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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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Scrambling Rack – Technical Kit For Scrambling

In our last post we explained how scrambles are graded. We talked about how most people, at grades 2 and above, would consider using a rope to help protect tricky sections of the scramble. So, what scrambling rack and technical kit do we need to enable this? Lets have a look…

First things first though. Kit is all good, but it’s going to be challenging, if not pretty dangerous, heading out onto your nearest graded scramble with no idea on how to use all the shiny new gear that you’ve bought. So consider getting some decent professional advice and learn how to do things properly. See here for more info on that one: Scrambling courses & mountaineering courses

Okay, on with the kit chat, but with a caveat: ask a load of Mountaineering & Climbing Instructors what kit they’d take on a Grade 2/3 scramble and we guarantee that you’ll get a load of different answers – it’s all very personal and depends on many factors such as the route itself, your knowledge of it, your own ability, your partner’s ability and the weather! But here’s our opinion as a starting point.


Firstly it needs to be a dynamic ‘single’ or ‘triple’ rated rope so that it absorbs the force of a fall and is designed to work on its own – i.e., not paired up with another rope. You want a rope that isn’t too fat as the fatter they are, the heavier they are, but at the same time isn’t so skinny that it’s hard to get a good grip on it with gloved hands. We use a 9.1mm rope a lot and find it a nice middle ground. We’d not go fatter than 10mm and no skinnier than 9mm.

Length-wise, the longer the rope, the heavier it is and scrambling is all about moving efficiently and quickly through the mountains; more weight = slower progress. However, you also want a rope that is long enough to ‘run out’ the tricky pitches on the route and that is long enough to abseil on should you have an abseil descent or if you have to escape the route. We go for about 40m when we’re guiding 2 clients (i.e., there are 3 of us on the rope), but for scrambling just as a pair a 30-35m rope would be ideal.

Finally, a dry-treated rope is going to absorb less water on rainy days and mean that your rope doesn’t get super heavy and saturated. A nice additional feature, but not essential.


Like we said above, scrambling is about moving quickly so we’re looking to keep the weight down. Ideally, most of your anchors on the route are going to consist of slings around big blocks or maybe ‘direct’ using just the rope, so you definitely don’t need a full rock climbing rack.

Sometimes though you will need to be placing trad ‘gear’, either to build a belay and safeguard your second, or to protect a pitch as you climb it, so it’s worthwhile having some with you. Even if the route is well within your limit things can change quickly if it starts raining and the rock becomes slippy, so the ability to be able to place some gear and keep things safe is a nice option to have.

Here’s what we’d take as a scrambling rack on a Grade 2/3 route that we’ve not been on before (i.e., we don’t have any prior knowledge or ‘beta’ of the gear needed for the route):

  • Nuts/wires: roughly ½ a set from DMM Wallnut size ‘4’ upwards. So maybe take sizes 4, 5, 6, 7, 9 & 11. The mid-sizes (4-7) tend to get placed a lot in the Lakes and Snowdonia so it’s worth having those at least.
  • Cams: 3 medium-ish sizes, e.g., DMM Dragons size 1, 2, 3 (purple, green & red), or save the cash and take a couple of mid-sized DMM Torque nuts or hexes.
  • Quick-draws x 4 with extendable slings (make your own out of a 60cm sling & 2 wiregates)
  • Slings: 5 x 120cm on lightweight screwgates
  • Screwgates: 1 x Boa + 3 screwgates per person
  • 2 x prusiks on a lightweight screwgate
  • Nutkey
  • Belay plate on an HMS carabiner


If you’re buying a harness just for scrambling, then ‘light-is-right’ here. You’re not going to have loads of gear to carry so you don’t need trillions of loops and a sturdy, supportive waist belt. Neither are you doing to be hanging around in mid air while you ‘work’ a route. Your harness will mostly be used to keep yourself safe at a belay, occasionally belay your partner and is there as a last line of defence if you do fall off, which on broken scrambling type terrain with loads of big ledges to land on, is a bad idea! If you do plan on getting into rock climbing as well then look for something a bit more suited to multiple disciplines and accept its a few grams heavier.


Wear one. Simple. Again, light wins but you need to accept that a lot of modern lightweight helmets are almost single use in their design. i.e., if it takes a significant knock, you’re probably going to find it’s damaged to the point that it’s only worthy of the bin. Heavier, plastic shells are more robust.

