Amongst my interests I am an Explorer Scout Leader in the UK. We took our Scouts Mountaineering in the Brecon Beacons in Wales, and they loved it! As a result, myself and one of the other Leaders have embarked on the quest of becoming Scout Mountain Leaders.
Having completed a training weekend I discovered that the gear I was using, mostly Military style, was not suitable. So, I decided to get sorted out with the right kit for the Job
I chose the Osprey Kestrel 48 for my pack. This was for several reasons. Firstly, I was using a 30 litre Karrimor SF Predator 30 daysack. It was simply too small. It was fine for my own gear but, as soon as I started needing to add Group Safety Equipment it came up short.
Secondly, I found that I needed a pack with a waist belt. The Karrimor SF pack was simply just dead weight hanging off of my shoulders, and was not greatly comfortable over time. The Osprey pack puts the whole weight onto my hips and is very comfortable.
Next up is frame. The Karrimor pack had no frame, just a foam stiffener. Once the pack was filled the back was distorted which added to the discomfort over long periods and made the straps dig in more. The Osprey pack has a fully adjustable frame and has a good air gap between the pack and the frame to aid ventilation.
Finally, I had seen someone who knew what they were doing using one… The Mountain Leader who came with us into the mountains was using this pack and was very happy with it.
You will note from the previous pictures that I have an admin panel on the front of my pack. Yes it’s Condor, but it was the only one I could find that met my requirements. Let me explain its use…
There are a number of items I like to keep to hand, but don’t want in my pockets or want to remove my pack to get at.
- Garmin 401 GPS: This is used as an aid to navigation and to prove to stroppy teenagers that they actually aren’t where they think they are on the map… In a Dixies Corner GPS Pouch for Body Armour.
- Knife: I have a Swiss Army Issue Knife, a gift from a Swiss friend, for all the reasons you could possibly need a penknife. I keep it in a Tactical Tailor knife pouch I’ve had for ever. I like it because it’s got a built in lanyard.
- Radio: Baofeng UV-500. This is because I like the extra range and I can also programme in the Mountain Rescue frequency so I can help guide them in if need be. I’ve got this in a Tasman Tiger MOLLE Radio Pouch.
Inside the pouch I carry a number of items that I use regularly:
- Turboflame type lighter.
- Compass: Silva Explorer Compass in a protective case.
- Whistle: Standard emergency whistle.
- Binoculars: For route selection and keeping an eye on Scouts at a distance.
- Slates: Route card and blank slates for any other notes. These are the Odin Tactical ones.
- MISTAT Injury Procedure Card: A homemade laminated aide-mémoire to ensure that all important casualty information is captured for an Emergency Services call. An adaptation of the Military issue one.
- Distance/Time Aide-Mémoire: Another homemade, laminated card with distance timings at various speeds and timing variation factors (Naismith’s Rule) for route planning.
This panel hangs from two Grimlock Clips attached to my sternum strap. It doesn’t bounce about and is perfectly comfortable.
Also on the outside of the pack, and on my person, are:
- High-viz marker panel: Mostly used if we need to take a group onto roads at all.
- Hiking Poles
- Map Case: I use a large Silva Map Case because it allows me to have a larger map area visible. It’s hard to get closed but when it is, it’s totally waterproof. I usually have it physically attached to the pack so it can’t blow away.
- Ortlieb A6 Clear Document Case: Used to hold my mobile phone and hung around my neck. Can’t miss out on those selfies! Also good for protecting a passport when overseas.
- Thermos Flask: I always carry a hot, sweet brew with me in cold weather, mostly in case a Young Person needs a pick me up.
- Midgie Head Net: I keep this to hand in a pocket on the waistbelt of my pack. Having been in clouds of midgies like fog on Otterburn and in the Scottish Highlands I know how maddening it can be to have them crawling all over you!
- Camelbak (Not pictured): Military issue Camelback, fits in a carrier between the pack frame and main compartment.
On my person:
- SUUNTO Core Watch: It has an altimeter, used for checking navigation; a barometer, to warn of a change in weather; a stopwatch, for distance timing; and a digital compass, which can be used as an emergency back up should anything happen to my Silva compass. It even tells the time… Plus it has a nice big face that is easy to read without my glasses!
