Our Editor's 100-Miler Kit List - Outdoors Magic

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'Here's what I took with me on my six-day February trek through the Brecon Beacons'

Normally it’s in spring and summer that I do my long distance walking, but this year, due to being slightly more starved of quality mountain days this winter than usual, I just couldn’t wait for things to warm up. I also thought it was about time I tested my mettle over a few days and nights in winter mountains.

It was the Beacons Way that I chose to walk, a 96-mile hike from the western end of the Brecon Beacons National Park right through to its eastern reaches. And it was brilliant. Having grown up in South Wales, I thought I knew that part of the country like the back of my hand, but this trail showed me that there’s always much more to discover.

In the end, my mettle wasn’t tested as much as I had expected – weatherwise at least. The week I spent walking ended up seeing the hottest February temperatures ever recorded. I’ve genuinely had much colder summer hikes.

It was a tough old walk in terms of terrain encountered mind. 6,719m in total ascent is a lot considering the distance and that the highest point reached along the way (Pen y Fan) is only 886m. Up a hill, down a hill, up a hill again. That was the order of events. The trail makers clearly weren’t interested in any contouring.

It made for good terrain for gear testing anyway. My friend James perhaps won’t agree – he had to drop out after two days with a knee injury the poor sod.

Here’s what I took with me and how I got on with it…

Keen Karraig

These are hefty boots. Much heftier than what I’m used to wearing on long distance walks. But then I’ve only ever done those kind of hikes from spring through to autumn, so this time I knew I needed something more technical, something that could keep the Brecon Beacons bog out.

Keen’s Karraig boots proved well up to the task. Waterproofing was excellent and the breathability not bad either. It was the grip that impressed me most though. In fact, on the way down Craig Cerrig Gleisiad in the dark my friend, who was wearing Merrell Chamelon 7’s, had to slide down the muddy slope on his bum while I could walk straight down with ease. The downside to them was that the lacing system is fairly unresponsive and difficult to pull in tight.


Jöttnar Elvar

The conditions were so kind to us on our hike that I don’t think I really got to test the Jöttnar Elvar properly – it’s a jacket designed with full-blown Scottish winters in mind.

The thing is, with the Brecon Beacons in February, you’ve got to be prepared for any kind of conditions. This time it was overkill, but on any other day, it could be a godsend.

Still, it served me very well on windy summits and during the evenings spent sat outside the tent waiting for the pot to boil.

I picked it as I wanted something with insulating fibres that could perform even in wet conditions, and I’d have confidence in this delivering on that front when required.

Terra Nova Southern Cross 2

Hands down the best two-person tent I’ve ever used. I love it. From the Cairngorm plateau to our second night camped underneath the cliffs of the Black Mountains, I’ve seen out some pretty rough nights in this and always felt completely protected.

As well as being remarkably sturdy, The Terra Nova Southern Cross 2 very quick and easy to pitch, and it’s very easy to live in with another person thanks to the porches and entrances on either side. It comes at a fairly hefty price, but if you’re fed up of sleepless nights during windy nights in the hills, this would be a worthwhile investment.

Rab Alpine Pro 600

Despite the mild days, we still had typical night time temperatures you’d expect in the February hills, dipping down to about -2. Fortunately, I had the right sleeping bag for the job (it’s comfort level is -3 and the limit is -9). The Rab Alpine Pro 600 was warm, amazingly lofty and comfortable, and also, thanks to its Nikwax hydrophobic down, it never seemed to be affected by the condensation inside our tent. I also really liked having that extra adjustment cord around the neck that allows you to properly lock your body heat in, particularly when you have the hood cinched as well.

At 1165g in weight, to me it’s slightly on the heavy side for a long distance walk during late spring and summer in the UK, but for colder conditions, it’s perfect (hence the name).

Patagonia Shelled Synchilla Hat

I’ve written 500 words on the Patagonia Shelled Synchilla already and anymore would properly be too much for a hat. In short, I like this hat.


