We had a chat with one of our very own climbing, hiking, and mountaineering experts. Tony Payne, who works in our Mountain Warehouse store in Keswick, chats to us about everything from his love of the great outdoors, his favourite pieces of hiking gear, and what you should never leave home without when heading out on an adventure. Tony has climbed all 214 Wainwrights and knows the fells of the Lake District like the back of his hand.
I’m 65 years young and this September I’ll reach retirement age, but I hope to carry on working as I really enjoy working with the MW team in Keswick. On leaving school I studied photography and spent a good 30 years as a freelance working and living in London. I discovered the Lakes late in life, but the rest is history as they say. I’ve been with MW for over 11 years now and I enjoy the fells on my days off.
I’ve always enjoyed the simple things in life, one of them being spending time outdoors enjoying nature.
This would be an early childhood memory of camping out in the Libyan desert, where the desert meets the sea. My dad was in the army, and we were posted to Tripoli and we would pack everything we needed for a weekend of camping somewhere along the coast. This is probably where my love of wild camping comes from.
Before my knee operations, I was hiking and wild camping every week, sadly my knees have deteriorated so it’s just when I can manage to get out.
Essential for days out, it would have to be a map and compass.
Not essential but always useful to have basic knowledge. Carrying a first aid kit is always a good idea.
Entry Level: Based on what I wear when I go out for a day hike during May/June/July.
Any lightweight wicking top, I prefer the Endurance T-Shirt.
Any lightweight half-zip fleece. I’ve been wearing the Denali and I can’t recommend it enough.
Needs to be waterproof and breathable. My choice is the Bachill. Decent rating and is still lightweight.
Waterproof Over trousers:
Lightweight Merino socks live on my feet.
Walking Accessories (Essential):
Walking Accessories (Optional):
This next-to-skin layer wicks away sweat to help keep you warm when it’s cold, cool when it’s hot, and as dry as possible always. Long-sleeve or short-sleeve is down to personal preference, as is synthetic or merino wool. Layers with a higher collar can help to protect the back of the neck from sun or windchill, and zip can also aid cooling.
The traditional mid layer is a polyester fleece, which is light, warm, soft, and quick drying. Other mid layers include ‘hard face’ fleeces and softshell jackets (which have a durable, windproof outer), hybrid garments (to warm your core and wick sweat in areas like the underarms), and ‘active insulation’ mid layers (loosely woven insulation that offers lightweight warmth but excellent breathability).
In cold conditions, you can wear an insulated down or synthetic jacket instead of or in addition to a mid-layer. This can be a useful spare layer to carry in your pack too, to put on during rest stops.
In the UK, it’s always advisable to carry a hooded, waterproof jacket, with a minimum hydrostatic head of 1500-2000mm.
Lightweight yet rugged trousers, made from a quick-drying fabric. Zip-off trousers give added flexibility in changeable temperatures.
Waterproof trousers, ideally with at least a quarter-length leg zip to easily fit over walking boots.
Wear cushioned, wicking walking socks. These come in various weights (thicknesses) for different conditions and seasons. Merino socks are ideal for their wicking properties in warm and cold climates.
Boots or trail shoes:
If you walk mainly on good-quality paths, trail shoes can be a great lightweight option, but on rougher ground, wear comfortable and supportive boots, either way, they must be waterproof.
Gloves or Mittens:
Can be thermal, waterproof, windproof, lightweight, pack according to seasonal weather forecasts.
Useful in wet boggy conditions, sand, and snow. Look for waterproof and breathable makes.
Some form of hat is advisable, whether a knitted beanie, sun hat, or waterproof cap depending on the season and weather forecast for the day. Sunglasses are another recommended item to consider, as are neck gaiters, bandanas, balaclavas, and earmuffs.
Up to 35 Litres should be more than adequate for an average day’s hike. Look for a rucksack that comes with a waterproof cover and plenty of pockets for a water bottle etc. compression straps and d rings.
Essential to stay hydrated all year round. A water bladder that sits inside your rucksack is another option.
Map and Compass:
Buy the best you can afford and learn how to use them! A guidebook or route card of your intended walk is also worth considering.
A head torch is more practical than a hand-held torch and is useful if a walk finishes in the dark. It can also be a useful flashing signal in emergencies. Remember to always carry spare batteries.
Recommended if your hike involves a lot of hillwalking and mountaineering, they give you stability and can help reduce wear on your knees and lower limbs.
A good first aid kit, a whistle and an emergency blanket are essential. If you are venturing higher a bothy bag should be considered.
A sit mat is a handy extra to carry for those rest breaks and lunch stops. If you’re out for the day, then take plenty of snacks, sandwiches, and hot or cold drinks are essential. Spare clothing like an extra pair of socks is always useful as is a travel towel and a dry bag or two to keep everything organised.
Many setbacks where I’ve had to abandon my hike or camp due to adverse weather conditions, mostly strong winds, heavy rain, and poor visibility where I’ve decided to turn around and head back off the mountain. Twice I have been caught out camping in electrical storms that were not forecast, on both occasions I was in a remote location and just sat it out!
Pretty much covered in question 7. Winter kit would be slightly heavier and warmer garments. Waterproof ratings will be higher.
Know your limits. Start with modest distances in an area you are familiar with. The same with fells, find an easy one with a good path. Walk with friends or join a walking club if you are unsure about hiking alone. This way you will build up your knowledge and gain valuable experience to give you the confidence to tackle longer hikes and higher fells.
If you’re planning an outdoor adventure, take a look at Mountain Rescue’s safety advice before heading off.
All images are supplied by Tony Payne.