Readers of Pocket-lint will know that we've just completed the Three Peaks Challenge, climbing the highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales in under 24 hours.
You can read all about the experience right here on Pocket-lint, but we thought we'd break down some of the kit that we used. The Three Peaks is more than just a mental and physical challenge, it's logistical too. As you're hitting the mountains, you have to be prepared, and the kit that you take with you matters.
Before we departed, Kenton Cool provided us with some pointers, which all rang true when out on the hills. We teamed up with Asus, Land Rover, Berghaus and Under Armour to get ourselves kitted out with the best kit for the job.
Here's our Three Peaks kit list.
Land Rover Discovery HSE Luxury
Sure, we know what you're thinking: you can't just go out and buy a Discovery because you fancy an outdoor adventure one weekend. However, should you have access to a choice of vehicles, there's a lot about the Discovery that makes it perfect for this sort of outdoor pursuit.
It's huge, meaning plenty of space for the passengers, but well equipped to handle whatever the challenge throws at it. There's power on the road, it's incredibly capable off-road and it's finished to a high spec to keep you comfortable. We loved the refrigerated cubby hole in the centre console, we used the TVs to watch Wimbledon, but things like automatic lights and wipers really came into their own. Oh, and those heated seats.
Berghaus Explorer Trek Plus boots
Footwear is critical whenever your step out to do something on your feet. Clambering up and down rocky paths, walking through snow, crossing all types of different, often uneven, terrain calls for footwear that won't let you down. There are so many options, but Gore-Tex boots provide the stability and environmental protection for many hill walking tasks.
The Explorer Trek Plus is hugely popular and that's what we wore. There's a spacious toebox, meaning toes can spread when you put your foot down, there's good strong lacing points with the option to omit some if you want to vary lacing between ascent and decent. We ended up with wet feet, not because these boots leaked, but because of the volume of water entering through the top thanks to the rain. If rain is forecast, you might want to consider gaiters.
Critically, the boots kept grip on wet rocks and without much breaking in, were comfortable and blister free for everyone who wore them. If you're looking for a sturdy boot, it's a great choice.
Berghaus Light Trek Hydroshell jacket
The weather changes so quickly in the hills, you need to be prepared for everything. The Light Trek Hydroshell lives up to its name, packing up small so it can be easily carried and used when you need it. But in adverse conditions, it also does the job. The hood fits to the head tightly, so even in really windy conditions, it stays in place.
If you are facing an active climb in the rain, then the under arm ventilation will help keep you cool and reduce sweating, and the jacket is reinforced to stop wear from any backpack you might be carrying. There are plenty of pockets, although be careful - the chest pockets aren't completely watertight in really heavy conditions.
We also had the Berghaus Velum III jacket. One of the great features of this jacket is the hood, with the peaked section at the front to help keep the elements out of your eyes. It's a little more expensive than the Light Trek jacket, but it also packs up really small.
Under Armour base layers
Climbing hills means sweating. On the Three Peaks you gain elevation pretty quickly, so it's a lot like walking up stairs for a couple of hours. That means you sweat and having a good base layer is important. Walking is a sport, especially when you're walking up hills, so using sports wear makes sense.
We wore a mixture of Under Armour compression base layers and loose fitting shorts and t-shirts. They are really designed for sport, so they aren't mountain specific, but the do the job really well. They wick away moisture, the fabrics dry quickly when they get wet and the compression tights help with those over-used leg muscles.
We also wore the Berghaus Argentium t-shirt. Again, this is a technical tee, it's nice and light in weight, but wicks away moisture, drying quickly.
Walking poles have a mixed perception. Some people swear by them, others aren't convinced. The majority of our team used walking poles to good effect. The brand to go for is Leki, particularly because it's easy to buy spares if you break something. Poles help shift some of the stress off your legs and into your arms, helping you power up the mountain.
Using one pole really doesn't cut it. If you're going for poles, use both and use them all the time. You'll find a rhythm and you'll find they make a big difference. On the descent the poles can give you loads of stability, letting you come down faster than you might be prepared to without them. There's one thing you shouldn't do: don't get poles and then just carry them up and down the mountain strapped to your rucksack.
The Three Peaks, for many, will be a case of following pretty well defined paths. We'd recommend going analogue for navigation, and always carry the right map for your mountain and a compass, and know how to use them. Realistically you'll be following paths with minimal navigation needed. However, there's a lot of benefit to tracking your route with GPS.
We used a lot of technology to track steps, calories and more on the mountains, like the Asus VivoWatch, but some of the most useful information comes from the GPS trace. There are lots of sports watches that offer GPS, we used a Garmin Forerunner 610 only to track time and GPS. The Garmin has the endurance to survive each mountain, where some of the more fitness-focused devices don't. Don't, for example, track an activity on the Apple Watch for the duration of your walk, because the battery will die.
The big advantage of having a GPS trace from a sports watch is that you can look at where you walked afterwards and see your pace across the mountain.
Unless you have paid for digital OS maps, you're unlikely to be able to use a smartphone for navigation. Google Maps, for example, doesn't provide any real detail for the mountains. For the Three Peaks, however, there's phone reception in some places on the hills, so you can share your experience and phones are useful for taking photos, but if you experience bad weather, you'll want a camera that doesn't mind getting wet.
However, if you're travelling in two or more vehicles, phones really help. We used WhatsApp extensively, including the send location feature. This means you can quickly show where you are on the road, where you stopped for lunch and so on, making it really easy to keep track of your team.
Extras: Rucksack, water, more
We used a variety of rucksacks. Any daysack will really do, one that lets you integrate a water bladder like a Camelbak is really handy to keep you hydrated on the climb. Side pockets are handy to make it easy to get to your stuff, like snacks. Regularly snacking will keep you energy and spirits up.
If you've read our experience of the Three Peaks, you'll know that the weather can be unpredictable. You might be faced with blazing sun, it might be lashing rain, so you need everything from suncream and a hat through to gloves to keep your hands warm. You'll need an emergency survival bag or shelter in case you have a serious problem, as well as a first aid kit. We'd also recommend a whistle to attract attention in an emergency.
If you're walking at night, you'll need a headtorch. This makes a massive difference, not only letting you see where you're going, but helping you be seen by others. Kenton Cool recommended Black Diamond and from our experience, the cheap headtorches don't cut it. It needs to be bright, it needs to be waterproof: if it isn't, it's not worth having.
Also, we found it really handy to attach lightsticks to ourselves when walking at night. With poor visibility, it made it that much easier to keep track of each other.
You can read our full adventure on the Pocket-lint Three Peaks Challenge right here.