Winter Preperations


The Lakeland Fells (photograph by Chris J Coates)

With the news of the first snow falls of the autumn/winter season and the fast approaching winter bonus season (1 Dec – 15 Mar) it was time to start prepping for the coming winter walking season.

I tend to use a light weight 30L rucksack during the summer which is sufficient to carry my radio equipment plus the essential summer survival kit of a head torch (plus spare batteries), whistle, space blanket, survival bag, small first aid kit and my ‘GO’ tin (more on that later).  Little extras get added as required for individual trips depending on where I am going.  Even on a hot day the bag will always include a mid layer and goretex waterproof.

Now that winter is approaching it is time to change to the 55+10L rucksack due to the increased amount of equipment carried on every trip.  In addition to the kit already mentioned I now include spare clothing – socks, base layer, mid layer, gloves and hat.  A bothy bag, crampons, ice axe, small gas stove and mess tin and ration packs.  The summer walking boots are cleaned and put away and out come the goretex winter walking boots.


Fire Starter

The GO tin – this has been with me since I was in the RAF and flew on every mission with me.  The contents have changed little over the years it is basically things I would need to help me survive.  Lighting a fire is essential to create warmth and comfort on a cold winters night, but carrying matches or a lighter is a non-starter.  Matches get damp or wont light, lighters freeze up or run out, I know there are specialist matches and lighters out there but why?  When all you need is a fire lighter which is basically a serrated scraper and a magnesium rod for creating sparks.  There are two things required for tinder – a tampon (an incredible source of cotton wool) and a pencil sharpener to create fine shavings of wood from twings.  Heliograph for signalling in sunny weather and para cord for tying things!  Many commercial survival packs contain fishing lines and snares – why?  In the UK you are likely to be rescued within 24 hours so you wont have time or the need to fish or hunt!  All of this carried in an old tobacco tin.


Ex RAF Heliograph

How do I get help in the event of an emergency?  Simple – I have enough radio equipment in the rucksack for all manner of communication requirements and in the fortunate occurance of being within mobile phone coverage I have the LocSMS App linked to the satnav on my mobile phone.  This will send my current position to the rescue services via a 999 txt message.  Dont forget to register for SMS with the 999 service.  But most importantly I leave a detailed route, timing schedule and emergency call out details with my wife before I go so that in the event of an accident she can call the rescue services out.