A Pennine Way Gear List

I’ve always been reluctant to post gear lists as I don’t want to pose as any kind of expert, but in response to several queries as to the practicality of walking the Pennine Way with just a 30 litre rucksack, this is the kit list that happened to work for me over those legendary 268 miles in August/September 2020, camping out every night for 17 nights.

Starting from the sleeping bag (the red lump upper left-ish) in the picture, and going round in a vague circle, like me on the PW…

Alpkit Pipedream 400 sleeping bag (borrowed from GF) with the compression sack from my own Skyehigh 500 which would have been much too hot.
A skinny down jacket (£27.99 in TK Maxx), I feel the cold so this is a lifesaver in the evening and gets stuffed into the sleeping bag on cold nights.
Trusty Black Diamond Trail poles.
Tent and inner (Trekkertent Stealth).
Tyvek footprint that keeps the sheep poo off my groundsheet.
Bag of food (simulated).
Bag of assorted tent pegs, V’s, rock nails, a bog spade, hooks, mostly titanium (below poles).
Thermarest neoair xlite mat, short (I would have much preferred a full length mat).
Waterproof jacket, Alpkit Gravitas. New for this trip, an ultralite shell. Brilliant, but in colder weather you’d want something more like a proper mountain jacket.
Overtrousers, Berghaus Paclite. Tired and leaky, like me. I’m in the market for something simpler and a bit more robust.
Army surplus Goretex mittens, modified by me.
Altra Olympus shoes.
Toilet kit (bottom right, ha ha).
Alpkit Gourdon 30 litre rucksack.
Trusty old school cotton sunhat (dip in in a stream – cool your head).
Two small drybags, labelled ‘spare’ and ‘warm’.
Inov-8 Race-pac chest pouch.
A lady’s silk scarf I found on the summit of Great Shunner years ago. Brilliant. Not just an effective if slightly effete neck warmer, it wraps round my face on cold nights for warmth and when bivvying on midgy nights to keep bugs off.
Haglöfs trousers, absolutely brilliant, best trousers I’ve ever had. Model unknown as I inherited them from a relative who’d got too fat to get into them.
Buff, found in a muddy field at Edale in 2016. Great thing.
Footy shorts, £3.99 from Lidl. Brilliant, they dry in minutes.
MSR Titan cookpot. Titanium spork. Water filter straw which I’ve carried on multiple trails and still never used.
Alpkit Kraku titanium stove.
Swedish firesteel.
Three pairs of underpants.
Three pairs of skinny trail running socks. Mine are ‘Freedom’ by Higher State, about £2 a pair online if you buy five pairs.
Two hankies.
Silk long johns, direct from China on eBay, for sleeping and emergency cold weather base.
Silk socks (£6 on Amazon) for sleeping. Kept bone dry in a ziplock bag.
The Plastic Box of Mystery!
Dark t-shirt for cool days, Smartwool PhD merino, my go-to hiking shirt, love it.
Pale polyester’ t-shirt for hot days and ‘best’. This was in a ‘70% off’ sale in Trespass but it’s actually a really competent shirt.
Helly long sleeve base for cold days and/or nights. Can’t beat a Helly.
Towel (very old!)
Rab waffle fleece pullover, picked up very cheap in a sale but brilliant warmth for the weight. I’ve learnt the hard way it’s worth shelling out for a decent fleece.
Not shown:
Gas cylinder (there was some gas remaining so I left it in Auchope hut).
Two supermarket juice bottles for water. It’s criminal how durable these bottles are, considering the thousands that are binned every day.

The Gourdon is frameless so how you pack it is important, I always fill mine the same way. The sleeping bag forms a pad against my lower back, then the Plastic Box of Mystery presses flat against my spine. There’s a sitmat in the back of the pack which is amazingly useful and gives me plenty of cushioning at this light weight.

Alpkit Gourdon 30 litre rucksack at the Border Hotel, still containing more or less all the above.
Trusty chest pack, I removed the sternum strap from the rucksack (which was too high and tight for me anyway) and stitched matching clips onto the shoulder straps, hence this chest pack sort of doubles as a sternum strap. I may be wrong but I don’t think Inov-8 do these useful things any more, sadly.

In the chest pack: rigid but light metal sunglasses case with prescription sunglasses, spare sandwich bags and toothbrush (cut down to fit). Compass. Phone in sandwich bag. Money, ID and cards in ditto. Face mask and sanitiser. You can also carry a map or a third bottle of water in this thing if you like.

