3 Things I Always Carry on Walks (with Trail Magazine)

Emily Woodhouse Gear, Living Adventurously, Practical Advice

A few months ago, I was asked to submit some items for a Mountain Rescue feature in Trail Magazine. The idea for the piece was that a spread of MREW members across the countries would each choose three items they always carry on the hill. That’s for personal walking, rather than in their rescue capacity. The published article is out now, but they’ve sadly reduced it to just a few lines and one item from each person. So yes, there’s just a slightly unhinged picture of me before All the Tors and “Emergency Jelly Babies” – next to a stock image dude apparently crying over jelly babies. Which, although very fitting, has sadly removed any sense of nuance – and perhaps even the point of the article, to explain why we all carry these things.

So, since I’ve got a blog, I thought I might at least share with you all the three items I chose and why I carry them. I don’t carry them literally every time I  leave the house, but I do genuinely carry them most times I go on a “proper” walk.

Don’t cry random man, I have jelly babies…

1. Head Torch

Even if I’m not intending to stay out late, I like to keep a head torch in my bag. It’s small and lightweight but dramatically increases the amount of time you can safely stay out in the mountains, especially in winter. I prefer ones with separate batteries so you can easily pack spares (and don’t have to remember to recharge before each outing).

I was asked to include head torches specifically, because there were already lots of people saying “a map” but not many saying torches. But I do generally take a torch for longer days, just in case.

2. Spare Warm Layer

I always keep one more warm layer than I intend to wear, stuffed at the bottom of my rucksack in a dry bag. If something happens and you have to stop, you get cold very quickly, so the spare comes out. If the other layers get soaked, I can wear the spare. And it’s come out surprisingly many times for other people too!

This is very true, although it took me a while to think of for the article. As a rule of thumb, I always pack one more layer than I intend to wear. Occasionally I end up wearing them – and in remote supervision, mid-winter, tor-sitting situations I often do. It’s so easy to underestimate how cold it’ll be sitting on a tor for hours in the wind. Either way, I really have given my spare layer out to other people. Most recently bivvying on Snowdon and half-way up Toubkal! Because mistakes happen and people forget things by accident and there is no reason to be cold if someone else has a spare layer 🙂

3. Emergency Jelly Babies

I keep a bag of jelly babies (other brands are available!) in with my first aid kit. When the going gets awful, it’s amazing how much joy a friendly bag of sweets can bring to all group members.

I have lost count of the number of times the emergency jelly babies have come out. Mostly with groups of under 18s, occasionally with adults and always in the most miserable of weather when we either aren’t progressing fast enough or have to stop for some reason. From a more practical viewpoint, it’s helpful to have some sort of quick sugar in case someone’s having a medical low rather than just an emotional one.