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Get equipped for hill walking

Having the right clothing and equipment can quite literally be a life saver if conditions are really bad, but even in less extreme weather it can mean the difference between having an enjoyable or a miserable day out in the hills.

Below is a list of essential items of clothing and equipment for summer hill walking in the Scottish hills. 

Remember that proper clothing and equipment is essential: conditions in the hills may change rapidly and can be considerably more challenging than at the roadside.

More about hill walking in Scotland:

Hillwalker in cloud and heavy rain - properly equipped for conditions

Summer hill-walking doesn't always mean sunshine - you need to be properly equipped

  • Rucksack - about 35 litres
  • Boots (with ankle support and soles which will grip on rock, grass and mud)
  • Waterproof jacket (with hood)
  • Waterproof over trousers
  • General trekking trousers (not jeans or cotton material)
  • Thermal top
  • Fleece top
  • Gaiters (not always essential)
  • Warm hat 
  • Gloves or mitts
  • Spare layer e.g. fleece top
  • Compass
  • Map (waterproof or in waterproof case)
  • Watch
  • Torch (preferably a head torch)
  • Food & Drink
  • Emergency survival bag (polythene is OK) and Group Shelter
  • Whistle
  • First Aid Kit (small)
  • Mobile phone

  • Sunhat
  • Sun cream
  • Sunglasses

  • Midge repellent
  • Midge net

Renowned backpacker Chris Townsend has spent a lifetime wandering the Scottish hills, not to mention many ultra-long-distance routes abroad, and knows a thing or two about keeping dry - or at least as dry as possible. Read his advice on backpacking in the cold and wet here.

Some outdoor clothes and kit uses magnetic closures as an alternative to Velcro, zips or poppers. However these magnets can and do deflect compass needles, leading to potentially serious errors in navigation. This problem is particularly bad where magnets are incorporated into gloves, but jacket fasteners and magnets on rucksacks to secure hydration tubes have also caused problems. Compasses stored next to such items are also prone to suffering reversed polarity.

Mountaineering Scotland advice is to be aware of this problem and not to buy clothes or equipment which features non-essential magnets.