So that’s that. Your technical kit sorted. If this all made loads of sense to you then great, head on out and enjoy your adventures. If it all sounded a bit alien then why not come and let us take you through all these nuances and teach you how to use your new kit on our bespoke Technical Scrambling courses. Or join us for a day or two of Guided Scrambling and see how this all comes together in the real world, while we enjoy a classic technical scrambling route.

See you out there. Next time we’ll chat about clothing, boots and rucksacks to get you ready for the rock.

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Scrambling Grades Explained

So you’re a walker with ambition and it’s time for you to leave the footpaths, get your hands on the rock and experience one of the UK’s fastest growing pastimes – scrambling. You’re ready for an adventure, but you don’t want to get in over your head so sensibly you want to pick a route that isn’t too hard, but isn’t too easy either. Good job all the scrambling routes you’ve found are graded on their difficulty! But what on earth do they mean?!

Maybe we can help?

Grade 1

Think of Grade 1 as a difficult walking route that needs your hands on the rock to help you make progress. It’s fun, but you’re never far away from easier ground which makes escape fairly straightforward. Most folk won’t use rope or technical scrambling gear at this grade, unless maybe they’re looking after someone who is really anxious, or perhaps their kids. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security though: there are plenty of Grade 1s out there that would have dire consequences in the event of a fall. Jacks Rake on Pavey Ark being a classic that you really don’t want to get wrong.

Grade 2

Think Grade 1 on steroids. Grade 2 will have steeper, more difficult and sustained (i.e., continuous) sections of scrambling than Grade 1 and escaping to nearby easy terrain will be more tricky and occasionally impossible. Often scramblers will use a rope on Grade 2 to protect the more difficult bits. Experienced scramblers may consider roping up for the whole route, switching between various ‘rope’ systems to keep things safe – these might be moving together, ‘leading’ short pitches, or full on rock climbing.

Techniques using the rope need professional input to get right as you don’t get a second chance when you make a mistake. Consider investing in some professional mountain training if you want to learn how to look after yourself on this terrain. Here’s a link to some courses.

Grade 3

Grade 3 = rock climbing. Grade 3 merges and overlaps with the easier rock climbing grades and the techniques needed to safeguard this sort of terrain are the same as those that you’ll see rock climbers using on the steeper mountain crags. Grade 3 will have sections that are steep and serious and most scramblers will use a rope and rock climbing gear to keep things safe. A technical scrambling course is definitely advised to make sure you have these skills dialled before committing to routes on your own.

Guided scrambling

Still confused? Unsure what grade you want to get on? A good idea is to have a day or two out of guided scrambling and let a professional Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor look after you on varying terrain. You can then get an idea of whether you want to learn the techniques for Grade 3 or whether you’re happy just making your walks more interesting by getting on the odd Grade 1.

Until next time…

See our future blog post for tips on what gear you’ll need at each grade! Have fun and stay safe!

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Top Tips For Planning Your Lake District Challenge Event

Some of the UK’s finest countryside landscapes and the most rewarding challenges await keen explorers of the Lake District. But, to properly enjoy the outdoor adventure ahead of you, you’re going to want to firstly ensure that you’ve done the necessary planning.

A lack of supplies, little knowledge of the surroundings, or a poorly planned route can quickly turn a fun challenge into a stressful and tiring situation. Things can turn sour fast and to avoid a day bickering with your fellow hikers, it’s wise to spend some time working out  the finer details before you head out.

But where do you start if you’re a first timer to these types of challenges? We’ve put together some handy tips on planning lake district challenges, so you’ll have everything you need to enjoy a thrilling day on the peaks.

Identify the essentials

Everyone thinks they know what they need to bring with them on a Lake District challenge. Food, water, first aid kit, torch, and waterproofs all seem like essential items that you’re never going to forget to pack.

However, if you end up in a rush when packing, or an item slips under the radar, you could be left in a precarious position.

You’ll be best served to brainstorm the items you will need with your friends before the trip and make a detailed list. This will also give everyone the chance to show any less experienced folk the essential supplies they’ll need to bring if they won’t be familiar with what to take. All our lake district challenges come with a full comprehensive kit list.

Know what to wear

Don’t just throw on any old clothes and expect to complete the 10 peaks challenge or 24 peaks challenge. You’ll need to ensure that you wear clothes that comfortable, breathable and will keep you cool or warm depending on the season. This means no denim and no cotton as the material retains water and will be incredibly uncomfortable after a long day hiking.

The wrong shoes can also lead to sore feet and make any challenge much harder than it needs to be. Keep in mind the rough terrain that lies ahead of you and that unsuitable material can lead to every step becoming a nightmare. Comfortable walking boots are the key here – and make sure your that day 1 of your challenge isn’t the first time they’ve been on your feet!

