Wisepacking

When it comes to packing for a walking holiday, I have five rules:

  1. Don’t take anything new.
  2. Use my day sack as hand luggage.
  3. Pack at least one or more change(s) of clothing in hand luggage.
  4. Wear my boots and essential clothing onto the plane.
  5. Choose clothing and footwear that can be worn on the hill and in the hotel too…

Boots and other essential items are always worn onto the plane just in case the luggage goes AWOL. My former housemate fell foul of this Law Of Sod when heading out to The Inca Trail, as did a couple I met on a walking holiday in the Jura. In the first instance the bag turned up after it languished for a few days in Schiphol. In the second instance the bags didn’t turn up hence my rule about clothing in hand luggage.

I’m used to taking new boots, clothing and packs out of their packaging and using them in anger when testing kit for outdoor magazines here in the UK. When it comes to holidays though, I’ll pick well-worn favourites that are comfortable, work well and are chosen with the local forecast in mind.

Selections include:

  • Comfortable footwear worn with socks that don’t rub and ankle gaiters to keep the socks dry and bugs out. It’s usually boots for both hilly areas and flat country in my case thanks to a few ankle twists over the years, but I’ll also take shoes or sandals for hotel or town use.
  • Base layers and fleeces that dry quickly and have zip necks help to ventilate as you go. It also helps if the seams don’t rub when you shoulder your pack for the day. Avoid cotton base layers as they take ages to dry – technical items wash and dry quickly or can have a silver content to reduce the need to wash items so often (that’s also the case with merino wool base layers). If it’s summer and temperatures are high, then it’s time to wear long sleeved shirts with sun protection factors and insect repellency.
  • Soft shell jackets & trousers help provide warmth and are wind and shower resistant so you don’t have to keep stopping to don or remove waterproofs. Hats and gloves help to as do decent waterproofs. The rain in Spain definitely doesn’t always stay on the plain!
  • If I’m staying in bunkhouses or hostel accommodation then my choice of clothing is suitably casual, but if guest houses or hotels are involved, then my clothing choices reflect this.
  • If fine weather is forecast then it’s white t-shirts and light trousers. If not, then I’ll revert to student days – black with colour provided by base layers or shirts topped off by a fleece waistcoat or my soft shell on cooler days. The majority of my clothing is made from wash and wear fabrics, a factor that helps keep the weight down if you have a 15 kg hold limit rather than 20 kg.
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Keith Rickaby

Yorkshire based writer, with a background in retailing, outdoor instruction & band management

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