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The Ideal Day Sack

When walking in the countryside, even for just a day, it is important to be adequately prepared for unforeseen eventualities. The weather may unexpectedly change for the worse, or you may injure yourself; let's face it, accidents do happen. Your day sack must contain everything you need to navigate, stay dry and comfortable, provide sustenance and be able to cope with emergencies. When you are half way up a mountain, in the middle of a wood, or crossing wild moorland your day sack effectively contains all your worldly goods. For days walks a 11 to 20 litre sack should be adequate for most people’s needs. The objective should be to keep the weight to a minimum.

So, what should the ideal day sack contain? Our recommended list is given below. It is worth keeping as many of these items as possible permanently stored in your sack. Then, when you get a spontaneous urge to head for the hills, you can quickly be ready to go. Keep a list inside your sack of those items you need to add before setting off. Then, all being well, you will never forget the item you are going to desperately need when miles from anywhere. You will, of course, want to add to our list your own additional stuff that reflects your personal interests and needs, such as a camera or binoculars.

Ordnance survey map - Make sure you pick up the correct one! 1:25,000 scale strongly recommended
Waterproof map case - If your map got soaked and ruined you could get seriously lost
Compass - Essential on hills, but necessary everywhere to stay on rights of way.
GPS Device – not essential, but these can be very useful to aid navigation, particularly in wooded areas.
Mobile Phone – for emergencies, but remember that you will not get a signal in remote areas and much of the countryside. Do not rely on phone apps for navigation.
Shell jacket - In winter you will probably wear this continually. In summer keep in your sack in case of rain.
Shell over-trousers - Keep legs dry in winter; protect from nettles when wearing shorts in summer
Gaiters - Prevent boots from becoming saturated in persistent wet conditions
Hat – Waterproof and warm for winter; light for summer sun protection
Gloves - A winter walks item, but keep in your sack - useful if you have to deal with barbed wire.
First Aid Kit - Make up your own, or you can buy basic kits, but get one in a soft case
Torch and spare batteries - Choose a compact design for ease of packing
Whistle - If you were injured in a hidden spot this could be useful to attract attention.
Note book, pen or pencil - Record your route, thoughts, interesting observations, obstructions, etc.
Plastic ground sheet or mat - To sit on during breaks without getting damp. A cushioned mat is more comfy, but heavier to carry
Vacuum flask - Keep drinks hot in winter, cold in summer. Adequate liquid is essential. Stainless steel flasks are more durable and two small ones easier to pack than one large one - you can also then have a choice of drinks
Food - To suit your personal preferences, but include high energy food. Pack in small airtight containers. Include cutlery in containers if necessary.

Having decided exactly what your sack needs to contain you need to give some careful consideration as to the best way to pack it. If everything is just 'shoved in', then it will be uncomfortable to wear and inconvenient to find the things you want quickly.

Factors to consider in ensuring maximum comfort:

1. The rear face of the sack, which will rest against your back, needs to be free from any sharp or lumpy protrusions which could dig into your back. Even a small lump will become extremely irritating and uncomfortable after three or four hours walking. The ideal item to place against the rear face, to act as a cushion, is a thick ground mat. Alternatively, spread a spare fleece or other soft clothing evenly across the rear surface

2. To minimise the effect of your day sack on the centre of gravity of your body you should ensure that the heaviest items are packed towards the rear face of the sack and are therefore closest to your body. Your sack should be adjusted so that it fits snugly against your back when walking. Fastening the waist strap helps ensure this.

Ensure you have adequate knowledge and experience for upland walking


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