The previous post was dedicated to showing you the process of creating a good gear list using the right resources. The case study I chose was my upcoming attempt to walk 100 miles of the South Downs Way (SDW) in south east England in one go. So first off – I didn’t make it, not even close. I managed to cover almost 30 miles with one half hour break – not bad. I was in good physical shape, no major aches or pains – so I was set to do my all-night walk. My only problem was that border-walking alone in the dark is just boring! But lets go back to the point and come back to the dark later – did the gear hold up?
How did the gear perform?
Simply put, it was almost great. My initial assessment was right, but there were a few learning points:
1. Water was easily available at the speed I was going, and I ended up carrying a full 2 litre container all the time, untouched. I kept on filling the 1 litre platy as I passed taps. Take for the future: only 1 litre extra water needed.
2. Because I ended up not having any breaks (though if I kept on going through the night I would have) – the sitting pad and the down jacket weren’t used. I did use the down jacket on the way back home as it was cold enough. Take: plan walking more carefully and only take warm gear if vital.
3. After sunset it got much colder than I thought it would be and I needed some active insulating layer (fleece/synthetic insulation), especially if I planned on walking all night. Take: pack a mid layer, especially if planning a night walk.
4. The trail was muddy and the soil in many places is clay. My shoes had grip most of the time, but in some places I needed bigger threads. Take: get shoes with better mud traction for south England winter trails.
5. My warm cap was great most of the day, but in the evening, especially with a headlamp, a beanie would be better. Take: pack a beanie.
Those are the immediate gear list corrections. Besides the regular list, I used a new bit of kit: the Ribz front pocket. This is new for me and I got it so I can have a little more storage space when hiking with my daughter. We lately got a Kid Comfort for her and not having a backpack means more storage space is needed.
The Ribz was brilliant and I’m considering just making it a regular in all my outdoors adventures. They feature 8 litres of carrying space across 2 big and wide front pockets with an X back strap. My only problem with it is that it is a little long in my opinion so I will need to fix it a little.
So why not a 100 miles?
Back to the beginning – I didn’t make it to 100 miles, or even 50 miles. I probably covered about 30 miles (around 48 km) from my 9:30 start to my 18:30 train, not that bad. I averaged 5.5 km/h with no major physical issues coming up. On one steep decline it took me slightly too long to get the walking poles out to use them so my right knee started to protest, but that was it. Nothing that a good night sleep won’t fix.
So what happened? I got bored, pretty simple. Last time I did a night hike was when I was still guiding groups, and guiding a group on a night walk is not boring in the least. Walking alone in the dark for hours on the South Downs Way is. It was an overcast night so I had to use my headlamp, the walk was wooded and I had no view to look at. After 2 hours of walking in the dark I had enough, so I walked to the closest village and hitched a ride to train station. By 21:00 I was showered and on the sofa enjoying a cold beer – not really a loss.
I do plan on trying that idea again, but I think I will need to partner up for that, both for the interest and the emotional support.
I hope this post and the previous one helped you understand a little more how to deal with creating an efficient tailored gear list for your own trip. You can get my gear list building guide below, but feel free to ask any question about this list in the comments.