Essentials for all mountain days...

Aside from all the kit you have in your bag for keeping yourself warm, dry and therefore comfortable on a walk, whatever the weather, you need to able to deal with emergencies. These can range from simply being a little later than expected and being caught out after dark, to a full medical emergency. So what should you carry in your bag to help you deal with whatever chance can throw at you?


Survival bag

These orange bags are ubiquitous, cheap, and extremely useful. If you suspect someone is becoming cold, or even hypothermic (or if you are), put them inside (head outside the open end). Warmth quickly builds up, and the bright orange colour can be used as an aide for Mountain Rescue to locate you, if necessary. If putting someone in a survival bag, remember to insulate the ground where they are sitting with a backpack or foam seat, and give them a hot drink if you have one.


Great for alerting other walkers to your predicament, and loud enough to cut through the wind where shouting may not. In an emergency, blow six times, wait a minute, then repeat. The reply should be three whistle blows, then a minute’s silence, then repeated. Don’t stop blowing until you’ve been found.

Head torch

It’s easy to get caught out after dark, especially in the spring and autumn when it’s warm but the days are still short. No matter how short the walk is, always carry a torch. You may decide to stay out longer than planned, or encounter someone that needs your help.

Spare food

Always take more food than you think you’ll eat. Having something spare at the bottom of your bag that you can fall back on if you get lost can be a real morale-booster, and could provide you with the energy you need to get out of a difficult situation.

Spare compass

Although it sounds like I’m getting a little over-precautious here, a spare compass is something you should definitely think of taking if you’re walking alone. All it takes is a careless knock, or accidentally sitting on your compass, and navigation becomes a lot harder. Keep the spare somewhere safe where it’s unlikely to get damaged.

Phone and waterproof case

A phone is essential for contacting mountain rescue, or calling other people in your group to let them know where you are. Make sure it’s full of charge when you set out, and keep it waterproof, preferably inside a protective case built so you can use the phone while it’s still inside. Aquapac make great ones.

First aid kit

Everyone should carry at least a simple first aid kit, with tape and wound dressings as well as painkillers.

Author: Alex Kendall

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