Kit List: Mountain Hikes in the UK

When I first got into mountain hiking, each time I went out I pushed up the difficulty – travelling further, climbing higher, taking harder routes. Some risks increase gently, such as when you start increasing the distance that you hike. However, other risks increase more significantly, such as when you first start scrambling and taking ridge routes. I was also fairly confident that I wasn’t going to be a summer hiker, but that I’d want to handle some difficult routes during the winter too.

I also, almost exclusively, was tackling these routes solo. This meant that I was constantly fretting over the kit that I carried. I wanted to make sure that I carried enough kit to handle the worst case scenarios I might find myself in, and that the kit that I carried was up to the job.

Whilst now I might laugh at my anxiety around tackling routes like Lord’s Rake on Sca Fell, Crib Goch in Snowdonia, or the CMD Arete on to Ben Nevis – but when you’re on your own, and the weather is severe, things can go badly quickly. There’s certainly plenty of articles out there about things going wrong on these routes.

One thing that I found really helpful, were kit lists that people posted about what they were carrying when out in the mountains, so that I could get another view on what I should be carrying. So today I wanted to post what I carry on my solo hikes. Of course, this list will need adjusting for your specific requirements, for example in the summer you might choose to carry a little less warm clothing – and in the winter you might need to carry more equipment to deal with ice and snow, like crampons and an ice axe.

You can click each item if you want to know a little more about the specific item that I carry, or why I carry it.


If the weather isn’t too bad and you’re sticking to established trails, then you don’t necessarily need mountain boots, you could head out with a decent pair of trail running shoes. But something with a decent sole and proper grip is essential, trainers are not going to cut it.

In the summer I’m currently using a pair of Salewa Ultra Flex Mid Gore-tex. Salewa call these a “Shoe” suitable for “Speed Hiking” whereas other stores call them a Trail Running shoe. They’re a Mid “boot-style” shoe, waterproof, and with a Michelin technical sole. I love them for the summer and they handle the wet pretty well.

When I need a proper mountaineering boot, I’m currently using a pair of Salewa Crow GTX. These are a proper B2 boot with a heel welt for crampons. They’re waterproof and have a Vibram sole.

Even in the summer gloves can be important at higher elevation, so I always carry a pair of gloves. If I’m scrambling, I’ll wear a pair of Viper Recon gloves to protect my hands. They only offer minimal protection from the weather but do prevent cuts and scrapes when pulling yourself up the rock.

I also carry a pair of SealSkinz All Weather or Cold Weather gloves for protection against the elements. They’re expensive, but I’ve found they perform well and they’re hard wearing, so they’ve held up pretty well even though I’ve had them for quite a while now.

In poor weather a hat is critical to keeping warm, but in the summer I also like carrying a baseball cap to help manage the sun (and also to keep my hair back). I don’t generally carry anything “high tech” for a cold weather hat, just a beanie.

In my experience, a vastly under-appreciated piece of kit is the neck gaiter, often called a “Buff” but that’s actually a brand. It offers two key benefits, the first being of course to keep you warm, but the second is to protect your face and ears in high wind environments such as ridge ascents. They’re also useful when you can’t wear a heavier hat, such as when you’re wearing a climbing helmet. I’m currently wearing a Buff brand thermal neck gaiter.

In the summer, most days my base layer is just a sports vest top to help me keep cool. However, in the winter I wear a full base layer set – top and bottom. Generally, this is a set of thermals underneath my hiking trousers plus a long sleeve top underneath my fleece. It can be difficult to get the balance right when dealing with extreme cold, especially when you might be working very hard at one moment on an ascent then in the next moment hanging out at the top and quite literally “chilling”. I handle this through a layering system that allows me to adjust my clothing as required throughout the hike.

For my mid-layer I carry a ¼ zip fleece plus a spare for when the weather is awful, and in particular if I’m likely to get very wet. There’s a whole bunch of brands out there that make high quality fleeces, for example I’ve previously carried a North Face ¼ fleece, but these days I’m wearing a RevolutionRace Trekker.

Whilst hiking in something light and comfortable, such as cargo trousers or leggings is just fine for most routes, you might need something a little harder wearing in some cases. For routes like ridges and scrambles, I like some hiking trousers with boot hooks to keep them down when I’m not wearing gaiters, so I’m currently wearing the RevolutionRace GP Pro Rescue.

