Whiteburn's Wanderings

One man's wanderings backpacking around Scotland plus the odd digression

TGO14 Tactics & Kit

The TGO must be rapidly approaching, I got the ‘Final details’ in the mail yesterday, so I thought it was opportune to compile some musing on my tactics, kit and food.



I’ll just put one foot in front of the other at my own pace and walk my own walk, sometimes I’ll be overtaken by someone and on some rare instances I’ll actually catch someone up; I’ve found it tiring to maintain an ‘abnormal’ pace for any length of time.  So if I happen to bump into you on the trail don’t get offended if I don’t play tag along for long.

In poor weather I’ll often just dawdle along without really stopping for breaks preferring to just fill the pockets with snacks and keep moving, although I have been known to chuck up the Trailstar for a more restful lunch if the opportunity presents itself.  In good weather I do like to enjoy a good long lunch break (45 mins +); getting the trail shoes off and getting the feet and airing, washing the socks, airing the sleeping bag and having a brew.

Given reasonable weather I’ll generally stick to my overall plan for night halts but I’ve also have potential short and stretch camping spots in mind to give a little flexibility on the day.

My old body definitely strains lugging a load up big hills so I’ll be planning to travel fairly light, gone are the days of lugging 18 – 20kg around.  My base weight will be ~ 6.2kg and pack weight for the kickoff with 5 days (4 nights) food and fuel should be ~10.5kg.


The vast majority of my kit is now well proven and very familiar; I suppose one of the advantages of getting out backpacking regularly is that I’ve discovered what works for ME and what doesn’t, something that everyone needs to work out for themselves.

Wearing – 1.9kg

Montane Terra pants (I’ll spray with Permethrin to guard against ticks) , Janus base layer top, M&S Autograph trunks, X-Socks, Terroc 330’s (old style), TNF cap and a pair of Fizan Compact 4 trekking poles.

Pack – 0.8kg

MLD Exodus backpack – I’ve found this my ideal pack; I’ve added a few optional extras like lid, belt pockets, a shoulder pocket and a bottle holder.  It’s proven a comfortable carry all day for my ‘normal’ one week load of 13kg,

½ Pack liner – nothing sophisticated just a simple 250 gauge poly sack cut down a little.

Shelter/ Sleeping – 2.4kg

MLD Trailstar with 6 Easton stakes, 4 Ti skewers and (my toilet trowel doubles as a spare) – proven bomber shelter wouldn’t contemplate anything else.

MLD Superlight bivi – good for chilly weather, though I’d really like to increase size of the mesh  opening so it doesn’t feel so confining if the dreaded midge come out to play.

Alpkit Pipedream 400 – well warm enough for below zero, even though it’s overdue a commercial clean.

Exped 13L dry bag – Storage for sleeping bag and down jacket, plus it double as a pump sack for the Exped.

Exped 7UL mat & pillow – I like my comfort and the resupply opportunities are close enough together not to warrant radically trimming weight and using my Neoair X-lite Short.

3mm CCF footprint – protection for the silnylon floor of the bivi and doubles as a ½ sleeping mat should the Exped fail.

Polycro sheet – small ground sheet for beside the bivi.

Cooking – 0.35kg

Evernew 1L Pasta pot and CCF Cosy – I find this pot an ideal size for my style of cooking which will generally range from home dehydrated meals to knocking up a one pot wonder with ingredients straight from the supermarket.

Evernew 0.4L cup – some people decry metal cups for ‘burning the lips’, I’ve never had an issue.  The main reason I like the metal cup is that I can put in on the stove for a brew if the Pot/ Cosy is busy ‘cooking’ dinner.

Meths stove and wind shield – I’ll be using my MYO chimney stove which I find very fuel efficient and a two part wind shield that packs inside the Pasta pot.

Clothing carried – 1.45kg

Montane Minimus Smock – quite new so I’ll have to see how it gets on over an extended backpacking trip.

Berghaus Paclite trousers – quite light and the only over- trousers I could find with short legs.

Terra Nova Tuff bags – I’ve found they’re the only ‘gloves’ that are truly waterproof.

Montane Slipstream windshirt – a favourite on the hill, highly breathable and shower proof.

Cumulus Incredulite down jacket – a favourite piece of kit for cold evenings and mornings, very light weight comfort (325g) .

HH Lifa LJ’s – nominally pyjamas but can be worn during the day if conditions dictate and faster drying than merino when wading rivers.

