Shopping for Mountain Kit

From the dauntingly long Kilimanjaro Trek kit list that we were provided with, the only things that I already owned were some base layers and a windproof soft shell jacket from skiing and running. Apart from those and my Meindl Toronto boots I bought back in February, I’ve pretty much had to start my mountain wardrobe from scratch.

I’ve been making numerous trips over the last few months to Cotswold Outdoor, which is just round the corner from where I work, and thanks to Discover Adventure I also get a 15% discount there – very handy indeed! So I now have most of the basics, and having tested them out a couple of times, I am quite confident that they were good choices (although I guess this can only be confirmed at 3am on Kilimanjaro summit night).

The trousers I decided on are the Craghoppers Kiwi Pro – I first bought the fleece-lined winter version and liked them so much I also bought the unlined summer version. Compared to other trousers I tried, these have a much more flattering fit and none of those zip off knees that I’m just not sure I could pull off.

I got a bit confused by all the advice on waterproof jackets, and first off I bought one of those 3-in-1 waterproofs from The North Face with a zip-in inner jacket. But then I got it home and realised how annoying and pointless it is to keep taking out the inner jacket, so I returned it and went for a Berghaus Calisto Delta jacket, which is a more basic waterproof outer jacket that can be worn with as many fleeces and warm layers as I like underneath without have to attach any of them. I’ve worn this a few times already and can confirm that it is indeed waterproof.

And finally, the day pack. I figured this is one thing (along with socks) that can make or break comfort levels during the trek, so I didn’t want to borrow one or scrimp too much in this area. I went for the Osprey Tempest 30L in a rather bright shade of pink (safety first, don’t want to be invisible if I get lost on a mountain!) and it seems to be a good choice so far. It’s a specific women’s shape so fits better over the chest and hip areas, it’s lightweight and has lots and lots of handy pockets :) I did find after Snowdon that my collarbones were very sore by the end of the day, but I think that’s due to them being exceptionally bony rather than a fault of the bag (and possibly due to the fact I was carrying two bottles of champagne in the bag). I didn’t have the same problem for Ben Nevis so hopefully it will be fine!

There are still a worrying number of items left on my shopping list that I will need to get over the next few weeks, the most important being a sleeping bag… I’ve been putting that off as I’m not sure where to start and it seems like a big investment for a week long trip – on the other hand, the idea of borrowing or renting a sleeping bag does not really appeal!

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