Five helpful items to keep in your rucksack


Recently in the media we are seeing people going on hikes or expeditions and being very ill prepared for what they are doing. Not only is this stupid but it is incredibly dangerous, not just to you but those who VOLUNTEER to save your life after.

So here are five simple items that can make a huge difference to you when things can go wrong or help to avoid things going wrong.
All of these items are items I have used, currently own and live in my rucksack and all of these come endorsed by DofE & Scouting recommended for expeditions and camps.

So let’s kick off with the first item:

Dry bags

Dry bags, come in various sizes and colours and there are several brands who offer them. Vango, Karrimor, Exped and Lifeventure to just name a few but what are they?  Essentially they’re rucksack liners to keep your kit organised and adds an extra layer of waterproofing between the rucksack wall and your kit.

I’d recommended buying several smaller bags 2, 5 & 10 litre bags for smaller items, along with two larger bags, 25 litre and a 40 litre to wrap your sleeping bag and the entire bag insides.
The colours of each bags will help you to organised your kit and make it easier to know what’s in what. So where your socks are, where your jumpers and then the sleeping bag. Handy huh?

Steel bottle

Okay it’s just a water bottle, so what makes this one special?
To be honest, not a lot, it’s just a water bottle but its metal so it’s more durable than your little plastic bottles and the loop on cap makes it ideal for hanging off your bag with carabineers making them tougher and a lot more practical and less likely to lose that water you have inside or for it to leak over your kit/tent.

From my experience they have been brilliant and highly durable, I currently have two blue 1 litre bottles and both have been dropped down the side of mountains, only suffering minor scuffs to the paint work but the bottle itself is still perfectly usable!

*Storage tip = When you are not using them, leave the lid off to allow them to air or mould will grow inside and for your hydration/bladder packs, empty them and stick them in the freezer*

Microfiber towel

One of these is super helpful in the wetter conditions and is just a generally helpful item that doesn’t weigh anything extra to keep in the bag. When you get wet feet you can dry them quickly without ruining a dry pair of socks or if you have a map case you can wipe it dry.
As it’s a microfiber towel they dry quickly, so when the weather improves you can simply strap it to the top of your bag and in an hour it’s dry.

Survival bag

So this one is a little more extreme and when you go on Exped or camp we don’t allow our Scouts, juniors and DofE groups to leave without at least 2 or 3 of these (Depending on team sizes).
If you are in trouble on the side of a mountain or hill then you will need one of these. They will prevent you from losing body heat when in an emergency; they are windproof, waterproof and light weight so you have no excuse to not have one. Its bright, reflective colour is great to mark out as a distress signaller OR a waterproof storage bag for your kit if you don’t have room in your tent or in the emergency situation.

Mountain rescue teams will tell you, this is a MUST piece of kit to carry with you.
I’ve also known DofE groups to not be allowed out until they have several within the team, it might seem daft but these will make the difference between you being warmer or being hypothermic.

Another variation of these is the silver foil blanket, which you will typically see at road side accidents or emergency services dishing out.

*Tip – If in an emergency situation, use your rucksack to build a wall around you, this will help block off more wind or some rain*

First aid kit

It’s a pocket first aid kit that is perfect for trekking or weekend rambles. It is equipped to treat more minor injuries. Something to add is blister plasters and purification tablets.

The kit contains this:
Primary care leaflet
Small low-adherent dressing
Woven bandage & vinyl gloves
Small crepe bandage
Fabric plasters
Blister plasters
Micropore tape & gauze swabs
Antiseptic cream
Antiseptic wipes
Scissors & tweezers
Safety pins

Survival whistle

Okay, its 6 items really but it’s highly likely your rucksack will already have one of these on the sternum strap. Have you ever had to use one of these however? Personal experience with the sternum strap whistles are, they are poor and for a few quid there is no harm in having a pucker metal whistle that you can tuck inside your first aid kit.

International whistles code:
Three blasts is “Help me”
Two blasts is a call back or “Come here” and One blast is “Where are you?” or a call back.

Each whistle blast should last 3 seconds.
In the UK, 6 blasts with a minutes rest between three is also recognised as a distress signal.

These items will help you if you run into an emergency situation to make it easier for you and the emergency teams but just because you will have these items won’t make you anymore prepared. If you do not have the knowledge of the area you are hiking, climbing or if the weather turns.

So don’t be silly, be prepared and if you’re not confident just stay at home and seek advice to go out safely another day. Remember our emergency mountain groups, RNLI and many other groups are all volunteers who risk their lives to help you when you are in need.

Peak District Conservation Project

Peak District Conservation Project

Firepot Outdoors Food

Firepot Outdoors Food