‘What’s in the Plastic Box of Mystery?’ I hear you cry. Prepare to lose the will to live…

L-R along each row:
Phone charger (pink ones were cheaper), couple of USB leads (these are quite unreliable in camping conditions), Petzl e-Lite headtorch (brilliant, one of my best buys. I’ve shortened and re-stitched the strap and I don’t use the bulky case). Spare headtorch batteries (unused – they seem to last for ever). 10k mAh power bank (three full phone charges). Spare phone (just my old one, complete with cracked screen) fully charged and set up with offline nav and gpx. Rubber bands stop it getting switched on in box.
Antibac wipes (gamechanger for camping hygiene). First aid stuff in a proper waterproof bag: plasters, big graze dressings, wound closure strips (I’ve sliced my thumb open on a broken tent peg before now), Compeed, strip of puritabs. Ibuprofen gel (for dodgy knee, unused). Anthisan for midge bites (amazingly, unused). Insect repellent (ditto). Sunscreen ahahahahaha – unused. Lip salve (could just use Vaseline but my Vaseline never stays very hygienic). Notebook and pencil.
Surgical tape for graze dressings and reinforcing plasters. Germolene for wounds and chafing. Vaseline for preventing chafing. Solid antiperspirant. Tiny clothes pegs for socks (I’ve lost one, very annoying). Repair kit (tent patch and Silnet, mat patch, bit of cord, small safety pins, McNett repair tape, needle and thread). Interdens and toothpicks. Physio tape.
Ecover detergent. Toothpaste. Silicone gel earplugs. Prescription meds (I count these out carefully but then always forget to take them), also in this bag Vitamin C tabs (I’m convinced these help small wounds heal better) and emergency meds (couple of Imodium and a few powerful painkillers, just enough to get me off a hill). Tick remover. Emergency tooth filling compound (amazingly effective). Tiny Swiss Army knife. Small carabiners in case something breaks.

It all fits!

Unfortunately I feel the cold so this is about as skimpy as I can go with clothing, in fact there were two nights when I stuffed every stitch I carried into the sleeping bag, even though it was ‘summer’. Mind you, there was frost on the tent in the mornings to be fair. I could have managed without the sunscreen, but then in the Scottish Highlands in early May 2017 I was very glad of it, which just goes to show. Come to think of it it was probably the same tube, maybe I should look at the use-by date!



  1. Love this post, although I’d drop any lip salve for a blisteze which is just the best for me. And personally anything Helly = smelly after one day, so merino all the way for me. Personal preference though 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there, thanks, yes the lipsalve was a bit of a desert island luxury really. I remember buying blisteze years ago when I was prone to cold sores and it was good stuff, but they seem to have petered out thank goodness, nasty painful things. I seem to recall it was in a tiny tube, so would save a bit of space. On that hike I had a whiff issue at one point with my merino T which as you say is quite unusual, but due to covid showers were exceptionally few and far between! Bw, A


  2. Always good to see others’ minimalist essentials. Thanks for posting!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks again for your kind encouragement!


  3. How the crap do you cram all that into 30 litres?? I carry a 44 litre Osprey and I have trouble getting everything in 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. 😉 It seems to go in OK and as usual got easier as I went along. The side pockets on the Gourdon are quite deep, they’ll take waterproofs as well as 1 litre water bottles. Summer down sleeping bag compresses very small. I’d need a bigger rucksack in spring/autumn as I’d use synthetic instead. Tbh 30 is just a tad too small for an easy life, for me 35 would be perfect.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is great! Did it change a huge amount from when you did the Scottish National Trail? I’d guess you needed to have a bit more room for food on the Cape Wrath section

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Joy,
      Thanks for visiting the blog and your kind encouragement. On the SNT I used a somewhat larger pack (a vintage GoLite, frameless, off eBay) partly because I was carrying a quite bulky synthetic sleeping bag, expecting multiple cold and damp nights. I certainly got those, so I was very glad of it, I’d learnt my lesson shivering through multiple nights in damp down on a previous PW! On the same basis I also had a synthetic insulated jacket instead of a skinny down one, which again I was glad of, and a heavier-duty waterproof jacket. But yes I think at one point on the CWT I had to carry 11 meals so as you say that was the main issue, I couldn’t have got away with only 30 litres. Best wishes, A


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: