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What kit should I pack for hillwalking and mountaineering?

In our last post we talked about the technical kit (i.e., the climbing kit) that we’d need to take with us when we head out onto more tricky technical scrambling and mountaineering routes. See https://www.lakelandascents.co.uk/2021/11/scrambling-rack/ We covered off the rope, the rack, harnesses, helmets and more, but what we didn’t mention was the ‘standard’ hill-kit that we’d need to have with us as well.

In this article we will go through what we’d pack in our rucksack for a day of hillwalking, or even a day of mountaineering or climbing in addition to the shiny metal technical stuff. This list is essentially the go-to kit that we’d take on a day out in the mountains.

If you’d rather see a video explaining this then head over to our You Tube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxVw9W7lHKvmuoWmuKJ_X3A – there’s a video on our general hill kit as well as video talking about the kit that we’d carry for winter mountaineering.

Let’s do it!


Let’s imagine that you’re joining us for a Lake District guided walk. You’re not going to have to carry anything other that the stuff that we talk about on this page, so a pack of about 20L works really well. It’s not so small that you can’t fit a spare layer or two in, and it’s not so big that you’re carrying unnecessary additional weight and it’s flapping around in the wind. Rucksacks aren’t waterproof, so use waterproof bags to pack your kit in to avoid things getting too wet.

If you are joining us for a more technical day, for example a day of Guided Scrambling, Guided Rock Climbing or maybe a Scrambling & Mountaineering course, then you’re still going to need everything on this list, but you’re also going to need to have additional space to carry some of the technical kit that we chatted through on our Technical Kit for Scrambling article. For this reason, having an extra few litres of capacity is a good idea, so a 30/35L pack is a better option.

First Aid kit

This lives in the bottom of our rucksack and therefore gets packed first. We carry a basic, small First Aid kit that will stop injuries becoming life threatening. We’ll go into the content in another article, but essentially we’re talking about kit that will stop a big bleed and kit that can be used to aid CPR. Most importantly, we need to know how to use this kit. Just carrying it isn’t enough. Having some blister tablets and basic painkillers is a good idea as well. Our first aid kit lives in a waterproof dry bag.

Bothy bag

If you don’t know what one of these is, then give it a quick Google! Think tent flysheet but without any structure. The idea is that if you are injured on the hill then you can get inside this shelter and it will create it’s own micro-climate to keep you warm while you wait for help. They’re amazing and are an absolute MUST for anyone heading into the mountains. You can get all sorts of different sizes, from a 2 person to huge shelters. A 2 person shelter is about the size of a drinks can and weighs a lot less – buy one.

Spare warm layer(s)

Depending on what time of year it is, we may have 1 or 2 spare layers. On colder days we would carry a synthetic ‘belay’ jacket to chuck over all our other layers if we need to be stationary for a while. We’d always choose a synthetic layer over a down layer as when a synthetic material gets wet it will still keep you warm, where as down will lose its insulating properties quickly.

In addition to this, we would carry a spare mid-layer: e.g., a spare fleece.

In less cold conditions, the belay jacket may stay at home, but we’d always have the spare mid-layer, even on a hot day as up high the weather can change quickly.

Gloves and hat

Depending on the time of year, the wooly hat may be a sunhat! Gloves only come out in the cold and when it’s cold + wet we would take more than one pair. When your gloves get wet your hands will get cold quickly, which can lead to a serious situation if they become too cold to use them.

Map and compass

Self explanatory really, but just carrying them isn’t enough. You need to know how to use them. If you don’t, consider a navigation course, like this one. Sometimes we carry GPS as well and we also have mapping software on our phone. Try FatMap – we can get you a discount if you ask us. We’d never rely solely on technology though so having the map and compass as well is essential.


In the autumn, winter and early spring we carry a head torch, fully charged. Don’t get caught out when the days get shorter.

Clothing & footwear

What you wear on the hill is largely a personal choice, but here’s a list of the sort of items that we go for 90% of the time.

  • Boots – anything from a summer trekking boot, to a B3 winter mountaineering boot. It just depends what you’re doing. See our explanation of different boot types here: https://youtu.be/B4U6hOEXk8w
  • Socks – either thin woollen walking socks, or thicker mountaineering socks
  • Trousers – synthetic walking or mountaineering trousers, not cotton and not jeans
  • Base layer – a synthetic material with a thickness dependent on conditions. Not cotton as it wets-out quickly and dries slowly.
  • Mid layer – a fleece type jumper with a thickness dependent on conditions.
  • Windproof – in summer, a thin synthetic soft-shell to keep the wind off (only taken when a waterproof jacket isn’t needed)
  • Waterproof jacket – either a lightweight jacket or a full weight winter version, depending on the forecast and the time of year
  • Waterproof trousers – either a lightweight version, or full winter-weight trousers
  • Spare mid layer (see above)
  • Belay jacket (see above)

So that’s it! A quick run through of the kit that pretty much comes with us every day we head out, whether we’re climbing, scrambling, mountaineering or just going for a walk in the fells.

Hope you found this useful.

See you out there.



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Association of Mountaineering Instructors