Preparing your rucksack for a winter adventure?

Winter walking is normally defined as requiring the use of technical winter equipment like axes and crampons, but what about conditions where rain and high winds are the biggest threat and snow is yet to fall? In this article I will display the contents of my winter rucksack and show you the essentials for a mountain walking adventure.


The above picture shows the full contents of my winter walking rucksack. This would be the bare minimum I would take out and if you suffer from bad circulation or feel the cold then you must consider taking extra layers.

NOTE :This is what I would take for non icy or snowy conditions and is a foul weather pack, you will need extra equipment if their is ice or snow forecast, you must also wear suitable hill walking clothing when walking in winter.

Insulation layers – Wearing the right clothing is important but what happens if you need to stop for a prolonged period of time? Carrying an extra insulating jacket can be a life saver in emergencies, if this is out of your budget a thick fleece will work!

Waterproofs– If you get wet you get cold and that’s bad news in the mountains. Get quality waterproof trousers and a coat with a hood to ensure you will keep you dry for the whole day.

Gloves– The age old debate of which glove is best still rages on, try  lots of gloves and take a pair that you know are going to keep your hands warm. In wet conditions I often take two pairs with me just in case.

Hat – You lose a lot of heat through your head so make sure you pack a hat.

Head Torch– You cant always guarantee you will be off in time for dark so always take a torch with you and a spare set of batteries. A torch with around 200+ lumens will give you plenty of power, anything below that may make navigation harder.

Goggles and sun glasses – Eye protection is advisable and goggles will protect your eyes from random snow and hail showers, Ensure your goggles or glasses are UVA and UVB proof.

Thermos and food – You cant put value on a hot drink and a good snack, its a morale boost when times get harsh and you need that warm feeling inside, take extra snacks too just in case you end up returning late.

Shelter – Cheap to buy and a lifesaver in foul conditions these mini shelters have saved countless lives, you can even use them to have your lunch in during a storm!

Map and compass– A must for any outdoor adventure and make sure you know how to use them, the majority of mountain rescue call outs are down to poor navigation.Check out my navigation courses on my website

Whistle and first aid kit – Items you hope you will never need but pack them in your bag just in case. First Aid kits are only as good as the person using them so ensure you know the basics of first aid.

Phone and waterproof case – Do I need to mention this? Never go out into the hills without a phone and ensure its waterproofed. Remember to register your phone on the 999 SMS service too, Click here for more information.

Waterproofing your bag – Personally I prefer using lots of individual waterproof bags rather than a single large one. Large bags can end up collecting water when you open them in the rain or bad weather. Lots of small bags will ensure that your essential stay dry and also help keep your bag organised.

The above is a recommendation for equipment to use while walking in winter where no snow or ice is forecast. Conditions often dictate the need for extra equipment, If snow or ice is forecast then extra layers and technical equipment should be considered, mountains can be dangerous places so ensure you check the weather forecast and pack for the conditions.

ABOUT ME – As a mountain leader and climbing instructor I offer courses in the Peak district and North Wales. I have extensive experience in the mountainous regions of the UK and around the world including the Alps and Morocco.  Feel free to get in contact for any information about my courses and instruction that I offer.



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