Plan your route ahead of time

When planning a trip to Lake District, you’re going to want to acquire all the information about the technical complexity of the trail, the expected weather conditions, and an idea of how long the route will take you. Calculating the approximate time that you will need to walk the route will ensure you’re not left rushing to finish as the darkness settles in.

Take a look online at local blogs and forums to learn all about the route that you want to do. Lake District challenges are incredibly popular, so you’ll find plenty of people willing to discuss their experiences.

Check for GPS trails that you can upload to your phone as well as these can be extremely handy for beginners who can check their phone mid-hike for detailed information on where they are.. Beware though that using your phone for navigation is going to eat the battery so have a back-up or share the navigation between the group.

Know your limits

Whether it’s your first endurance challenge or you’re a seasoned hiker, it is essential to know your limits. You’ll be well and truly pushed to your as you journey through some of England’s most dramatic peaks.

Mountainous terrain is certainly not a walk in the park and you’ll be crossing rocky crags and moorlands that could be much more dangerous than you’d initially think.

Whether it be the peaks of Scafell Pike, Great Gable, or Helvellyn, it is crucial not to expect too much of yourself, especially if you’re a first-time challenger. Don’t bite off more that you can chew!

Plan to leave no trace

You’re walking in the mountains because of their beauty – keep them that was and take all your litter out with you. This includes toilet roll, banana skins and orange peel – it takes a lot longer to biodegrade that you think.


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Top reasons why you should take a mountaineering course

To some, mountaineering seems like a very unappealing idea – no surprise given the dizzying heights and unforgiving terrain that you’ll be faced with. However, to others, it’s those same challenges that make it utterly thrilling.

Mountaineering is an activity that takes time to master and requires technical skill and good fitness to head out safely; add the myriad of different types of specialist kit that you’ll need and the fact that each mountaineering day out can be completely different to the next, you can see that it can be tricky to know where to start on your mountaineering journey.

This is where a mountaineering training course will help you. Whether you’re a first-timer keen to learn the ropes (pun intended!), someone looking to take the next big step in mountain recreation, or an experienced climber looking to refresh and update your skills before your next big challenge, there will be a course right for you.

There are also plenty of mountaineering training courses available: worldwide to closer to home in – all in stunning mountain locations. Do you still need convincing on why you should take a mountaineering course? Well here’s some more good reasons.

Learn new skills

The technical skills you learn on a mountaineering course are vital to heading out into mountaineering terrain safely. Mountaineering courses will prepare you for the worst situations and being able to think back to those lessons will be invaluable for overcoming the challenges you will face as you push yourself in the mountains.

Inexperienced climbers forgoing proper training will be putting themselves at risk, so it’s safe to say that enrolling in a course will help to keep you and your group out of harm’s way.

Break out of your comfort zone

The fact that you’re reading this probably means that you love to challenge yourself and try new experiences. So, if you’re looking for the next exciting test of your abilities and want to try an extreme sport that will push you to your limits, a mountaineering course is a great place to start. You’ll love the feeling of pushing your limits, but within the safe environment created by our professional instructors.

Experience the great outdoors

Unplugging yourself from your everyday routine and taking the time to experience the great outdoors is something that everyone should do at least once in a while. Whether it be for a weekend, a full week, or even longer, mountaineering is a rare chance to get up close and personal with some breathtaking scenery that you won’t forget soon.

A course can also teach the basic techniques of movement on rock, snow, and ice and help beginners feel comfortable tackling all types of terrain. Once you’re out on your own, there is no telling where your next adventure will take you – a mountaineering training course is just the first step.

Reach new heights

The thrill of your first climb is like no other. The sense of achievement, the glorious views of an untouched landscape and the simple joy of being so high up, it will be a rush you’ll never forget.

Meet like minded individuals

When starting a hobby, it’s common to want friends or family to join you in sharing a new-found interest. Unfortunately, not everyone will be lucky enough to be able to bring another person onto the course and will rely on meeting friends along the way.

A fun challenge to take

Perhaps the best reason to take a mountaineering course is simply that it is tons of fun and prepares you for an adventure like no other.

People get so much value out of the experience of being trained, practising new skills, and demonstrating abilities in front of a seasoned professional. As you progress through the course, you’ll gain a sense of confidence and will be ready to put your knowledge to the test.

Mountaineering truly is a life-changing experience, and a course is your first step towards experiencing this.

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Association of Mountaineering Instructors