With the onset of Spring and the start of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expedition season, instructors at Aspen Outdoors Ltd are sorting out their summer gear, thinking through and refining what bits of kit to take when leading groups in the hills. In this blog Murray Wilson talks about the kit and equipment that works for him when guiding in the mountains in summer conditions.
Murray works for Aspen Outdoors Ltd as a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expedition supervisor and mountain leader. Murray also runs Kingdom Guides, offering a range of outdoor activities like navigation courses, hillwalking and multi-day treks in Scotland. Murray has spent over 30 years hill walking, Munro bagging, hiking, trekking, backpacking and mountaineering all over the United Kingdom. He’s a qualified Mountain Leader, Mountain Safety Advisor to the BBC, NNAS accredited navigation instructor, First Aid instructor with an outdoor emergency First Aid certificate and holder of a Level 3 Award in Education and Training.
What’s your approach to packing your leader’s rucksack?
My approach is to go for equipment that is good quality and lightweight, kit that I know works really well. I also like to ensure that my kit is carefully organised into different colour coded stuffsacks, helping me to find the kit I need easily and efficiently. Broadly speaking my kit is organised into my personal kit and client kit. The client kit includes a first aid kit, emergency shelter and spare items of clothing and equipment like spare hat and gloves, warm layers and head torch. In my experience you are only likely to be reaching for the your client kit when something hasn’t gone according to plan – in that situation it’s really important that you can access client kit quickly, efficiently and with no fuss. This is all part of a professional approach to leading groups in the hill.
What do you think are the most important items for a leader?
For me, probably the most used items of client kit are the spare clothes: things like hats and gloves and warm layers. When you take clients on the hill, it’s sometimes the case that the kit they take doesn’t work as well as they expected and they find themselves getting cold. In those situations, as a leader, you need to be ready to respond and look after the client. Other really important items in my experience are spare food and of course map, compass and a gps device.
Do you have a favourite bit of kit?
My favourite bit of kit is a Montane featherlite windshirt. I have been using this kind of windshirt for 12 years and I am on my third one. They are windproof, highly breathable, pack away to the size of an orange and weigh almost nothing. It’s a really versitile bit of kit and I use mine all the way through from Spring to Autumn.
What kind of rucksack do you take and how big is it?
I use a 32 litre Montane Medusa rucksack. I find that that size of rucsack works well for me and Montane is a trusted good quality brand I have been using for years.
Lastly, what’s your favourite place to go hillwalking?
It has to be Kintail in the West Highlands. All you need to do is look at the harvey’s map for that area and you’ll see why. There is so much to do: there’s over 30 munros to do in the area; there’s specatular waterfalls like the Falls of Glomach; amazing mountain ridges like the Forcan Ridge on the Saddle and there’s great hill days to be had, like Beinn Fada and the Five Sisters of Kintail.