Essential packing guide for the Three Peaks Challenge

With only a few days left until the Three Peaks Challenge, and only packing and Storm Ali to contend with, here’s my essential packing list before jumping on the Caledonian Sleeper on route to Fort William, Scotland from London.

The Packing Pile

Having done a practise hike at the Breacon Beacons a few weeks ago, it made me realise how underprepared I was for the weather, we’d had a lovely Indian summer and we are now hitting that monsoon season, with Hurricane Florence’s other half Storm Ali bringing over gale force winds and rain across the Atlantic from the West.

1. Walking Boots

Essentials for any hiking, is having good sturdy and most importantly comfortable walking boots, trainers are not recommended as you need good ankle support to avoid any injury on the various types of terrain you may encounter.

2. Hiking Poles

This was a last minute purchase, but having experienced some fairly steep decents, I opted to pick up some last minute hiking poles. There are a number of options, from quick release to carbon. I picked myself up a pair of Karrimor Poles from Sports Direct, not yet been tested but hoping they will surfice.

3. Bobble Hat

Why not? The wind will be fierce and a hat is essential to keep your hair dry and head warm!

4. Hydration Bladder/Metal Water Canister

It’s essential to stay hydrated throughout any form of exercise, I know this from my extreme running and cycling training. I’ve hiked previously with my metal water canister, it holds a litre and keeps it cool. It’s the cheaper option of the two and easy to keep attached with a hook on a backpack. However, I’ve recently invested in a hydration bladder, not only for hiking but for cycle commutes and long distance run training too. It holds 2.5 litres and easy to drink through the attached straw without stopping for a bottle. It easily fits into my Osprey 13L daylite rucksack too, as there is a nifty compartment for their hydration bladders.

5. Layers/clothing

Ensure you wear lots of layers as they are easier to remove and layer up than wearing one warm jumper and not being able to take this off if too hot. Also, it’s pretty cold at the summit of these peaks.

I’ve packed plenty of base layers, vests and fleeces which I can layer up to keep warm. I’ve packed three sets as we got pretty wet at the Breacon Beacons. This way I can change between peaks rather than sitting in potentially damp clothes.

6. Walking Socks

Pack a few pairs of hiking socks, similar reasons as the above, the feeling of fresh socks is amazing! Plus you want thick socks for the comfort factor and to avoid blisters.

7. Waterproof Jacket and Trousers

This blog seems to be all about weather proofing, but weather at the top of a mountain is a lot different to that of the base. Better to be prepared than underprepared. It was my birthday this week so treated myself to a new north face waterproof jacket in the Blacks summer sale. It did keep my top half fairly dry, despite me packing so many spare base layers.

8. Rocktape

I suffer from achy knees, weak ankles and painful hip joints from running. Considering my lower half is so weak I still leg based exercise! I survive by being recommended rock tape from my physio. I’ve never looked back, it’s been a god send on race days.

9. Energy Gels and Nutrition

I live by good nutrition on all activities. Eating on the go, little and often. I use High 5 energy gels which are a little thinner than the Sport in Science (SiS) branded ones which usually need to be taken with water. They replenish essential salts which are lost in sweat and provide an energy boost just before you may hit the wall.

I use gels more with walking and running they work quickly and give me an adrenaline boost. However, I also use SIS powder, Orange is my favourite which you pour into water, which I use more for Cycling. I’ll be trying this option out during my hike too. It’s a nicer option if not used to gels, remember try these all out prior to exercise as different people have different preferences and some can cause upset stomach, I know many people who stick to certain brands due to not getting on with some branded gels.

Eating little and often is also my best approach, I usually make flapjacks and bite sized sandwiches I can nibble on to keep my stomach happy and energies high.

For the three peaks and any other race, I like to eat Quaker Oats porridge in the morning and also take bananas with me as a great slow releasing energy source.

10. Other bits and bobs

I’ve packed tissues, deep heat, ibuprofen, anti histamines and blister plasters as essentials in case of emergency!

I have one bag I’ll be carrying with my essentials, the spares will be in a small gym bag kept on our minivan between peaks! I’ve tried to pack light to make moving between peaks quick and easy! Wish me luck!

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