Our main responsibility as leaders and coaches is the safety and wellbeing of those around us. We believe it is important to share what we do so everyone can learn and stay safe on their adventures. Hence we find ourselves here, writing a post on what we believe is key to carry on every adventure.
We start with a basic set of kit that we always use. Packed into few dry bags so we can easily swap it from paddle, to walk, to bike bag.
Which leads us to our first key piece of equipment: Dry Bags. There are a lot on the market of varying quality. The basic ones you can get anywhere for relatively cheap. They aren’t submersible, they are more rain proof than truly dry. Perfect for keeping stuff dry whilst out in the rain or if you are paddling and your heavy duty dry bag wasn’t quite done up right. We tend to use three or four of these, three small ones to hold specific kit and larger one as a bag liner. We have known people to use a heavy duty rubblesack instead of a liner. Spare, dry kit can make the difference between getting chilly being just that and easily fixed, or ruining your day, or in a worst case becoming an emergency call out.
Spare layers fill our dry bags. We tend to fill one full of the layers we expect to want for the day: a couple of fleeces, a buff, gloves, and hat. The other is emergency layers: big super warm jacket, good gloves and another buff. Sounds mad, but you’ll always find you get colder when you are out and need a few more layers. In the event that you need to hunker down that extra big jacket helps!
Whilst spare layers will do a lot to keep you warm enough fuel is also essential. We will always carry a proper packed lunch and snacks for on the go. A thermos of hot chocolate/tea is always more than welcome and can again prevent getting cold from escalating into something more serious.
For every outing we go on we carry atleast one first aid kit between 8 people. There are a lot of opinions out there about what should be in them. A general off the shelf one normally covers the basics. We will adapt ours to be as multi-use as possible. Some of the things we view necessary are something for absorption, something for compression, and something for cleaning. We also generally carry something for splinting, this varies by activity (walking pole are perfect so nothing extra on hill days!). Obviously goes with out saying, all of this is useless unless you know how to use them. We tend to go for ones that come in their own waterproof bag with handy organiser.
The final piece of the keeping warm puzzle is a group shelter. Available from plenty of different places these simple fabric shelters don’t need poles and will keep a group dry and out of the rain. Not only are they perfect in an emergency situation but they also make for a fun, comfortable lunch when the weather isn’t playing ball!
To complement our first aid kit we will carry an odds and sods/emergency bag. We tend to dedicate a pocket in our bag lids to this. Its full of all those things you never need when you have them, but always need when you don’t. We will tend to carry: a battery pack and batteries to charge any electrical kit we may need (like phones or torches) A head torch incase we misjudge times, some high energy treats to fight the hanger, a survival bag incase we need to hold out in grim weather, suncream is always a surprise need, and nine adventures out of ten a spare map and compass. The map and compass has been more help than we care to admit when the wind catches someone’s and takes it over the edge.