Socks – a couple of pair of X-socks (light trekking) and a pair of seal skins (primarily for wearing to the pub with wet trail shoes)

Accessories – M&S Autograph trunks, a couple of buffs, a pair of liner gloves and a pair of windstopper gloves.

Bits & Bobs – 1.2kg

Bits Gross 1200kg

It always surprises me how much weight this lot adds up to and it’s often underestimated by a lot of folk so I thought I’d expand a little on what I pack.

Bits Spread

From top left to bottom right:

Large aLoksak (12” * 12”) nice handy size for raking about in and keeps stuff dry.

A4 laminated maps of the route + FWA (9), I find these far more user friendly than a large map.

Basic Silva Compass.

Garmin Geko 201 GPS, simple but very light piece of kit.

Suunto Clipper compass, 4g’s of insurance against a lost or broken compass.

Pot of Gehwol cream (~ ½ tube), essentially foot treatment for trail shoe users.

iPhone in Otterbox case (shock and shower resistant) with aLocksak and waterproof paper and pencil, iPhone has Routebuddy mapping as a back-up.

iPhone mains charger and lead.

iPod Nano and earphones.

Repair kit; a couple of needles with thread, 3m of 2mm dyneema, Tenacious tape (also duct tape on the poles), matt repair kit and a spare platy cap.

A couple of bread bags for wearing with wet trail shoes during evening ‘excursions’ to keep the bed socks dry.

Midge head net and DEET, essential supplies!

Toilet paper in a small ziploc.

Sun block stick + lip salve.

Toiletries; I use a 30ml bottle of Ecover Delicate washing liquid for almost everything (washing me, socks, and underwear); the ‘towel’ is a 50cm * 50cm microfiber house cloth, a bit testing to have a shower with but doable.

Wallet (small aLoksak)

Wenger 14 knife and sparker.

Petzl e-lite plus spare cells and a LED tent light.

1st Aid kit; Very basic setup in a small aLoksak, Steri strips, medium wound dressings, waterproof plasters, Compeed, assorted pills (anti- diarrhoea, pain killers (500mg Acetaminophen), anti-histamines and water treatment), antiseptic cream, antiseptic wipes, large safety pins and tick remover tools.

MYO Potty trowel; at 30g it’s a little heavier than an MSR Blizzard stake but a lot more robust for hacking through heather roots and still doubles as a spare peg.


Fuel, I’ll kick off with 0.5L meths (alcohol) and anticipate that this will last around 8 days (~ 60ml/ day) so I should still have a contingency when I restock in Aviemore on day 7.

Water, I’ve never needed to carry more than 0.5L in Scotland, except when I’ve deliberately elected to camp away from water e.g. on a ridge.  I use a 0.5L soda bottle carried in a holder on the shoulder strap so that it’s easily accessible both for drinking and topping up, I never could get the hang of getting a bottle in and out of the pack’s side pockets.  I don’t normally use a filter or sterilizing tabs, I’ll carry a few tabs for use when around farm land.


For the first leg I’ll take supplies from home, after Fort Augustus it’ll be whatever the shops/ supermarkets can supply.  I used to weigh every food item but experience has taught me that the 2lb (800g) per day adage is a good ready reckoner, so 4 nights plus one day should come in at around 3.5kg.  This will provide ~ 3000 cals/ day but I’ll boost up the calorie consumption in Ft Augustus, Aviemore and Ballater.

Breakfast –125g of Granola with 25g of Nido milk powder, coffee/ tea

Day food – Oatcakes, Primula cheese, chorizo sausage, trail mix, cereal bars, snickers.

Evening meal – Soup + home dehydrated meal + coffee/ tea


2 comments on “TGO14 Tactics & Kit

  1. Kirsten Paterson
    November 5, 2014

    Hi Paul, I’m enjoying your articles; no bullshit and not only-the-most-expensive-will-do attitude of some bloggers. We met at the Red bothy and then Coylumbridge CS, and you told me that you used a drybag with a valve for inflating mattreses. I’m still trying to assemble said idea and would be grateful for any tips. ortlieb ultralite bage with valve is on order.
    Cheers, Kirsten

    • Paul Atkinson
      November 5, 2014

      I use an Exped compression dry bag (with all the straps cut off) think its a 13L one, the outlet is the same as the Symat. Connection is a 15cm peice of 20mm flexible plastic conduit (coincidently it fits over the Neoair valve as well), hope this helps.
      Nice to here from you & thanks for the kind words.

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This entry was posted on April 19, 2014 by in TGO Challenge 2014 and tagged , , .

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