This is a beginner's guide, from a fellow beginner. I like to think of this more as a personal list of things I like to remember for climbing mountains. If it helps other's then that's an added benefit!
The Journey There
You'll ideally want to be packed up and on the road incredibly early in the morning. Wake up, get yourself together quickly and get your arse out the door and on the road.
- Breakfast - something fairly light that you can take with you in the car.
- Coffee/Tea in a thermos.
- Light shoes for driving/traveling.
- A Phone Charger - you'll likely need maps to get to your car park which uses phone batteries. It's nice to start these hikes with a full phone battery in case you need them.
- Absolute bangers - You ideally need to get some absolute bangers put together in a playlist to try and help motivate you to get through, what will invariably be, a grueling 8-hour hike up a potentially very wet and windy mountainside.
On the Mountain - What You'll Need
- A Compass and a physical map with the ability to read them - the last bit of this is important. If you can't read the map with the compass then you may as well have brought a coloring book and crayons with you to pass the time waiting for mountain rescue.
- A warm jumper - something you can throw on and off quickly for when the wind picks up a little.
- A waterproof jacket - in the unlikely event that it will rain in Scotland.
- Proper hiking boots - don't be a fanny and wear lightweight running shoes with no grip. Minimize the risk of you slipping in the mountains and needing to call in mountain rescue.
- Waterproof trousers/leggings - things get wet, and cold very quickly up in the mountains, even in the height of summer.
- A running buff/snood - something that you can pull up over your face for when the midges come out in force.
- Smidge - those wee midge bastards can f*&k right off.
- A jam sandwich (or equivalent) for the summit - you will get hungry and need some sustenance on the longer hikes.
- Strawberries/Grapes in a wee container - honestly, these are a game-changer having them at the top. Nice and refreshing and they give you a little boost of sugar.
- A decent hiking bag - something that will hold all this stuff and be comfortable. Try and get something with a chest strap and a waist strap to help distribute the weight.
- Water Bladders - We both bought a 2-liter bladder which fits nicely into our backpacks. Fill these with water and throw them in the fridge the night before and you'll have nice easy access to cool water at every point of your hike.
- First Aid Kits + Emergency Blankets - These cost next to nothing, but they are incredibly handy for when s*(t hits the fan and you need to either keep warm until help arrives or patch yourselves up in order to get off the mountain.
- Hiking poles - for longer hikes, hiking poles can save your knees. They are also great for providing additional balance but not strictly necessary.
- A Good Camera - if you climb a munro and don't take a picture to post on Social Media, have you really climbed a munro? I'll grant you that this is purely optional, but if you are seemingly obsessed with photography, then remember your gear. You can check out all the gear I take here - https://elliotf.dev/my-adventure-photography-gear/
- Poop bags - don't leave your dogs shit all over the paths for others to step on/stumble over...
- A Collapsible water bowl and additional water for dogs - more often than not they can drink from streams, however, some mountains are incredibly dry and you will be hard pushed to find any water sources after certain points.
- A Bungie Lead - a lead with a bit of give, so that your dog can get a little extra movement in trickier climbing situations.
- A squeaky toy - something to distract your dogs and keep them in line if there are loads of people around.
The Journey Back
- Snacks - For the inevitable moment you get stuck in traffic because of an accident on the A82. (seriously, bring some additional food just in case...)
- Additional Water
- A Thermos full of warm tea/coffee
- A few towels for yourselves or the dogs to dry off
- A spare pair of socks - a fresh pair of socks is definitely a recommendation.
- Your light shoes for driving - do you really want to be driving home in your hiking boots after an 8-hour hike? No, I didn't think so...
- Ice Packs - Most people would consider me quite young, but my knees and ankles belong in a geriatric unit and thus require ice packs to help with the swelling after long hikes.