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What’s in my Summer Rucksack?

Once you leave home and step into the mountains there is an ethic of self reliance. There are no ambulances, no CCTV and if we get into trouble it is our responsibility to solve the problem we have created. There are volunteers in Mountain Rescue teams who will help if we really need them but that should be a last resort. 


When we go out into the mountains we need to be equipped so that we can avoid problems and also deal with any we are unfortunate enough to encounter - we need to be self sufficient in some of the harshest environments in the UK. 



Temperatures on the summits are regularly about 10 degrees C cooler than they are in the valleys and wind speeds are 2-3 times stronger. Couple that with the ever present threat of rain and we have an environment where staying warm and dry is difficult and super important. If you twist an ankle you could easily be waiting for several hours for volunteer help to arrive and so you need to be equipped to stay warm and dry for that period of time - in any weather. Here is my kit list for a normal summers day walk in the mountains: 


  • Rucksack – 30 litres
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Head Torch
  • Walking Boots and Socks
  • Drink
  • Lunch
  • Hat and Gloves
  • 1 x spare gloves
  • 1 x spare warm layer
  • Spare food
  • Personal First Aid & sanitary supplies
  • Sunglasses, sun hat and Sun Cream (weather dependant!)
  • Map & Compass
  • Mobile Phone - fully charged and in airplane mode to save the battery 
  • Group shelter for escaping the worst of the weather for rests or in an emergency
  • Blizzard Pack - for use on a casualty to keep them warm in case of a problem 


Your Clothing: Avoid cotton. You need a pair of walking trousers and a base layer that will dry quickly when wet and keep you cool in the heat. 


I tend to keep everything in dry bags in my rucksack so that it all stays dry - there is nothing worse than pulling out a spare layer of clothing to find that it is cold and wet before you even put it on. 


I also use a set of trekking poles and like ones that pack down nice and small so that they can be put inside my rucksack for any scrambling sections where I want to be able to use my hands. 


What do you have in your summer rucksack?



Rob Johnson

Mountaineering Instructor (MIC) & International Mountain Leader

Based in Snowdonia and providing skills courses and expeditions throughout the year

Chairman of Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team - the busiest team in the UK.