Back in the autumn I took myself on a little adventure. The view from my new desk at work offers tempting glimpses of the Cotswold hills that surround Cheltenham. The highest point in this AONB is Cleeve Hill, just a handful of miles from both my home and office front doors. Having admired the view for just over six months, I figured it was about time to stop looking at the view and to become part of the view instead.
There will be a post on here about the hike itself another day, but in the mean time you can read all about it over on the Thryve website. In this post, though, I wanted to share with you everything I carried on that two-day hike. My gear list, if you will.
I’m often asked about what gear I carry, what gear I recommend, and so I though this would be a useful way to share some of my advice and suggestions with context. I’ve posted about gear for a day hike before – which probably needs a refresh and republish at some point this year – but this one is for a two-day affair and so accounts for the addition of an overnight stay.
To give you the low-down before we get into it, my walk on this occasion was from and to my own front door, was 35-or-so miles in distance on low level trails (no mountains, scrambling or water crossings), was primarily on marked trails, and involved stopping off in a camping hut on an organised site overnight. I carried a 40 litre pack, all the food I needed for the hike (I did not plan on doing any shopping or visiting any cafes),
Gear List for my Two-Day Hike
I used a new pack for this hike – the Osprey Tempest 40 (this one – mine’s in black). It’s a bigger version of my tried and trusted day pack, and it’s a really great size for this kind of hike and hopefully lots of adventures in the future. I’ve only used it a small number of times so I’m not ready to write a full review yet, but for this post the most relevant information is that it fits my frame really well, has a good back system to keep my gear supported and my back free(ish!) from sweat, has bottom and top opening for the main compartment making finding specific gear when I stop is easy. The only thing it doesn’t have that I would recommend is a rain cover (like this one); lots of Osprey packs come with them built in, but the Tempest doesn’t – I really need to buy one. The 40 litre volume was more than enough for everything I took on this two-day hike; I’d want a bit more space if I was tent camping (because I haven’t spent much on my gear it doesn’t pack down super small), but for night or two with a bed at the midway point this was just right.
Inside my pack I organised (and waterproofed) my gear using my Lomo lightweight dry bags (these ones – they’re superb). Lomo are brilliant, I really rate them – the only small criticism I have is that they are all red, which means it’s not quite as easy as it could be to find my gear quickly, but to be fair I’ve never not been able to find anything, I’m generally organised and know where in my pack each thing is.
On this trip I “camped” in a little hobbit hut on an organised site where there was also an ablutions block with toilets, showers and washing up facilities. This was a decision I made to help make this mini adventure from my own front door an opportunity to relax as well as do something fun – I started the hike exhausted, I couldn’t afford to add to that. I therefore only needed to carry two of the big three; my sleeping bag and pillow. My sleeping bag of choice at the moment is the OEX Fathom 300 (read my review) and Thermarest Compressible Pillow (reviewed here).
I slept in my old Odlo thermal leggings (there’s a really old review here), which now have holes the knees, and my new ZeroFit Heatrub move thermal top (this one), which I am actually in love with it’s so comfortable and warm with the perfect neckline for a base layer. I generally sleep in thermals when I camp, and wear those in the evening when I’m eating my meal, because they are comfortable and will keep me warm. I was on my own and wasn’t planning on socialising with anyone, so there was no-one to mind my appearance except me!
For washing I carried a small wash kit in one of my dry bags, I think that’s best categorised under sleeping – I hate going to bed without washing and I knew I had the luxury of a shower this time. I took a travel sized toothbrush and toothpaste, solid deodorant, solid shampoo, my favourite face wash, all-important moisturiser, and a brush. If I was going away for longer or was likely to meet actual people, I might carry a bit more than that.
Ah hiking food… one of life’s real pleasures. I’ve definitely gotten better at eating on the trail in recent years, ever since I realised that I enjoy walking the most when I take lunch and snack breaks. I packed one traditional packed lunch for the first day, and the rest my meals were part of my full-day of Summit to Eat meals that I’ve already covered in this separate post. In my packed lunch I had a ginormous pork pie – one of my favourite hiking packed lunches (I can’t warrant the calories any other time), some cracker crisps and an apple.
In order to “cook” my freeze-dried meals I packed my Jetboil Flash with its associated gas cannister. I really love my Jetboil (reviewed here), it is just a really great bit of hiking kit – I’ve even started to carry it on day hikes and to picnics for the all-important afternoon cup of tea. I’m so pleased I’ve got it. Other cooking equipment included my enamel mug, my spork, and a couple of 1 litre metal water bottles.
