I've had a few requests to draft up a little informative piece covering my hiking clothes, gear and kit; so here's a breakdown of everything I wear, carry and use on each of my treks, to help you prepare for your own adventures in the Scottish hills.
What I wear on my hikes
Growing up in Alaska taught me the really important lesson of layering - this also applies in Scotland, where the weather is moody AF. Basically, you need to be prepared for all four seasons in a day... sometimes simultaneously. So here's what I have on clothes-wise for a hike:
Leggings: sorry guys, you probably will not find this that useful, but if you do, virtual fist bump! My favourite pair are these awesome Rab brand, breathable gems I found in a tiny gear shop in Wales after getting drenched descending Snowdon. Serendipitous really. If price is a consideration, I am also a huge fan of the H&M range of tights and leggings!
Breathable socks: on this, really just any size-appropriate hiking socks work, so long as they are breathable. These are my favourite pair for summer, and in winter I go for something a little thicker, like these. Whatever you get though, make sure you've got a spare pair in your pack in a waterproof bag.
Gaiters: wet feet / ticks = hard left! Nobody needs Trench Foot or Lyme Disease. These are the one's I've got, but really, as long as you find yourself a good waterproof pair, you're golden.
Hiking Boots: so this is where I get massively hypocritical as a vegan, but I've got leather boots. I tried MANY different versions of vegan-friendly fabric/Gore-tex boots before getting these Berghaus Supalites, but none were waterproof enough for Scotland. Not once after getting these, have I had to finish a hike with soggy feet ...and they are not kidding when they say they're super light! Best boots I have ever had, hands down. Hopefully someone invents a way to do vegan leather soon that's as good as the real thing, to ease my conscious on this. In the meantime, I shall continue doing periodic rituals thanking the sheep for his sacrifice.
Sports bra: again, sorry gents (unless you are just starting to get your fitness up after lockdown and need a little more support?). I fall back to good old H&M for my sports bras but really, just go with what's comfy!
Vest / tank top: this is where the layering starts. At the base of my layers, I have just a simple vest. Again, whatever you're comfortable with, but pro tip: something that is moisture-wicking is best if your a sweaty lady like me (sexy, I know). Last thing you want after an arduous uphill climb, is to be soaking wet and cold on a windy summit. Especially in winter, because you know, hypothermia.
Fleece / hoodie / midlayer: next on the layers is a good fleece/hoody. I love this Rab Women's Nucleus Hoody I have in red because it's warm, yet high-wicking, so you stay dry. Bonus points for brighter colours too - just in case you're needing to be easier to spot in an emergency (this applies to all your clothes really).
Jacket: I love this one from Berghaus, particularly because it's super light and rolls up really small, yet is incredibly warm. Mostly it lives in my backpack on the ascent and only comes out at the summit / descent on more inclement days.
Waterproof Jacket: this is the one I have, but any waterproof shell will do. Just consider going a size larger than you usually might, in case you want to layer it over your midlayer and jacket as well.
Waterproof trousers: it's always a good idea to have something like this in your bag. Never trust a sunny sky in Scotland.
Accessories: other things to consider bringing depending on the time of year / weather are gloves, hats (beanie / baseball cap), sunglasses and neck gaiters.
What's in my hiking bag
This may sound a bit excessive, but I pack my bag as if I may need to stay overnight in the hills...because mother nature is beautiful, but can also be savage. Silver lining, you'll burn more calories on your hike, thanks to the extra weight!
Day pack / rucksack: no, I am not a brand ambassador for Berghaus, but I do LOVE their gear. That said, if you are, in fact, a decision maker in the company and would like to sponsor me, do feel free to get in touch! My favourite hiking bag is this one here, but anything hiking specific around the 30-40 litre mark should work. Just make sure it's got a rain cover and space for a water bladder.
Water bladder / camel back: really not fussed about brands on this one. My own personal requirement is that it holds a minimum of 2.5 litres of water. Hydration is important!
Back up filter water bottle: I carry this empty in case of emergencies, so I can drink water from natural sources en route if needed without risk of taking in extra germies.
Change of clothes: kept in a ziplock baggy to keep them dry. Wet and cold is not a good combination.
First aid kit: again, brand is not important here, but I would say to be sure it's hiking specific and includes a whistle / torch / rescue blanket - if not, buy these separately and keep everything together. I also include a few medications, such as antihistamines and painkillers (Paracetamol / Nurofen+ with Ibuprofen and Codeine) and an all-round healing balm I got in Bali that works for everything from bug bites, to burns. I keep all this in ziplock bags as well.
Power bank and USB cable: brand, again, no real preference, but the one I use has four full charges. Whatever you use, just make sure it's fully charged and in full working order before each hike.
Food: my favourite part of the hike... summit snacks. Whatever you bring, just make sure it's nutrient dense and light. I really love the Trek protein bars and Graze's range of high protein snacks. I usually have some fresh fruits and veggies and a cold brew on hand as well. Whatever foods you're packing, bring enough for two days, to be on the safe side ...a beer or dram for the summit is fun too.
Other essentials: insect repellent (Smidge), karabiner clips, lighter, firelighter, multi tool, compass and map (and the knowledge to use em), whistle, headlamp, biodegradable bin bags to collect your rubbish (take it with you!), tissues, hand wipes, back up batteries for your head-torch/flashlight and sunscreen.
What tools I use on a hike
As mentioned above, you should seriously consider having a map and compass and understand how to use them, in case of technical failure (we've all dropped our phone in water - or is that just me?), but as a general rule, here's what I use on my hikes:
Mobile phone: I use the iPhone 11, both for my photos and for navigation. I suppose I could get a proper camera, but I am pretty happy with the image quality of my phone and loath to have to carry a chunky DSLR and lenses, in addition to everything else, so it suits me fine for now.
Navigation App: I am a huge fan of ViewRanger. Not only can you download maps for offline use, but I really like geeking out over the the 3D replay of the tracks as well.
Phone tripod: because I love hiking solo, but also enjoy taking those awkward summit selfies with me gazing thoughtfully at the epic views. Actually, I'd initially got it for slow shutter shots, but I do like amusing myself with the timed selfies too. Here's the one I have, but just check it's compatible with your mobile.
Hopefully this list will help you get together the basics, but any questions on this, let me know! Happy hiking all....