In the field Equipment

Category: Wendy's Wanderings 01 February 2012


I have recently been asked what I cannot live without in the field. Of course this is determined by whether we are in a hot or cold climate and how much weight we can take with us determined by being independent with the car (UK and Europe) or tied by flight restrictions. It is a difficult one to answer because the location (city versus the boonies) affects my kit too.  For the purpose of this months article I will concentrate on what I need in wild winter environments to ensure warmth and watertight comfort.  Being a fashion icon does not come into the decision making process, practicalities do.

Over the years I have worked my way through numerous walking/travel boots, gortex jackets and over trousers, hats, scarfs and gloves.  For some reason my extremities are always cold so whilst waiting for the light for hours my rucksack has to be packed up with layers to cover all eventualities.

I will try to have a thermal sleeveless t shirt or vest to wick away when I am too hot, then a polartec long sleeved layer, then a sleeveless snug, and for the very cold/windy or wet conditions my Velez adventure smock made by Paramo.  This is a recent acquisition which so far has kept me comfy, dry and warm.  With its side vents open either side of the front I can attach my rucksack thru letting cool air in to control my temperature if warming up on an ascent.  When the weather is really wild and wet the hood is comfy enough not to restrict my neck ( a constant problem I have always had leading to neck ache) and the zip when up all the way protects my face from the cold, keeps me dry and I don’t have the issue with past jackets of the hood blowing off leading on to a bad hair day -  I think I am worth more than that!!

It is fair to say that long johns are not a sexy look, David bought a gruesome dirty green pair from a China market once out of desperation, they cost him 60p the crotch not a snug fit, I laughed from China to home and back, BUT they did work.  Since then we have invested in long johns and long sleeved vests made by Helly Hansens or a Canadian brand made from super warm Moreno wool.  When walking in the snow in Canada at temperatures below freezing these coupled with a light weight down jacket ensures that after an hour in the dark we are not freezing desperate to get back to our digs before the shutter is even touched!  I notice that youngsters still can be seen walking to school in the wind and rain without a coat, the attitude being that it is not being ‘Cool’ or something. If this attitude continued into adulthood then forget landscape/travel photography. What is the point of dying for your art. Creativity goes frigid if the body is under strain due to being cold and/or wet.

I have also recently acquired a pair of Paramo Cascada  trousers which can be worn alone, with long johns or and walking trousers.  Wearing them alone seemed odd as to me, who has been used to waterproof over trousers on top of walking trousers I felt something was missing.  However, worn in the Black Mountains in the bitter cold and rainy conditions they were comfortable, warm, non restrictive whilst walking (a problem when wearing numerous layers) without being sweaty.  I love um, of course they would be too hot for summer climates though.

In regards to footwear I have to buy a pair of Winter walking boots once every 3-4 years. I used to favour Zamberlan Italian made boots, but the prices went up and they still lasted the same amount of time as a cheaper brand that I buy online that are just as comfortable at £55!  And that is the Karrimor Womens KSB Skye X-Lite Event - they are comfy straight away with no walking in required, they are as waterproof as any other boot that I have worn, they have excellent ankle support (a must to prevent sprained ankles)  and they last as long as boots I have had that cost me 3 times as much.

The other thing that is always in my rucksack is a folding foam mat, I can sit anywhere even if damp/cold and after 3 hrs waiting for the photographer... it is a welcome break!  These can be bought in any outdoor shop. I also like to have plenty of water, a flask of coffee (for when the going gets tough), and when I have lots of time a travel watercolour paint set to observe the colours and shapes of the landscape (like photography it has become a form of meditation and relaxation).

Anyways with the cold snap upon us keep warm and enjoy exposing!

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David Noton Photography
Clark House
Milborne Port

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