Huw Gilbert, Mountain Instructor

Snowdonia-based Huw offers bespoke training in everything from scrambling and mountaineering to winter climbing. He holds the MIC award and has led pioneering expeditions from Greenland to Patagonia. But what's in his rucksack?

Huw Gilbert MIC spills the secrets of his rucksack in Glen Coe. Photo: Tom Bailey / Trail Magazine

Jacket and trousers
It’s perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, but in winter I’m a big fan of Páramo clothing. This is their heavier jacket and trousers, so you wouldn’t choose to carry them in your rucksack. Instead, just wear it all from the off and save yourself the trouble of deciding whether it’s ‘waterproofs on’ or ‘waterproofs off’.

Shovel and avalanche probe  
You don’t ever want to put yourself in such a situation, but if it does go wrong and you’re caught in or witness someone else caught in an avalanche then you’ll need the tools to have a fighting chance of doing something about it. As you don’t know who might get caught it makes sense that everyone in the group has these.

Boots and crampons
These B2 category boots are the perfect choice for British winter walking and mountaineering. With their semi-rigid sole and firm edges designed for slicing steps, your boots are as much a tool as anything else you carry. Here they are matched up with a C2 category crampon.

Trekking pole
I’m a big fan of poles. Using a pair is more efficient than just one but this doesn’t leave a spare hand for holding the map when you need that. Also, my hands often get cold so I like to be able to swap from left to right. Don’t fall into the trap of keeping the pole out when you should have an ice axe in your hand, though.

Sunglasses and goggles
They’re always in my rucksack, as the solar reflection from the snow can be strong even on overcast days. You might be able to squint your way through the day but continued exposure to the brightness will lead to longer-term eye damage. As for the goggles, what seems
an impenetrable blizzard can often be rendered harmless just by putting your goggles on.

Warm jacket & group shelter
I don’t often wear my warm jacket during the course of a normal day, but it’s always in my rucksack ‘just in case’. In conjunction with the group shelter it gives me means of surviving a night on the mountain if the worst should happen.

Carrying lots is the answer here, as despite what the label might say there’s no way that the gloves and your hands will stay dry. Money doesn’t seem to make a difference either, so there’s no point buying a really expensive pair.

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