.  Only when siting a large number of boxes does my much bigger Lowe Alpine sack get a rare airing.  A meagre 20 litres focuses the mind.  I know I must carry the essentials.  For me, this includes a whistle, survival bag and first aid kit.  Though I pray I never need to use these in an emergency.  This is my fifth survival bag, but all predecessors have simply perished and corroded in their alternate roles as sit mat, snow sledge or simply as a flat rucksack back support.  On emptying my backpack, I learnt I'd somehow gained a 2nd first aid kit!  Neither were well stocked with anything useful.  So I took the chance to refresh the contents of just one, including a laminated 'In Case of Emergency' contact list, spare boot laces and blister plasters.

Waterproof overtrousers, now washed and reproofed are neatly stashed too.  I always take them - fulfilling the extra layer requirement to some extent, if not being used.

Rations.  I discovered a Foxes 'Rocky' chocolate bar stuck at the base of my rucksack, gathering fur and dust.  I've been vegan for almost a year, and cannot imagine eating this except in a dire emergency.  Dutifully binned, I replace it with a peanut bar.  I'd read somewhere that an emergency bar - however squashed - is a useful survival ration to maintain.

Letterboxing gear.  I keep this within a bright yellow carrier bag.  My wooden postcard box, a small selection of ink pads, and a clip lid box containing my personal and date stamps.  The carrier bag served as container, weather protector and an emergency beacon to wave.  Never let it be said that I didn't have my personal safety at heart when out walking!  The postcard box and personal stamps were in fab state.  However, the same couldn't be said about my ink pads.  Over the years, I've amassed a huge collection from the letterboxers in the family.  In 12 assorted colours, although for ease I tend to only carry 3 or 4 on each walk.  I have neglected many of them, and took the opportunity to discard the worst.  Those I retained needed a damn good clean and re-inking.  All - especially the yellow ones - were beginning to turn a universally brown colour. Eeeuggh!

Then I considered my Letterbox repair kit.  This consists of a spare book, which when combined with the clip lock box which my personal stamp lives in make a handy pathside fix.  My spare book had clearly gotten wet, then dried, then wet and dried again.  Time to update this, complete with a sandwich bag protection, me thinks.

The GPS.  Ah yes.  My Garmin Dakota 10, now 5 years young, still joins me on every walk.  It's spare AA batteries in their old Actimel yogurt pot too.  I occasionally bring it out to check GPS references on boxes I cannot find on bearings alone.  As a navigation aid, it is invaluable.  Almost as much as my compass, which went back in the bag too.  Only one compass though, with the permanent removal of a keyring compass/thermometer combo that hung from my rucksack front pocket zipper.

I should add that this is very much a Summer reboot of my bag.  I found an unused disposable handwarmer in my first aid kit, which I removed.  Hat and gloves will be added as necessary.  I allow space in my pack for one additional warm layer too, for when Autumn comes!

Refreshed, repaired, refilled.  Bring on the next walk, I say.

Considering your own gear? Check out GO Outdoors recommended hillwalking kit list here