We at The YAC thought it may be useful to talk about kit and equipment for a change. With the Three Peaks challenge being a favourite challenge for a wide range of people (and where we started) we thought a guide to what you need to consider when thinking about kit and what to look for would be a useful starting point. Now, with Andy and Jaime both not being the best advocates for a fully prepared kit list we asked the experts and our friends at Outdoor Look kindly offered some advice. Please have a read if you are interested and hopefully it is reassuring to hear that you don't have to spend thousands to be fully kitted and ready for an adventure.
Thanks to Outdoor Look, The YAC
The National Three Peaks Challenge is a very difficult challenge for younger adventurers and novice adventurers alike. However, it’s by no means impossible, with thousands undertaking the challenge year after year.
If you’re going to undertake the challenge you’ll need to be kitted out appropriately, and when kit lists are issued from a group leader, the thought of shelling out for all that stuff could look even more daunting than the climb itself!
The cost of equipment for such an expedition shouldn’t be frightful though, and we at Outdoor Look would like to help you to get completely kitted out with top quality clothing for less than £200. We’re talking about getting everything from boots to backpacks for less than some jackets alone would cost.
The price should never put off a young adventurer from having a great experience that you’ll remember for all your life.
Starting with appropriate footwear for such an expedition and a pair of walking boots or shoes will be required. Good quality ones too, which are well worn in order to give maximum comfort and avoid blistering halfway up a mountain!
Many boots and shoes are now inexpensive, and although there are some big brand names putting boots out for well over £100, that does not always mean they are the best ones going. I personally wouldn’t advise spending much more than £50 on a pair of walking boots, as most will provide just as great a level of comfort and durability without the cost.
Whether you choose boots or shoes is completely up to yourself. Many manufacturers such as Hi Tec & Regatta produce boot and shoe versions of the same item, with the same qualities you need. Those qualities would be that your footwear is first of all comfortable, second of all waterproof, and thirdly that they are durable.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that leather immediately qualifies the footwear as being better than fabric either. Many modern fabrics offer the same qualities as leather footwear, just without the pricetag.
As we said earlier, you should be able to pick up a pair of perfectly adequate boots for the Three Peaks Challenge for around £50 or less.
Now we have our boots, we need some appropriate socks. For doing the Three Peaks Challenge you’ll want to bring several pairs of socks in order to keep your feet fresh on each of the three climbs.
When it comes to choosing socks, it’s true that any generic thick hiking sock will do, but by the same token some more technologically advanced socks are available at prices well below what you’d expect.
There are many pairs of performance socks out there, many which will provide warmth, whilst wicking away moisture from the foot for added comfort whilst hiking. These performance socks are usually available for less than £10 too, and not much more expensive than regular ‘thick’ hiking socks which offer little to no breathability.
Next we’ll need some thermals to keep warm, as temperatures around the top of Ben Nevis for example are usually around -1 degrees centigrade all year round.
Now we aren’t talking about “Long Johns” here, things have picked up considerably in thermal wear since those were popular! We’re looking at baselayers, for your top and bottom half. You may have seen baselayers popularized by sports teams, however they do serve a very, very handy service when out climbing or going anywhere in cold temperatures.
The industry leaders in this sort of areas are Under Armour and Helly Hansen, who have been producing top quality baselayers for years at a cost of around £30 per garment, However, don’t rule out a less costly brand such as Regatta or Tresspass, who often offer full sets (legs and body) for less than £20.
If you aren’t too keen on getting baselayers for your legs, you may well be able to get away with it if you choose a good pair of trousers, although everyone should have a baselayer for their upper body.
The skintight fabric keeps out any cold, and wicks away sweat from the body. Not to mention you’ll be wearing a t-shirt or jumper over the top, and the layering will provide more warmth than any thick jumper could.
When choosing thermal garments be on the look out for full sets as they can save you plenty, or if you have the cash take a look at a top range baselayer from a specialist such as Under Armour. Also for the guys reading, don’t be afraid to purchase some for your legs too. They might look a bit like tights, but your mates won’t be laughing when you’re nice and warm whilst they are freezing cold.