Fjällräven Kaipak 58

I haven’t been kind to this bag. Despite serving me so well on a coast-to-coast hike across Scotland I recklessly left it down in a dank basement for over ten months. When I picked it out to take on the Beacons Way I found it suffocated by mould. However, in one of the most remarkable comeback stories of the year so far, I managed to clean it up and have it looking and smelling almost good as new.

A lot of my kit has failed to recover from a stay in my basement so that’s perhaps a testament to the quality of Fjällräven’s G-1000 fabric. It’s built to last a lifetime.

This pack is on the heavy side, for sure, but it fits and carries so well that the weight is easy to look past. It also has all the conveniences I look for on a trek: a cover for when the rain really sets in, hipbelt pockets, top and bottom access, a smaller pocket for valuables and a hydration bladder sleeve.

There was a very slight downside to it on this trek though, and that’s that the side mesh pockets are very loose and not very good at securely stashing a squeezy Katadyn water bottle…


Katadyn BeFree and Lifestraw Flex

We carried both of these filters with us, but actually ended up taking turns with the Katadyn. The flow rate was so much better and as such, it was just much, much easier to drink from. That was until I lost it when it slipped out of the side of my backpack pocket on Pen y Fan. Both filters are certainly capable of safely filtering bacteria and other nasty things, but it was the flow rate that separated them. I’ve also written a more detailed Lifestraw versus Katadyn comparison.

Fjällräven Keb Eco Shell

The Keb Eco Shell pictured right.

Like the Fjällräven Kaipak backpack, this is another item that I’ve had for a while and that has become tried and tested. It’s protective and has good ventilation thanks to the long pit zips, plus the hood is well designed. The main fabric, which is slightly stretchy and quiet, is PFC-free and made from recycled materials, so the eco credentials are good.

I definitely need to reproof mine now. After using it for hundreds of miles now, the DWR has all but disappeared.

A final word on the price… it’s fairly eye watering at £445.

Petzl Bindi

Not too much to say about this other than it’s just so conveniently small and light (just 35g). The 200 lumen bulb was adequate for use at camp but I could’ve done with something brighter when we were descending Craig Cerrig Gleisiad in the dark. Then again, that was the third evening and I hadn’t recharged it at that point so maybe the power was fading. I’ve used it a lot over the last 12 months and will continue to favour it over the other headtorches I have.


Sasta Anton Trousers

These well articulated trousers by Finnish brand Sasta are made from a blend of recycled wool (70%) and polyester (30%). It’s a winning combination in my books. They’re really warm (probably too warm for summer hiking) and have useful zipped vents on each thigh for when you start to overheat.

These are also super durable; and that high wool content means they’ll repel moisture naturally and not get smelly, even when you’ve worn them for six days straight. Go check out Sasta’s website, they make a lot of good stuff.

Will’s World: A Video Run Through

Other items

MSR Group WindBurner Stove System
A great stove for a group of three or more, but it was probably too large for just the two of us in the end, especially when we were just boiling water for dehydrated meals and coffee.

Therm-a-rest ProLite
Old faithful. I’ve hiked perhaps up to 2,000 miles with this and I expect I’ll use it for many more.

Goal Zero Venture 70
A reliable power pack that meant I never ran out of juice. I can usually get around four full charges from it. Heavy at 454g though.

Patagonia Capilene Air
A comfy, wicking and warm baselayer made from a blend of merino and polyester.
Check out my full Patagonia Capilene Air Review.

1000 Miles Heat Walk Sock
Made from a two-layer construction, these were warm, soft and kept me blister free.

Mammut Nordwand Pro
These are pretty high spec gloves made using some lovely materials. Designed with climbing in mind, they’re probably a bit OTT for backpacking.

Viewranger Mapping
I brought a bunch of maps with me but they didn’t leave my bag once. With OS maps pre-loaded onto my phone, that was all I needed.

For More Like This:

Walking the Snowdonia Slate Trail

Kit For a Long Distance Walk

What To Take Camping

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