One of the first things people ask us when they arrive at the store is what to bring with them for a day in the mountains. It depends on a few factors. What time of year do you do the majority of your hiking? Do you hike in a big group, a small group or by yourself? Are you leading the group?
These questions start to give us an idea of how much gear you need to bring and what type of equipment you need. If you are leading a group up the reeks you need a lot more equipment than a trip down the Sheep's Head with a friend. When packing gear with groups in mind, it is best to assume that all members of the group can forget to bring the basics. It is a good way of thinking to start bringing more than just what you need. The more hot tea/coffee/food and liters of water you can bring up within reason, can really come in useful if someone gets injured or if you need to stay exposed in the outdoors for longer than planned. This goes the same for bringing spare gloves, beanies, fleeces and handy things like a spare head-torch and batteries etc. It also applies to navigation. It is never a bad idea to have a spare few maps and good working compasses/G.P.S. within the group as well as survival shelters and survival bags, whistles etc.
The season also really effects how big or small a pack you need. Winter obviously demands us to bring more warm gear and more safety equipment. In general I find a Lowe Alpine Airzone Trek 35:45 pack is ideal as a hiking bag for all year round in Ireland.
Some people may find this excessive but there is marginal weight difference between this and a smaller pack and I'd rather have the extra space if I want to take this pack overseas hiking etc. The bag uses Lowe Alpine's Airzone system which is a back support that keeps the bag off your back so you don't sweat as much and there is more breathability for the hiker.
There is heaps of handy compartments and features such as a whistle built into the sternum strap, great waist pockets that I use for gloves and beanies in winter. It also has a water bladder port and storage area for your water bladder. The bag has a top loading entry as well as a horse shoe zip at the center so you don't have to root through all your stuff to find a spare head-torch in the middle of the night! The pack is water resistant and has a waterproof rain cover for when there's any heavy rain. I find that in high wind this can come off as it is tied on with velcro so I advise people to tie it down further. I bring spare shoelaces with me hiking and use one to strap to tie down my rain-cover and one for my counting beads for navigation.
This is a packing gear list that can be added to and decreased as needed but will just give you a flavour of what is handy to have.
- Lowe Alpine Airzone Trek 35:45
- Hiking Pole
- Survival Shelter
- Survival Bag
- Foil Blanket
- First Aid Kit
- Platypus Water Bladder
- Waterproof Phone Case
- Leatherman Multi Tool
- Head Torches (Silva and Led Lenser with spare batteries)
- OSI Waterproof Map
- Silva Expedition Compass
- Sigg Flasks
- RAB Down Jacket
- RAB Waterproof Jacket
- Spare T-shirts (polyester to wick sweat away)
- Hiking Pants
- Waterproof Over-pants
- Dry Bag for valuables and lunch
- Boots with spare laces on your pack
- Spare Merino Wool Socks
- Bin bag for rubbish and plastic (LEAVE NO TRACE)