When it comes to choosing trousers you may not think there’s any point to buying specific walking or trekking trousers, but they do hold many advantages over say a pair of jeans or tracksuit bottoms.
They’re much more comfortable than either of those for a start. They also come equipped with pockets and pouches for holding compasses, maps, GPS devices and snacks. Also they are often made from special fibres which will block out sunlight or dry quicker than normal trousers.
All these benefits can be vital on a trek, and the specialist trousers aren’t really any more expensive than regular cargo trousers. You’d be able to get an excellent pair of walking trousers for around £25 or even less, which will be perfect for the Three Peaks Challenge, and further challenges you choose to take on.
T-shirts for the challenge are completely up to you. If you’ve gone down our suggested route of wearing a baselayer, you could possibly get away with wearing your own regular cotton t-shirt, however a more technical t-shirt will help wick away sweat and moisture from the skin. These can be picked up relatively cheap, and there’s no reason to go out and spend much more than £10 on such an item.
When choosing a technical t-shirt ask about the breathability of the shirt, ask about its wicking ability, and also make sure the shirt is comfortable. A t-shirt which is too tight will not be very comfortable on your hike, and restrict your movements whilst out.
A good quality outdoor jacket will be required too, and this will be one of your most costly purchases along with boots or shoes for taking on the Three Peaks Challenge for the first time.
However it need not be all that costly, as there are savings to be made if you look for the right qualities in a jacket as opposed to looking for one which promises to do everything. When climbing the three highest peaks in the UK, you basically just need to stay warm, not get soaked by rain and be allowed to breathe if the weather turns for the better.
Something which anyone looking for a jacket with these qualities should look for is a ski jacket. The best time to buy would be during the summer when it’s not the height of ski season, and reductions are there to be had, and a great quality jacket can be purchased for £50 or less.
Of course there are many other hiking and walking waterproof jackets available, but one thing to remember as with the boots is you are buying the qualities, not the name. A Berghaus jacket could well fulfil all the needs, but so could a Craghoppers or Regatta jacket at less than half the price.
As stated already, breathability, warmth and the waterproof qualities are absolutely key to finding the best jacket, so stick to that checklist.
Other accessories will be needed too such as a backpack to carry your first aid supplies, snacks, water and any other essential items for your hike. This backpack shouldn’t be too big, as you’re going to be carrying it for hours on end, and you don’t need that much stuff with you for the hike as the bulkier things will be left in the car with your driver.
A backpack around 25 litres in size will be more than capable of carrying all your bits and bobs, and have room to spare. You’ll be looking for something with padded shoulder straps to lighten the load or distribute the weight more evenly. Many cheap backpacks will have this to some degree, but something with more cushioning than your average school backpack will be required, and to be honest most of these more ‘specialist’ bags aren’t much more expensive than that sort of backpack, at a cost of around £20-25.
For those with a little more money to spend, you might want to consider a hydration backpack. These are packs which come equipped with a water reservoir and straw, meaning you don’t need to be opening your bag every time you require a drink. You can find good quality hydration backpacks for around £30.
Gloves and hats will also be required, and you can’t go wrong with any pair which comes with a fleeced lining for keeping your all important extremities warm.
Also you may want to consider a walking pole, as by the time you come to the third peak of the challenge, you’ll find yourself a little weary! These might seem like an extravagance, but can be purchased from as little as £10 for a good quality one.
All in all, it’s very easy to kit yourself out for your first Three Peaks Challenge at a fraction of the cost you’d expect. Here are our specific recommendations:
These prices are correct at time of going to press according to OutdoorLook.co.uk, however if there are fluctuations or alternative choices made, the total cost shouldn’t go above our recommended cap of £200.
Whether you’re taking on the Three Peaks Challenge for the first time or you are an experienced climber, you shouldn’t be suckered in or pay over the odds for your clothing needs.