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Chris Jones

Equipment Guide

This page contains a fairly comprehensive guide to the things we think you need when you come on a hike with us

Equipment you need to bring

The following is a list of equipment that you will need when going on a hike with the Hiking Club some are essential and other are just recommended. It is for not only your safety that we set minimum standards for equipment but for the safety of the whole group. For this reason committee members or walk leaders can refuse to take you on a hike if you are inappropriate equipped. Nevertheless, do not get us wrong, you not need the latest high-tech clothing and most things you will probably already have. When it comes to clothing, the main rule is NO JEANS OR TRAINERS. For an explanation of why not just keep reading.

With this list, we have aimed at giving a guide of the things you will need on a hike with the club, it is a different list than if you were walking in a group outside the club. There is certain equipment that the club will take along for the safety of the whole group (maps and survival shelters etc) which you do not necessarily need yourself.

Before we continue we will try to answer the most important question of all....

What is the weather going to be like?

If you watch the weather while having breakfast the forecast invariably is a lot different from what you experience five hours later in the Brecons. You might think the forecast was wrong but most of the time it is simply because mountain weather is very different to weather in Swansea.
The weather, which is broadcast on most national and international mediums, is for sea level. As a quick rule of thumb air temperature decreases by 1 degree Celsius for each 100 metres you climb. On top of an average mountain in the UK, you can expect the wind speed to be twice that at sea level.
Therefore, a forecast for South Wales may transfer to weather in the Beacons in the following way...

Be prepared but be sensible! Having set down this list of "things to bring" it must be stressed that while you should be equipped to be self sufficient you should not go over the top. You will not for example need very many warmth layers when going for a short hike on the Gower on a hot day in the spring. Where as if we were going to the Beacons you may well want to pack a couple jumpers. In the same way, you will in general need more warm clothing in winter than in the summer.

Basic Equipment

Optional Equipment

Hiking Boots

Hiking Boots could be said to be the most important thing you need when you are hiking. Slipping is the number one reason for mountain rescue teams to be called out and this risk can only be minimised by "good" boots. Good does not have to mean expensive; you can pick up a good pair for as little as £30 which will last you for years. There are three thinks to look for with hiking boots.

These three properties are simply the opposite of those of trainers and just go to reinforce why the club has a NO TRAINERS rule. When looking for hiking boot you will find that they fall into two groups. Comparing price for price, they both have their advantages and disadvantages.

To go along with your boots you need a good pair of hiking socks. Most people wear a thick pair of hiking socks over a pair of normal socks and for this reason it is often a good idea to buy your boots a size too big. Different people find different combinations of socks work for them it is just a matter of experimenting. Many outdoor shops will lend you hiking socks so that you can get the size right, if not take yours. Always try boots on before you buy

Waterproof Jacket

It goes without saying that waterproofs are important. Without anything to keep water from your other clothes they will stop keeping you warm and soon the extra weight will sap your energy. To stay dry is to stay safe from hypothermia and generally to stop you having a very unenjoyable day. With waterproof jackets, there is probably the greatest scoop for spending as much money as you want and to a certain extent, you do get what you pay for. For most of the hiking, we do in the club the most important things a jacket does are,

A simple jacket that will do all of this can cost from £25. When you start looking at more expensive jacket, you start expecting more. The main thing you can expect if you start with a budget of say a £100 or more are,

For a top of the range jacket, you can expect to spend in the region of £250. Where as a simple jacket will do the job; if you are thinking of doing a lot of hiking a little extra money spent on a jacket is probably going give the greatest pay back in terms on comfort.

Warm Layers

It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to keep your body at the correct temperature. The most important part of doing that is to have warm "mid layers". This might consist of a jumper or two and as long as you keep them dry it is fine to wear wool. The main thing to remember is that a small number of thinner layers is a lot better than one big jumper that is only going to hold in one layer of warm air. Many people wear a quick drying fleece on top of a number of lighter layers. If it then becomes warmer they can remove some layer and if it gets colder they can add an extra jumper or spare fleece. Lightweight fleece tops range from £15 to £50 where as a warm fleece jacket will cost between £25 and £150. With some of the more expensive jackets (£80 or more) you can expect the material to semi or totally windproof. This simply means you do not have to put your waterproof on in high wind to stop the wind taking its effect.

