Tag Archives: kit

Thru-riding the Colorado Trail: Preparation and kit

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Our journey along the Colorado required a lot of preparation, not least in ensuring we had all the kit we needed to travel through the backcountry safely. I’ve ridden since I was a little girl, and spent all my weekends competing as a teenager. But travelling long distance, and using packhorses, was a whole new arena for me and required a lot of advance study.

An Australian friend of mine, Tim Cope – who rode 6000 miles across the Eurasian steppes for his bestselling book On The Trail of Genghis Khan – was kind enough to spend a few days with me, running through the equipment and knots he found necessary during his three years on the road. He also introduced me to some of his friends in the area – the Baird family, of Bogong Horseback Adventures, and the mountain man and stunt rider Ken Connley – who taught me to tie box- and diamond hitches for the pack saddle.

CuChullaine O’Reilly of the Long Riders’ Guild and Megan Lewis, who recently completed a round-the-world ride, were also extremely helpful, answering questions by email and over the phone.

Getting the right kit together was important: weight was a huge consideration. Over such rugged terrain it was important to keep as much weight off the horses’ backs as possible –  and carrying ‘dead weight’ in the form of bags/boxes is much more difficult to manage compared to the ‘live weight’ of humans, which will balance itself (and can easily jump off in a crisis!).

After the fold, find a full kit list of what we packed – plus a few notes about what worked and what we had trouble with. Price too was a big factor – I made a lot of judgement calls about what was safe to scrimp on, and what would be worth investing in.

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From London to Lapland

Location of Hetta, image via http://www.hettahuskies.com

Tonight I fly from London to Helsinki, the first leg in my journey to Enontekiö in the north-west corner of Finland, 300km inside the Arctic Circle.

But I’ve been preparing for this journey for a while. My weighty suitcase holds:

  • one down-filled Rab Neutrino jacket (800 fill, second hand)
  • one Primaloft inner jacket
  • four fleeces (one heavy, two mid-weight, one base layer)
  • three pairs fleece trousers (two leggings, one normal cut… i.e. I might not be too embarrassed to wear around the house)
  • 6+ base layer tops
  • 5+ thermal tights
  • four pairs salopettes (two of which are waterproof)
  • two polar buffs, one normal buff
  • one pair heavy-duty outdoor gloves, one pair waterproof mittens
  • one pair Polartech thermal liner gloves
  • 5+ pairs magic gloves
  • first aid kit
  • one under-helmet balaclava
  • one ‘Petzl tikka’ headlamp
  • two carabiner
  • one climbing knife
  • one pair fur-lined ‘mucker’ boots
  • two hats (one waterproof, one fleecy)
  • fleece sleeping bag liner
  • several pairs Merino wool four-season socks
  • camera kit, laptop
  • misc personal items, including a bottle of vodka and three Christmas puddings

Needless to stay I’ll be up all night guarding all this kit before the next leg of my journey (Helsinki to Kittilä) tomorrow morning – not least the Merino wool socks, which cost an extortionate £21 per pair. I’ll review all my kit in a couple of months, which may be useful for anyone planning a similar purchase.

On the bright side, I’ve been doing my research: Helsinki Vantaa is one of the most comfortable airports in the world to sleep in.

I’ll fly out too early to make use of Finnair’s four (4) saunas, but free wifi will be very handy for following the US elections as the results come in.

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