Fiona Outdoors logo My independent guide to the best of Scotland outdoors

Essential items for every outdoor adventure

Written by Fiona

May 18 2021

Trips abroad may be limited this year, but the perfect adventure is waiting for you, and it’s right outside your back door. 

The hills and valleys around the UK offer some of the best locations for an outdoor adventure. Across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland there is a wide variety of nature trails, country parks, national parks and nature reserves that are perfect for exploring, walking, running, cycling and camping trips.

Whether you’re looking to cycle the North Coast 500 or walk the West Highland Way, there are a few essential items every adventurer should make sure they have. Always expect the unexpected and pack accordingly.

Handy tools to have

There are a few odd bits and bobs that you should always have handy when adventuring outdoors. Rope is great for doing many things and will come in handy when unexpected things come up. A tarp is excellent when making a lean-to outside the tent and will expand your shelter significantly. 

A compass is a valuable item that is both traditional and usefully modern – knowing your orientation when wild camping is essential and will prevent you from going too far off course. 

What type of tent? 

A tent is popular for overnight outdoor adventures.  Even if the weather is excellent in the summer, packing a tent will protect you from the elements – and in the UK the weather can be fickle. Alternatives include hammocks and bivvy bags. If you’re planning a road trip, sleeping in the car is an option, too, but not necessarily the most comfortable one.

When choosing tent size, it’s a good rule of thumb to pick a tent that will sleep one more person than the number of people you intend to bring along.  Your gear will take up the extra space, and you’ll be far more comfortable. 

The weight of a tent will be dictated by how far you need to go with it. A heavier tent can be used for car-to-campsite camping, while it’s a good idea to choose a lightweight tent for backpacking trips. You will soon get fed up with a tent that weighs too much when walking longer distances.

The right backpack 

For most outdoor adventures, a backpack is essential. If you’ve got a road trip planned, it isn’t as necessary, but any trip involving hiking or trekking will require sufficient storage for all your essential items, and learning how to optimize your storage space is very important. 

When looking for the perfect backpack, you’ll want to find one with all the essential features, such as being water-resistant or waterproof. Many packs have an outer cover to keep the rain out.

look for lightweight materials so the pack itself is not too heavy to carry. Compartments for stashing all your bits and pieces helps to keep everything in order when on the trail.

Also, make sure the pack has comfortable padded shoulder straps and a hip belt.

What will you sleep in?

A sleeping bag is probably the only essential thing you’ll need at night, but it is also a good idea to have an inflatable mattress and a pillow (even if the pillow comprises your spare clothes stuffed into a dry bag).

Choose a sleeping bag to suit the seasons and also keep in mind how cold you get at night. We are all different.

If your outdoor adventure takes you to higher altitudes, you will find that the temperature drops overnight, so make sure your sleeping bag of choice has a good temperature rating.

Food preparation equipment 

If you plan on dining out in nature, you’ll need to think of packing a portable stove. These stoves are designed specifically with backpacking and camping in mind. Look for small and lightweight stoves, plus lightweight pot or two.

A stove with pots that fit inside each other are easier to pack and carry with you.

Insect repellent 

It depends on where you plan to go on your trip but some kind of insect repellent will come in handy during the summer months. Choose a repellent that can see off mosquitos or midges.

If it is midges that you are trying to protect yourself from, a midge net that goes over your head will be a very good idea.

Light sources

Packing a headlamp or hand-held torch is very important when you’re planning on staying out overnight. A head torch allows you to have your hands free, which can be really useful when setting up camp or cooking after dark.

Whether you’ve got camping, trekking, hiking, backpacking, or road trip planned for this summer, the above information will hopefully have given you some idea of what to have packed if you’re new to the whole outdoor adventure thing. With any adventure, it’s always better to be prepared!

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