Ken Baldry's Alpine Pages

What do I put in my rucksack?

I have a 75 litre Karrimor rucksack. It is anatomically shaped i.e. without a frame & carries very well. There is a waist band, which I never use & cut off, as it throws the weight back a bit, which is unnecessarily hard on the shoulders, my left one being arthritic. Without the waistband, much of the weight spreads over my back, which is more comfortable. I used to use a Karrimor Haston Vallot, which was smaller & required careful packing but had less to catch if climbing, which I no longer do, apart from a bit of scrambling, where necessary. It is easier to pack the big bag quickly!

What I carry in it is:-

  • sleeping bag (YHA Plume 2lb 13oz mountain bag, now over 40 years old)
  • old fashioned over-your-head canvas anorak
  • cagoule & waterproof overtrousers
  • spare gym trousers for walking
  • thick wooly jumper
  • decent slacks for hotel use
  • 2 decent shirts ditto
  • plimsolls ditto
  • pair of socks & underpants (I wash them as I go along)
  • spare walking shirt
  • ski gloves
  • YHA wooly balaclava hat
  • 2 x 1 litre plastic water bottles, full to start with
  • dried fruit or sultanas for lunches
  • Kendal mint cake (®Wilsons)
  • emergency small tin of corned beef
  • sponge bag with:-
    • toothbrush & paste
    • soap (2 small hotel pieces, in case I lose one, easy to do in a hut)
    • flannel
    • footrot cream (Mycota)
    • Savlon (®ICI, antiseptic cream)
    • sun cream
    • sun lipstick
    • hairbrush
    • nail file
    • 'housewife'
    • very tough scissors
    • sticking plaster strip
  • old-vitamin-pill-tube of detergent (as I wash clothes as I go along)
  • camera
  • camera battery charger
  • maps, compass & whistle
  • paperback for evening reading
  • tiny waterproof diary & pen
  • (usually) day sack

On the outside is an ice axe, sometimes (as in 2001) crampons & a light ladies brolly, usually used as a parasol but occasionally as a brolly.

For a day sack, I use a cheap Swiss tote bag with a couple of strings, so it can be carried as a rucksack. This is about 5 litres. It only has to carry a water bottle, camera, map, compass & lunch. This is very small: nothing like someone's suggested 25-40 litres.

Note...that, no matter how beautiful the weather may appear to have settled to,
I am prepared to meet a sudden blizzard. A cloudless day in the Alps can change its mind!

Junk you don't need

I am constantly amazed at the stuff some people think they need to carry:

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Contact: Ken Baldry, 17 Gerrard Road, Islington, London N1 8AY +44(0)20 7359 6294 or e-mail him
URL: Last revised 23/6/2013 © 2000-2013 Ken Baldry. All rights reserved.