Sensible Trousers

So why no Jeans? This question is asked so often, I will try to answer it first. When Jeans get wet, they

Simply wearing waterproof trouser over the top is not a solution as this is no defence against falling in a stream. Much better is to wear a pair of light weight walking trousers, leggings or tracksuit bottoms. These trousers can be bought for as little as £10 from any outdoors or sports shop. Remember you trousers must also offer insulation from the cold.

Food & Drink

For all day hikes you will have to bring a packed lunch and something to drink for the day. Remember that you use a lot more energy hiking up and down mountains than sitting in lectures. Therefore, you need to have a good breakfast and high-energy food (such as Mars Bars) to keep you going as well as a good lunch. Always plan for the worst and take extra food so you do not get hungry if a hike is held up for any reason. On harder hikes, we tend to spend longer in the pub at the end to recover. This is often a good opportunity to grab a meal, but remember to bring your money. Remember most pubs well not let you eat your own food inside. As far a liquid goes a litre of water is normally about right, but more may be need in hot weather. However, remember water is heavy!

Small Rucksack + Liner

Unless you manage to persuade a friend to come along and carry all your stuff, you are going to need a rucksack. Only you are going to know how much space you need, although a 25 - 40 litre rucksack tends to fit most people needs. Remember you might want a little more space in the winter for extra clothes. Your rucksack will not be waterproof, so to keep your things try you must put everything in plastic rucksack liners. You can buy liners from all outdoor shops but a black bag will do just as go a job although it will not last that long. Prices for rucksacks of this size range from £15 to £80.

Hat & Gloves

Your body loses a large proportion of its internal heat from the head and hands. This is why they are often the first part of the body to feel cold. It is incredible how hard it becomes to do even the most simple task once your hands get cold. If your hands get this cold, it is often very hard to even put your gloves on so put them on early. Nothing fancy is needed a simple woolly hat and some woolly gloves are as perfectly sufficient for most conditions. The only problem with wool is that when it gets wet it says wet and become heavy, this is where light weight and quick drying modern fleece materials come into their own. Fleece gloves and hats start at about £10. Gloves are something that people always seem to forget and it is worth remembering that no one is going to lend you a pair when they are almost certainly going to need them themselves. To keep your hands totally isolated from the elements, a pair of waterproof gloves (starting price of £15) that goes over the wool or fleece gloves can be well worth their money but are not essential. If waterproof gloves are above your budget try to bring a spare pair of gloves for when the first pair get wet.

Waterproof Trousers

Most of the points made above in respect to jackets go equally well for waterproof trousers. It is important stay dry when ever possible. Your legs are the last part of your body you want to give up. A cheap pair of waterproof trouser which will do the job can be bought for around £10-15.

Spare Clothes

You never know when you are going to fall in a river or your waterproofs are going to leak. If you get wet at the start of the day, you are either going to have a uncomfortable day or the route will have to be shortened - which will not make you popular! That is unless you take a simple set of spare clothes.


In the winter months, a hike only has to take an hour more than planned and you will find yourself walking in the dark. Where as the club does have a small number of torches to insure the walk can be finished safely, it may be a good idea to bring along your own. It may be the case that the hike leader asks you to turn your torch off if the going is easy. This is in order to let people gain their "night vision" which can be a lot more helpful than any torch. Even if this is the case, a tricky section may mean a torch is needed and it would be fool hardy to think you had left yours at home! The best torches for hiking are head torches which leave your hands free. They start from around £12 but any small bright torch will do. It goes without saying, that a torch is a good thing to take on our night hikes!


If the worst comes to the worst and you are separated from the group, a whistle is probably the easiest way to attract attention. It is a lot easier to keep blowing a whistle than it is to keep shouting. A Perry whistle should not cost more than £2.


For those who don't know what gaiters are, they are pieces of materials that extend up from your hiking boots to keep mud, rocks and to a certain extent water out of your boots. They are not essential but they do make life that bit nicer. Starting price is around £10.
Yeti gaiters are the ultimate gaiters that cover the whole boot but this does come at a premium (normally around £50) and they only fit certain boots. They protect the boot and keep almost everything out of the boots but they can be sweaty in hot weather.

Where to purchase equipment

Link to Swansea Outdoor Shops

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