And, naturally, I made sure I had all the snacks I needed to keep me going. Some malt loaf – sliced and buttered, a couple of cereal bars, a bag of Squashies, a couple of Snickers bars, a banana and a packet of mints. If you want some more advice on what to eat on a long hike, I wrote a post here by request covering some of my thoughts.
What I wear when I hike is pretty-well tried and trusted; I tend to always reach for the same things in my wardrobe because I just know they will be comfortable and do the job I need them to do. And let’s face it, being comfortable when hiking is the most important thing above all else. On my top half I had my Ordnance Survey technical tee and my Trespass merino zip up top over the top of my old sports bra. On my legs I had my Craghoppers Kiwi Pro Stretch trousers (recently reviewed here) over a pair of microfibre briefs from M&S. I probably should replace the latter with some proper technical underwear at some point, but it is all so expensive, and these ones seem to do the job well enough.
On my feet I had on my Bridgedale sock liners and hiking socks, and my Merrell Chameleon 7s (see my review here). I took my baseball cap, which spent half the time on my head and the other half of the time attached to my pack.
Naturally I also took my waterproof coat – my Craghoppers Sienna Gore-tex jacket (it’s half price at the time of writing – a bargain for Gore-tex), but I left my waterproof trousers and gaiters at home because the forecast was so good and I knew I could be bailed out if I really needed it. If you’re only doing two nights you can study the weather in order to dress appropriately – if you’re doing longer and/or travelling over big hills and through deep valleys then I would always carry everything as it saves a lot of misery should the weather change.
As far as spares go, I carried a second pair of hiking socks and liners, a second pair of pants, and a clean tee for the second day. Everything else I re-wore on day two – it was only a two-day hike after all. I carried my old The North Face Thermoball jacket to keep me warm in the evening along with a beanie hat, a pair of gloves, and a couple of Buffs.
I’m afraid I’m one of those people who can’t leave home without technology. I took my phone and GoPro (although the video footage is yet to see the light of day), with the relevant cables, and a large charger block that I knew would keep everything going. Navigation-technology-wise, I had my OS Maps app with the relevant maps and route downloaded to go with the physical map of my route I also had (read why I love paper maps). I also carried my headphones, but didn’t end up using them this time.
Naturally I carried my compass, as even though I reckoned I would be able to see civilisation the entire time – even if in the distance – it is always wise to carry one. In my first aid kit I had normal plasters and blister plasters, a bandage, pain killers, tweezers, scissors, and my foil survival blanket. I did not carry my bright orange emergency bivvy bag this time as I knew I was only a bus ride home, and I also left my water filter at home as I had two litres with me and knew there was water at the campsite.
They say that you pack for your fears, and this is certainly true. I was going to call this section “miscellaneous” but in reality these are the bits and bobs I packed because I thought they might come in handy, and help keep my mind relaxed.
In my little bag of bits and bobs – do people call them ditty bags? – I had my lip salve, some sun cream, my sunglasses, a little carabiner I seem to always take on hikes, my knife (within the carry limit), my credit card and a few coins, my house keys, a packet of tissues and a couple of bags to pack-out any rubbish/waste, and a couple of hair elastics. These things live inside one bag and then inside the top pocket of my pack so I can get at them easily.
I always pack a pair of cheap flip flops when I am overnighting; when I’ve been wearing my hiking boots all day and would rather allow my feet to breathe and recover in the evenings, and flip flops can also be worn in the shower. The cheap ones have practically no structure and so are easy to squeeze inside your pack – or they will slip into the front mesh pocket of most hiking bags.
I took my walking poles with me, too. Something I bought with long distance trails in mind, they are becoming a more regular feature of my day hikes. I didn’t think I’d use them due to the terrain, but decided I should have them just in case; I wasn’t sure how steep the descents were and that’s where I find them most useful. As it happens I did use them – the climb down from Crickley Hill was very steep and quite muddy, and so it was well worth carrying the poles just for that short one-mile section.
And finally, I also carried my notebook and a pen. I know I could write my notes in my phone, but there is something just so lovely about having a proper notebook in which to write. If nothing else, it forces me to sit and relax for a few moments in the evening before I go to sleep, as I jot everything down from the day.
So there we have it, my gear list of everything I packed for my two-day, one night hike close to home. I’m not suggesting this should be seen as a checklist for your next hike as everyone is different, but it should provide a useful starting point if you are planning a mini adventure.
If you have any questions about any of the stuff I carried (or didn’t), please fire away, I’m always happy to chat outdoor gear!
If you are looking to purchase anything I’ve mentioned here, most of the things on my gear list can be found on my Amazon storefront under the Outdoors and Camping section.