I tend to always carry a mid-layer jacket, even in warmer weather as it’s easy to throw on if you need to stop for an extended period. If you catch an injury and need to sit around for a long time waiting for assistance – then a mid-layer jacket can be really important. Of course you can adjust the thickness depending on the time of year, but you should carry enough kit to allow you to sit on the fell for a couple of hours if things go bad.

I’m currently packing the Rab Infinity, which has hydrophobic down, so it packs down well but still handles getting wet well.

A decent “outer shell” jacket should protect you from both heavy rain as well as heavy winds. When you’re up on a ridge ascent it might be primarily the wind that’s bothering you, as it can strip the heat from you quickly – especially if you’re moving slowly and carefully.

I’m currently packing the Cyclone Rescue 2.0 jacket, which is heavier than some alternatives but I find the protection it offers to be very good, so I’m prepared even if the weather is significantly worse than expected.

If you get caught in a storm and you get soaking wet, you’re probably not going to have a good time. So if it’s raining out, you might call off your hike – but if a storm catches you out, you’ll need enough kit to get you back safely. Decent waterproof trousers can keep you dry, and therefore warm, during some pretty awful weather.

I’m currently packing a pair of Berghaus Maitland over-trousers, which are lightweight but still perform well, and importantly for me, I can get them on without needing to sit down or take my boots off.

Socks are often an overlooked part of a packing list, but they’re important to keep your feet in good shape. If you’re planning a longer route, it might be a good idea to pack a spare pair of socks too in case your feet get wet. Generally though, I’ll just wear a pair of Bridgedale midweight socks which give me perfect performance as I never have to think about them at all.

Another often overlooked item for your pack is sunglasses. However, if you’re spending the whole day in the sun, your eyes are going to get fatigued. Sunglasses are lightweight and prevent that. I’d recommend ensuring that the pair you wear actually protect against UVA and UVB since some “fashion” glasses just look good but aren’t really protective. I’m currently wearing a pair of SunGod Sierra 4KOp.


My primary hiking pack is the Millet Integrale 35+10, which is a 35 litre pack which can expand by 10 litres. Honestly, I love this pack and it’s very much designed for mountaineering and has features such as a crampon pouch, carabiner loops and straps to hold a rope. I find it very comfortable and it handles the weight I carry really well. It’s important to ensure that your pack fits you well and is appropriate for the weight that you’re carrying.

When you’re out on the hills, at some point you’re going to get rained on and you need to make sure all that warm kit you’re carrying in your pack stays dry. You could manage this in a few different ways, such as with a pack cover, a pack liner, or individual dry bags.

Personally, I prefer smaller dry backs because it allows me to organise and separate my kit for easier access in both emergencies and sudden changes in the weather. I’m currently using the Sea to Summit Evac Dry Bags, but they’re an expensive option. I’m using the 8L dry bag and I personally prefer them because I can compress them after they’re sealed, which is not always possible with dry bags.

Your “Water System” is just the fancy name for how you carry your water. Whether you’re packing a water bladder to rehydrate on the go or you prefer to carry a water filter and refill on route, it’s all part of your water system.

For the most part I have a pretty simple system, I carry a 1L Nalgene water bottle. If I’m going on a much longer hike, then I’ll also pack a Grayl UltraPress water filter. I’ve used the GeoPress and the UltraPress and would recommend them both for people who take extended trips and need to be able to refill on the go.

For most people, just pack enough water for your trip, plus a little spare just in case. Water bladders are great for fast hikes or just for convenience, but beware that they can puncture on route, so consider having at least a small water bottle alongside it as a “just in case”. I’ve only ever had a bladder puncture once, but it was on a 40 mile route and it was not a good time.

Before you head out to the mountains you need to consider how you will communicate with rescue should something go wrong. This is less of a concern on group hikes, but as the majority of my hikes are solo it’s a major concern for me.

The way that I ensure I have emergency communication with family and rescue is with a satellite communicator. I’m currently using a GPSMAP 66i, which is a wildly expensive option but combines messaging, tracking, and GPS navigation. It’s also likely overkill for a lot of people such as the Garmin InReach Mini, the Garmin InReach Messenger and Spot Gen4 being affordable options.

I strongly recommend getting a satellite communicator if you can, especially if you’re heading out solo.

