The Mountain's Silhouette

Hiking and backpacking in the mountains of Scotland

Gear and Equipment

Gear is a controversial subject and this page is nothing more than a place for me to share what I am using, along with the occassional note on how it performed on a specific trip. Let me preface this page by saying that I am not a gear reviewer. Doing reviews doesn’t really interest me and other people are far, far better at them. That being said, obviously I do use gear, and am happy to read and digest everything that blogs, magazines and Twitter will throw at me when I am looking for something new.

This page is about my typical gear lists for hillwalking and backpacking in the mountains of Scotland as well as some thoughts on how gear has performed on specific trips. If you are looking for detailed reviews, hydrostatic head figures or macro photos of zipper pulls then you should try some of the excellent blogs listed in my sidebar.

Gear Lists

SeasonComments & UseBase WeightView List
SummerThis is my dry/settled weather forecast typically only used for overnighters in the warmer months6.4kgView
Spring/AutumnThis is my most versatile and most used setup which accounts for cool nights and rain as well as more clement conditions6.8kgView
WinterThis is a more specialised list focussing on very low temperatures (both day and night) and includes some technical equipment8.5kgView

The “What Worked And What Didn’t” Post-Trip Gear Reviews

I’m a big fan of ptc*’s approach to gear reviewing. After a trip he posts up thoughts on his kit based on what worked and what didnae. I think that for me more than any other type of review these are the most valuable. They help you tie in real life use to real life results and show how well the kit did its job (whether that job was intended or not). Several other people are adopting this approach and I have done something similar for some of my backpacking trips. Below are my collected posts on this subject.

My Gear

Outdoor gear is sufficiently niche that a healthy crop of smaller “cottage” manufacturers are making excellent products that really deserve wider recognition. The following are amongst some of my favourite bits of gear and all come from smaller companies who demonstrate excellent product design and great customer support.

PHD (Peter Hutchinson Designs) Minim 400

This down-filled sleeping bag is rated down to -5 and is my go-to bag for three season use. With some additional insulation layers it can be pushed into winter terriotry though I haven’t yet had the opportunity to try this myself. It’s a good fit for me (I went for the longer version which PHD say is good up to around 6’7”) and the 3/4 length zip means I can use it as a quilt during warmer nights. It compresses down hugely and weighs around 800g.

Besides the sleeping bags PHD also produce an excellent range of down clothing and I have been very happy with the Minimus vest I bought for use as a light insulating layer around camp or on cold summits.

Henry Shires Tarptent Scarp 1

Camping above Loch Ossian

This is a fantastic lightweight three-to-four season mountain tent. Based around a single central hoop it also has a system of struts at either end which create more internal living space. It has two porches for cooking or storing gear. If used with the optional crossover poles it is a freestanding tent which gives it excellent performance in stormy conditions. The Scarp is a very popular tent for lightweight backpackers in the UK and has been great on all of my backpacking trips since April 2011.

Trail Designs Caldera Cone Tri-Ti Sidewinder Alcohol Stove System

Caldera Cone Stove System

The Cone is another peice of ingenious design. It makes a combined pot stand and windshield using just a thin sheet of springy Titanium. Inside this goes a tuned alcohol stove which will bring 0.5l of water to boil efficiently and quickly on a modest amount of fuel. Outside of the colder months I use alcohol for heating water and think that the Cone is a superb bit of kit.

Boilerwerks Backcountry Boiler

The Backcountry Boiler is a traditional type of wood-burning kettle updated to make it more suited to lightweight backpacking. It is a very elegant and simple design although the possibilities of using wood as a fuel in Scotland are at times quite limited. I do intend to use the boiler for future trips abroad as well as some Scottish outings.