The Ultimate Hill Walking Kit List

Getting out into the hills walking is one of the best ways to leave the hustle and bustle of everyday life behind. For some of us it is important to get away from it all every now and then and just enjoy what the natural world has to offer.


Knowing what to pack for these days out will become easier with experience. It is important to have confidence in the kit you take, as well as knowing how to use it and be able to adjust the items according to your own personal needs and the conditions you plan to go out in.


Below is a list of some of the items that we’d recommend taking with you when heading for the hills.

Walking Waterproof Top And Bottoms

Waterproof clothing is so important when exploring the outdoors. If you don’t have it with you and find that you need it, it can lead to your great day out being ruined. A waterproof jacket is an essential item as it will keep your core dry. While both tops and trousers should be breathable with some venting to allow your sweat vapour to escape, otherwise you’ll be just as wet and miserable from condensation building up on the inside.


Read our Waterproof Technology guide for more information.


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Hats, Gloves & Buffs

Accessories like these help you adapt to changing weather conditions.


In the middle of winter warm and waterproof gloves, a thick hat and a fleece buff would be more appropriate, while in the middle of summer windproof gloves are ideal for a breezy summit, along with a sun hat and lightweight buff, together these can still provide a little insulation but also protect you from the sun.


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First Aid Kit, Whistle And Torch

Even if you plan on being out when it’s dark, plans often change without prior warning. You might have taken longer than expected to complete your route, but should the worst happen and you’re waiting for a rescue team, once darkness has fallen it would be increasingly difficult to find you without a signal from a torch.


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A first aid kit is essential for any hill walker. If you choose to buy an ‘off-the-shelf-kit’ make sure you know exactly how to use everything in it. If you do choose to build your own consider all situations as well as the quantity you will need if you’re heading out in a group.


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You may never have thought of packing a whistle, but if you encounter any troubles and need to attract attention, it takes a lot less effort to blow a whistle than to scream and shout.


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A Hearty Hill Walker's Lunch

When packing your lunch it doesn’t have to be a slapdash effort, you deserve to feast well on slow releasing carbohydrates that replace the energy you use. It’s important to prepare something you will really enjoy and can eat easily. Be it a gourmet chicken and stuffing sandwich or a lunch box filled with saucy pasta.


When packing some snacks consider the temperatures you are going out in; avoid chocolate goodies if it is warm as these will just melt, while chewy sweets can be a dental nightmare in cold conditions. A trail mix combination of nuts and dried fruit, is a great source of energy.


Keeping hydrated is essential to a great day on the hill. Between 1.5 and 2 litres is always a good place to start, but it’s entirely dependant on the length of time you plan to be walking and if it is likely to be a warm day.


In winter conditions be careful of your drink freezing (non-insulated bladder tubes are notorious for this), you might prefer to take a flask of tea or coffee, this is great at the beginning of the day when it is still warm but by the end of the day it can cool significantly. Some cordials, however taste just as good warm as they do cold so try taking that to warm your cockles.


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Eye Protection And Suncream

When the sun is beating down hard you’ll want to block out the bright light with sunglasses and crack on with your walk. In winter conditions pack a pair of ski goggles, while you might not be skiing the sun reflects off the snow’s surface and can cause you problems as you walk, the same becomes apparent when you encounter blizzard conditions.


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Spending time outdoors when it’s warm is great but it’s important to be safe. The big orange ball of fire in the sky is always there (even on overcast days). So, packing some sun cream and applying it accordingly can help you avoid the lobster look.


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Map And Compass

Even if you think you know the area like the back of your hand, taking a map and compass and knowing how to use it, is essential to any quality day out. You never know when you might have to change track, whether it is due to adverse weather conditions or an unavoidable obstacle, a quick look at a map can give you a safe alternative.


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Spare Insulating Layer

It’s always worth taking a spare insulation layer with you but the conditions you choose to go out in dictate what level you need. At the height of a warm summer a spare micro fleece should be fine, anything is better than nothing. Venturing out in winter on the other hand is a different matter. It would be much more beneficial to take a synthetic or down insulation piece, they are still lightweight, can usually pack down to the same size as a fleece but provide significantly more warmth and protection when worn. Keep in mind the layering system and you can’t go far wrong.


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Walking Accessories

Walking poles are perfect as they give your upper body a work out, help you move more confidently over difficult terrain and even come in handy should you need to cross a stream or dodge those dubious bogs.


When winter walking however it is important that you consider the fact that you might need to wear more appropriate boots and carry an ice axe and crampons.


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Hill Walking Packing Top Tips

  • When packing your bag, if you can, avoid packing it too full. If you need anything from the bottom you should be able to move the kit around inside your bag.

  • Pack any items you may want to grab quickly like hat/gloves/snacks in easy to reach pockets.

  • It’s important to keep your kit dry from the rain, plastic rubble sacks work well in your pack. Once you become a more experienced or frequent walker you can invest in some lightweight dry bags.

  • Make sure you know how to use all the items you take.

  • Make sure your rucksack and boots fit correctly, if you already have these items of kit at home check out our Rucksack Fitting Guide and Boot Fitting Guide or visit one of our stores for a free fitting service.

  • As well as the fit of your boot, choosing the right socks is also really important to prevent any unwanted blisters.

Posted By

Charlotte Fish, Cotswold Outdoor HQ


Charlotte discovered her passion for the outdoors at a young age and has a great deal of experience of personal pursuits as well as many years of experience volunteering as a leader for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme expeditions. She has travelled to some incredible places in Europe for outdoor activities as well as further afield to India and Nepal but her favourite place is still Scotland in winter.

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