The Packing List
Thanks to @Saddle Tramping UK for the inspiration for this post, I have been meaning to do it for a while and this spurred me on to write it. If you don’t already give them a follow on Facebook, a group packed full of good advice and inspiration!
A list of bits and bobs to take on your adventure big or small. This doesn’t cover everything, just some essentials and useful bits of kit I have picked up on the way. Everyone has their own preferences and absolute must-haves but this will give you a fairly good starting point. I haven’t attempted to cover panniers etc that is very personal to you and your horse, I would suggest joining the above group they have way more experience than me on this subject.
As with trainers – don’t wear new things on race day. Always thoroughly test your kit before leaving for an adventure … you will regret it and that Sudocrem might get more use than you would like!
On and off the horse
Quick dry riding tights – Perfeq and Irideon are two popular choices. Saves having to put waterproofs on and off if it’s a day of showers. That said depending on your horse and riding style a technical walking trouser can be a good option – I rode in jeans much of my professional riding life and survived!
Waterproof boots long or short – having worn out more riding boots than I care to remember, and having a slightly dicky back from years of dismounting involuntarily at high speed – for comfort and longevity it has to be Ariat’s every time and they are easily worn out of the saddle too. That said Tuffa boots come in a close second for a slightly better bank balance. Short boots and half chaps give a bit more flexibility and you can get summer versions for cooling.
Gloves – always take gloves! There are lots of fancy posh riding gloves (I have a few) but for grip and practicality (and they are waterproof) I personally like the really thin nitrile gardening gloves. Okay, they are not padded but over distance this shouldn’t be a problem plus they roll up really small, come in lots of funky colours and are good on the wallet!
Waterproofs! – Its Scotland it is likely to rain (but not for long…) always take windproof (taped seams) waterproofs, top and bottom. This is one piece of kit not to skimp on – Once you’re wet it is very hard to stay warm and hypothermia is dangerous! There are so many lightweight packable options now and wide price points. As a fell runner, I could send you to sleep with the variety of technical specs, options and brands but the taped seams are a must!
Buff – Not as in fit or as in the …. But a very handy piece of kit, something no one who spends any amount of time outdoors should be without. It can be used in a multitude of ways from a neck warmer, balaclava, headband, ear warmer, hat, phone holder. The name started as a brand but is not used to describe this handy little piece of fabric. You can get them to match your kit or a plain one from your favourite German food shop, the choice is endless
Long Sleeve Shirt. An essential as the night draws in but also during the day, it can be sunny, and up on the hills, you are more exposed. We are very fortunate in the Scottish Borders we don’t get many midges but it can help deter the dreaded Clegs (Horse fly’s)
Socks – lots of them, spares. The Army knows what it is talking about when it says keep yoru feet dry. Cotton is okay but technical wool or bamboo socks are the business.
Undies – yes we are talking pants, but when your posterior is spending a large part of the day in contact with a saddle you want to make sure you are comfortable. There is a bewildering array of choice out there now of days and it all very much depends on your body shape and how you ride as to what works for you, trial and error. Some pointers to start, seamless if possible, and easy to wash and dry.
Ooh my favourite. Not everyone is a gadget lover but they really can help but please remember they have their limitations and as such should be used as an aide, not to have total reliance on them i.e navigation.
Chargers – First on the list as you may be going into some remote spots and a handy charging station will not be available. With that in mind, this is a handy bit of kit, a portable solar charger that packs down small. There are various makes out there but this one seems to come out on top every time Anker PowerPort
Powerbank – With that comes a power bank so you have a backup, again lots of makes out there and if you are only going to be away from mains for a short while it can be a good alternative and you can charge multiple items with some the bigger ones. I always have a small one in my day pack just in case but for longer trips, I have a 2000 mAh one that does about 5 full phone charges (as well as my headtorch and watch)
Camera – It might be a safer option than dropping your phone (done that a few times) to get a separate waterproof camera, again less drain on the battery of the precious phone or perhaps even an action camera to record those long canters over stunning hills!
Watches – Again the choice is endless as is the cost but if you want to track your ride it is a far better option than your phone. It tends to be more accurate and is less drain on your phone battery. A fully charged watch will do several days. I am not recommending any particular watch here as I tend to have a very specific choice of brand but I use the watch for running, swimming and cycling as well but Decathlon does a good reasonably priced range.
Headtorch – An absolute must, even if you are only going out for a short ride. Either a rechargeable one or take spare batteries. Things do happen, say your horse goes lame and you have to walk back in and you are losing the light or indeed have to camp out light is essential for you and everyone else’s safety. I personally use Alpkit headtorches, they are affordable high end kit and they have one that has a rear light if you are on the road. Mine has various options including map reading light and a lower beam to save power.
