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What do I need to pack in my rucksack for a hill walk?

Updated: Mar 30, 2022

Hopefully, you are reading this because you have decided to book on to a SUP & Summit ( guided walk - or - you have made your own plans to explore the hills and mountains.

Whenever we are planning to venture into the hills and mountains, preparation is crucial if we are to enjoy our day and remain safe. The majority of the time, with an experienced guide or a range of hill skills in in our toolkit, our adventures will be uneventful, barring the odd blister. However, accidents and injuries do occur which stop us in our tracks - whether directly involving our own party or another that we come across - requiring us to rethink our route or even call for help.

Unfortunately, callouts to Mountain Rescue teams have increased significantly, with more people heading into the hills and mountains, many of whom are not sufficiently prepared or skilled - and incidents largely avoidable. If you need to improve your hill skills or want to join us on a guided walk, please visit

Rucksack / Back pack

OEX rucksack

Before we think about what we need to put in our rucksack, we need to actually have a rucksack! It is worthwhile remembering that we may be carrying our rucksack for many hours and therefore it needs to fit properly, be big enough to carry what we need whilst being comfortable. There are many brands out there, your options dependent largely upon your budget - prices ranging from £20-£200. It is recommended that you try various rucksacks before purchasing, making sure that they fit properly. For your average day walk, your

rucksack needs to be 25-30 litres in size.

Dry bags

It is important to bear in mind that your rucksack is unlikely to be waterproof. Most come with a waterproof cover that you can put over your rucksack in the rain - these have a tendency to behave like a windsock in the wind though!

The use of dry bags is extremely useful in keeping your gear dry in your rucksack when it is raining. They are most useful to keep electronics, first aid kit and clothing dry as they are likely to be unusable otherwise.

Visit to see the different options available according to your budget

'In case of emergency' card

When you sign up for one of our guided walks, you will always be asked to provide your personal details, essential medical information and emergency name and contact details. Hopefully this is information that we will never need to use however, should you suffer a medical emergency etc., we are prepared.

If you are out and about in the hills, either alone or with others, it is worth ensuring that you carry an 'in case of emergency' card, detailing the above mentioned information (

Always keep this information in an obvious place and make sure your walking companions are aware of its whereabouts ... and you know where to find theirs.

  • SPF 30+ for skin

  • SPF 30+ for lips

  • Insect repellent such as Smidge

  • Antibacterial gel

  • Face covering

  • Whistle

  • Foldable seat mat

  • Battery pack and charging cable for electronic devices

  • Waterproof case for mobile phone (not pictured)

First-aid essentials - needed for any injuries affecting your own party or others

  • Emergency shelter - handy for keeping you dry whilst your having lunch and to keep a casualty warm and covered. Size varies from 2 - 12 man

  • First aid kit (basics include blister plasters) (further details will be in a separate blog)

  • Scissors - in case you need to cut clothing / gear

  • Duct tape - you can fix a whole range of issues

  • Hand warmers (reusable products are available)

  • Blizzard 3 layer survival blanket (

Hypothermia tends to be the cause of death in the mountains and Blizzard products are superb in keeping casualties warm. It is important to be prepared for a potential several hour wait for Mountain Rescue services, depending upon your location.

  • Walking poles

  • Head torch (fully charged)

  • Water (carried in 2 litre bladder which fits in a sleeve in the back of a H2O compatible rucksack or bottle). You will need 1.5-2 litres on an average temperature hill day - more when it is hot.

  • Rehydration tablets to add to your water (replaces electrolytes lost in sweat) (

  • Map and compass

  • Having enough food (and of course, water) is crucial if you are to enjoy your day and keep your body fuelled and moving.

  • Snacks such as protein / cereal bars - these are easy to source and ideal for keeping in your rucksack and pockets, enabling you to graze throughout the day, keeping you energy levels high. You may eat want to carry these in addition to your sandwiches etc, but they are sufficient enough (200 calories in each) to have instead, though you will need a good supply of them!

  • Waterproof jacket and trousers

  • Gloves

  • Hat

  • Spare pair of socks (in case of soggy shoes)

  • Lightweight padded jacket

Even on the hottest day, it is advised that you carry these items - you never know if you will twist an ankle and not be able to carry on - you will get cold quick!

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