If there’s any chance at all of you being out on the fells after sundown, even if that’s only in the event or injury or emergency, then I strongly recommend you carry a head torch.

I’m currently carrying a pair of Black Diamond ReVolt 350s, which I like because they include a rechargeable battery pack but can also take AAA batteries if I need to extend their runtime.

When you’re out for a long period, intentionally or otherwise, you’re going to get hungry. Whilst it’s true you can survive for a long time without eating, when you’re burning a lot of fuel, such as when hiking, you’re going to have a bad time if you don’t take on enough calories. So it’s important that you carry enough food on you for the duration of your trip, plus some spare. If you’re a backpacker going on a multi-day trip then I recommend carrying an extra day’s worth of food in case you get stuck out longer than expect. But even day hikers should carry just a little extra just in case.

There are options such as dehydrated or freeze-dried food, or of course you can pack ready to eat food like sandwiches. The factors to consider at the total calories, the weight, how you’re going to heat it, and whether it needs additional water.

Most of the time I just carry some home made sandwiches because they’re ready to go and easy to eat – and personally I find that I avoid eating if the weather is really awful, so having something simple is a key factor for me. Plus, I carry an MRE meal in my pack for emergencies.

Do not got out on the hills without a map. Do not go out on the hills if you do not know how to read a map. Do not rely upon a mobile phone for navigation. If you drop your phone, if it gets wet, or if the battery runs out – you’re A lot of people will consider carrying goggles a “non-essential item”. However, even if there’s no snow on the ground I still occasionally find myself very thankful that I packed my goggles.

I’m currently packing Alpina Estetica QV and when I’m up on a ridge and the wind is severe, they’re just great.screwed.

The vast majority of the time I’m out on the hills, I’m navigating with my mobile phone – or maybe my smart watch. There’s no problem with that, but they should not be relied upon. In case my phone fails, I also carry an OS Map “Active Map” which is the waterproof version and I carry a compass and spare.

I’m currently using the Silva Expedition 4 Compass, which is maybe more than you need as a backup device. However, whichever map and compass combination you choose, practice using it. You need to be able to navigate with that map and compass when the weather is bad and your phone battery is empty, or you’re going to have a really bad time.

I won’t give you a full breakdown here of what’s in my first aid kit; but I will strongly recommend that you carry at least a small first aid kit on your hikes. I also recommend that you consider taking an outdoor first aid training course so that you know the basics before you need them.

I’ve got a fairly custom first aid kit these days, but if you’re looking for something to get you started then take a look at the Mountain Leader First Aid kit by Lifesystems.

Ive also posted previously about what goes in my everyday carry first aid kit, but when you’re out on the hills you might want to carry a little more, especially for minor injuries. Whilst my IFAK is focused around major injuries my hiking back also includes a few simple items such as blister plasters and small dressings that are just intended to keep me comfortable when I’m out on the trail.

A lot of people will consider carrying goggles a “non-essential item”. However, even if there’s no snow on the ground I still occasionally find myself very thankful that I packed my goggles.

I’m currently packing Alpina Estetica QV and when I’m up on a ridge and the wind is severe, they’re just great.

If you or someone in your group takes a fall and gets injured, you may need to sit still on the hill for a while and you’re likely going to get cold.

One piece of equipment that can reduce this risk is an Emergency Shelter. These are very lightweight shelters that pack down into a very small size. Most of them are a bit like tents without the poles. A simple shelter that if something goes wrong you can get inside and therefore get out of the elements. There are very small two-person options, or much larger group shelters. Honestly, considering how little they weigh and how useful they are in the event of an emergency, I’d recommend you consider getting one. 

I’m currently carrying a Lifesystems 4 person Survival Shelter, but what you need will differ depending on your group size. You could carry a 2 person shelter for each pair in your group, or you could have one member of the group carry a group shelter. Personally I also carry a small roll-mat, because it weighs very little and if one of the group catches an injury, getting them off the ground is a key aspect in managing the risk of hypothermia.

All of that said, this is a lot to pack, and the truth is if you’re sticking to the tourist trails and you’re only going out in summer – it’s likely more than you need; but hopefully you can take this list as a starting point and adjust it to your requirements for the kind of hikes that you do. However, you need to ensure that you’ve got enough kit in your group for if things go wrong, you need to have a plan for contacting emergency services if you need assistance and you need to be able to handle waiting for them to get there – even if that takes a couple of hours.