Knife/ Multitool – Again another essential, you never know when you might need it from opening a tin of soup to cutting through a jammed rope or picking out stones! You can pick up a decent one for under £20 and it sits nicely in the bottom of a bag hopefully never needed.
Phones – We all (almost all) have a smartphone these days and they are a great piece of kit. However, you are in Scotland (or heading that way) signal can vary from patchy to non-existent so if you want to use your smartphone for navigation (alongside your paper OS map and compass) then make sure you have all the maps downloaded and available offline. I do use my smartphone a lot when I’m out but I also carry an ancient but trusty Nokia PAYG phone in the bottom of my pack with a few emergency numbers programmed in.
Hydration backpack – Not for everyone but it covers off a lot of areas, kit, ease of use and water. There are lots of brands again make sure you try them out before committing, I have this with running packs, some don’t cater for the larger frame or indeed the ladies. I have again gone with Alpkit and their new pack with adjustable chest straps. I have the 10l for short trips, you can pack a LOT in there and with handy chest strap pockets you can easily reach your snacks and other essential kit, I use it for running and hardly notice it’s there even with a full bladder of water. They have a slightly bigger version at 15 ltr so if you want to pack a bit more in…
Bum bag – It has other names but no matter the name I am not a fan, there is too much to get snarled on a saddle. A leg pack might be a better option and admittedly they are handy for bits and bobs and if you don’t like the idea of a backpack.
Waterproof bags – Your chosen form of carrying kit may be waterproof (i.e panniers) but it never hurts to double up, nothing worse than soggy smalls! These drybags double up as space savers as you can roll them up expelling all the air and after you can use one to store all your washing in, stop you whiffing out the tent/ bunkhouse etc. Again they can be found in your local German discount supermarket or any good camping shop.
Sunglasses – not just for looking cool, they keep the bugs and branches out of your eyes and high up protect your eyes from UV. I have a reactive Photochromatic pair that take me from shady glen to sunny hilltop.
Snacks – In my opinion, the most important part of any kit bag! I tend to have small gummie chews in my front stash pocket for those sugar emergencies and am usually found with numerous oat-based cereal bars (shop bought and homemade) and oranges about my person. If on a long trip I use rehydration food packs for ease and they take up less space
Spare cord – for you, for the horse, for kit and camping. A spare length of paracord and a wee bit or bailer twine never go amiss. I have a paracord bracelet, I have never had to use it thankfully but it is always handy to have, I have seen snapped bridles and lost lead ropes before!
Duct tape – On that theme Duct tape (or is it Duck tape?) I never can decide, anyway I cut strips off and put them around a water bottle if space saving. Great to fix leaky footwear and even if you throw a shoe, they make a great temporary boot if they are tender footed.
Plastic baggies – I am trying my best to reduce my plastic use and have beeswax wraps for food but as a cheaper and easy option for my phone, I still rely on a sealable plastic baggie.
Sudocreme – Other nappy rash creams are available. But this is the business and you can use it on the horse, a great all rounder.
Lube! – On that subject, prevention is better than cure. A solid stick of this can save many a woe and many a sore bum! Body glide is a good solid stick and small for your pack.
Biodegradable tissue – an absolute must – the biodegradable bit! It is preferable you take any paper or wipes with you(plastic baggies again) but if you are going to bury, at least make sure it disappears fast.
Electrolyte/ Rehydration Tabs – In case of a bug! Hypothermia (covered earlier) and dehydration are the two biggest dangers when you are out and about and easily preventable.
Sunscreen – No excuse just use it! Even in Scotland, you can get badly burned and it makes for a miserable trip.
Skin so soft – In case you are heading into midge territory, rare in the Scottish Borders but I am told this is the stuff to use, personally I just carry a head net.
Hand Sanitizer – Handy to keep bugs at bay if you have no access to cleaning facilities.
First Aid Kit – An absolute must for you and the horse
Emergency numbers – Write them down, in case all your phone options die or are lost. Who remembers numbers these days!
Water tablets – On the subject of hydration this is key for safety, we are blessed in Scotland with some very pure water but there are still bugs in there and if you’re not used to them ….. also the nice hill stream you are drinking out of maybe a sheep’s toilet further up the hill! I have a life straw, easily carried and handy for drinking out of streams etc. For bigger bottles etc you can easily but purification tablets.
Map and compass – You must take one, not all routes are marked and your phone should not be relied on – oh and know how to use it. There are numerous resources on the subject and your local scout group, hill walking group or mountain rescue usually run courses on this.
Whistle – Such a simple thing but so vital should you get lost or injured, we humans cant always see very far but a good whistle will help locate you very quickly.
*No items mentioned here are sponsored links and are the personal preference of the author. You should always research and try your own kit to ensure suitability.