So you’ve glanced through what to wear when out hiking in the wilds of west Mayo, below. But what do you need in your rucksack ?
1. Water – No matter what the weather, you’ll need water. Vary the amount, depending on the warmth, but don’t travel with less than 500 ml, while 1 litre would be better. You can always top up in the mountains, but be smart : the higher up the mountain stream you take water from, the cleaner it is going to be. Also, don’t take water from a still pool – it will have gathered peat dust and worse, while stagnant.
2. Food – Again, no matter how short a walk, do bring some food with you. You never know – you might have a problem (twisted ankle, etc.) up the side of a mountain. If you’re packing some chocolate, or energy bar, etc., go without the wrapper. That way, you won’t lose it in a gust of wind. Bring your food in a re-usable plastic container, with a sound tight lid.
3. Whistle – I never go anywhere without a good, loud whistle, in case of emergency. Wear it around your neck, so you have it in case you become separated from your rucksack.
4. Torch plus spare batteries – Nobody knows when the batteries in a torch are going to run out. Always pack spares and ensure they are dry, by wrapping them in a water-tight bag.
5. Mobile phone – The rule, when out in the hills, is certainly to turn your mobile phone off. But have it with you, in case of emergency. Put it in your pocket, not your bag, for the same reason as mentioned above.
6. First aid supplies – While it would be nice to carry a load of first aid stuff around with you, in practice, it’s really not that practical. But do have the 4 essentials – plasters, for cuts on rocks; elastic crepe bandage, for twisted ankles; Leukosilk tape, for keeping said bandage in place; Medicare cold pack, for treatment of swelling, bruising, etc.
And please remember, bring back home what you brought out with you. Do not leave even the slightest remnants of your passage. You know the Leave No Trace maxim :
Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints. With two exceptions. First, do take out rubbish that you did not leave there yourself. You’ll feel good about yourself and help the natural environment. Second, do try to watch out for rare flowers, where you’re stepping. Even footprints in the wrong place can damage.
Enjoy and just get out there !