Climbing a mountain is never easy, that's why they call it a mountain. But it can be made more comfortable and more enjoyable with the right kit and preparation. So if you're planning on taking on the Three Peaks Challenge or just the one peak for fun, we're here to help.
We hooked up with professional mountain climber Kenton Cool who has mastered Everest a record-breaking 11 times. If anyone is going to know what kit to bring, and how to prepare for climbing a mountain, it's this man.
In his words "the Three Peaks is not to be underestimated. The kit needs to be fit for purpose." But above all, Cool points out you should focus on having fun and enjoying the experience.
A top tip for one of the most important bits of kit, your boots, is to buy them early and make sure they're broken in. This will ensure comfort as well as minimising the chance of blisters, says Cool.
And should you end up with a nasty blister, that threatens to draw the fun out of your climb, Cool's advice is to use Compeed as a treatment.
Light weight trekking boots are ideal, says Cool, which are essentially "beefed up high-top trainers," as they don't need a lot of breaking in like heavier leather walking boots.
Kenton also says, "Don't wear two pairs of socks, this is a misnomer. It's not needed." Just remember to change them between mountains, to keep your feet fresh.
Layering is important to keep warm, dry and comfortable. But over any layers, like a base layer or fleece warming layer, there needs to be a waterproof jacket.
This not only keeps you dry but also offers protection from the wind which will become harsh as you climb higher. You don't need to spend a fortune, but something that packs up small will be easy to carry.
The same applies for the legs so going waterproof will help keep your legs warm and dry also. Decent gloves and hat are also essential, as even in summer, the weather on the top of the mountain can be completely different from the bottom.
Wool and cotton
One of the simplest pieces of advice involves materials. Avoid cotton, as it absorbs water, takes a long time to dry and is heavy when wet.
Instead, invest in some decent technical gear for most of your layers. Except for underwear, here go thermal with something like wool which is popular at the moment, Ice Breaker is a New Zealand company that makes this kit.
Sherpa Adventure Gear is a great make which is not only owned by a real Sherpa but also donates money towards relief for natural disasters in Nepal.
Kenton Cool is a man who appreciates tech but stresses the importance of analogue data. While a GPS device is great as a supplementary item for tracking metrics like altitude and speed, a map and compass is essential. In fact, if you're in a team, multiple maps and compasses with a pre-planned routes are ideal, says Cool.
A watch for GPS can also be helpful for measuring metrics, especially if you want to conserve battery on your dedicated GPS device for mapping. Top tip: pre-program your GPS with all routes before leaving the house, but also make sure that all the team members know the route you'll be taking.
This is invaluable at night and since the Three Peaks Challenge involves some night work, it's a must.
Wearing the torch on your head means hands are free, which is ideal if you take a stumble and need to break your fall, or just for steadying yourself when clambering over boulders. Having your hands free also means you can still refer to the map and compass, without sticking the torch in your mouth.
Cool recommends Black Diamond, who have a range of head torches.
In the case of the Three Peaks Challenge you spend half of the 24-hours in a vehicle moving between the mountains. Since this is a time for recovery, comfort is invaluable as is robustness on often tough terrain.
Cool recommends the Land Rover Discovery, which he drives, saying it offers the toughness you need while also having enough room as a seven-seater to take everyone comfortably, even with kit.
Heart rate monitor
A heart rate monitor can be useful for the training part of the event to make sure you're training at the right intensity. These can be complicated at first so make sure you know how to use it before heading up - that's what training is for.
A heart rate monitor can help you on the day too. As the Three Peaks Challenge is an endurance event, it will help you judge if you're pushing yourself a little too hard.
Make sure to have at least one or two phones in the group, on different networks ideally, so you have a connection just in case anything goes wrong. Make sure to put local numbers in like mountain rescue and carry a charger battery, if it doesn't add too much weight.
It's also worth knowing that signal can be patchy on the mountains. For example, there's no reception at the base of Scafell Pike - which can be problematic for talking to your support crew - but walk a few hundred metres up the mountain and you'll be back on 3G.
A camera is always a good idea, for many people this will be a proper adventure, so record it. Cool uses an Olympus "bounce-proof" Tough camera so you can drop it and not worry about it getting wet or damaged. "Phone cameras can't beat a tough snapper," says Cool.
All this gear and stripping off layers when warm means you'll need a bag. A backpack that is comfortable and holds about 25-30 litres should do the job. Osprey is a good make, says Cool.
You might also want to consider slipping a water bladder into it and many have a special pouch to accommodate one.
Keeping fuelled up is important if you want to go the distance. While energy gels are fine, having a bit of what you enjoy helps not only physically but on a morale level too, says Cool. So sweets, meat and sandwiches are all good.
But remember to wash it all down with plenty of water. Water is invaluable when climbing. Energy drinks just add more sugar to process, which you'll be getting from the other food you're eating.
A flask of hot coffee or tea is also great for moral when taking a break from the elements.
A group emergency shelter, in case anything goes wrong, is a worth carrying. Taking up anything to fit a few people in, just in case, is worth it.
Also this is good as a way to get out of the wind once you hit the top – then you can really enjoy it with that flask of coffee you've been carrying up.
Sunglasses will make the climb a bit more comfortable, especially as you move higher into the open light. A first aid kit is also a must for at least one person to carry, just in case there's an accident.
Pocket-lint will be tackling the Three Peaks Challenge on 11-12 July, supported by Asus. Make sure you tune-in to our Three Peaks hub for all the action along the way.