Our Expert’s Guide To Multi-Day Trekking
Conor from our Aberdeen store loves nothing more than escaping the bustle of the city and getting outdoors for a few days in the Scottish wilderness. Here, he shares more about his passion for taking on multi-day treks, tells us a little about his camping set-up and must-have kit for his adventures, before letting us in on some of his top tips.
What do you love about multi-day trekking and why do you do it?
I think taking the time to disconnect from city life and getting immersed in the outdoors is just brilliant fun. It really helps me reset my brain after extended periods of hard work. I find the whole experience incredibly fulfilling, from taking the time to plan my route and prepping my kit to being out on the trip.
How long have you been getting out on multi-day treks?
My partner and I have been going on multi-day trips for a few years. In the last year, we’ve also started taking our pup along, and that adds another dimension, because you’ve not just got yourself to think about.
Did you face any challenges when you first started out and how did you overcome these?
I think the biggest challenge is getting the right kit and planning effectively. It might sound strange, but it’s quite easy to have too much kit, especially in those early days. You feel like you need to pack for every eventuality, and whilst it is important to be prepared, it’s easy to end up carrying way more weight than necessary which can slow you down and make the trip less enjoyable.
For me, learning how to distribute my load correctly has also been key to making the most of my multi-day adventure. That's where Cotswold Outdoor's rucksack fit appointments can help, as not only do you get expert advice on the right fit and pack for your adventures, but you can also pick up some great tips on how to pack your kit from people who have done similar trips. You can also check out our packing guide.
What sort of planning goes into a multi-day trip?
The amount of planning I do depends on the length and difficulty of the trip. I can spend weeks or even months planning for some trips, but I find planning part of the excitement - maybe that’s just me.
Planning has definitely got more straightforward now that I have the right kit and know how to use it, because researching what kit you need to take with you takes a lot of time. That’s why I think it’s so great that we offer kit list appointments. You get the chance to speak one-to-one with one of our experts about the best kit for your trip. I’d recommend it for anyone who is just starting out but honestly, I think you can pick tips up from our experts no matter what stage you’re at.
On the flip side, deciding where to go is probably the easiest bit, but I’m lucky to call Scotland my home, so there’s so much to explore. We usually look for a fun trek we’ve not done before, preferably with some wild swimming spots, as I love taking an early morning dip instead of a shower.
How far do you usually walk each day?
I usually aim to walk anywhere between 10 and 24 miles a day. But that distance is a personal choice, and you should always stick with what you know you can manage. It’s no fun pushing yourself to 24 miles in a day if you have to go at a pace that’s not comfortable for you. If you push too hard, it will just make your trip less enjoyable.
What’s your camping set up?
I have a simple Vango Soul 300 tent which works well for me, my partner and the dog. It’s not the lightest tent, and we may upgrade at some point, but for now it’s reliable and easy to set up, which is a big plus when you’ve been walking all day.
When it comes to sleeping, we use a Mountain Equipment Helium Warm Zone 3.8 roll mat and synthetic Mountain Hardware Lamina sleeping bags. Although down sleeping bags provide a better warm-to-weight ratio, synthetic works best for us because it’s so often wet in Scotland.
What do you look out for when choosing a spot to camp for the night?
We look for level ground in a sheltered spot to protect us from winds. We also try not to get too close to running water, as the midges can get bad and we avoid pitching under trees or anywhere else there’s a chance of falling debris.
What kind of food do you eat whilst out on your adventures?
For breakfast, we usually have cereal bars or some boil-in-the-bag porridge because both are quick and easy but set us up with the energy we need for a day of walking.
For lunch and dinner, we like to use the adventure meals. They provide all the sustenance we need, but all we have to do is heat up some water on our MSR Windburner stove, pour it into the bag and mix.
If we feel like treating ourselves, we pop into a local pub for lunch or dinner, but only if they don’t mind smelly hikers who’ve been on the trail for several days!
What about staying hydrated?
We usually carry four litres spread across water bottles and Osprey water bladders. When it comes to topping up, we like to plan a route with easy access to water taps on campsites.
What’s your favourite multi-day route?
The West Highland Way is one of my favourites. Although not the most challenging route, it offers stunning views and plenty of campsites with good amenities for less experienced trekkers to make camp for the night.
However, on several occasions, we have wild camped at the base of one of the Munros before heading up it the next day, and that adds to the sense of adventure.
Conor’s Top Kit Picks
A good base layer that wicks sweat is essential. Normal cotton t-shirts just become sweaty and uncomfortable, especially when you’re carrying a pack. I love the ones I have from Odlo.
For warmth on cooler days, you need a mid-layer to slip on. My go-to is my well-worn Rab Cirrus Flex jacket.
It goes without saying that a good waterproof is always a must, especially in Scotland, as you can never predict the weather. Currently, I’m getting plenty of use out of my Mammut Gore-Tex Pro jacket.
However, for me, the most important bit of kit for a multi-day trek is my footwear. I think when you’re on your feet all day and covering miles of ground, it pays to invest in the right setup for your feet.
I tend to switch up my footwear depending on the season. In summer, I absolutely love my Scarpa Crux because they’re comfortable, breathable and although not fully waterproof, they are good at keeping out any showers. For autumn and winter adventures, nothing beats my Meindl Bhutan boots. They’re nice and stiff so offer great protection and cover for the colder months when the terrain can be a bit more variable and dangerous.
And don’t forget your socks! The right walking socks are essential as they act like a base layer, wicking away sweat, helping to keep your feet from overheating and preventing blisters. I usually go for lighter weight Bridgedale socks like the Ultra Lights. I know walking socks can seem expensive, but they can make all the difference to your trip.
When it comes to a rucksack, I use a 60-litre pack as this offers me the space I need for all my kit without weighing me down. As most of my adventures are in Scotland, I always have a pack rain cover with me for downpours and extra protection. I’ve also recently started using dry bags for any kit I need to make sure stays dry, like my sleeping bag.
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