- Redback Company Timmy Hat: A really comfortable, lightweight baseball cap.
- Scout Necker: Yes, it serves as a sign that I’m a Scout but, it is also a large triangular piece of cloth with all the uses you can put that to…
Outer pocket (Top Two Rows)
- Krill Light: Battery powered Cylume for position marking/ambient lighting.
- Box of Gizits: Business cards and stickers for my business should anyone recognise me or be interested in my kit.
- Box of Geocache stuff: Coins, patches and other bits to put into any geocaches I find while I’m out and about.
- Boo Boo kit: Personal 1st aid kit containing blister plasters, regular plasters (Star Wars ones!), Imodium, antihistamines, ibuprofen and paracetamol.
- Wet Wipes: Who doesn’t like a moist towelette…
- Sun Glasses: Wiley-X wrap-arounds.
- Cylumes: White Cylumes for position marking/ambient lighting.
- Redback Company Cierzo Shirt: Lightweight windshirt. Really effective at stopping windchill without adding bulk.
- Headtorch: As many lumens as I could possibly find! Used to light up as much of the area around me as possible to aid night navigation.
Inner Pocket (Bottom Row)
- Water Purifier: Sawyer water purifier. Can be used to clean water from streams on the hills. Use as a straw or inline on your drinking hose.
- Survival Bag: One-person survival bag in case the worst happens.
- Strobe: MS2000 Strobe light for marking position at night in case of emergency.
- Group 1st Aid Kit
- Climbing Rope: 30 metres of 9 mm climbing rope. Used for aiding scrambling, rescue and confidence.
Group 1st Aid Kit
Waterproof Drybag containing:
- Gloves: For all the obvious reasons you carry gloves for 1st aid.
- Triangular Bandage: Awesome bit of kit, so many uses.
- Box with:
- Surgical tape
- Tick remover
- Cannulas, for digging out thorns.
- Israeli Field Dressing
- Celox Gauze
- Resus Mask
- SOF-T tourniquet: I prefer this one to the CAT because the winding bar and buckle are metal
- Small bag containing:
- Hand Sanitiser
- Hydro-cortisone Cream
- Iodine Cream
- Anti-Fungal Cream
- Antihistamine Cream
- Ammonia Stick
- Bite Relief Cream
- SAM Splint (carried in main compartment of pack due to size)
- Jacket: Dutch Army Softie Jacket. Synthetic fill warm jacket. I prefer synthetic to down as it doesn’t lose loft when compressed for a while and is warm even if it gets wet.
- Merino Wool Buff.
- Merino Wool Beanie hat
- Sealskins Waterproof, Merino Lined, Gloves
- Ski Gloves, for when it’s really cold
- Waterproof Jacket: Decathlon MH500 waterproof Jacket
- Waterproof trousers: Decathlon MH500 Waterproof Over-trousers. I’m really rating the Decathlon gear. When you compare it to some of the “Premium” Branded gear out there it is just as good at significantly less cost.
- Gaiters: Army issue gaiters for use in snow/gorse/long wet grass. Will be upgraded to Yetis in due course.
- Drybag Containing:
- Spare socks
- Spare bootlaces
- Group Bivvy Shelter
I have been running with this set up for about 6 months now and I don’t feel there is anything I am missing so far. The only thing I didn’t picture is the clear plastic box I use for my lunch…
The contents are a bit of a combination of gear I had when I was in the military and doing overseas security along with purely civvy hiking and mountaineering kit. I think I have found the right balance between the two.
Finally, because I’m a total KitPest, I will be making a couple of updates to my pack to make it more robust… Having trodden on side release buckles and broken them plenty of times in the past, I will be replacing all the plastic buckles on the pack with G-Hooks. Top of the line (expensive) mountain packs have this anyway due to plastic becoming brittle in extreme low temperatures. I will also be replacing the buckle on the waistbelt for an AustriAlpin COBRA Buckle for its added robustness. I’ll top that off with a couple of tri-glides to hold the waistbelt tight once it has been adjusted.
This Kit Pest Article was written by Ben O’Toole. Hopefully you enjoyed it and if you have any thoughts or comments related to this article then leave a comment!